A Profile of faith
After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had. And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole? The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me. Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.
1. Two nuns were driving through the countryside when they ran out of gas.
They walked to a nearby farmhouse for help and the kind farmer said that they could siphon some of the gas from his tractor.
(1) However, they could not find anything in which to carry the gas, until the farmer produced a battered old chamber pot.
(2) Now, for those of you that have never seen or heard of a chamber pot, and don’t know what one is, it’s an antique bed pan.
(3) And for those who STILL don’t understand what a chamber pot is, it is something like a personal port-a-potty.
(a) The nuns filled the pot with gas, walked back to the car, and began pouring it in.
1) A passing motorist, hardly believing what he saw, stopped and said, “I don’t agree with your religion, but I do admire your faith!”
2. You know, there’s a lot of ideas about faith and how it works in one’s life, and there is an endless supply of quaint sayings and material on the subject.
a. Some give us hope, and others, especially when that for which we have hoped in and trusted God for does not happen, cause us to stumble and reconsider what we thought we knew about faith.
(1) On one side you have someone defining faith simply as that which enables you to believe that the refrigerator light really goes out when you close the door.
(2) On the other side you may find the following…
(a) One young daughter asked, “Mommy, do all fairy tales begin: ‘Once upon a time’?”
(b) The mother answered matter-of-factly, “No, darling, some of them begin: ‘When I became a Christian all my problems were over.’”
3. I’m not sure what your idea of faith is on a personal level, but here are a few simple things I’ve learned about it…
B. JESUS WILL COME
1. The first simple fact about faith - is that if you have a need, Jesus will come to you.
2. In our text, we read of a great number of disabled people who would lay around the Pool of Bethesda attracted by a faint hope of being healed.
a. And to this place Jesus was also attracted, offering with His presence the kind of healing that went beyond the physical needs of the disabled.
3. The subject of Jesus’ attention had been going there for thirty-eight years with no positive results.
a. After thirty-eight years, this man’s problem had become a way of life.
(1) No one had ever helped him.
(2) He had no hope of ever being healed and no desire to help himself.
(3) The man was paralyzed in sight of healing.
(4) His situation looked hopeless…
(a) That is, until the day that Jesus made His way through the crowd.
(b) Among all those trying to be healed, Jesus found the one who couldn't help himself.
4. Listen, no matter how trapped you feel in your infirmities, God can minister to your deepest needs.
a. Don’t let a problem or hardship cause you to lose hope.
(1) God may have special work for you to do in spite of your condition, or even because of it.
(2) Many have ministered more effectively to hurting people because they have triumphed over their own hurts.
5. To be sure, your response to Jesus when he arrives will determine the outcome of your situation, but you can rest assured, He WILL COME!
C. HE WILL MEET YOUR NEED
1. The second simple fact about faith that I want to share with you tonight is this:
a. There is no certain time specified for Him to meet your need.
Time is of no essence to Christ. Time means nothing to God. He may wait a long time before he begins to answer your prayer. He made the earth in 6 days, but how long did He wait before He began?
II. Faith Facts - Turn the key in the ignition and nothing happens. The first thing we think of is of what could have gone wrong. Is it the battery, or a short, or out of gas. Not once have we thought about trading the car in for a horse. It never crosses our mind that the technology is useless and can’t be depended on. When we are believing God, however, too often we are ready to give up when prayers aren’t answered immediately. Could it be that something is just a little out of alignment, could we have the wrong key, or be out of gas?
Let’s give God the same courtesy we do ourselves, and assume that the problem is not Him!
1. When Jesus saw this cripple man lying there, He knew that this man had been in that condition for a long time.
a. The only thing Jesus was concerned with was, “Do you want to be made whole?”
2. Listen, Jesus knows your condition –
a. What you’ve been dealing with and going through…
b. How long you’ve been in your present condition…
c. He knows what it will take to bring complete healing into your life…
(1) The only question He has is, “Do you WANT to be made whole?”
3. You need to understand that the amount of time you’ve been in your present condition will not limit His ability to heal you or fix your situation.
a. It may be that you’ve been struggling with your problem for 38 years, but that does not limit His ability to change your situation!
(1) He can meet your need RIGHT NOW!
B. IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU
1. The third simple fact about faith that I have come to understand is that you don’t have to know it all for Jesus to meet your needs.
2. You don’t have to have any revelations of doctrinal truth or any deep understanding of the Bible…
a. There are no secret handshakes, dress codes or rituals…
(1) You don’t even have to know all the details of your own problem!
3. Just answer the question…
a. “DO YOU WANT TO BE MADE WHOLE?”
4. The paralyzed man had one important trait that many people lack: He knew he needed help.
a. Not only was he unable to help himself, he also hadn’t been able to persuade anyone else to help him.
(1) Apparently the religious leaders who were so quick to judge his failure to keep their Sabbath laws had not been nearly as quick to obey God’s clear Old Testament commands about helping those in need.
5. In contrast, we are surrounded with so many supports and buffers that we may live without ever facing our inability to save ourselves.
Mark 2And again He entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that He was in the house. 2 Immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door. And He preached the word to them. 3 Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. 4 And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying.
5 When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.”
C. BRINGING IT HOME
1. Jesus didn’t choose the ones who were pushing forward; rather, He went directly to the person who had almost given up hope.
2. He went to a desperate person who didn’t have to be convinced he needed help.
3. The paralyzed man had reached the end of his rope and was ready to respond.
4. Does God have to wait until we are desperate before he hears from us?