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John 5:1-6 Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda[a] and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. [4] [b] 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?”

Do you want to get well?  What kind of question is that?  Who asks that question to someone who has been an invalid for 38 years?  Isn’t the answer obvious?  You would think so, but that isn’t always the case. If this man would become well, how would that change things for him?  He would enjoy having use of his legs, no doubt, but would that mean he would be expected to start working?  Would the help and compassion he may have received over the years dry up?  Would he be expected not only to care for himself but to also begin to care for others?  Perhaps he had been living with friends or family that would now expect him to find his own place.  Maybe the idea of life on his own was overwhelming and caused great fear.  Maybe a better quality of life would require different ways of behaving that he wasn’t interested in adopting.  Maybe being the center of attention in some circles was something he didn’t want to give up.  There are all kinds of reasons why people who are compromised in some way don’t want to get well.

Wherever we are compromised in our lives, whether spiritually, emotionally, relationally, financially, or physically do we want to be well?  Do we want a different quality of life?  Do we want to be elevated in the ways Jesus would desire to elevate us?

“What quality of life are you interested in having?”  Jesus promised His followers abundant life in John 10:10. Abundant life is the result of dependence on and obedience to Jesus. The guy Jesus spoke to didn’t answer Jesus’ question. Instead, he blamed other people for his poor quality of life.  Here is how verse 7 goes:  “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.”

Jesus did something next that showed the man it wasn’t about what other people will or won’t do in your life, but it is about your willingness to do what God asks you to do that will ultimately determine your quality of life.

Verse 8: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 man obeyed Jesus even though the religious laws of the day forbid “doing work” on the Sabbath which meant they forbid him from even carrying a mat.  In order for the man to be healed, however, he had to place his faith in the One who told him to pick up his mat and walk.  He couldn’t let the fear of others stand in his way of abundant life.  Following Jesus will invite criticism from other people, but it is the only way to the elevated life Jesus has promised.

Jesus didn’t just tell him to get up and walk. He told him to pick up his mat as part of the required actions.  Could it be that Jesus didn’t want him leaving his mat by the pool, indicating that he would be back to that spot sometime again? Was there a risk of him leaving his mat as a place holder just in case he needed or wanted to revert or retreat to a previous way of life? 

Sometimes we find help from Jesus in a moment in time, but then we leave a place holder in our old way of life in case things don’t work out the way we think they should in the new way of life.  We are delivered from an addiction, but instead of going home and getting rid of the drugs and alcohol, we keep some hidden just in case a stress arises, and we need some extra help.  We are delivered from a pattern of living, but we continue to hang out with the same people who led us into the pit in the first place.  We get help with a pornography problem, but we don’t get any controls put on our computer or phone or don’t make ourselves accountable to anyone who can ask us the tough questions because, well, now that we are delivered, we think we can just handle things ourselves.  What we don’t realize is that we are leaving our mat behind just in case we decide to go back there once-in-a-while.  It doesn’t work that way.

Pick up the mat.  Carry the mat to the trash or the burn pile.  Make no provision for an old way of life from which Jesus delivers you!  Burn every bridge you walked on that took your life into the pits in the first place. 

Abundant life, quality of life isn’t the result of a one-time obedience or encounter with Jesus, but it is the consistent and faithful pursuit of Him that will take you where He wants you to be.  Jesus had slipped away from the fellow and later caught up with him at the temple.  He wasn’t finished talking to the man about his quality of life. There was more to abundant life than being able to walk.  Jesus wanted the man to walk with Him.  If Jesus had given him the power to rise and walk, Jesus would surely give him the power to walk with and for Him every day.

Look at verse 14:14 Later Jesus found him at the temple (I’m so thankful Jesus knows where to find us, aren’t you?) and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.”

He had gone to the temple because people who found healing were required to go to the temple and make a thanksgiving offering. Jesus said something interesting and direct.  He didn’t threaten to cripple him if he didn’t straighten up, but he helped him understand that sin would cripple his quality of life.  Sin would demolish his quality of life.  It would create more devastation from which he would need to be rescued. Jesus healed him to help him walk, but in this section of our text, Jesus instructed him to help him soar!  “Do you want to get well?” “Do you want to soar?”  Soaring and sinning aren’t compatible.  

A life of sin isn’t abundant life. You can’t say you are pursuing faith if in fact your real pursuit is sin.

Jesus had previously told the man to start walking, and here he tells him to stop sinning.  I could make a case this morning that abundant life is the result of starting what Jesus tells us to start and stopping what Jesus tells us to stop.

How well do we want to be? Jesus tells us to stop sinning in order to experience the best quality of life.

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