Sermon – January 13, 2019

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John 5:1-18 – An Allegory of Salvation (mp3)

Our salvation ought to be a dear thing to us. We ought to never tire of hearing of how Jesus has saved us from hell and our sins! It is the new song that we will sing with one another forever! Today, we have a wonderful, and helpful, picture of our salvation played out in the interaction between a sick man and Jesus. As Jesus heals him, we get a glimpse at our own problems, our own needs, as embodied by this lame man who awaits a healing that he knows he will never gain. But, while his superstition cannot make him well, Jesus can. Friends, let us see ourselves in this text, as we look at the three major characters of John 5:1-18.

1. The Man
Many view this man with great suspicion. He seems curt, grumpy, and when push comes to shove, a tattle-tale. Yet, we really know very little about this man. He’s suffered for 38 years, yes, but we don’t know how old he is. He won’t tell us his desires when answering questions, just providing facts, no opinions. John reports to us that many by the pool were lame and paralyzed, but that this man was simply and generically “sick”. His actions are likewise robotic and apparently unmotivated by anything inside of himself. He is a blank canvas, a lump of clay that we are to mold. And that molding should be as ourselves. The man has no personality, because personality would make him someone, when John wants him to be anyone. He is us, lost, looking for healing in a place that he will never find it. What do you look to for your healing? What will make you whole? This man has waited a lifetime for that healing and would have never found it without a savior.

2. The Savior
Jesus is not an allegory for us here: he stands in for himself. But what a picture we get from this story! First, Jesus is selective; Jesus is the initiator; Jesus is extraordinarily powerful; Jesus is extraordinarily gracious; Jesus is joyful; and Jesus wants more for us than we do. Jesus approaches the man, not the man Jesus. Jesus heals him without any real interaction – the man doesn’t even ask for it! Jesus does the healing without even asking for the power, and although there are many around to heal, Jesus only heals this man. Jesus is happy to see him again, and warns him about the future judgment, wanting him to use his newfound freedom for good and not for evil.

3. The Opposition
While we will talk more about the controversy of the Sabbath in the future, it is sufficient to note that opposition will always arise. What shall we do when this happens? Answers are to be given, of course, but do not ever think that Jesus needs us to finally defend him. The Lion of Judah can do this for himself! Let us point people to Jesus, through reading the word, and let Jesus defend himself!