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Jesus Unfiltered - Believe
When life gets really hard, because of choices you've made, or circumstances in which you find yourself, wouldn't it be great to know you've got the source of all wisdom and strength right there with you? That's what Jesus promised you could have. That's what He longs to do for you. Knowing the real Jesus is the most important relationship you will ever have. Chip Ingram reveals, from Scripture, who Jesus really is and how you can have this relationship - beginning today and for forever!More from this series
We spent some time learning, So what is God really like in John? It’s His authorized biography. And in chapter 1, we learned that in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And everything that has come into being came into being through Him. And that Jesus is the Word. It became flesh and dwelt among us.
And that the God of the universe came – fully man, fully God – to explain the Father, full of truth and grace. In chapter 2, we learned that He wanted to launch a movement, a movement of love. And so, He started at a wedding where there is joy and laughter and dancing and He did the unthinkable, you know? One hundred and eighty gallons, really, in these big, six jars of wine, and declared that God is about life and love.
By the time we get to chapter 5, Jesus is now revealing, This is what God is like. He’s a life giver, He is a lover, He is someone who cares. He is someone who doesn’t tolerate hypocrisy and using religion to make money. And then chapter 5 opens up and you’ll notice on the front of your notes, it’s strange, there is a story, but it’s one of the most unusual miracle stories in all of the New Testament. We’ll look at it in a minute. It is just strange. It’s unusual. And I’ll tell you why.
And then after this miracle story, there is a conflict. And the conflict is actually intentional and strategic. Jesus actually picks a fight. He does some things habitually to get head to head with the religious leaders. After that, He does some teaching. And it has been veiled and, “Don’t tell anyone,” there is a secret Messiahship and He reveals it to this person, that person. But there is no more of that.
He literally takes the gloves off and goes head to head with the religious leaders and speaks as directly and as clearly about who He is, His relationship with the Father, why He came, and what we all need to know.
And then after that, there is a validation. He talks about witnesses that validate these outrageous claims that shock those people.
And then, finally, the question that He keeps asking them and asking us is, Will you, and you can write this down, will you believe? Will you believe? Will you trust Me? Will you believe who I say I am? Will you believe when I tell you who I am? Will you believe I am coming back? Will you believe to the point of putting your faith in Me and actually following Me? And so that is where we’re headed. What would Jesus say? Because you learn a lot about God and you learn a lot about people and how they respond to people whose lives don’t work, that are helpless, and absolutely hopeless.
Jesus purposefully challenges the cultural status quo to reveal His person and His purpose in the world.
So with that, if you would, open your notes. As we read this unusual, unusual story about a miraculous healing. As we, as I read it and you follow along, I want you to think about what is different about this. The man shows no faith. What is different? Where does Jesus go? What does He say or not say about Himself?
“Sometime later,” chapter 5, “Jesus went up to Jerusalem for the feast of the Jews.” We don’t know which feast, but it’s probably not the Passover. “Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate pool, which is in Aramaic called Bethesda, which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here, a great number of disabled people used to be – the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there, he had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, He asked him,” now, think of this, this is an unusual question, “do you want to get well?”
Duh! “Do you want to get well?” And just before we go on, I want you to visualize what it would be like to be an invalid for thirty-eight years. Shriveled limbs, complete atrophy, spindly little legs, absolutely no thighs. He can’t move, he can’t even get himself into this pool of water – an emaciated person, completely dependent on other people, absolutely hopeless. And Jesus asked what seems to be sort of a silly question, “Do you want to get well?”
“‘Sir,’ the invalid replied, ‘I have no one to help me get in the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes ahead of me.’” There was a tradition and a legend that this pool, an angel would visit this pool and when the waters would begin to bubble, people would go there and be healed.
“Then Jesus said to him, ‘Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.’ At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The day on which this took place was the Sabbath, and so the Jews said to the man who had been healed, ‘It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.’ But he replied, ‘The man who made me well said, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ So they asked him, ‘Who is the fellow who told you to pick up your mat and walk?’”
Now talk about strange, “The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away in the crowd that was there.” So he exercises no faith, Jesus doesn’t even say who He is, He does one of these “heals and runs.” You don’t see that a lot. And the guy can’t figure out what is going on.
“Later, Jesus found him at the temple and said, ‘See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.’ The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.”
Now, that is another strange thing. Usually after Jesus heals people, the rare response is, “Stop sinning or something worse is going to happen.” Here’s what I want you to understand, the Holy Spirit has placed this live, historical event in this chapter in this place and it will set up teaching and you will not understand completely what is going on here, until we get to the very end.
So, we have this strange, very strange actually, miracle. On the inside of your notes, I made a few observations, because as you all know, we are learning how to study the Bible as well as going through the book of John.
And so here are a couple of observations I made. It’s a strange question. It is strange to ask, “Do you want to get well?” There is no mention of His motive. He’s not filled with compassion, we don’t hear anything about Jesus like other miracles. He doesn’t reveal His identity, there is no instrumental means. Often, He touches someone or He takes dirt and makes mud and puts it on their eyes. All He does is just speak.
He leaves immediately, that’s odd. I don’t know of any other miracle where He does a miracle and then just slips into the crowd. He purposefully creates controversy. He does it on the Sabbath so that as soon as this happens, they are uptight about this guy walking around and carrying this mat.
He does that, you’ll find in a minute, absolutely on purpose. The man expresses no gratitude. It’s not like, “Thank you, I appreciate it, it’s been thirty-eight years, I really didn’t want to get well, I was going for a forty-year record.” Think how strange this is!
Can you imagine? Your limbs would be shriveled; immediately you’re healed. You would have flesh, you would have strength, you would think, like, “Thanks,” or, “Who are you?” or, “What is going on?” Nothing. Very, very odd.
Jesus affirms the relationship between sin and negative consequences. The Bible is really clear that all sickness is not because of sin. In fact, in chapter 9, the disciples say of this young person who grew up and then, “Is he blind because of his parents’ sin or his sin?” And Jesus said, “No, there is not always a one-to-one correlation. It was neither of them.”
But it is true that some sickness, some illness, there is a relationship between sin and consequences. In fact, death, ultimately, is a result of sin. And apparently in this particular case, we don’t know how long or how many years he lived before the thirty-eight years but apparently there was some sin going on and that Jesus healed him.
We also know in the Jewish mindset, this is all set up because Jesus wants to make a point. In the Jewish mindset, there was a concept that if a person, if there was any deformity or any sickness, they believed it was all a result of sin. In fact, that’s why the disciples asked the question in John chapter 9.
And then if someone was healed, they correlated that with their sins being forgiven. And so, Jesus is literally doing a miracle in a strange, unique way because He wants to set the stage for a controversy so that He can reveal Himself to the religious leaders as clearly and as powerfully and in a way that connects with their background and their belief system.
And so, with that, we move on to this idea at the end where He actually identifies Himself as the One who healed. But then He also says, “Don’t do this anymore,” and He begins to intimate that He is going to judge: “Something worse may happen to you.” He says, “I know the future.”
With that, pick it up in verse 16. The conflict, then, is intentional and strategic. Notice, “So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted Him.” And if you want to put a little line under, doing those things, that’s in a tense of the verb that means He was “habitually.”
So He was healing on the Sabbath and then the next Sabbath, healing on the Sabbath and then healing on the Sabbath. In other words, the signet ring, the mark of being a Jew in this day was circumcision of your children, you’re a part of a covenant, and the Sabbath. It’s absolutely holy. That’s what makes us Jewish.
And they had an external belief system, I mean, think about this. Instead of asking, “Aren’t you the guy who has been laying here for thirty-eight years? Wow! This is amazing! You can walk! Who did it! How did it happen?” Doesn’t it seem odd to you that they are more uptight about him walking on a holy day than they are about the miracle that happened?
And, see, what Jesus is pointing out to them is that they made the means the end. They have such a rigid, religious system they have forgotten about mercy and grace and kindness and love and all they can think of and all they can see are the rules.
And so, He is habitually doing this because He is poking at them. He is picking a fight. “Jesus said to them, ‘My Father is always at His work this very day, and I too am working.’ For this reason, the Jews tried all the harder to kill Him; not only was He breaking the Sabbath, but He was even calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.”
Notice He says, “My Father is working.” The Jews believed that when it says in Genesis, “God rested,” that somehow God wasn’t doing anything anymore. In fact, He only intervened maybe to punish wicked people or to empower righteous people.
And He doesn’t say, “The Father,” or, “Our Father.” He says, “My Father.” And they get the correlation and they realize, This is outrageous. You’re making Yourself out to be God?
And then notice their response. Their response is, “For this reason, they were trying all the harder to kill Him.” So now the stage is set. Jesus has pushed very, very hard. And now the issue is, “Who are you really? What is going on here? Who do You think You are? You’re claiming equality with God?”
And now what you are going to see is the most direct teaching. Shocking. If you could be in the room and watch Jesus teach and then watch these Pharisees, the hair would first go up on the back of their neck and then it would go straight up and then their red face and the veins would be bulging, “This is blasphemous! This is the most ridiculous stuff! Who do You think You are?”
And what He is going to do is He is going to bring them to a crossroads like never before. Literally, the gloves come off. No innuendo, no inferences. He is going to say, “This is who I am.” And the direct teaching happens in two specific areas. Area number one, He is going to explain His relationship to the Father. You and the Father. We don’t get it. You have hinted at these things, You have made Yourself to be equal with God.
The second thing He is going to do, He is going to explain His relationship to the world. The entire world. We pick it up in verse 19, “Jesus gave them this answer: ‘I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by Himself; He can only do what He sees His Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son does also.’”
Notice He makes the point, “The Son is dependent,” but He also makes this outrageous claim that He can see what the Father is doing. And then He is making an outrageous claim that the same things the Father is doing, He is doing. Literally, these guys, the veins are starting to bulge.
Verse 20, “For the Father loves the Son and shows Him all He does.” Now, can you imagine that? This person standing in the flesh? “The Father God, the Maker of the universe, Yahweh – He shows Me all that He does.” Their mouths are kind of open, they are looking at one another, Who does this guy think He is?
“Yes, to your amazement, He will show Him even greater things than these.” So He says that the Father and the Son have mutual love for one another. They share knowledge. The Father is all knowing; I’m all knowing. Verse 21, “For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom He pleases to give it.”
Now, this outrageous. That little phrase, you might circle it, “just as,” they would have no problem. The Father raises the dead? Only God can raise the dead, right? Well, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. And He says, “Yeah, the Son, I have that same power.”
Verse 22, “Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son.” A Jew would go to 1 Samuel 2:6 or Deuteronomy 32:39. It would be, “Only God can judge.” Only God could judge. He is saying, get this, “The Father and I are one; We have the same power. He is all-knowing; I am all-knowing. I see everything He does. In fact, the Father doesn’t judge. He has given Me to judge.”
And then the last one is sort of over the top. Why does He judge? “That all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent Him.” So He says He is dependent, He has mutual love, they are both all-knowing, they have equal power, He is the judge, and He should receive the same honor as God.
Jesus is bringing people to a crossroads. There are only two options. You either believe and bow before Him, based on these miracles that He is doing, or you realize that, We have to get rid of Him and kill Him and reject Him.
And it’s interesting, I would just pause today, I have been in a number of meetings lately with leaders of all kinds of backgrounds of Christianity and it’s really interesting that people are fine with Jesus being a teacher, people are fine with Jesus having good moral influence, people are fine with Jesus can help shape the culture to make it better for everyone. But what I want you to know is that is not the Jesus of the New Testament.
The Jesus of the New Testament says, “I’m the Judge, I’m God, I’m unique, I verify it by miracles, I am the only way to the Father, I have come from heaven, I see what the Father does, We have the same power, We should receive the same honor, I am the Second Person of the Trinity, and I am worthy to be worshipped and I am going to demonstrate to you why.”
And I will tell you, you can say, “God,” in public, but it’s really interesting when you begin to talk about Jesus and the uniqueness of Jesus.