A Two Gentlemen's Encounter with Jesus

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This second man whom I want us to look at in this message is given in John 5. We read about him in verses 1-15 where it is recorded that

Here is another man. Here is what we read about him in John 5:1-15

NIV  John 5:

1 Sometime later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. 

2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 

3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie--the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. 4  

5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 

6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, "Do you want to get well?" 

7 "Sir," the invalid replied, "I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me." 

8 Then Jesus said to him, "Get up! Pick up your mat and walk." 

9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, 

10 and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, "It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat." 

11 But he replied, "The man who made me well said to me, 'Pick up your mat and walk.'" 

12 So they asked him, "Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?" 

13 The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there. 

14 Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, "See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you." 

15 The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well. (Joh 5:1-15 NIV)

Like in the previous case, the person we have in this case is also a man.  The first man in our previous case was a blind man and he was a beggar. This second man in our current situation was not blind. He could see. He was actually lying down at the gate of Jerusalem, by the pool, that was in this location. This pool had a limited power of God because every now and again, the Angel of the Lord would come and stir the water and anybody who hereafter would be the first to jump into this pool would get healed of whatever disease he had. And that is all.  

Jesus came to this place where this pool was located.  And he found in that place the blind, the lame and the paralysed. These are very serious conditions and are quite difficult to treat. These conditions are not like Malaria, diarrhoea or toothache or stomachache, no: they are something more serious. This is a disability: blindness, lameness and paralysis.

On his arrival in this location, Jesus discovered that there was in that place one man who had been paralysed for 38 years. Although his legs were paralysed and weak, this man's mouth could talk and his eyes could see.

I don't know why Jesus chose to focus on just this one man. I am sure other disabled people who were there, for example, the blind needed their eyes opened. The lame also needed to get well and jump around. But Jesus chose to focus only on one man. 

Do You Want to Get Well?

In this incidence, Jesus did the same thing of asking a personal question to this man who had been paralyzed for 38 years like he had done in the previous case of the blind man.  To me, I find this question a little difficult. Listen again to the question that Jesus asked this paralyzed man: "Do you want to get well?"

If you met someone in the hospital who is very ill and shivering terribly because of fever and then you decide to ask that person, "Do you want to get well?" What do you think that person will feel? In his response, the sick person might ask you, "Don't you see my condition? Don't  you know where I am?" Jesus knew the predicament of this man. He knew the struggles of this man. Jesus knew this man's 38 years of loneliness and of inability to get up and do things like a normal person. But in full knowledge of each and every detail regarding the deplorable paralysis of this disabled man, Jesus still deliberately asked this man, "Do you want to get well?"

Now, my friend, this not a stupid question. There is a characteristic in humanity, that when they go through something day in and day out, it becomes part of them.  I hear people say, "my peptic ulcer, my high blood pressure, my sugar diabetes..." It has become their peptic ulcer, their sugar diabetes and their high blood pressure. They have possessed it, it has become part of them simply because the thing has been with them on a daily basis for quite too long.  And so Jesus asks this man, "Do you want to get well or have you gotten used to your condition that you are comfortable and you have accepted the situation?

The answer is equally a bit difficult to understand. Listen to what this guy replies in John 5:7

7 "Sir," the invalid replied, "I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.  

The question is, "Do you want to get well?" Any normal man would say, "O, yes sir. If you can do something, please do it now.  I have been on this bed for 38 years."  But instead answering the question straight away, this guy is going around again saying, "Sir, I am lonely.  I don't have a friend.  I don't have a relative.  I am struggling alone.  

Even today, I hear many voices talking like this man saying, "I have nobody to smile to. I have nobody to talk to.  I have nobody to encourage me. I have nobody to comfort me, to walk with me, to touch me, to hold my shoulder. I am alone!

Jesus Cares for the Helpless!

Now when I read this story of this paralyzed man, my imaginations really go wild. We see this paralyzed man claiming in John 5:7 that he has one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. He goes on to say that "while I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me". If you were totally paralyzed like this man for 38 years, how could you try to wake up to run and jump into this pool? How do you really try to do that?  A blind man, if he knows the direction of the pool, will simply get up and run and go into the pool.  How is a paralyzed man going to try?  But this paralyzed man is telling us that he was trying all the same! 

Don't you find people trying today?  There are so many who keep on trying every day to get a little joy, to get a little contentment, to get a little money and they try day in and day out and they are exhausted and stressed. 

"While I am trying, somebody goes ahead of me", says the paralysed man. Of course, somebody with a toothache will go ahead of you. A deaf man will go ahead of you because he can see the water.  

I imagine these things in mind: I believe, when this man was bedridden the first week, relatives and friends came around to sympathize with him, to help him. Within one month, the number dropped. After one year of his sickness, the number even dropped further. Four years later, the friends, relatives and well-wishers were no longer there.  Sometimes, people can come and sympathize with you when you are sick or in trouble but they will never do so forever. They sympathized and cared for this paralyzed man for a while but after some time, they got tired of him and abandoned him. That is why he is alone at this time with no one to help him.

O, what a wonderful friend Jesus is! He walks with the lonely, he talks with the rejected, he will hold the hand of those who are marginalized.  This Jesus who is always and will always be there for his people, came for this man!

Jesus spoke to him.  

Jesus said to him, "Get up, take up your bed, and walk." And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.

Now you and I are human beings.  If you were lying down completely straight, and as Jesus was speaking to you, you feel the power coming into your paralyzed and with this feeling, if you are thereafter ordered to get up, what would you do? You would try to lift your position and you would feel that your back is actually strong, and then you would stand up on your feet, and then you feel that your joints are okay; then you stoop down to pick your mat, and then you will understand you are flexible, power has come into your system! The words of our Lord Jesus Christ are strong. Power came into this man's body as he spoke. And only Christ can give us the power that this world cannot give.

You May Not Know Jesus, But Jesus Knows You!

This man who was formerly paralyzed picked his bed and he walked, only to be confronted by the Jewish authorities. And they challenged him saying, "Today is the Sabbath.  The Law forbids you to carry your mat.".  Come on Jewish leaders! There were many Sabbaths, the man was on his back.  But the Lord of the Sabbath has today come to this man and commanded to get up and walk away with his mat. Now the man has gotten up and he is walking away with his mat. The guy is just obeying orders.  He was told to get up, pick his mat, and go! How do you confront him?

But the Jewish leaders confronted him anyway and the man answered them back saying, "The man who healed me said to me, 'pick your mat and go'".  And they asked him, "Who is this fellow?"  He didn't know him. He didn't.  Unlike the blind man who new Jesus as the Son of David; this man did not know Jesus.

Beloved, this man may not know Jesus, but Jesus knew him. Jesus knew him right from conception. Jesus saw his condition and went to that pool because he knew there was a man who had suffered for 38 years.

It is not because we know him, it is because he first knew us. We don't just qualify to love him, we love him because he first loved us. When we come to Jesus, it is not because we made any effort, no; he positions himself so that we can come to him.

This man did not know Jesus.  But this did not stop Jesus from touching his life, and lifting him up and giving him the best gift he could ever have in his life.

From the spot where he was healed, he went into the temple. And what is he going to do in the temple? I think this man was full and overflowing with joy. He had spent 38 years paralyzed on his mat without any opportunity of going to the temple to worship God. For the first time that day, he was given the freedom to go and worship God. That was a day of celebration in his life. The formerly paralyzed man got fit that day and was springing up with joy. If you want to know the good news, this man got it. He went to the temple I believe to worship God.

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