A Picture Of Grace

Photo by Artem Sapegin on Unsplash

We live in a troubled world, a world that needs Jesus!

Turn with me in your Bibles to John chapter 5:

John 5:1 After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

After this. Our text starts with these two words, “After this” (Greek meta tauta, “Following these events”). Following

  • the conversion of the Samaritan woman at the well,
  • the Samaritan’s witness in Sychar caused a revival of faith in Jesus.
  • the weak faith of Nazareth, which only saw Jesus as a good man
  • the misguided faith of Galilee, which only saw Jesus as a spare tire
  • the sound faith of the Nobleman, who believed Jesus as Lord and Savior – and the conversion of his whole house!

Chapter 4 is a study of faith.

Chapter 5 is a picture of Grace.
Everyone has faith – misplaced faith is no good.
Properly placed faith looks to Jesus.
To only Jesus! For in Jesus is Grace.
“We beheld [Jesus’] glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, FULL OF GRACE and Truth.”

God Offers Grace To the Broken

Grace is in Jesus. The gracious Jesus comes up to Jerusalem in order to celebrate a feast. The feasts were opportunities for the people of God to get together and celebrate the Grace of God. Leviticus 23 outlines the requirements for the Jewish weekly Sabbath, and the Feast Days.

The seven Feast Days were times when the Israelis rested and remembered the Grace that God had poured out. In America we commemorate with memorials & statues. Israel commemorated God with “feasts”.

Without going into detail, one of the “High Sabbaths” was Passover, where Israel celebrated God liberating the nation from Egyptian slavery. God did that through Grace. God did not choose Israel, to bring Messiah through them because they were GREAT as a people. No, God told Israel:

Deuteronomy 7:7-9 (ESV) The LORD did not set His affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath He swore to your forefathers that He brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commands.

Israel was the least of all the nations. Israel was riddled with sinful traits and drives. God came to Israel because Israel needed God.

Israel in suffering cried out to God, and He redeemed them. The Feasts remind Israel – and us – that God, our God, is gracious and kind to the least and lesser. Praise His holy Name! The Feasts told of the Grace of God, and reminded Israel that the Messiah would one day come. A Feast is a time when family sits down to share food and love with one another. God told Israel that these were:

Feasts of the Lord” (Leviticus 23:2)
And God said “These are MY Feasts”

In the Feasts, God invited His people to the Divine Table to rejoice in God’s Grace and Goodness.

The More You Are Broken, The More
Need The Grace Of Jesus

John 5:2 Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches.

There is a pool. This is a pool of bubbling water that people have placed their faith in. Sheep are involved in most of the feasts. Animals without spot or blemish were sacrificed. The sacrifice is a picture and a promise of the Coming Messiah, the “Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Sheep must be watered before they are sacrificed, so what better place to put the sheep market. The pool itself is named Bethesda, which means “The House of Kindness”. Around Bethesda are five porches, five flat areas where people can rest. This is again interesting, because

Five Is The Number of GRACE In The Scripture.

The Apostle John wrote five books focused on the Grace of God (Gospel of John, 1, 2, & 3 John, and Revelation). Jesus multiplied five loaves of barley to feed over 5000 people (Matthew 14:17). To these five porches sick people came, seeking healing. They needed a touch from God. The Bible says:

John 5:3 In these {porches} lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.

Word Study: Jesus comes into Jerusalem, and enters Jerusalem by “the House of Kindness”. On this special Feast Day there were a number of people who were not celebrating. The Bible says these are “impotent folk”, the Greek ἀσθενέω asthenéō, {pronounced as-then-eh’-o}. These people were weak, feeble, diseased, sick.

When you are broken, you are in the
best place for God to reach you.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 {God} said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

The Apostle is teaching us a lesson we all need to understand. When we are strong enough, self sufficient enough, then we do not need Jesus. Oh, we always need Jesus. Yes, we do. But when we are strong enough to do it our way, it is in our human nature to do it our way and ignore the Lord.

When we have strength to worry, why call on Jesus?
When we have strength to be depressed, why call for God?
When we can get in the water ourselves, we save the Lord the effort.
When I can say with William Ernest Henley,
“I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul”,
Why would I need the Lord?
Why would I need His Grace?

The people on these five porches are typical of so many today. Suffering, they come to the House of Kindness. But they are not praying. They are not calling out to God in Christ. What are they doing? They are watching the water. Their faith is in the water, not in God.

Are you watching bubbling water – or looking for Jesus?
Only Jesus can fix broken you.

John 5:3b-4 … waiting for the moving of the water. {4} 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.

Now, I’m not blaming these people. So many times in my life I’ve wandered out to one of the porches of the House of Kindness. I’ve laid there, not looking for Jesus, but watching for the bubbling of the water. “If I can just get to the water, I’ll be all right!” We have all done this.

The bubbling waters of this world are often our substitutes for the Living Waters that Christ gives.

This next part is particularly interesting to me. There are 5 porches, filled with people. Yet Jesus goes not to them all, but to the worst one afflicted. The more you are broken, the more God wants to heal you.

John 5:5-6 And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?

God healed people in a variety of ways in the Old Testament, under the Old Covenant. The Gentile General Naaman was healed of leprosy when he washed in the Jordan River (2 Kings 5:10-14). For 38 years this man has watched the water bubble during the Feast Days.

As the man watches for bubbles in the water, Jesus comes to him, and only him.

Jesus asks, Wilt thou be made whole?. The man is crestfallen, probably filled with despair. He tells the Lord – probably with tears in his eyes:

John 5:7 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.

This man doesn’t need help to get into the waters. He needs the Grace of God in Christ. He needs to put his faith in Him Who brings living waters, not in the bubbling waters and the kindness of strangers.

Word Study: The man addresses Jesus as Sir, the Greek κύριος kyrios or literally “Lord”.

The bubbling water and the focus of this man is a picture of God’s Law. The water (the Law) cannot save.

Moses was not saved by the Law, but by Grace. Though “the Law came by Moses” (John 1:17), God did not save Moses by Law. The Bible says:

Exodus 33:12 {God said} I know thee {Moses} by name, and thou hast ALSO FOUND GRACE in My sight ..

Moses relied on the continuous Grace of God (Exodus 33:13, 33:17). God only gave the Law to Israel because Israel would not love the Lord, nor heed His direction. Israel was always trying to figure out a way to do it themselves. They demanded a human king over God their King. So God gave them the Law. The Law was not intended to save. Even under the Old Covenant, the Bible says:

Habakkuk 2:4 … the just shall live by his faith.

Those who are right with God, trust in God for salvation, for direction, for love, for life. The righteousness of God {is} revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” In Galatians Chapter 3 the Apostle Paul, a “Pharisee of the Pharisees” (Acts 23:6), explains how the Law does not save, but leads to Christ. Paul said:

Galatians 3:10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.

The Law for this impotent man was “get into the water while it bubbles”. Year after year he watched for the water to bubble. When it did, he struggled toward it – but always came up short. The Law is a curse. It makes Pharisees more self righteous, and non-Pharisees more disregarded. This poor man is watching for bubbling waters, and always coming up short.

We All Need Jesus, Not The Law

Then Jesus comes. Jesus always comes when we are at our most helpless, at our weakest.

Galatians 3:13-14 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: 14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

Jesus came to fulfill the Law (Matthew 5:18). The animal sacrifices of the Law are no more. We no longer have to drag our limp and useless souls to the bubbling waters. Jesus Christ comes to those who look upward, seeking God. Jesus Christ, the “Living Water”, spoke to Israel (the impotent man) in the Old Testament:

Jeremiah 2:13 … My people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.

Jesus Christ is the transcendent “Living Water”. If you ask Him, “He will give you living water” (John 4:10). Those who believe on Jesus, Who hear His Word, shall be made new. “Out of the believer’s belly shall flow rivers of living water (the Holy Spirit of God)” (John 7:37-39). But listen, Beloved … YOU MUST LISTEN TO JESUS.

John 5:8-9 Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. 9 And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.

So many people believe that Jesus just saves us so we can go to Heaven, one day, by and by. Jesus saves us so we can walk in His power NOW, and walk with God both NOW and into eternity. Billy Graham said,

You can’t change your past, but you can determine your destiny by deciding for Christ. And when you do that, Christ changes your past. He wipes out all the sins of the past. … Choose you this day Whom you’re going to serve. Many of you are going to have to decide tonight what is the number one priority in your life. All the way through the Bible, choices, choices, choices.”

The impotent man was made whole as Jesus commanded it. Jesus told the man, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. The man rose, took up his bed, and walked. The Bible says, on the same day was the sabbath. This was a special Sabbath, a time to rest and worship the Lord our God. This was, I dare say, the happiest day of this man’s life. For thirty eight years he had been miserable. Now he is strong enough to walk – to pick up that ragged bed (like a sleeping bag) that held him for so long – and to carry what once carried him. This should be a time of celebration, a time of joy. God Himself showed up on that porch of the House of Kindness. God gave Grace to this once helpless and hopeless man.

Then the keepers of the Law, the Pharisees, show themselves.

John 5:10 The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed.

Jesus told this man to carry thy bed as a testimony to the Grace of God. The man had laid in a bed for 38 years.

For those 38 years, the Law – the Priests and Pharisees – walked around this man, ignored this man, never sought to help this man.

The Law exists to point to sin. It is a unit of measurement, a mirror, but not a fix. The man answers the Law:

John 5:11-13 He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk. 12 Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk? 13 And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place.

The Christian faith is not a lawless faith. Once saved, the Christian follows “the Law of Christ”. The “Law of Christ” is to love others the way that Jesus loved you. The Apostle wrote:

Galatians 6:2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Jesus healed this man, though this man never actually thanked Jesus for his healing. Jesus healed this man, even though the man did not knows Jesus’ name. Jesus relieved this man from a lifetime of misery – and then conveyed himself away. This is the Greek ἐκνεύω ekneúō, {pronounced ek-nyoo’-o} which means “to slip away secretly, to quietly withdraw, to slip off”. Jesus – though God in human flesh – was not puffed up with pride. Love lifts up others, and does not need a ticker tape parade or adulation.

The Law of Christ – the Royal Law tells us to do good to others, to lift them up. James said:

James 2:8 … the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself …

So we are not lawless. We follow Christ. Jesus comes to this same man later, and …

John 5:14 … Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee

Love does not justify sin, but points out that sin is a terrible thing. Sin brings disease, discomfort, and death. The warning that Jesus gives this man shows us that God often uses sickness to get our attention. Listen Beloved,

When sickness brings us to the House of Kindness, and the House of Kindness brings us to Jesus, this is a great blessing from God. Jesus doesn’t help us into the bubbling waters to heal us. Jesus comes to us, and brings with Him Living Waters. Jesus said:

John 4:14 (ESV) … whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

God will not bring the sinner to the bubbling waters. He will bring the waters to the sinner. He will place the power of God’s Spirit into those who receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Those who are Christ’s are creatures with the potential to bring Living Water to all around us. Those who are Christ’s take the message of Jesus to a lost and dying world, a thirsting world, a parched world. We carry the hope of Eternal Life by faith in Christ in us, with us, and are supposed to be stirred not by the Law nor by an angel but by Grace and love and service to the King.

John 5:15-16 … The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole. {16} And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day.

The life grounded in the Law, if it has not Christ, will be brutal, hateful, judgmental, self righteous.

The Pharisees and Priests hated Jesus because he had done these things on the sabbath day. What did Jesus do on the Sabbath day? He alleviated suffering. He ministered to the needy. He lifted up the downtrodden. How would Jesus answer these self righteous men? Jesus said:

John 5:17-18 But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. 18 Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.

Jesus Christ is God. He is God in the flesh. He is God loving, reaching. He is the God Who loves you. Will you not give yourselves to Him this very day? Oh, what a blessing you will find, when you find Jesus. Give your lives to Jesus, and prove your salvation by following Him in love. God, the Giver of the Law, called Jesus to work on the sabbath. Not to till the fields, nor to fish, nor to in any way earn money through the sweat of His brow. No Beloved, this was not the work that Jesus did on the sabbath. The work He did is the work He does even today. Jesus told His disciples:

John 6:27-29 Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. {28} Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? {29} Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

Here is THE work of God – that you believe on and worship Jesus, serving not the Law but Him. All who believe on Him shall never be ashamed. All who believe on Him shall be saved, both now and into eternity. May God bless the preaching of this Word, and cause you to make a commitment to Jesus Christ this very day! For Christ’s glory, may the Spirit and the Word of God impact your hearts! Amen and Amen!

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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