Matters That Matter
When God says a thing happened, it happened. You don't have to explain everything, but you can believe God.
Alright. Thank you very much. Always nice to be put on the air with a friendly voice. [chuckle] I can remember some days back in the beginning years of my radio ministry when I was on stations, and sometimes the announcer would not be in too good a humor and would put me on with a little gravel in his voice. [chuckle] One time the announcer was hung over, I think, ’cause it was an early morning broadcast, I did it live in those days, and I think he was hung over and wasn’t quite with it. So he put me on the air, and then without realizing that he hadn’t shut off his own microphone, he said, “That ought to hold him.” [laughter] Well, hello, radio friends. How in the world are you? Yes, this is your friend, Bob Cook, and I’m glad to be back with you. Bless you heart.
We’re looking at the Gospel of John, and now we’ve come to chapter five; the story of the healing of the impotent man, 38 years paralyzed. What must it mean to be ill and to be paralyzed for that long? Well, I can’t imagine because God has been good to me and I’ve had good health all my life, and I still can get around pretty well. My father used to look at me when I was a boy in high school and we’d be talking about things, he’d look at me and say, “Well, boy, God gave you a pretty good carcass. Take care of it.” [chuckle] Pretty good carcass. I can’t imagine what it must be like. Now, some of you who listen to this broadcast can say because you are there and arthritis has crippled you, or polio in the days before that dreadful disease was licked, or a stroke perhaps has come and you’re not able to get about anymore, and some can hear but you can’t speak. What a frustration that must be, beloved. You can hear people talking with you, but you can’t talk back, you can’t respond.
I can’t begin to imagine what it must be like to beareth the burdens that some of you have, but I want you to know that my heart goes out to you in love and concern, and that I pray day by day that God may give you, through me, by His grace, something that will help and benefit and comfort and strengthen and inspire. That’s why I’m on the air. Well, anyway, here was this man. Let me read some of the passage in John 5 for you. May I? Jesus had went up to Jerusalem because there was a feast there. “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, 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 38 years.
When Jesus saw and knew that he had been now a long time in that condition, he said unto him, ‘Wilt thou be made whole?'” Do you wanna get well? “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 said unto him, ‘Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.'” In other words, he said, “Get up, roll up your mat that you’re lying on, and go home.” “Immediately, the man was made well, and took up his bed, and walked; and on the same day was the sabbath. The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, “It is the sabbath day. It is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed.” He answered them, “He that made me well, the same said unto me, ‘Take up thy bed, and walk.’ Then asked they him, ‘What man is that which said unto thee, “Take up thy bed, and walk?”‘”
They didn’t care that he got well, did you notice that? They passed right over that. They were still concerned about the breaking of their tradition. “And he that was healed didn’t know who it was, for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place. Afterward, Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said, ‘Behold, thou art made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.’ And the man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. Therefore did they persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day.” Well, just by way of launching into this, let’s notice the fact that people can become more concerned over religious routine than over the realities of eternal life. People can get so upset.
A man came to me in tears one day, this would have been, I suppose, 10 years ago now, or more, on a Monday morning. A friend of mine, a young minister, who had been pastor of church not too far away, and he was just broken up. I said, “What in the word is the matter?” He said, “I got fired.” “Oh,” I said, “what happened? Are you in trouble? Have you done something wrong? Are you in trouble with morals or something?” I just didn’t know. “Oh, no, no, no,” he said. He said, “I just changed things around.” He said, “I thought instead of having the doxology in the beginning of the service, we’d have it at the end, and they fired me.” [laughter] Now, if that’s hard to believe, you have to believe me because you can’t remember the last time I lied to you. Yes, it happened. This dear brother, without asking anybody, changed the order of service.
Ordinarily, in many churches, not all of them, but in many of them, you have the organ voluntary, you have the call to worship, and you have the doxology, and the invocation, and then the opening hymn, and so on. So he wanted to change it. [chuckle] And he put it at the end of the service, which, of course, depending on his sermon might have been quite fitting. [chuckle] If it was bad enough, they could’ve been thankful that he was over. I don’t know. But anyhow, he didn’t ask the deacons, or anybody else, but he changed it, and they got upset. And they had a deacons meeting right after the morning service, and fired him. And there he was, all broken up. Well, the end of that story is God gave him a better church. I phoned around to different people and finally we located a place that needed a pastor, and he moved over there and is doing very well. [chuckle]
It’s possible to get terribly upset about religious routine while completely bypassing the important issues that have to do with God’s working in people’s lives. See, they were so upset about the breaking of their rule, and they didn’t even notice, they didn’t mention the fact that the man had been healed. A major miracle. Whoever heard of a person who had been paralyzed for 38 years getting up and walking? All of the facts are against it. Number one, if he’d been paralyzed for that long, his muscles would’ve atrophied, he would’ve had very little muscle fiber left that was usable. God not only did the miracle of healing those nerves that no longer were conveying the messages from his brain to the various nerve endings, not only did that, but he created some muscle fiber on the spot for him so he could get up and walk around.
These people didn’t notice that at all. “He that made me well,” that’s the first phrase, “He’s the one that said, ‘Take up your mat and walk.'” Then they said, “Who is that? What man is that that said, ‘Take up your bed’?” They didn’t even think about the healing. Well, that thought sticks out. Before we talk about anything else, that thought just hits me. And I have to ask myself, while I’m asking you, beloved, what am I really concerned about? Or you could put it this way, what upsets you most in your religious life? Some people are upset because other folk don’t behave properly in church.
A little boy was sitting in church before the service, and as little boys do, he was fiddling about with this and that to pass the time, and unconsciously, he was whistling a tune. And two Swedish ladies were sitting behind him, and one of them leaned over and said to the other, and I heard them, “Yeah, he even visslar I kyrkan.” [laughter] He even whistles in church. [laughter] Yeah, you can get upset about things very easily, can’t you? What upsets you about your religious life? And while you’re answering that, beloved, you better answer the other question; am I bypassing something that is of eternal significance while allowing myself to be irritated by something that will pass?
Well, that’s a heavy one, isn’t it? But God will minister to our hearts if we’re honest with Him about it. Well, our Lord Jesus found these people. Now, it’s interesting to me that He didn’t heal all of them. There was a great multitude. How many is a great multitude? I don’t know. Five porches could hold hundreds of people. So there was a great multitude of impotent folk, and blind people, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. Some versions of the Bible omit the last part of three and all of verse four because it seems to indicate kind of a superstition. I choose to take the record just as it is. Whether there was really an angel or whether there was something else that caused this strange troubling of the water, doesn’t bother me.
The fact is, the Bible says it happened. And you can trust the Bible when it says something happened. That has been proved again and again. I remember reading a book years ago where there was a claim that there was no such place as Ur of the Chaldees, and Abraham was probably a mythical figure. And they were teaching that in university classes. And then, the archeologist came along with his spade and unearthed a place that they found as they read the various writing of that age, they found that that was indeed Ur of the Chaldees. When God says a thing happened, it happened. You don’t have to explain everything, but you can believe God. The dear father that brought his boy to Jesus, he said, “If thou canst do anything, have compassion on us and heal.”
And Jesus looked right at him and said, “If thou canst,” it’s not if I can, “If thou canst, believe. All things are possible to him that believeth.” So you can trust God’s record, you can trust God’s statements. And if He says it happened, well, it happened. You don’t always have to know why. Alright? Well, time has gone and I want to get at the rest of this the next time we get together.
Father God, in Jesus’ name I pray that we may be more concerned about eternal matters than about the trivial around us. In Jesus name, Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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