Series: Get up!
Part II: Missing the Point
C. Gray Norsworthy
Johns Creek Presbyterian Church
January 26, 2020
Sermon text: John 5: 1-13
1 After these things, there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now in Jerusalem by the sheep gate, there is a pool, which is called in Hebrew, “Bethesda”, having five porches. 3 In these lay a great multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, or paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water; 4 for an angel went down at certain times into the pool and stirred up the water. Whoever stepped in first after the stirring of the water was healed of whatever disease he had. 5 A certain man was there who had been sick for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had been sick for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to be made well?”7 The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I’m coming, another steps down before me.”8 Jesus said to him, “Arise, take up your mat, and walk.”9 Immediately, the man was made well, and took up his mat and walked.Now that day was a Sabbath. 10 So the Jews said to him who was cured, “It is the Sabbath. It is not lawful for you to carry the mat.”11 He answered them, “He who made me well said to me, ‘Take up your mat and walk.’”12 Then they asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your mat and walk’?”13 But he who was healed didn’t know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a crowd being in the place.14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “Behold, you are made well. Sin no more, so that nothing worse happens to you.”15 The man went away, and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. 16 For this cause the Jews persecuted Jesus and sought to kill him, because he did these things on the Sabbath. 17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is still working, so I am working, too.” 18 For this cause therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the Sabbath, but also called God his own Father, making himself equal with God.John 5: 1-18
What a fantastic text we have today. We have a man who is unable to walk waiting by a pool where the sheep are washed before entering the sanctuary. A whole sermon could be preached on this alone. There was a greek cultic belief that the pool had healing powers and this man is there to receive healing. Jesus asks him if he wants to be healed and this man thinks that Jesus will help carry him into the pool, yet Jesus has another idea. He speaks to him and he is healed.
With His words Jesus causes this man to be healed, why? This is because Jesus is God! He is the, I Am, ego eimi, (ἐγὼ εἰμί). That’s the main point of this text. The man picks up his mat and walks away…the Jewish leaders accused the man of breaking the Sabbath and they want to accuse Jesus of this as well because He worked a healing on the Sabbath. Yet, Jesus tells them that because the Father is working, so the Son is working. By calling God His own Father He is making Himself equal to God and thus they want all the more to kill Him because they think He is committing blasphemy by claiming the Deity of God.
How else would a man be healed by Words? The same God that spoke the creation into being is speaking again to heal. His words do what they say. They are powerful, they are the very Word of God because He is the Word of God. The point of this text is that Jesus is God in the flesh who has come to work healing in us, to heal us from the disease of sin. He will deliver Himself up for our sins and bring us Peace with God with His crucifixion, death, and ressurection for our justification. It is this Gospel message of our sins forgiven, in God’s propitiation, that causes us to be healed. Apart from Him we are in bondage to sin, we belong to the devil, we have no healing, we cannot do anything to remedy our sinful condition. Yet, God in the flesh, has taken our sin upon Himself in His baptism, and paid for it all on the cross, and rose from the grave for your justification, so that by His Words you will have life eternal through the gift of faith. Let’s see if Pastor Norsworthy gives us this message in his sermon or if he too will miss the point.
“Sometimes this even happens to people in the stories from the Bible. Sometimes it’s the duh-sciples who miss the point. Other times it may be the religious leaders of the day, such as the Pharisees. I believe that’s what’s going on in our story today from the gospel of John. It is a story in which Jesus tell someone to “get” up and some of the religious leaders who hear about it simply miss the point.”‘Missing the Point’ by C. Gray Norsworthy of Johns Creek Presbyterian Church
“Now the obvious point here is that the man by the pool who could not walk was not in the business of picking up his mat and walking as his line of work. So, the Jewish leaders miss the point by focusing on the breaking of their interpretations of Sabbath, rather than on the amazing event they have just heard about — a man was healed by Jesus! They simply miss the point!”‘Missing the Point’ by C. Gray Norsworthy of Johns Creek Presbyterian Church
Seems like you might be missing the point. As many people who followed Jesus missed the point of His miracles and signs. They only focused on His miracles and missed the point that they were performed to show that He is the Messiah. That by believing in Him we would have the forgiveness of our sins and eternal life. If we approach Jesus as they did we would have a different Jesus than that of Scripture. We would have a Jesus that heals and makes our earthy lives better, we would have a “life-change” Jesus, instead of a Savior for our sins.
That’s the danger of missing the point. If we see Jesus as someone who He is not, If we see Jesus apart from His redeeming work to save us from the wrath to come, if we only want stuff from Jesus, then we miss Him as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. We quite literally miss the point of who Jesus is and what He does for us.
“So, to our elders-elect, as well as to all of those who have served and are serving as elders, and even to any of us who would be followers of Christ, the message is simple: don’t miss the point. Focus on the main thing. In this story, the main thing was Jesus healing a man and bringing wholeness to his life. Jesus healed – everything else is secondary.”‘Missing the Point’ by C. Gray Norsworthy of Johns Creek Presbyterian Church
“So, when we face the storms and the challenges of life, as scary and as overwhelming as they may seem — as Christians we can choose to keep our focus on Jesus. And if we choose not to do that, we may miss the point — the point being Jesus.”‘Missing the Point’ by C. Gray Norsworthy of Johns Creek Presbyterian Church
“Friends, remember that we worship a Christ who can tell a man who has been unable to walk for 38 years, “Get up!” and the man is healed. We worship a Christ who, in the middle of a storm in a tiny boat out on the water, can sleep calmly because he is the one, the only one, who can calm the storms of life. We worship a God who desires that we not miss the point. So, don’t miss the point! Stay focused on Jesus and he will see us through whatever we face in life.”‘Missing the Point’ by C. Gray Norsworthy of Johns Creek Presbyterian Church
That’s his gospel. I should say that’s his false gospel. Jesus wasn’t crucified so that He could bring wholeness to your life, to calm the metaphorical storms of your life, or to help you overcome obstacles in your life. You, have missed the point.
This is the problem with allegorizing the text and trying to find some new and hidden meaning. Inserting your own ideas, exchanging your role as a pastor for one of a motivational speaker, and abandoning Sola Scriptura will cause you to miss the point of Holy Scripture. You don’t end up approaching God’s Holy Word as it truly being His Authoritative Word, you end up approaching it as if it were a lie, as if your ideas are better, as if you know more than God. You end up commiting the sin of Adam.
Life change isn’t the gospel. Pop psychologically and motivational pep talks aren’t the gospel. God wasn’t crucified to be your idol or magic genie. He was crucified for your sin, to free you from the dominion of the devil, and to deliver you from the wrath to come. God loves you and has delivered you from your slavery into His family. Your sin is forgiven in Him because He is God in the flesh, the propitiation for your sin. You now have peace with God because of His perfect sacrifice. May the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, and may the grace of Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Spirit be with you. With your sins forgiven, go in peace.