Jesus performed many miracles while He walked the Earth, and He’s still working miracles every day. We all have things in our life that we need to heal from, the question is, do you want to get well? In this message, we look at John 5:1-18 to see how Jesus is the One who heals.
All right, Porch. How are we doing? It is awesome to be with you and our friends watching online. This is the second week of North Dallas Porch up there in the Frisco area. How about that? Way to go. We're glad you guys are up there gathering. Welcome, welcome, welcome. About 19 other Porch locations around the world, and we are so glad you're jumping in online. I am glad to be here in Dallas with you all this summer.
We are talking about Jesus Walks. This is an amazing privilege to get to talk about this little series tonight, because I get to introduce you to a friend. There's really nothing better you can do than to share friends. I can remember. I was going through a time in my life where my core friend group was radically changing. I was not yet a believer. I was not yet somebody who was in any way walking with Jesus, but I had made a decision that I wanted to be an athlete.
In my day and age, at the time, I didn't think athletes were some people who were doing drugs and a lot of other things, so especially being a guy who was late developing, as I was fighting for spots and opportunities to play for a long time in different fields of competition, I just decided I wasn't going to go a certain direction.
I had no problem with some of my friends starting to make some choices that they were going to party in different ways on the weekend and do some things, but what bothered me is they all of a sudden started to say, "Hey, Todd. If you're not going to do what we're going to do, then you're not going to hang where we hang." I was like, "What's that all about? I thought we were friends. Friends run together, and friends do things with one another because they like each other, not because we're just doing certain activities. Are you telling me you're not my friend if I don't do what you do?"
That was exactly what they started to tell me. The way I was wired I was like, "Wait a minute." I wasn't going to be swayed by that peer pressure. Just the way I was made, to no credit of my own, I just kind of said, "Well, then, to heck with that. We're not even friends. Let's deal with that." I went from being a guy who was kind of, what I would say, in the mainstream of popularity and friend groups to being pretty alone. I would say completely alone.
It was interesting. I got a call last Thursday from a guy who knew me about this time. He happened to run across some messages and some talks I had given about this Jesus and how my life had been radically changed. It just so happens he was at a place where his heart was being tenderized, and he called me, 40 years later (this was before I knew Christ; this was my late teens), and this guy wanted to talk to me.
He said, "Hey, man. I've got to tell you. I've been listening to some of the stuff you've been saying, and I have to let you know I'm learning, and I have begun to understand a little bit about what you're talking about. I remember a time when you were starting to make some choices, and I was in another group, and we just destroyed you. We talked poorly of you." In fact, this guy wasn't just around me when I was in high school. He went to the same college I did.
He talked about the fact that when he was in college at one point, he came around with a group of friends who were getting ready to go out to a bar. He said, "Todd, you were going…" At that time I had trusted Christ, and I was actually headed to go pour into some high school kids somewhere and speak. He said, "Man, we saw you not going to the bars with us, and I want to tell you, I laid into you. I talked about you behind your back, and I did everything I could to destroy your reputation and to make others think poorly of you."
He said, "I just want to tell you, man, I've come to know what you knew, and it has changed my life." Now what's interesting… About that same time, I had some guys, when I was in high school and in that transition period, who were a year or two ahead of me. One of them was named Jeff Coggan. Jeff Coggan was the starting quarterback when I was just a freshman in high school and was beginning to make some choices, because I wanted to compete on those levels in high school and beyond.
Jeff Coggan saw me alone. He saw me without a friend group, and Jeff Coggan, the starting quarterback as a junior on the football team, learned my name. Jeff Coggan didn't just learn my name; he invited me to start to hang out with his friend group. Now at first, I was pretty shy, because I was certain… I was like, "Why would these guys want to hang out with me unless they're setting me up and want to break my little heart and want to maybe abuse me in some way, haze me in some way?"
I didn't even know what that word meant, but I didn't trust that anybody could really love me. What Jeff Coggan did is he learned my name, he sought me, he invited me in, and he shared his friendship with me, and he shared his friends with me. I went from being a guy who was running alone to all of a sudden, Paul Fraser, Jacque, Jeff, Chip, Michelle, who was the captain of the cheerleading squad who was dating Jeff, started to be my friends.
I'll never forget it, because I thought there's no greater kindness you can show somebody than to share friends with them. I remember as my life went on, I spent some time in college with a gal who ended up having a little bit of success in the music field. She later got selected to be the only female soloist on the Michael Jackson "Dangerous" tour worldwide. She sang every duet with Michael Jackson. You might have heard her name a little bit later. She went on to have her own independent career. Her name is Sheryl Crow.
Sheryl, when she came to Dallas with the "Dangerous" tour when Michael Jackson was like Justin Bieber… In fact, Michael Jackson made Justin Bieber look like no one. Michael Jackson was, like, the bomb. He was on the world tour, and he was going around. Sheryl was coming through with that tour, and Sheryl called me.
I remember Sheryl had a backstage pass, and we hung out. I remember her inviting me to go backstage before the "Dangerous" tour in Dallas that nobody could get tickets to and just saying, "Come on, man. Come on back here, Todd. Here's the crew. Here's the team." I remember she was just sharing her life and her friends with me. I go, "That was all right." It was kind of fun to see that.
I remember when a friend did that with me with Garth Brooks. I remember when I got to do that when I invited guys in the locker rooms and things of that sort, because if you have access somewhere, it's a great kindness to share friends with fleeting, silly things. I want to tell you tonight I'm going to do the kindest thing I could do with you. I'm going to share with you about my Friend. His name is Jesus.
There's no greater… I mean, Michael Jackson, Garth Brooks, Patrick Mahomes… I don't care what little circle you're invited into. There is no greater friend than Jesus, and I'm going to do the kindest thing I can do with you. I remember when people shared their friendships with me, and I want to share with you about my great Friend Jesus.
If you have a Bible, turn to John 5. I hope you always bring your Bible, because we want to show you that this Word is living and active and this Word is true and beautiful and amazing. We're just going to tell you what happened when God walked the earth. Now here's what's amazing. Jesus wasn't just anybody; he was God. When Jesus walked the earth, there was amazing activity all around him, and Jesus still lives today.
I just got through doing a podcast with our friends here. We have what's called the Church Leaders Podcast. Even if you're not a leader in the church, it's great for you to listen to. They asked me to jump in with them. It was actually on discouragement. They said, "Todd, we want to talk to you about how people handle discouragement in life and ministry."
I just shared with them very honestly, "Look, guys. I have to let you know I'm going to tell you why in almost 30-plus years of walking with Jesus I've never really faced discouragement." Here's why. I love watching God go to work. I love believing that Jesus is still alive, that he was risen from the grave, that when he ascended to sit at the right hand of the Father he intercedes for me, that the Spirit of God which indwelt in him when he took on human form is still here and dwells in me because I'm a friend of God.
When I am walking with Jesus, the kinds of crazy things that happened when Jesus walked the earth still happen. I'm here to tell you I have watched the things that happened when Jesus walked the earth happen right where I am. I'm going to make a claim that you really have to listen to me on. More miracles have happened here at Watermark in the last six months than in all of the Gospels combined. More miracles, more radical, world-changing things have happened here at Watermark in the last six months than in all the New Testament stories combined.
Now let me explain that to you a couple of ways. First of all, you shouldn't be surprised, because Jesus said that's exactly what's going to happen. He said, "If you believe me, the works that I do you will do also. In fact, greater works than these will you do if you believe in me." In the New Testament, in the life of Christ specifically, depending on how you count them, there are only 30-some-odd miracles that happen in all of the Gospels combined.
We're now a group of people who number in the thousands around here at Watermark. We walk with him, and we are sharing the news of who Jesus is and the truth about who God is, and we're sharing our friend Jesus and the work of God with others, so it shouldn't surprise you that the blind see, the deaf hear, the lame walk, and the dead are raised.
Now look. I've never been a part of a resurrection of a person who was flatlined, like, dead in a grave for four days and somebody said, "John Doe, come forth" and the ground broke and the coffin was kicked open and the guy crawled out. I've never been a part of that. There's no wheelchair stapled to the walls here, because I've never seen somebody who was in a wheelchair get up and be radically healed after a lifetime of paralysis.
Let me just tell you something. When Jesus said this, what he was saying there was, "What I'm going to do is I'm going to teach sinners to live holy lives." What I'm going to show you tonight is when Jesus did some of the miracles and healings he did… False teachers, by the way, are going to take advantage of some of the things in the Bible that are easy to misinterpret and difficult to understand, and they're going to exploit you if you're not careful.
I believe God can do whatever he wants to do whenever he wants to do it. If God wanted to raise people from the dead today physically, like he did with Lazarus, he could do it. If God wanted to have blind men see because I spit in my hand and rub it on somebody's eyes with dirt, he could do it. There's no question that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever, but you need to understand why Jesus did miracles and what the purpose of the miracles was.
I'm going to introduce you to my friend Jesus and give you a biblical understanding of Jesus so you're not taken advantage of by charlatans and so your life can be radically changed the way Jesus wants to radically change your life. That means if you're here and you're in a wheelchair tonight and you go out of here in a wheelchair, you can still have hope and begin to walk, not physically, but walk with a new perspective in a newness of life.
If God wants to get you out of the wheelchair, he can do that, but there's something better. Let me encourage you with this. I have a friend, Joni Eareckson Tada, who is one of the godliest people I've ever met. Google her. I do something called Real Truth. Real Quick. Just type in there "Healing" and listen to Joni and me talk about healing. Joni, who has been in a wheelchair, a quadriplegic, since she was 17, talks about what she really needs to be healed from.
She has had all kinds of faith healers come up to her and talk to her about if she just had enough faith they think they could heal her, they could get her out of the wheelchair. What Joni says is, "Let me ask you a question. I'd love to walk on this earth again, but if you really want to pray for my healing, would you pray for my anger? Would you pray for my elitism, my pride, my belief that I'm better than you? Would you heal that part of me? Because even if I get out of this wheelchair, there are parts of me that are dead that need to be resurrected in newness of life."
Joni talks about what's really broken in her life and how Christ has dealt with that with amazing hope. Listen to Joni talk about "If you have enough faith, will God heal you?" I beg you to watch that Real Truth. Real Quick. Let me teach you about my Jesus, and let me tell you that right here, tonight, maybe in your life, you can begin to walk with a new hope. Maybe your dead ears will begin to hear truth and your blind eyes will begin to see who Jesus really is.
John, chapter 5. Here we go. Here's my Jesus. Verse 2: "Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep gate a pool…" One of the things I always love to tell you about my Bible is that it's not just a collection of stories. There is no Mount Olympus you can go visit. There is no history you can really verify and test in a lot of other books that claim to be holy.
When you read and study Hinduism, it's called Hindu mythology. This is called history. It is God's story. It is his story, anchored in the context of our history, and you can test this book and verify it. You can make sense out of it, because there are names and places and dates and claims that we can go back and go, "If that's not what happened, then we have to get rid of this book."
Do you know that until 1990 there had never been any evidence there was a guy named David who lived and a lot of people mocked the Bible and said David was just some venerated, made-up character, some hero in Jewish history who never really existed but was a compilation of a lot of stories that were exaggerated because they couldn't find existence of who David was? Then about 20-some-odd short years ago, we find evidence that there was a ruler named David.
Do you know that until the 1960s there was no evidence that there was ever a prefect named Pontius Pilate, but then in 1960 we found some stone right there by the Mediterranean Sea that had the name Pontius Pilate on it? Do you know there has never been a single archaeological discovery in the history of the world that has contradicted anything in this book? Do you know there's not a single prophecy this book has said won't happen that hasn't happened yet already that needed to happen for this book to be called true?
This is a book that God decided to anchor in history so you could test it and make sense out of it. I've been to Bethesda. I've been through the sheep gate right here in Jerusalem at this place where there were a lot of pagan practices that were going on. Let me just read you the story. It says, "Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew Bethesda…"
It's interesting. Beth means house. Checed means love or grace or kindness. It's one of the most often used words in your Bible. It's the covenant love of God, the unconditional kindness of God. This is the house of grace, the house of kindness. That's what this place was called. Now in Bethesda there was this development, and the reason there was a development there was because there were springs, and you're going to find out they believed these springs held some supernatural ability to heal.
Check this. It says around this place that had five porticoes… "In these lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, and withered…" There were all kinds of evidences of broken humanity. There was a blend there (it's called syncretism) of Greek mythology, Roman mythology, and even some Judaic belief. By the way, if you go to this place today… You can go to Bethesda. It's still there. It has been excavated.
In about a 30-second walk, you will go through another gate and be on what's called the temple mount. In about three minutes, you could have been to what's called the Holy of Holies. These were people who were not seeking the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to be healed. These were people who were kind of caught up over here in worship and pagan practices and cult worship, and what had happened was there was superstition in that day.
I'll read to you this little section in verses 3-4. "…waiting for the moving of the waters; for an angel of the Lord…" This is now what they believed. This is not what happened. "…an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted."
Now let me ask you a question. What kind of people could get to the water first when it was stirred? By the way, you're kind of like, "What does that mean? How does the water stir?" The water stirred because they didn't know it, but there was a deep spring that was there, and every now and then, when the water would come out and move forward because of the rainy season and things like that, there would be a flow, and the water would stir. It would bubble up and move the surface of the water inside these pools, and then people would scurry to jump in.
There were all kinds of people there. Let me ask you a question. If there were people there who were lame and there were other people there who were discouraged or there were people there who were depressed or there were people there who had skin diseases, which people would make it into the water first? It wouldn't be the lame people. If the belief was first come, first serve, you're going to be sitting right there, and if you're discouraged…
Probably the people with mostly psychosomatic illnesses who believed there was some healing power there… There's all kinds of evidence if you believe something can help you it typically can help you, especially if your diseases are not you're a quadriplegic or a paralytic. You'd get in that water, and you'd come out going, "I'm healed! I'm healed! I got it! I got it!" I guarantee you there would be a fit of adrenaline.
I guarantee if you were the first one in there was a sense of belief, and it probably did something for you, at least in the short term. Blind people wouldn't get in first. They couldn't see that the water stirred. If you ever go to some of the charlatans today who are involved in healing ministries, watch carefully about how they move the critically ill and the sick and the wheelchairs away from the stage.
Watch the way they are telling you sometimes even when people are going through certain types of healings that if it doesn't happen completely in that moment… Sometimes they put people in wheelchairs who have limps, and they get them up and say, "Stand up!" and they stand up with their limp, and they go, "He's walking!" just like he was walking before they put him in the wheelchair.
I'm going to tell you God can do whatever he wants to do whenever he wants to do it, but a lot of what you see on TV and amongst these charlatans is exactly that, and it offends God and it offends Jesus. The reason Jesus did miracles, by the way, is because he was trying to show you who he was. The reason there's sickness, the reason there's disease, the reason there's death on this earth is because of sin.
God didn't create us with cancer and disease and brokenness. There were no Down syndrome children born to Adam and Eve if they conceived before the fall, and there's no evidence that they did. All of that is a result of us leaving the God of perfection and being left to our own way. Sin and death and disease entered into the world.
What Jesus is about to show you is that he has the ability to reverse the effects of sin. Who can do that? Only God can reverse the effects of sin, because the effects of sin are here because we have offended God. For example, when Jesus healed somebody else… He was sitting there, and somebody who was lame came to him. Jesus looked at this guy and said, "Hey, your sins are forgiven," and the religious leaders were very offended. They go, "Hey, you can't forgive sins! Nobody can forgive sins except God."
So what did Jesus do? He goes, "That is an excellent point, because sin is an offense against God." So what did Jesus say? "In order that you might know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…" In other words, "I am the visible image of the invisible God." This isn't just Jesus walking; this is God walking. Do you remember I told you I'm going to do the kindest thing I could do, which is to share my Friend with you?
I'm going to share with you the truth about who God is. Do you want to know what God looks like? Look at Jesus. By the way, isn't it interesting that even people who aren't Christians love Jesus? Because we're like, "If people could really be like that, really that loving, really that selfless, I'd want to know him more," and you should want to know more of Jesus.
Jesus says, "Hey, that's an excellent point. Only God can forgive sins. In order that you might know who I am, I say to you, take up your pallet and walk." Only God can give regeneration to paralyzed, crippled legs. This wasn't a guy with a limp. This was a guy who stood up and walked. The reason Jesus did the miracles he did was to authenticate his words. He said, "If you don't believe me, believe the works I do."
Jesus a little bit later said, "There are not going to be any more signs. I didn't come here to do a bunch of signs." He didn't come here to heal everybody from the effects of the fall in short-term, temporal ways. He came here to heal everybody from the effects of the fall and their separation from God. He said heaven is going to be where there's no disease. Heaven is going to be where there are no tears. Heaven is going to be where there's no death.
"On this earth there's still going to be paralysis, cancer, betrayal, and despair, but I am going to give you hope. I'm going to restore you into relationship with me so that when judgment comes upon sin, it passes over you and I move you into the kingdom I intended for you. But I'm not going to heal everybody." Guess what. Jesus didn't heal everybody.
We are at a place where there are scores of afflicted people, and my friend Jesus walks up and says this. "A man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years." There's a reason the Bible has in it what it has in it. I mean, there's a reason John put down "38." You might go, "Well, Todd, what's the reason John put down 38?" Here's an idea. There are certain numbers in societies that always mean something.
Like in America, if I say "9/11," does that mean something to you? Those numbers together mean something to you, don't they? The number 1776 means something to you in America, doesn't it? Say, "Yes. I remember American history." There are certain numbers that mean something. You could even go the superstitious way. February 14 means something for you. It means you're alone again, despairing, and depressed. It's SAD day, Singles Awareness Day. That's what Valentine's is.
But there are certain numbers that mean something. If you were a Jew, the number 38 meant something to you. Now listen. Jesus came to reveal who he was. The reason 38 meant something to you… If you went back and looked in the book of Deuteronomy, it talks about the fact that God wanted to take Israel and deliver them out of Egypt and the oppression of the powers of the earth and set them free from being slaves, take them from a place of oppression to a place of promise and a land flowing with milk and honey where they would live in cities and in homes they did not build, that they would be safe and have protection.
It was a picture of what God wants to do for all humanity. God didn't uniquely love the Jews. He chose to show his love to the Jews, that all of the nations of the earth could be blessed through the Jews. That was his idea. So that all of the nations of the earth would know that he is God. What happens is they were led out of Egypt, and as God then sent spies into the Holy Land and showed them what they were going to go take, there were giants in the land, and they went, "Man, we can't fight those people. We can't take those people."
So the 12 spies went back, and 10 of them said, "There's no way, man. We'll get our clock cleaned." Two of them said, "No, we can do this because God is for us. God just delivered us from Egypt. Surely he can give us what he said he's going to give us there." But the 10 carried the day and took the whole nation into a place where they did not trust God. So God said, "This wicked generation shall all pass away, and then I'll take a new generation that believes in me into the land."
Guess how long it was from the moment he pronounced that judgment until they got into the land. The answer is 38 years. They lived a life of wandering and oppression and hopelessness and despair. It's the wilderness wandering years. Here's a guy who is 38. By the way, 38 was longer than the average life expectancy during the time of Christ. In other words, everything about this guy's life from beginning to end was lame, was hopeless. Nobody could help him. He was without God and without hope in the world, trusting in superstitions to heal him. He had nobody who cared for him.
You're going to find a little bit later he said, "There's no man who could help me," and he was exactly right. There was no man who could help him. I'm here to tell you tonight there's no man who can help you. This man didn't know God, but God knew him and knew his despair, and you're going to see that Jesus uniquely went and grabbed this man because he was trying to show you something. If you were a Jew he was trying to say, "I can get you out of your wanderings and your wilderness." To all of us he's just saying, "Are you sick and tired of your lame life?"
Jesus asked him an amazing question. It's a question I'm going to ask you tonight, because my Friend wants you to hear it. The question is found right here in verse 6. "When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition…" He knew he had been there his entire life. He said to him something crazy. "He said to him, 'Do you wish to get well?'"
Here's what's really crazy about this. I'll just stick this in here right now, because it's kind of fun. This guy had been trusting in pagan superstitions. Aren't you glad you don't live in a day where you think an angel of the Lord is going to come and his wings are going to stir the water and people are going to jump in? Aren't you glad you don't believe in that kind of nonsense all the way here in the twenty-first century?
Well, guess what. Let me show you this. I found this a couple of years ago in a newspaper. This is Clearwater, Florida, not long ago. This is a picture of an office building in Clearwater, Florida. Now what does that look like to you? If you know anything about famous paintings of the Virgin Mary, you're going to say, "That looks a little bit like the Virgin Mary." December in the mid-90s is when this first showed up.
There are about nine different window panes in this office complex right here. Somebody walked up one day, and they thought there was just a slowly evolved piece of artwork, and they go, "Hey, man. Are you guys putting the Virgin Mary up there? That's kind of cool." They go, "No, man. We have nothing to do with that." They go, "You have nothing to do with that?" Then a little bit later they go, "This is an apparition of the Virgin Mary."
The guy who owned the office building ended up selling it to the Catholic diocese, and they made it a place of worship. Here's a picture of a crucifix they later put up there. This is from a news article I pulled. It says, "Several thousand people have visited this site between dawn and just the following Wednesday. Some people drove from 200 to 500 miles away.
They're coming in the hundreds and the thousands at a time to see this 50-foot-wide, 35-foot-tall, striking resemblance to a mantle-covered figure with her head slightly bowed across nine window panes that people are saying is the Virgin Mary and the Blessed Mother has come to heal us. No one has an explanation except for glass experts who say this is probably a combination of chemicals and mineral deposits in sprinkler systems."
But that's not what the world thought. The world flocked to it. The article says, "We're very concerned for the safety of pedestrians. We have stationed 18 police officers on duty around the clock, putting up construction cones, traffic lights, and guiding traffic so that people getting across US 19 can come to see the Blessed Mother." From the article.
"People are making shrines, bringing gifts, candles, flowers, statues. Some have been overwhelmed. Many have fainted. We see the infirm, the disabled, the blind. They're coming in wheelchairs." This was 2000. People are still looking for something that can be the thing that will CLEP them out of their lameness.
God just says, "Listen. You need to know something. When I came, I didn't come to deal with just the physical effects of your sin. The physical effects of your brokenness are just evidence that you're broken and you're apart from me, and I want to restore you back to the life I intended you to live. The only way to get restored back to the life I intended you to live is if I do something for you."
The God you offended needs to be satisfied, and when he's satisfied you can be reconciled to him, and when you're reconciled to him, you're still going to live in a world that Jesus says will be filled with trouble. "But take hope, for I have overcome the world. You can grieve while death and disease are still around you, but don't grieve as those who have no hope, because my kingdom is going to come." Jesus was radical.
I love this line about Jesus. This is my Friend. One guy wrote, "There he is. In the temple again. Causing trouble. Speaking very differently from other preachers. Speaking with authority about sorrow [anxiety, sickness] and death. Penetrating the dark corners of human existence. Shattering illusion. Make no mistake about it; this is a dangerous man." This is my Friend, and he's the visible image of the invisible God.
You need to know something. There were all kinds of sick people around this pool. He didn't heal them all, because Jesus didn't come to heal them from temporary conditions. I'm going to prove that to you in just a moment. He came to heal them from their biggest problem. He says this to that lame man, and I want you to see something. You're in this story if you're here and you don't know Christ.
He asked a crazy question. Here's the question: "Do you want to get well?" Some of you guys have lived a couple of decades of lameness. You don't know how to walk, and you haven't found any man to help you. You're still following the superstitions of this world. We keep looking at things our culture says will give us life when Jesus is standing right there waiting for us just to trust in him. You just have to decide exactly what this man had to decide. What's going to make you well? Do you want to get well?
I do this all the time. When I'm with my friends and we engage people who are on the street, I get to know them. I get to know their name, and I just ask, "Do you want to get well or do you just want $5?" They go, "Do you want to know the truth? I just want $5. I either want to go numb myself in my pain again or I just want a meal, but I don't want to stop. I don't want to be discipled. I don't want shelter. I don't want authority in my life. I don't want to order my life in a way that's going to lead to transformation."
You need to know there are leaders in this church who were homeless, because Jesus transforms men still, but there are many on the street who don't want to get well. We have a real program to help people who are on the streets of our city, and it's not to continue to enable them in destructive lifestyles. We ask them, "Do you want to get well?"
When I ask these friends on the street a little bit about how they got there, they just go, "Oh man, it's a long story." I go, "Well, tell me your story." Inevitably, every single one of them says this: "Do you want to know how I got here? I got here one bad decision at a time." I just go, "Do you want to make a really good decision? Do you want to stop the way that seems right to you but in the end leads to death? Do you want to get well or do you like what you have?"
The average person on the street corner in Dallas makes about $70 to $80 a day. That's what they can make a day flying a sign. There are a lot of well-meaning people who think the way to help them is by just giving them $5. It makes me feel good, but it's not really loving for that person. Do you want to really help them? Do what Jesus did and say, "Come live life with me."
Do you want to help them? Get them involved with programs and some of our partners in this city that can help them deal sometimes with their dependency issues, sometimes with their brain and mental issues, but begin to help them order their life in a way that if they'll begin to follow Jesus, Jesus will rebuild the years and restore the years the locusts have eaten. Do you want to get well?
I have a friend. Her name is Karen. Karen and I have spent time together and talked. Karen was a prostitute in this city. Karen said she used to spend the night with guys in her hotel room partying, doing drugs. Guys would leave before the sun would rise, and she'd wake up numb from the cocaine and the alcohol, her body abused again. She said, "I would get on my knees, and I would cry out to God and say, 'God, help me! Help me!'" She said, "I did that for years."
I go, "Karen, what changed? You were on your knees praying." What kind of God doesn't help a woman who was at first pimped out by her grandmother and later perpetuated the self-abuse by becoming a prostitute to enable her addictions, who morning after morning of giving herself away would cry out, "Help me! Help me!" Here's the reason why: because she was saying she wanted God to help her, but she wasn't willing to change.
She said, "It wasn't until I got sick and tired of being tired, Todd, that my life changed." That's why Jesus was asking this guy, "Do you want to get well?" That's why I'm going to ask you now. Do you really want to get well? Not just have some superficial idea about who God is, but do you want to get well? Do you want to really stop trusting in your cultural remedies and in your superficial ideas about God? Do you really want to get well? I'm going to tell you tonight how to get well.
If your entire life has been lame, I want to say to you, do you want to get well? Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? I'll tell you what Karen did. She said, "One morning, Todd, I got sick and tired of going back home to my babies after leaving them alone at night, after I paid my pimp and had a little money left until I recovered and would go out and give myself away again and get numbed again. Finally, I got up and said, 'God, help me, help me,' and this time I walked to the police station and said, 'You need to arrest me. I'm a prostitute. I've got drugs in my purse.'"
They go, "There's no warrant out for your arrest. We don't want to arrest you." She stood there and said, "Arrest me. Here are drugs. I have drugs. Arrest me. Put me in a place where I can't keep destroying my life." When she was in prison, she elected to become a part of a cell block where she could get discipled and get treatment for her addictions, and it changed her life, because she didn't just say, "God, help me." She started to do what she needed to do, which was to identify with her real brokenness and say, "I have to quit running my offense from darkness to darkness."
Do you want to get well? Watch what the guy says. "The sick man answered Him, 'Sir…'" See, you don't know God. Do you call God "Sir"? What's God like to you? When you address God, are you scared to death of him? I'm going to tell you who God is tonight. He's not "Sir." He's the God of grace, full of lovingkindness and truth. God wasn't angry at Karen because she was a prostitute. God hates sin. God is angry at sin, not at you.
He's not angry at you. He hates abortion because he knows abortion destroys your heart. He's not mad at you because you're having sex outside of marriage; he's angry that you're under the illusion that there's life in having sex outside of marriage. He's not angry at your alcoholism; he's angry that culture has convinced you that you can numb your pain temporarily through fleeting chemical dependency when he wants you to have life indeed.
God is not mad at you. He hates sin. He loves you, and Jesus is evidence of that. I want you to meet my Friend. God is not "Sir." He's your loving Father. He wants to run to you in your brokenness. "Sir, I have no man…" Now there's truth. "…to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me." So Jesus says to him, "Stop lying around in your pagan temple. Stop hoping in superstitions."
Stop coming to The Porch after another weekend where you felt just like you felt after last weekend and saying, "Help me, God. Help me! I don't want to keep going back to these men to be validated. Help me, God. Help me! I have all of the women I want, but it leaves a hole in my heart. Help me, God. I'm sick of the Dallas promise and the upward American dream that doesn't make me hope."
He's saying, "Stop trusting in superstition and trust in me. Do you want to get well? Leave your little pagan temple, trusting in the ways of fallen men, and follow me." He says, "Get up, pick up your pallet and walk.""Activate your faith. Trust in me." Look at verse 9. "Immediately the man became well…" It's amazing how quickly your life can turn around if you want to turn your life around toward him. We see it here all the time.
I want to take you back to what I said. There are miracles that happen here all the time. We have folks in our body all the time who are walking dead men, filled with despair and hopelessness and addiction, and they start to say, "I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired. I'm not just going to complain. I'm not going to have a bunch of excuses."
This guy had a bunch of excuses. "No one can help me. It's not working. I can't get there fast enough." Jesus is saying, "I'm your solution." I just want to make a couple of quick notes right here because I don't want to miss it. I want you to see that this was not a guy who was saved because of his faith. He was saved because God wanted to save him and God wanted to show him something. This was a guy who did respond in faith, but this guy didn't seek Jesus; Jesus sought him.
If you're here tonight, it's true that you'll find God when you seek him with all of your heart, but you need to know something. Long before you're seeking God, Jesus is seeking you in your lameness. He's here, and he's asking you tonight, "Do you want to get well?" In his kindness, God is going to give you ears to hear. He's going to give you eyes to see. He's going to give you a heart that's going to understand, but you have to respond.
When you respond, my Bible says it's even his gift that gave you the faith to believe, but somebody is going to hear tonight, and somebody is going to believe, just like this guy did. Watch what happens with this guy. Let me just read. We'll come back and break this down a little bit more. It says, "Immediately the man became well, and picked up his pallet and began to walk. Now it was the Sabbath on that day." Uh-oh. Jesus did this on the Sabbath, because, again, Jesus is trying to reveal who he is.
Let me give you a little bit on the Sabbath. The Sabbath was the Lord's Day. There are all kinds of rules on the Sabbath that you can't do certain things. It's still crazy, the traditions of men and the way they burden people. Jesus came to say, "Listen. I gave you the Sabbath to bless you, but you've made this series of laws that are so oppressive." Even today when you go to Israel… I've been there, and there are so many crazy rules about what you can do and can't do on the Sabbath. Jesus was like, "I'm not really concerned about the traditions of men."
You weren't allowed to carry a mat on the Sabbath. This guy is carrying a mat on the Sabbath. They go, "Hey, you can't do that. That's work." In Israel today, if you go, there's what's called a Shabbat elevator. If you're in a 20-story hotel, the Shabbat elevator stops on floor one, two, three, four, five, six, all the way to 20, and then it goes back down continually, all day long. Why? Because you're not allowed to activate a button on the elevator.
You can't press a button to do the work of telling the elevator where to go, but you can step on an elevator and watch every floor open and close until you get to your floor. It's work to tell the elevator to go to work, but if the elevator is already working, you can step on it. You can turn your stove on if there's a pilot light, but if your pilot light goes out, you're not allowed to start a fire on the Sabbath, so you can't light a pilot light on your Sabbath. It's crazy.
There are rabbis who, to this day, believe they are righteous because they don't do any work on the Sabbath. God is saying, "Man wasn't made for the Sabbath; the Sabbath was made for man. I came to give you rest." Jesus purposely did this on the Sabbath, because they go, "You can't change the law of the Sabbath. The Sabbath is the Lord's Day," and Jesus goes, "Exactly. It's my day, and you've perverted what it meant."
It's also interesting. The very first thing Jesus did in the book of John was he cleansed the temple. They go, "What are you doing, man? This is God's house." He's saying, "Exactly, and you guys are perverting my house."
"What authority do you have to change the temple?"
"Well, it's my house."
Jesus is making it very clear he thought he was God. He was Lord of the temple. He was Lord of the Sabbath. That is why in John 5:18 it says the Jews sought to kill him because he was making himself equal with God. Jesus knew exactly who he was. The question is…Do you? Do you want to get well or do you like your little lameness you're living through your life? Maybe you don't suffer enough. Maybe God is still "Sir" to you. You don't want to make him angry, and your life isn't bad enough yet that you're really willing to listen to him and take up your pallet and follow him.
Watch this. "So the Jews were saying to the man who was cured, 'It is the Sabbath, and it is not permissible for you to carry your pallet.'" Now that's interesting. That's not what I think I would have said to this guy. Let's just say I lived next door to my friend Joni Eareckson Tada. She has been in a wheelchair for 50 years. Let's say it's Saturday morning at 6:30, and all of a sudden I hear a lawn mower right next door to me that's starting to mow the lawn. I go, "What in the world? Who mows their lawn on Saturday morning at 6:30 when we're all trying to get a little rest?"
Had I opened my door and seen my friend in a wheelchair for 50 years, do you think I would have walked out and went, "Hey, Joni!" She's out there mowing her lawn. Do you think I'd say, "What are you doing? It's Saturday! What are you doing using a mower on Saturday?" I don't think that's the first thing that would come to my mind when I saw her mowing the lawn. I would go, "Joni, what are you doing mowing the lawn?!"
This is a guy who everybody knew had been lying there for 38 years. Don't you think the first thing they would have said was, "Excuse me. What are you doing walking?" But no. These guys were concerned about their little Sabbath law. "Hey, why are you carrying your mat? Why are you carrying your pallet?" He answered, "I don't know. The guy who made me told me I could carry it, so I'm carrying it. Deal with him."
They said, "Well, who is the man who said to you, 'Pick up your pallet and walk'?" He said, "I don't know." He didn't even know who Jesus was. When people tell you that you'll only be healed if you have enough faith in who Jesus is, take them to John, chapter 5. This guy didn't even know who Jesus was, and he was healed. You're healed because God wants to heal you.
Now listen. You have to do what God asks you to do. The healing God wants for you is not just for you to be un-paralyzed from a temporal condition, and I'm going to show you that's true. Why? Because watch what Jesus says to this guy. Why did Jesus heal this guy? Because Jesus is putting the Jewish leadership on notice that the Messiah is here.
In Isaiah 35 it says, "When the Messiah comes, you should tell the downtrodden and the distressed that the lame walk, the blind see, the deaf hear, and the captives are set free." Jesus, with all kinds of sick people, is just showing you, "I can do that." Who can regenerate a dead man's legs? Who can bring a dead man to life? Who can set people free when they're oppressed? Answer: God.
There were still many sick when Jesus was there, but there was nobody who needed to be soul sick. Look at this. This is so great. Verse 14: "Afterward Jesus found him [again] …" Do you see that? See God seeking him? It's an amazing interchange. He said, "Let me really help you, because I wasn't just here to use you to show my power. I want you to know me." He says, "Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you."
Can I ask you guys a question? What could be worse than being lame for 38 years? I can remember when I first trusted Christ. I prayed this prayer. I said, "God, if you are who you say you are and you love somebody as broken as me and you love me enough to redeem me and you seek me in my imperfection and demonstrate your love for me in that while I'm still a sinner you died for me, I don't want anything to keep me from knowing you."
I thought, "What would be the worst thing that would happen to a young athlete?" I said, "God, if you have to put me…" I knew Joni at the time, and I marveled at her faith. I said, "Lord, if I have to be in a wheelchair, paralyzed from the neck down, to know the fullness of who you are, would you please paralyze me from the neck down so I can know more of who you are?
Oh, but, God, would you tenderize my heart and help me to live in such a way that if I'm in an accident and I'm paralyzed like Joni is I won't think you had to do that to teach me who you are, but, Lord, you have permission to do whatever you have to do to show me more of who you are. I want to seek you with all my heart, so break through my flesh and show me more of you."
Can I tell you what's worse than being paralyzed your whole life, which to a young athlete was the worst thing I could think of that would happen to me? It's being separated from God forever. Jesus went back to this guy and said, "Look. You know who I am. I'm the one who can take you. I'm not some little superstition over there in Bethesda where people with psychosomatic illnesses are being healed. I'm very God of very God.
You know what happened in your legs. You know who I am. The one who let sin and death into the world through your rebellion and sin let you experience the consequences of your choices so you would hate your choices. I'm the gracious one who lets you get well if you'll just trust in him again. Do you want to walk with me? Because I just reversed a little bit of the curse in your life, but you're still cursed."
There's only one sin that matters to God. Everything else is a secondary sin. The only sin that matters to God is when you take away from God the glory that is due to his name, when you say, "I don't think you're that good. I don't think your Word is true. I don't think disobeying you is that big of a deal. I'm going to run my own offense. I'm going to do what I want to do." Then everything else you do is just evidence that you've already decided you don't think God is the God of life.
That's the reason you're having illicit sex. That's the reason you're addicted to pornography. That's the reason when you get pregnant you use abortion as a birth control pill. That's the reason you gossip. That's the reason you try to numb your pain with materialism, money, and success. That's the reason you're obsessed with body image. That's the reason you skip from one of those things to another, because none of those things satisfy you. Do you want to get well?
God is not mad at you. He's just saying, "You have to just figure out who I am." That's the sin. The sin is when you do what the very first humans did. They said, "You know what, God? I'm not going to trust you. I think we'll decide what is good and what is evil. We won't call you the good one. We won't follow you. We won't yield to you. We won't call you Lord and Savior. We'll save ourselves. We'll be our own lord. We'll do what seems right to us."
Guess what that leads to: the way of death. God is not mad at you. He loves you, and he sent his Son to die for you. When his Son was here, every now and then he came up alongside people and healed them to show you that he wasn't just a man; he was very God of very God, and he could reverse the curse.
So he reversed the effects of the fall to keep saying, "I'm the one who can deal with the fall. Being crippled isn't your problem. Sin is your problem. Sin leads to crippling lives. Lazarus' death? That's just the wages of sin. I'm going to show you I have power over the grave, but believe in me. Stop sinning." As quickly as I can, I'll tell you exactly how you change your life based on what we learned in this story. I'm just going to tell you in Cs.
1._ Come to your senses_. You quit calling God, "Sir" and you realize who he is. Let me just show you this story. This is in Luke 15. I'm going to read it to you. Have you ever heard this? "A man had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, 'Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.'"
"I wish you were dead. You're dead to me." That's what he's asking for. "Give me the inheritance." "God, you're dead to me. I'm going to spend my life the way I want to spend my life." So what did the young guy do? "…the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country…" He left the father.
"…and there he squandered his estate with loose living. Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country…" In other words, there wasn't enough mojo to keep the mojo going. "So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine." He was living amongst the pigs.
"And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him." There was no man to help him. Sound familiar? "But when he came to his senses…" That's the way you change, folks. You come to your senses. Look at what he says. He doesn't say, "Sir."
He says, "Father God, I know who my God is. He is the one in the house of grace, Bethesda. He's the one with an everlasting love. He'll love even me who has treated God as if he was dead and has spent his life in loose living. I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired, and I'm not going to have empty prayers like 'God, help me. God, help me.' I'm going to let God help me. I'm going to go back to my Father."
Watch what he does. "Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men." But the father doesn't do that. The Father sees you, just like Jesus saw this guy in John 5. It says, "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran [to him] …" God is ready to run to you tonight, but are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? Do you want to get well? Here's how I know you want to get well. Here's the way I know you've come to your senses.
2._ Connect_. Stop sliding in here. Stop sneaking in and slipping out. Please engage. You have to come to your senses and you have to connect. You have to say, "I'm here." Raise your hand, man. Groan out loud so somebody here can hear you. Come into the light. Stop isolating. Stop making excuses. "I can't do it. This is too big. Other people get there first." We'll stand here tonight until nobody wants to come. Connect. Reach out. Proverbs 18:1 says, "He who separates himself seeks his own desire, he quarrels against all sound wisdom." He wants to get well, but he stays alone. Connect.
3._ Confess_. Stop the spin. Call it what it is. Your life is lame, and you know it. Stop hiding the truth in your tired smile. State the truth about your despair. Agree with God that there is no life apart from him. Acknowledge your condition. Acknowledge your lameness. Confess your paralyzing anxiety. Forsake the god of self. Come to him who is willing to hear.
Confess. Agree with God. "God, I agree that you are from the house of grace and, therefore, if I confess my sin that I didn't think I needed you and that you demonstrate your love for me…" If we confess our sins, he is checed, he is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Come to your senses. Connect. Confess.
4._ Commune_. This is how you change. Change your playmates. You hear it all the time around here. Bind yourself to others who have found hope and healing. Run with the disciples. Proverbs 13:20 says, "He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm." Karen said, "I'm no longer going to run with pimps and prostitutes. I'm no longer going to run with johns. I'm going to run to people who want to restore my life."
You start running with people here. You don't just flee immorality. That's 1 Timothy 2. You don't just flee immorality, but you pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace with those who call on God from a pure heart. You come to your senses. You connect. You raise your hand. You confess, and you commune with God's people.
5._ Change_. You change not just your playmates; you change your playground. You don't go back to the thing that paralyzed you. You run with the living. You visit the sick. You have a new hope, and a new hope brings new habits. First John 2:15-16 says, "Don't love the world that paralyzed you." You don't love the things in the world and the ways of the world and the superstitions of your culture.
"If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.** For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world."** So I'm not going to go back there again. I'm going to change where I go for life. I'm going to seek first his kingdom and his righteousness. I'm going to pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, because I know the death that waits those who do the other. I've done it. My entire life expectancy has been death. I'm coming home, Father.
6._ Conform_. Get serious about Jesus. Repent. Stop it. By the power of God which dwells in you, don't merely know who he is, sir. Follow him. He's the friend of sinners. Pursue him. Seek him with all your heart. Romans 12:2: "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…""God, show me more of who you are. You're not a God I have to perform for. This isn't a rule book. This is you in history showing how you pursue lame people like me." And learn his ways.
7._ Call others_. You call others to join who Jesus is. It's what I'm doing tonight. I have to tell you, I was lame. My life was lame. I was without God and without hope in this world, and the kindness of God showed himself to me. In his goodness, what I do is I don't run with the sick; I visit the sick, and I say, "Do you want to get well? Come and see my King. Come and know him."
You call them out of darkness into his marvelous light. This is who you are once you change. This is who the Porch leadership is here in Dallas. It's a bunch of us who have been called out of the lame living that is the young adult world in Dallas, Texas, and we are a chosen race. I don't know why he came to me. I was lame. He chose me, like he's choosing you.
You become a royal priesthood, a holy nation, living here in Dallas and Frisco and Fort Worth and Houston and every place you are. You become a holy group of young adults, a people that God now possesses. Why? So that you might proclaim the excellencies of your Friend. The kindest thing you can do is share your Friend with others. You call them out of the darkness of sin and into his marvelous light.
The only thing worse than being lame in this living is what happens. It's appointed for men to die once, and after this comes judgment. You need to know something. You're still going to maybe be paralyzed from the neck down. You're still going to maybe have people betray you. You're still going to have disease, but you can grieve, and not as those who have no hope, but you will not be separated from God.
There is going to be a day where there will be no more disease and no more tear and no more death. When God comes to judge the sinner, he won't judge you, because you've already had payment for your sin made, because you trust that this Jesus came to deal with the lameness of your sin and went to a cross for you, and you've trusted in him. You've no longer tried to establish your own righteousness, but you've taken God's provision for you, and you've come home. Will you come?
I want you to know my Friend. I wish I could describe him to you, but he's indescribable. Lucky for me, I have a friend whose name is S.M. Lockridge, and he had the same problem I did a long time ago. He was trying to call people out of darkness into his marvelous light, and this is how he did it. Meet my Friend. His name is Jesus.