"Do you want to be made well?"
I continue today with the 5th reason to study John's Gospel, and in particular, to come and hear a series of sermons preached on this book of the Bible beginning on Sunday September 4, 2011 at Immanuel Chapel.
Reason #5: Spiritual Priorities. Some time ago a little book was written entitled “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” The title was catchy – and picks up on our tragic preoccupation with relatively unimportant issues or problems. I suppose the flip side of that is equally true. While sweating over minor matters we often fail to deal with bigger problems or more serious concerns. We easily get our priorities out of balance.
The 5th reason to study the Gospel of John is to focus our spiritual priorities. John 5 displays a contrast that we can all relate to. It is the contrast between “my rules” and “God’s rules.” It is the contrast between a life determined to do it “my way” and a life humbly prepared to do things “God’s way.” Let me try to explain this.
The “my ways” and “my rules” focus: In John 5 we find Jesus healing a man who had been paralyzed for 38 years. But when the Jews saw it, rather than rejoicing, they said “It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed.” It is not lawful? Really? Whose law? The Lord had instituted the Sabbath Day (this was Saturday for the Jews) as a blessing and rest from 6 days of work. They were forbidden from conducting business on this day, including the importing and exporting of merchandise. But the carrying of a bed, particularly one from which you had just been delivered, was no sin. But many of the Jews of Jesus day, particularly the spiritual leaders, decided to create their own laws and doctrines, rather than the Lord’s. This whole approach ruined their reading of the Bible (the Old Testament at this point). Jesus said “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.” They were so caught up in “their rules” and “their ways” they couldn’t see God standing before their very eyes.
“God’s rules” and “God’s Way:” Jesus presents a different priority. Listen to what He says in John 5:24 “Most assuredly I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” There is a lot in this little verse. But for now I just want to draw your attention to one statement: “not come into judgment.” In John 5 Jesus makes it clear that there is something far more important than our silly man-made rules about religion, namely, judgment. He spoke of this to the paralyzed man He healed when He said “Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you (John 5:14).” What could be worse than 38 years in bed? The answer is clear: judgment. A few verses later John records Jesus saying that the Father has “committed all judgment to the Son (John 5:22).” A few more verses and He says it again, that Jesus has “authority to execute judgment (John 5:27).” And yet a few more verses and Jesus says in most sobering language that “the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth” and that some of these will be rising to the “resurrection of condemnation (John 5:28-29).” If our spiritual priorities do not take into account the reality and consequences of this judgment, then we are guilty of still doing religion with “our rules” and “our way.”
My friends, do you see the contrast presented in John 5? Do you want to go on living by “your rules” and “your way?” As we study John’s Gospel we are given a far better set of spiritual priorities than the ones we have been living by so far. As we read this Gospel, and especially as we listen to it preached (yep…I’m still trying to get you to come!) let us be willing to put our priorities before the Lord and evaluate them in the light of His Word. What is the most important thing in your life right now: money, success, friends, relationships, pleasures, parties, respect, healing, relief from trouble or trials? What will these things do for us on the Day of Judgment? These things will not help us in that Day if we do not have Jesus Christ. Many in Jesus’ day were not willing to believe in Him. He said “you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life (John 5:40).” What about you? Are you willing to come? Jesus Christ is a willing Savior, and ready to receive you today. Let me close by asking you the question Jesus asked of the paralyzed man, in a sense the most important question in the world: “Do you want to be made well?”