Sunday, November 26, 2023

“To Your Amazement” [Matt's Messages]

“To Your Amazement”
Life in Jesus’ Name - The Gospel of John
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
November 26, 2023 :: John 5:19-30 

I would tell you to put on your thinking-caps, but they will probably get blown off by this passage today!

This is one of the most mind-blowing sections of all of holy Scripture. This is the “deep end of the pool.”

In fact, there’s a word that we will probably be using a lot this morning that we should just get out there. It’s the word, “Wow.” You might want to practice saying it, “Wow!” Some of you will want to elongate it to two syllables, “Wowza!” Go ahead and say that. “Wow!”

Because one of the most important applications of this passage for our lives today is simply to be amazed.

I took the title for this sermon from verse 20 where our Lord Jesus tells His hearers that what He is teaching them is going to be “To Your Amazement.”

The King James Version has, “that ye may marvel.”
The New Living Translation says, “you will be truly astonished.”
The Christian Standard Bible has, “you will be amazed.”

So what Jesus is teaching us here is supposed to hit us like a ton of bricks. It is supposed to tax our capacities. It is supposed to bend our brains and blow our minds. And at the same time, we are supposed to receive it.

So, let’s do that. Let’s receive it by faith and let it blow our minds. Let’s take the plunge into the deep end of the pool and swim in our amazement.

I have four points of amazing application this morning, and here’s the first one:


Be amazed to see how God is Son and God is Father.

To really get into this, we have to back up and remind ourselves what we read last Sunday. Verse 18 told us that the leaders of the Jews were trying to kill Jesus. To kill Him!

Do you remember why? It’s because He said two words: “My Father.” To refer to God. He called God, in a way nobody else can, “My Father.” And that made the Jewish leaders want to put Jesus to death.

Can I say it? Wow! 

Do you remember the story? Jesus was walking through the crowd at the pool of Bethesda, and He saw a man lying there who had been unable to walk for 38 years. And Jesus healed that man with a word. He simply said, “Get up! Take up your mat and walk.”

And the guy was immediately healed and took up his bedding and walked away. Probably danced away. Wow!

But this healing happened on a Sabbath day, and that made the Jews mad because this man was now carrying something on the day of rest, and that broke their rules. And so they came after Jesus for healing him and persecuted Jesus, probably with verbal assaults. Fighting words.

But Jesus did not apologize or back down. Instead, Jesus said (verse 17), “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too, am working.” And that’s why they wanted to kill Him. Look at verse 18. “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” (Jn. 5:18 NIVO).

Do you see the logic?

Think about this from their perspective, because they have a point. How many gods are there? What has been engraved into the Jewish mind since the beginning of their nation?

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is [how many?] ONE” (Deut. 6:4 NIVO). “Yawheh our God, Yahweh is ONE.” 

There is only one God, so if anyone else comes along and says that they are God, then that would make two gods, right? And the Jews have learned over and over again (often the hard way) to reject all other gods. Anyone who sets up another god should be rejected, and, under their law, put to death.

So this guy, Jesus, comes along and says, “My Father is working...” even on the Sabbath, and these guys are no dummies. They know that He’s talking about God. God is the only One Who works on the Sabbath without breaking the Sabbath.

God rested from creating on the Sabbath, but He didn’t stop all of His working, did He? If God stopped working on the Sabbath, we would all be in trouble! And Jesus says that He Himself is working on the Sabbath, as well, because He is God’s One and Only Son. 

Jesus is saying that He stands in an unique Son-Father relationship with God. They think it’s blasphemy, and it would be...if it were not true! Verse 18 again, “He was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.”

If God has a Son, what does that make the Son? God, too. Right? If a human man fathers a son from his own nature, then the son is human, too. If God has a Son that comes from His own nature, then that Son is God, as well.

But here’s the thing–there are NOT two Gods.

See, the Jews were concerned that Jesus was setting Himself up as a second God, independent from Yahweh. A second God that would inevitably compete with Yahweh. The Son versus the Father.
But Jesus says that it’s not like that at all.

There is only One God. Only One Supreme Being and that One God is Son and is Father.

{And we’ll learn later on in this book that God is Spirit, as well. But we’ll just deal with one mind-blowing idea for today!}

The Son and the Father are not independent of one another. They are in perfect unity. They are in fact One.

Now, you know this already because you have memorized John 1:1. Remember that?

“In the beginning was the Word...” Remember the “The Word” is another name for God the Son. He was in the beginning before creation. He is eternal.

“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was WITH GOD.” That shows distinction and intimacy, right? WITH GOD. Back in July we called it, “With-ness.” They are perfectly together.

And then how does the verse end? “The Word was with God...and the Word WAS God.” Always. For all eternity.

With-ness and Was-ness. Is-ness. God the Son is with God the Father and the Son is God just like the Father is. And they are not two Gods. But they are Son and Father.

Which gets us into our passage for today. [Yes, that was all by way of introduction.] Look now and marvel at how God is Son and Father. Verse 19. The Jews want to kill Him, so...

“Jesus gave them this answer: ‘I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these” (vv.19-20).

Wow! Just try to wrap your mind around this. It’s okay if it doesn’t go all the way around. It’s meant stretch us. Be amazed.

Jesus says that He tells us the truth. Literally, that’s “Amen and amen.” “Yes and Yes” “Truly and truly.” This is how it is. Listen up! “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by Himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.”

See how close they are? They are not in competition. They are, in fact, in perfect harmony, like a perfect Father and Son. In fact, fathers and sons are actually like what They are! They are the prototype of Son and Father!

In the ancient world, most sons grew up to do what they saw their father doing. So Jesus, for example, grew up in the home of His adoptive father Joseph. And Joseph was a construction worker. A “tekton.” Sometimes translated “carpenter,” so Jesus would have learned by watching His adoptive dad doing his trade and would have also done that trade himself.

“See. Here’s how you make a chair. You make one now.”

In these ways, sonship was, most often, apprenticeship. And Jesus says that God is something like that. God the Father works. He does all kinds of God-things. Like healing on the Sabbath.

And, guess what? God the Son does all kinds of God-things, too! In fact, all the same things. He doesn’t do anything on His own. He does everything with and like His Father.

Theologians call this “the doctrine of inseparable operations.” You can impress Greg Strand with that one next time you see him at Stay Sharp. “I was thinking recently about the doctrine of inseparable operations.” 

Verse 19. “Whatever the Father does the Son also does.” Which shows that they are both God and one God. With-ness and was-ness. They share their very being, and they share all of their actions.

And they share all of their affections. Verse 20. “For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does.” Wow! You can marvel at that one forever and a day. The Father delights in the Son. He loves Him. They are not in competition. They are in perfect harmony. The Father doesn’t hold anything back from the Son. 

And then Jesus kicks it up a notch! He says, “Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these.”

What “greater things” is Jesus talking about?

I think it’s “greater things” that simply healing someone on the Sabbath with a word. It’s greater than all the miraculous things we’ve seen Jesus do so far–knowing things about Nathaniel and the woman at the well. Turning water into wine. Healing the nobleman’s son. Healing this man who has been lame for 38 years. 

Greater things than healing. What could be greater than healing? How about raising the dead?! Look at verse 21. “For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it.”

Wow! Only God can raise the dead, right?  Only God can give someone new life. Jesus says that just as the Father does that, even so He can do it, too. And does. He gives life to whom He is pleased to give it.

Jesus is going to have more to say about that in just a few verses. This pattern gets repeated several times here. 

The Father does something, and so therefore, the Son does, too.
The Father does something, and so therefore, the Son does, too.

But in verse 22, Jesus says that the Father has delegated something to the Son to do that, in some way, even the Father won’t do! Look at verse 22.

“Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son...”

Wow. How’s that for amazing?! “To your amazement” is right! 

God the Father can judge (and I’m sure that because of inseparable operations, He still does judge in some way as verse 30 will make clear), but He has entrusted the Son to be the executor of judgment in a way that no one else is.

So now you know Who your ultimate judge is going to be. You know the name of your judge. It is “Jesus.”

And here’s why the Father has given judgment to the Son. Verse 23.

“...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.” 


That’s why the Father has given Jesus the job of judgment, so we should make every effort to honor Him. Honor God the Son as we honor God the Father.

You see the logic here? Imagine going to a master craftsman’s shop and finding a father master craftsman and a son master craftsman working together in perfect master craftsman unity.

And you want their best craft item their list. And the father craftsman says, “We will make you one of those. In fact, my son will make it for you. He can do everything I do just as well as I do. So I’m going to give this project to him.”

Do you see how that honors the Son? It says that He has everything the Father has. It says that He is everything the Father is. He is the father’s equal in everything. Including in eternal judgment. 

Now, the analogy breaks down, of course, because in the master craftsman’s shop, the father and the son are different beings, not just different persons. And the craftsman son had to learn his craft. He isn’t eternally a perfect craftsman, too.

God the Son and God the Father are one eternal being. 

But the truth shines through. God the Father has honored God the Son with the job of judgment to show that He is equal with the Father. He is God.

He is God the “monogenays.” He is God the One and Only! 

And we should honor Him. Because if you don’t honor Jesus, you are not honoring God the Father.  Do you see that?

There a lot of ways to dishonor Jesus. You can treat Him as lesser than the Father. Many heretics have done that over the centuries. You can treat Him like just a good teacher or a moral example. Or even just a prophet. Many of today’s world religions say that Jesus is a great prophet. 

But if you don’t honor Jesus as God the Son, you are not honoring God the Father.

A bunch of people got together over some waffles this morning down that hallway to talk about how to honor Jesus this Advent Season. I was so encouraged to hear about that.

How are you honoring Jesus right now?

Some people want to make Jesus out to be just a nice person. But that will not do. Because of what He said here, right? I mean if someone says this about Himself, he’s either a colossal liar or a crazy lunatic or the Lord Himself. Right?

Have you heard that “tri-lemma” before? C.S. Lewis, who died 60 years ago this last week, made that argument really strongly in his books. Jesus is either a liar, a lunatic, or the Lord. Those are the only options for Someone who talks like this.

Isn’t this amazing how Jesus talks about Himself? This is shocking stuff. For a human to run around saying that all people should honor Him or they are not honoring God the way they should, is just breath-taking! No wonder they wanted to kill Him.

You see how close He says He was to God? He was saying that He was WITH God and He WAS God!

And if you don’t honor Him, you aren’t honoring God!

And He says something even more amazing. Look at verse 24. This is incredibly important. What a crucial truth from the lips of Jesus! Verse 24.

“‘I tell you the truth [amen amen], whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.”

That’s our next verse to memorize as a church. Everybody should have this one embedded in your mind and heart. Because your eternal destiny rides on it. 


Again, see how they are in perfect unity. Listen to verse 24. “‘I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.”

What a precious truth. Just think about it. “...he has crossed over from death to life." A person in that state has gone from heading to hell to heading to heaven. A person has crossed over being spiritually dead to being spiritually alive. 

And that person will not be condemned. They are forgiven. They are free. They are redeemed. They are not under eternal judgment. Instead, they have eternal life! Do you see how this is life and death? This is eternal life and eternal death.

You and are born headed towards eternal death. We deserve condemnation because of our sins. We deserve to persish. But Jesus has come and died in our place for our sins. He has been sent. He he has been given.

In the words of John 3:16, “God so loved the world that He GAVE His One and Only SON that whoever BELIEVES in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”

That’s the same truth here. Whoever hears the word of the Son (the word of the Word!) and believes him who sent the Son [that’s the Father!] has eternal life [right now!] and will not be condemned [ever!]; he has crossed over from death to life.

Have you crossed over?

Everybody has to do it or they are still on the side of death. If you don’t know if you have crossed over, it is quite possible that you have not. And some who think they have not because they haven’t listened to word of the Son calling them to repent and believe in what He has done and what He has done alone for eternal life.

Have you crossed over?

Some aren’t sure exactly when they crossed over. That’s okay. I can’t remember when I was born, but I know was because I’m alive. What’s important is to have made the cross over to life.

Hear the Word of the Son and believe the Father Who sent Him to die in your place and you will have eternal life (right now) and will not be condemned (for eternity).

That’s the gospel! That’s the good news of Jesus Christ, and it’s the best news in all of the world.

And it’s what Jesus is to up to right now. Look at verse 25.

“I tell you the truth [again, amen and amen], a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.”

The timing there is really important. Notice that it’s about a time that is coming and has now come because Jesus has come and is coming again. 

The dead here are, I think, spiritually dead. They are dead in their trespasses and sins. They haven’t crossed over yet. But the Son of God has now come and called for their faith, and those who hear His call and respond in faith will live. They will have life in Jesus’ name.

Have you heard His voice calling to you? And have you responded by believing the One Who sent Him? If so, then you have life.

How is it that the Son can give us this life?

If you thought this couldn’t get any more amazing, you have another think coming. Because in verse 26, Jesus kicks it up another astonishing notch. Verse 26.

“For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself.”


So the Son can give life because He has life in himself. And He gets that life in Himself in some way from the Father. Notice that it does not say that the Son gets His life from the Father. It’s more complicated than that. 

The Son is not like every other living thing in creation that gets its life from the Father. The Son is like the Father. He has life in Himself.

This is only true of God. God is self-existent. He is uncreated. No one created God the Father. That’s part of what it means for Him to be Yahweh which is related to the word for “Is” or “Be.” When God says, “I am.” God is self-existent. He has life in Himself.

Now, Who created the Son? No one! The Son has eternally existed as the Son. As the Son of the Father. And the Father has eternally granted to the Son to be self-existent. To have life in Himself.

They both have the same Godness. The same uncreated self-existence. And Father has given it to the Son by virtual their eternal relationship of Father and Son.

The big theological word for that is “eternal generation.” Eternal Father and Sonship. 

And the preposition is “from.” So the Son is not just with God and was God but is always also FROM God. He has eternal with-ness and was-ness and from-ness. And you see why I call this the deep end of the pool! Wow.

And this is why the Eternal Son has Eternal Life to give to you and me.

Because He has unlimited, self-generated, self-replenishing life in Himself to dispense as He pleases.

And He also has authority to judge. Verse 27.

“And he [the Father] has given him [the Son] authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.”

Jesus is the One predicted in the Old Testament Who would come to be the judge of all humankind and the Savior of His people (cf. Daniel 7:13).

As we saw in verse 22, the Father has entrusted to the Son the authority to judge. The authority to decide forever where someone spends their eternity. Jesus says that that authority belongs to Him. 

And then He says this. Verse 28.

“Do not be amazed at this...”

I can’t help but laugh when I read that because everything He has said here has been amazing. 

I don’t think he actually means to not be astonished. I think he means, don’t let yourself be so shocked that you can’t receive what I’m saying. That you say, “Oh, that can’t be true.” ain’t seen nothing yet! V.28

“Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out–those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me” (vv.28-30).

Jesus says, “Hold onto your hats, because there is a time coming (and unlike verse 25 it’s not yet come) when I am going to say the word and people won’t just be healed, people are going to come out of their graves.

In fact, ALL WHO ARE IN THEIR GRAVES will come out!

At the voice of Jesus.

In chapter 11, we’ll see a foretaste of this when Jesus says to a dead man, “Lazarus, come out” and Lazarus walks out of his tomb alive. If He had not specified Lazarus, every grave would have opened. Wow.

“[T]hose who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.” And Jesus will decide.

What will He use to decide? Jesus will look at our lives and see if they have evidence of faith in Him. That’s what He means in verse 29, “Those who have done good.” He doesn’t mean those who have live clean moral lives and done more good than bad. He means those whose lives have been changed because they have put their faith in Him. 

He just said in verse 24 that those who will not be condemned are those who heard the word of the Son and believed the Father. That’s the same people as verse 29, “Those who have done good.” And “those who have done evil” in verse 29 are those who have never crossed over from unbelief to faith, from death to life. We are judged by our works to see if they show we have faith.

And Jesus will know. And He will judge justly. He will judge in perfect harmony with His Father.

He is not some independent rival god that threatens the Father. He is God the Son eternally begotten of the Father, from the Father and with the Father, seeking to please the Father in everything. He echoes verse 19 in verse 30.

“By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me" (vv.28-30).


Are you ready for that?

There’s no fooling Him. You and I will not get off on a technicality. The judge will not make any mistakes. He will see if we have faith in Him or not. He is bent on pleasing His Father, and there is no injustice in His Father.

And the day is coming soon. Either the day of our death or the day of His return.

To our amazement.


Messages in this Series

01. "That You May Believe" - John 20:30-31
02. "In The Beginning Was the Word" - John 1:1-18
03. "John's Testimony" - John 1:19-34
04. "Come and See" - John 1:35-51
05. "The First of His Miraculous Signs" - John 2:1-11
06. "This Temple" - John 2:12-25
07. "You Must Be Born Again" - John 3:1-15
08. "God So Loved The World" - John 3:16-21
09. "Above All" - John 3:22-36
10. "Living Water" - John 4:1-26
11. "Ripe for the Harvest" - John 4:27-42
12. "Your Son Will Live" - John 4:43-54
13. "Pick Up Your Mat and Walk" - John 5:1-18

Sunday, November 19, 2023

“Pick Up Your Mat and Walk” [Matt's Messages]

“Pick Up Your Mat and Walk”
Life in Jesus’ Name - The Gospel of John
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
November 19, 2023 :: John 5:1-18 

In many ways, this is a story about how NOT to respond to Jesus.

One of the reasons why God gave us this story in His scriptures is to show us how some people responded poorly to Jesus so that we can learn from what they did wrong.

That actually happens a lot in the gospels, especially in these middle parts of the story when Jesus begins to have more and more conflict with the Jewish religious authorities. That conflict started already in chapter 2 when Jesus cleared out the temple, but it continues here to grow and grow and grow.

In our passage for today, it grows to the point where they are already starting to try to kill Him. How not to respond to Jesus!

But I’m getting ahead of the story. The story starts with a miracle.

Let’s go back to verse 1 of chapter 5.

“Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for a feast of the Jews. 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. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie–the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.” 

Do you get the picture in your mind’s eye?

Jesus has returned to the South at some point for a feast of the Jews in Jerusalem. We’re not sure which one. It doesn’t matter for this story. What matters is that Jesus is there. And He’s not just in Jerusalem. He’s visiting the pool of Bethesda (which probably means “The Home of Mercy”) which is a great name for this particular place.

Because there is a lot of suffering there. A lot of need for mercy. There was this pool near the Sheep Gate, and it had five covered walkways (colonnades, which are a row of columns that have a ceiling across them to provide shade for those walking or laying under them). 

Many scholars believe this is the same place as the two pools near St. Anne’s church in modern day Jerusalem. If so, the pool was about as large as a football field and as much as twenty feet deep.

And there were hundreds of disabled people lying around it. “A great number,” John says. Some were blind. Most could not move on their own. They were paralyzed or too weak to walk.

This must have been a very sad place. This was not a hospital. This was a place where people went after they had gone to the hospital and there was nothing more the doctors could do. They couldn’t work. They weren’t getting better. They were just there.

And I’m not surprised to find Jesus there. Jesus always waded into places of suffering.  You and I might avoid a place like this, but I’m not surprised to see Jesus there.

Now, apparently, one of the reasons why these people hung out there was that they believed there was “power in the pool.” Some of you have an extra verse in your Bible that was probably added later (not by John) that says something like these people were “waiting for the moving of the waters; for 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” (Jn. 5:3-4 NAS).

Those words are not in the earliest and best manuscripts, so they were probably not written by John, but put in there later by a scribe who wanted to help readers understand why those folks were gathered around the pool.

It’s likely that the pool was fed with an underground spring, so from time to time the waters did bubble, and it would be easy for people to latch onto that and hope that it meant an angel would heal the first person in. Power in the pool! People will latch on to all kinds of things when they have very little hope.

Well, Jesus was there and saw all of this, and he specifically saw one man who had been lying there for 38 years. Almost four decades of lying there, weak and powerless and paralyzed and unable to get around on his own. Look at verse 5.

“One who was there 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, ‘Do you want to get well?’” (vv.5-6).

Isn’t that an interesting thing for Jesus to ask? You might think it might be obvious. And maybe it was. Maybe that was a no-brainer. Of course he wanted to be well, to be whole, to be healed. Who wouldn’t?! But Jesus doesn’t tend to ask no-brainers, does He? No, Jesus often asks questions to get to our hearts. “Do you want to get well?”

If this man was healed, his whole life would change. For one thing, he’d have to go to work. He has been “on disability” for 38 years. He’s had to live on the charity of others for four decades. We don’t know how old he was. Maybe that’s all of his life. His identity would change. He would no longer be defined by his disability which sounds great, but who would be now? Does he even want to find out?

He has not sought out Jesus. Jesus has picked out him. And so Jesus asks, “Do you want to get well?”

And you and I know that all of Jesus’ healings are just a foretaste, a picture of the greatest healing ever–healing from our sins–salvation.

So, I think this is a great question for us to hear Jesus asking us too, “Do you want to get well? Do you want to be saved? Do you want ultimate healing? Do you really want your life to really change?” Do you?

This man does want to be healed. He says that’s why he’s there. Verse 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.’”

He obviously doesn’t know Whom he’s talking to. He is fixated on how he can’t get to the power in the pool. He doesn’t realize the power of the Person right in front of him.

But he clearly does want to be healed. So Jesus...just heals him!

He doesn’t ask him to believe in him.
He doesn’t get him over to the pool.

Just like last week, Jesus just says the word and it happens. The Word gives the word, and it comes to pass.  Verse 8. Our sermon title for today.

“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.”

Can you imagine?!!! Just think about that. For 38 years, his legs did not work. And Jesus just said, “Get up!” and he could get up. Jesus said, “Walk” and he could walk!

He knew it immediately. “At once.” BAM! Just like that. He could stand up and walk. Can you imagine what that must have felt like? I cannot. But this man was living it.

And everyone around Him praised God and began to trust in Jesus.

Uh, no. That’s NOT what happened.

Remember, this is a story about how not to respond to Jesus. Verse 10 says that this man quickly encountered people who got angry that he was healed. Because of the day when Jesus did the healing. Look at the end of verse 9.

“The day on which this took place was a Sabbath [uh oh], and so the Jews said to the man who had been healed, ‘It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.’”

Yes, you heard that right. The Jewish Religious Leaders find this guy taking a stroll on the Sabbath, and they get in his face about it. “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”

That’s your takeaway?! That’s what you are focused on?

I’ve got three points of application I want to make this morning about how to not respond poorly to Jesus, and here’s the first one:


Don’t miss the power of Jesus. These guys are totally blind to what Jesus has just done. They don’t even see it.  All they see is a guy carrying his straw mat on a Saturday morning.

The guy tries to tell them. Verse 11.

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

“I was just healed. From 38 years of paralysis! This man made me whole again. And he said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ So I did”

And what part of that did they hear? All they heard was that some guy told him to break their rules. That’s all they hear. V.12

“So they asked him, ‘Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?’ The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there” (vv.12-13).
Now, just for the record, it was not against the Law to carry a mat on the Sabbath. The Law forbid work on the Sabbath, so if you were a professional mover, you probably shouldn’t have been carrying beds around. You need to take that day to rest. That’s a day of rest.

But the Jews had made all kinds of rules about the Law to make sure that no one ever got anywhere close to breaking the Law (though they had plenty of loopholes for themselves when it suited them, too). And one of their rules was to not take possessions from one place to another on the Sabbath.

And this guy was taking his bed somewhere. His straw mat. Oooooh.

They were missing the point of the Sabbath, but they were missing the power of Jesus altogether!

“Who does He think He is? Telling you to carry something on the Sabbath?”

I don’t know? Maybe the guy who just worked an amazing miracle with nothing but a simple sentence? “Pick up your mat and walk.” And look at me walk!

There are a lot of ways that we can miss the power of Jesus. The man who was healed might have missed the power of Jesus if he had said he didn’t want to be healed after all. The Jews missed the power of Jesus because they were focused on their rules. 

You and I might miss the power of Jesus because we just don’t slow down enough to see it. One of the great things about the Thanksgiving holiday is that we are given an opportunity to slow down and think about all of the amazing wonderful things that Jesus has done for us. So easy to take them for granted.

It strikes me that this man never thanks Jesus in this story. At this point in the story, he hasn’t even learned His name!

But it’s nothing like how hard-hearted these leaders were. They heard about this healing, and all they could think about was how their rules were being broken.

They should be praising God and seeking out and following Jesus. But instead they are locked in bitterness and focused on themselves.

Don’t miss Jesus’ power.


The point of the Sabbath, or the point of His healing.

Jesus runs into this man once again, later on. We don’t know how much time has passed. But the man is still healed. And Jesus finds him and has a warning for him. Look at verse 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.’”

Wow. Those are ominous words, aren’t they? They are supposed to be. The last time these two people met, Jesus said, “Do you want to get well?” And this time, Jesus says, “See, you are well...” So He reminds this man of what Jesus did for him. But Jesus says, that’s nothing compared to what is coming if you do not repent.

“Your suffering of being paralyzed was nothing compared to what that suffering represents–judgment. Something much worse.”

Jesus is not saying that if this man continues in his sins that he will be paralyzed again. That’s possible, of course, especially if his sins are dangerous ones! 

But he's saying that just like the healing was a foretaste of something glorious to come, his past suffering was a foretaste of something dreadful that is coming for all who remain in their sins.

That’s the point. And Jesus says, don’t miss the point. Repent!

Remember, Jesus is after our hearts. He’s not just after our bodies. He cares about our bodies. He wants us to be well.

But just like we saw last week, Jesus has something much more important in mind than our physical health and life. He is aimed at our spiritual health and life!

“Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” Something like Hell.

Now, of course, we can’t just “stop sinning” like turning off a faucet or switching off the lights. But we can repent of our sins and trust in Jesus for salvation and sanctification. We can turn away from whatever sins have had us in their grip and take an off-ramp through faith in Jesus and what He did on the Cross and at the Empty Tomb.

What sins do you need to stop? What changes do you need to make in your life?

You can’t just do it yourself any more than this guy could have gotten himself into the pool. But Jesus is here to heal, and not just our bodies. But our souls. He can give us power to say NO to temptation. And, by faith, to live holy lives that please Him. That’s the point. That’s the point of all of the good gifts that He has given you. 

It would be easy to go into Thanksgiving this week and praise Jesus for all of His gifts, and then turn around and use all of those gifts for selfish sinful purposes.

Jesus gives us His gifts to enjoy and to show love with, to be holy with. Don’t miss the point. “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.”  You don’t want to go to Hell. Stop.

I don’t know if this guy did that. I don’t know what he did with the healing Jesus gave him. I don’t know what he did with the warning that Jesus gave him either. He’s not a great example. Even here, it doesn’t say that he was grateful. In fact, it looks like he turns tattletale on Jesus. V.15

“The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.”

At least he now gave Jesus the credit. It have been the blame! But there was no mistaking Who it was Who had healed this man. It was Jesus. Number three and last.


Don’t miss Who Jesus really is. This man has identified his healer as Jesus. And that healing took place on a Sabbath, so that puts Jesus directly in the crosshairs of the Jewish Religious Authorities. Verse 16.

“So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted him.”

Apparently it would have been okay if an angel had healed in the man in the pool on a Saturday, but it wasn’t any good for Jesus to do it with a Word on a Sabbath, especially if he was telling people to walk around with their mat in their hands on the Sabbath. Oh no, not that.

So the Jews press in. We don’t know exactly what the persecution looked like. It was harassment at least at this point. And how do you think Jesus will take that?

Do you think that Jesus will apologize? “I’m sorry. I was just trying to help.”

Do you think that Jesus will defend Himself?  “Let me try to explain how my actions actually fit within your rules.”

Or do you think that Jesus will go on the offensive?

Look at verses 17 and 18. “Jesus said to [to those persecuting Him], ‘My Father is always at his work to 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.” Don’t miss the Person of Jesus. 

We’re going to get into this more next week and the following week, Lord-willing. It’s some great stuff!

But here’s the basic logic: God rested on the Sabbath day, right? Right! But He also has to work on the Sabbath day or we’re all in a world of trouble. If God stops His work, then everything goes to pot, right? So God can’t break the Sabbath right? He’s Lord of the Sabbath.

And Jesus says, “Yep, and He’s my Dad.” “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too, am working.” 

You see, the Jews are not wrong about Who Jesus is claiming to be. They get it right in verse 18. He keeps calling God His Father in a way that you and I can’t. In a way that only the One and Only Son can call Him Father. They are just wrong in believing that Jesus is wrong!

Jesus does not deny working on the Sabbath. He just says that’s what God the Son should be doing.

“So, yes, you’ve got it right. I’m saying that I am God the Son.”

And that makes Him equal with God. Don’t miss that! Don’t miss that Jesus is not just some healer. He’s not just the Messiah. He isn’t just the Son of God. He’s God the Son!

That’s why they want to kill Him. Because they think He’s blaspheming. Because this is Who He says He is. Which leads us to answer the question for ourselves.

Who do you believe Jesus is?

So this is how NOT to respond to Jesus. Don’t miss His power. Don’t miss His point. Don’t miss His person. Because the power is not in the pool. 

The power is in the Person of Jesus of Jesus Christ. Let’s worship Him!


Sunday, November 12, 2023

“Your Son Will Live” [Matt's Messages]

“Your Son Will Live”
Life in Jesus’ Name - The Gospel of John
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
November 12, 2023 :: John 4:43-54 

Why do you believe in Jesus?

It’s good, from time to time, to take a look again at why you put your faith in Jesus Christ in the first place. If you believe in Jesus, and I assume that most of us here do, why do you?

What led you to put your faith in Jesus Christ?
What reasons do you have for trusting in Him?

There doesn’t have to be just one reason. In fact, there are probably many for most of us. But it’s good to take stock from time to time and ask our hearts why they believe.

Because there are some really good reasons out there and there are also some bad reasons to believe. Reasons that are built on false assumptions or faulty foundations. And if those reasons were found to be weak, then our faith might be shaken or even fall away.

In today’s story, Jesus warns the people He’s talking to about how they might be building their faith [in Him!] on the wrong foundation. And I think that we can really learn from it for our lives today. Let’s take a closer look. Starting in verse 43.

“After the two days he left for Galilee.”

And she had believed in Him. And more than that, she had told her neighbors, her fellow Samaritan villagers about Him, and they had believed in Him! And they had invited Jesus to stay with them for two days, and He did!

What a miracle! Jews and Samaritans living together in harmony with the Messiah among them. They had come to believe for themselves (v.42) that Jesus “is the Savior of the world!” Not just for Jews. But for half-breed Samaritans, as well. And more than that, even for the Gentiles.

So those two days are over now and Jesus continues on His journey. Remember in this Gospel the story started up in Galilee in the region where Jesus had grown up. And then He had gone down south and visited Jerusalem and cleaned out the temple and met with Nicodemus. Now He’s headed up north again. He had to go through Samaria. But now He’s headed back towards his home town.

And He does not expect it to go all that well. V.44

“(Now Jesus himself had pointed out that a prophet has no honor in his own country.)”

Jesus knows how this works. Local boys are often not taken seriously, especially if they have a negative evaluation of their hometown. It’s one thing to come back home and praise your town, but if you act like a prophet upon your return and tell your hometown everything that they need to change, it’s easy to get discounted right away. Jesus said on multiple occasions that a prophet has no honor in his own country. And, yet, He still goes there.

But what’s really strange is what it says in verse 45. 

“When he arrived in Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him. They had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, for they also had been there.”

Isn’t it interesting to read verse 44 and then verse 45? You might have expected from what Jesus said in verse 44 that they were going to kick Jesus out not “welcome him!”

But John thinks that verse 45 fits perfectly with verse 44, and I’m sure he’s right. Because, look at how they welcomed Him by why they welcomed Him. “They had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, for they also had been there.”

They had their eyes on the power of Jesus. Word was getting around that Jesus could do things. These Galileans had seen it for themselves. Jesus was powerful, and they welcomed Him.

They believed. They had faith, of a sort, because of what they saw.

And that’s kind of dangerous. We’ve seen a faith like this already in the Gospel of John. Remember the end of chapter 2? Verse 23.

“...while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many people saw the miraculous signs he was doing and believed in his name. But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. He did not need man's testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man” (Jn. 2:23-25 NIVO). Remember that?

There is a kind of superficial “faith” in Jesus that is not always lasting faith because it’s built on the wrong things. And Jesus always knows. He knows that this “welcome” is not necessarily a good thing. Because they aren’t really trusting in Him, they are just eyeing His power. And thinking about what that power could do for them.

That’s what’s on Jesus’ mind when this royal official shows up on the scene. Look at verse 46.

“Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum.  When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death.”

Got the story in your mind?

Where is Jesus? He’s in Cana in Galilee. That’s the same place where He did that first quiet miracle we read about in chapter 2. Jesus turned the water into wine and saved the wedding and brought them all joy. And His disciples saw it and believed. It was a sign. Remember that it was sign? Like a signpost? Like my sign with the Welsh Dragon that says, “I {Heart} Wales” on it? 

That miracle was a sign, for the limited group who saw it, that Jesus is the Messiah.

So Jesus is back at that location, and He gets a visitor from a town about 20 miles away, Capernaum. And this visitor is a royal official. We don’t know his name. He was probably a Gentile and a member of the household of Herod Antipas who ruled that area. He was probably rich and powerful.

He could have bought anything he wanted, but all of his money could not buy the life of his son.

His son was sick.
His son was dying.
His son was, in fact, almost dead.

Can you imagine how he felt?

Some of you don’t have to imagine. You have had your children be very sick. Some of you have had your children die. Heather and I had a daughter who died in utero. We never got to dedicate her on a Sunday morning. We’ve rushed children to the hospital. Some of you were children who were very sick. Some of you may have been very close to death. It’s not hard to imagine this man’s desperation.

He’s not just a royal official. He is a dad. A scared dad. And he’s come to Jesus because he’s heard that Jesus is powerful. 

So that makes what Jesus says in verse 48 feel so harsh. This is what He says:

“‘Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders,’ Jesus told him, ‘you will never believe.’”

That’s a rebuke. That’s a clapback. This man comes begging Jesus for help, and Jesus responds with these strong words, “Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders, you will never believe.”

For Jesus to talk this way, there must be something more important to Jesus than saving the life of this child. And that is calling these people to genuine saving faith in Him. 

Notice that this rebuke is not just for this man. The “you” in verse 48 is plural. That’s why the NIV has “you people.” He’s rebuking all of the folks in the crowd who are just there for the miracles. They are just there for healings. They are just there for the power. They have their focus in the wrong place. 

They are focused only on what they can “see.” 

I’ve got two points this morning summarize the truth of this story, and here’s the first one:


We normally saying, “Seeing is believing.” Or, “I’ll believe it when I see it.”

Jesus rebukes these people from having to see miracles to believe in Him. He says that they won’t believe unless they see. And He’s intimating that that approach is faulty. It’s going to lead them astray.  They are focused on the wrong thing. They are seeing Jesus as some kind of a magician or like a vending machine. If you do the right thing, then the power will come out.

They are focused on the spectacle. They are focused on the miracle. They are demanding that that see first and then they will believe.

But Jesus knows that seeing is not necessarily believing. 

You can see these miracles and not put your faith and trust in Him. We’re going to see that again and again the Gospel of John. People are going to be healed by Jesus and instead of believing in Jesus, some people are going to hate Him more. 

When Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead[!], the Jewish religious leaders are going to start scheming up how to kill Lazarus again and to kill Jesus, too. And they do! Seeing does not always lead to believing.

Sometimes it does, and there is nothing wrong with seeing.

These miracles are signs. They are signposts. You are supposed to see them and believe. But you don’t put all of your focus on the sign. You don’t keep staring at the sign, but at what the sign is pointing to.

If the sign says, “Bridge Out Ahead,” you don’t keep saying, “What a beautiful sign” as you drive on by focusing on the sign. “I really like how PennDOT designs those signs!” No, you put on the brakes!!!

And you also don’t say, “Unless the sign says the bridge is out, then I will just drive wherever I want. No matter if the bridge is gone. I demand a sign or I will just drive!” That’s what Jesus is saying. These folks are demanding a sign or they will not believe. And Jesus says that they are too focused on what they have seen and what they can see. They are too focused on the power of Jesus and are missing the Person of Jesus. And that’s more important than even our life and health.

So I ask you again: Why Do You Believe In Jesus? What are the reasons you put your faith in Him?

I think a lot of people “believe” in Jesus because of what He can do for them.

Jesus can cure my cancer.
Jesus can put my family back together.
Jesus can get me a better job.
Jesus can lift my depression.
Jesus can save my business.
Jesus can heal my child.

Yes, Jesus can.

But what if Jesus doesn’t? Some people have taught that Jesus will do all of those things if you just believe. And if they don’t happen, then you must not have had enough faith. That’s called the “Prosperity Gospel,” and it is poison.

I have seen a lot of people walk away from Christianity because bad things happened to them or to their family, and they are “mad at God” or “disappointed in God.”

Their cancer came back.
Their parents got divorced.
They lost their job and got a worse one.
Their depression did not go away.
Their business went under.
Their child died.

And they hit the road. The lost their faith. Because their faith was built on the wrong foundation. They had been focused on the power of Jesus instead of the Person of Jesus.

He didn’t keep promises He had never made and so they walked away.

Seeing is not believing. “We walk by faith not by sight” (2 Cor 5:7). Don’t focus on what Jesus can do for you. Focus on Who Jesus is. 

Jesus is not being callous to this man or to the crowd. He is raising their gaze to something higher than even health and life. “I am not a magician or a miracle-dispensing vending machine. I don’t give out miracles on demand. And if you build your faith on seeing my miracles, you are going to be disappointed, and your faith will fail you. I won’t fail you, but your faith will fail.”

When people walk away from God because they are mad at Him for not doing the thing they wanted Him to do, I feel bad for them. I keep praying for them. But I am not surprised and I am disappointed in them because they have clearly put their faith in the wrong thing. They have put the focus of their faith on the blessings of God instead of the God of the blessings. The gifts instead of the giver.

Are the gifts bad? Are miracles and signs and wonders bad? Are blessings bad? 

Of course not! This is the season when we most give thanks for all of God’s blessings. But we give thanks on mountains high and in valley low. We give thanks wherever we go.

Have you been praying for something recently? Maybe something big. And have you told the Lord that unless He does what you are asking for, then you will no longer believe? Maybe you haven’t said it in so many words, but it’s in your head.

“Seeing is believing, Lord. We’ll see if you come through. And then I’ll believe.”

That’s the kind of dangerous faith that Jesus is rebuking here.

What if God says, “No” to the thing you are praying for most fervently now? And you can’t imagine why He might say, “No.”

Determine right now to keep on trusting Him even if you can’t see it. Even if you don’t see it. Seeing is not believe. Believe, even if you cannot see.

That doesn’t mean stop asking. It doesn’t mean stop praying desperately. It just means stop demanding that your will be done or you won’t believe.

This man takes the rebuke. He doesn’t offer an excuse or try to defend his shaky faith. Very wisely, he just keeps asking the One Who has the power to save his boy. Verse 49.

“The royal official said, ‘Sir, come down before my child dies.’”

What a beautiful prayer! He asks Jesus to travel 20-25 miles to Capernaum to wield His healing power and save his son. And Jesus...does not come. But He does heal! Jesus does care. Jesus does the miracle. After that rebuke, you might have thought that He was going to say, “No,” but He doesn’t.

He has used the moment of everyone’s attention to focus on what was even more important, but in His grace He speaks the word to the heal the child.  Verse 50.

“Jesus replied, ‘You may go. Your son will live.’”

There’s our sermon title for today. It’s shows up again in verse 53.

“Your son will live.” It’s literally in the present tense in the Greek, “Your son lives.” And not just that he’s not dead yet, but he’s healed. He’s going to be alive tomorrow. “Your son lives.” “You son will live.”

And here’s the most amazing thing, verse 50. 

“The man took Jesus at his word and departed.”

He turned around and left. 
He didn’t beg Jesus any more. 
He didn’t beg Him to come with Him.
He just believed what Jesus said and headed home.

Here’s how much he believed. Look at verse 51.

“While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. [What good news!] When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, ‘The fever left him yesterday at the seventh hour.’

Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, ‘Your son will live.’ So he and all his household believed. This was the second miraculous sign that Jesus performed, having come from Judea to Galilee.”

Now, did you catch it? Did you see how much He believed?

We’re amazed (and rightly so) that the boy was healed at the exact time that Jesus said, “Your son will live.”

But when did this man learn of this? It was the next day, right? The servants said, “Yesterday, at the seventh hour.” That’s 1:00 in the afternoon.

How fast do you walk? I walk about 4 miles an hour. I try to walk about 4 miles every morning before breakfast, and it takes me about an hour. So if it’s 25 miles from Cana to Capernaum, and it’s downhill most of the way, it seems like he could have gotten home the day before. Especially if he thought he was never going to see his son alive again. It seems like he could have been home before bedtime.

Of course, we don’t know why he took so long to get home. Maybe he was exhausted from the uphill journey to get there. Maybe he couldn’t travel at night because of treacherous conditions. We don’t know. But we do know that it was the next day he go there, and I can’t help but think that he took his time because he believed the word of Jesus.

Verse 50 said, “The man took Jesus at his word...”

Here’s point number two and last:


When we put our trust in Jesus and what Jesus has promised, then it gives us a kind of spiritual sight. We see Who Jesus is and trust that He will do exactly what He says He will do. We see it! With the eyes of faith. 

And then, one day, we see it with our own physical eyes. There are many things that God has promised that we do not yet see. Heaven is one of them. Our full salvation in the New Heavens and the New Earth. We are told about them, and we have a taste of it, but it’s still our hope. Paul says, “But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?” (Rom. 8:24 NIVO).

But one day our faith will be made sight. If we believe, then we will see. Believing is seeing.

This man believed in Jesus with the eyes of faith. And He believed what Jesus said. He believed Jesus’ promise. He believed the word of the Word. And He saw what Jesus had promised come true.

And so did his whole family. So they all believed. Including, I’ll bet, his boy. Who lived!

Which was a sign. Verse 54 says that it was another sign that pointed to Jesus being the Messiah. Jesus did it long distance. From far away. But Jesus did it. Verse 54 says, “Jesus performed” this sign. And it was another signpost for those with eyes of faith to see that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God. And you know what happens to people who believe--they have life in Jesus’ name.

Do you believe in Jesus? Why do you believe in Jesus?

Is it just because He is powerful? Because He can do something for you? Or do you simply believe just because of Who He is? Believing is seeing.


Messages in this Series

01. "That You May Believe" - John 20:30-31
02. "In The Beginning Was the Word" - John 1:1-18
03. "John's Testimony" - John 1:19-34
04. "Come and See" - John 1:35-51
05. "The First of His Miraculous Signs" - John 2:1-11
06. "This Temple" - John 2:12-25
07. "You Must Be Born Again" - John 3:1-15
08. "God So Loved The World" - John 3:16-21
09. "Above All" - John 3:22-36
10. "Living Water" - John 4:1-26
11. "Ripe for the Harvest" - John 4:27-42