In this sermon, guest speaker Ricardo Morales asks what simple knowledge Christians have of God apart from heavy doctrinal knowledge. Ricardo Morales then draws out two teaching points from Jesus’ healing of the lame man by the Bethesda pool:
• God’s mercy has no limits
• Mercy is one of the most essential attributes of God
Ricardo Morales concludes his message by exhorting believers to remember the power of God’s mercy that worked in believers to raise them from spiritual death.
Let us begin by considering the words of the famous theologian and pastor A. W. Tozer. He said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”
Today I want you to take a moment and think what thought comes to your mind when you think about God. I am not talking about your deep knowledge of the Trinity. I am not talking about the lessons you learned about Him in Sunday School. I am talking about the simple knowledge you have about Him in your heart.
By God’s grace and after some time of studying His Word in the gospels. And after many failures in my own life and after going to seminary, I have come by His grace to summarize my knowledge and understanding of Christ in only a few words. First of all, God is holy, transcendent, and pure. He is not like us.
Second of all, I could define God by the fact that He must be very very powerful. Also, God must be very very merciful. These two characteristics of His power and mercy allow me to trust in a God that both very powerful to take care of me and to provide for me. But also very merciful to care for me and to understand me.
Just think for a minute about God’s power and the universe. There are hundreds of billions of galaxies. This week I found out something really fascinating that I did not know before. There are more stars and planets than grains of sand in the earth. Can you imagine? Is that not astonishing?
I had to double check after hearing that from a professor at The Master’s Seminary! But they always teach us to double check anyway. But also, it is incredible that the human cell has more information than one of the most complex galaxies in the world. God is so incredible and powerful. And I could go on and on talking about the power of God. It is an infinite, eternal power of God.
Equally great is His mercy because it is an attribute of God. He is eternally and infinitely holy. He is also omniscient, there is no limit to any of His attributes. His mercy does not have limit or a barrier.
In today’s story, there is a lot of things that show His power and mercy. Two attributes and qualities that are compatible to human kind. There have been many powerful men, but because of pride and arrogance have become tyrants, mean, bad, and selfish.
This story that we are reading today takes us to the very heart of Christ. Only Christ could be meek and majestic at the same time. Only He could have the humility He showed and the glory that He possesses. Only He could have that mercy and power as a set of attributes that were not contradictory in His nature, but totally consistent in Him.
This message is a very special one to me, because I identify with one of the main characters in the story. In many ways, it has been like my own life. I pray that you identify with the man that we will be reading about too.
Before we go through the text, I want to introduce three important observations. The first one is that there is no verse 4 in my Bible, which is the ESV. According to archaeological evidence, there is no verse 4 because there have been many manuscripts that were found that did not include this verse. This archaeological evidence has allowed us to find something else out, a second observation, that this passage is not an allegory or made up. It is very true in fact! Opponents have said that this is a tale, but that is not true.
There is a French engineer and archaeologist began what was called the Bethesda project which conducted archaeological research and they found the Bethesda Pool. You can see the columns that are still there, which gives us total confidence of the veracity of this site. Engineers can explain how the water moved, because there were two pools and water could drain out of one to the other. They even found a painting with an angel, which is why they probably included verse 4 to explain the movement of the waters. It is incredible how we can be certain that this is true history.
The third observation is that this is the first miracle or sign of Jesus Christ. The first miracle took place in John 2 when Jesus converted the water into wine. In John 4, there was the healing of the officer in Capernaum, and now we have the first sign. It is very important for us to know this sign. John 20:30 says:
Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book.
So there were many miracles that Jesus did, but John only chose seven to write down. It also says in John 20:31:
These have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.
He writes that they have been written that you may believe “Jesus is Christ,” that means that He is the Savior of the world. That you may believe Jesus is “Son of God,” that means He deserves all the glory, all our worship, and all our acknowledgment. And that by “believing you may have life in His name,” we are talking here about life.
This story is not just to help us believe in miracles or in the historical Jesus. This story is not just to give us more knowledge of Christ. But this story is so that we may think about our eternal life and that we truly believe and understand a Christ that has manifested Himself on this earth, and that has come with a purpose so that we have eternal life. The contrary of life is death. Today we are considering something very important.
The title of this message is “Why You Should Respond to the Mercy and Power of Christ.” The outline of the message is very simple, the mercy of Christ, the power of Christ, and your response to the mercy and power of Christ.
Now let us pray and commit this time to the Lord. Heavenly Father, Your Word is powerful. Your Word is the expression of Your mercy and love for our humanity that has not acknowledged You. We are very privileged here today to study Your Word, to know You, and to learn from You. I pray that Your Holy Spirit would give us a soft heart to understand that, Lord. These words cannot be understood by a human mind, only by the Holy Spirit. I pray that You may help me to communicate this message and help us all to apply it in our lives. In Jesus Christ, Amen.
We are in John 5:1-14, and let us just start in verse one and we will be going through this passage. John 5:1 says:
After these things there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
“This” in the beginning of the verse refers to the healing of the son of the royal officer that took place in chapter four. When Jesus healed the son, He was in Cana of Galilee. By the end of chapter four, He was in Samaria with the Samaritan woman. In chapter 3, Jesus was in Jerusalem. In chapter 2, Jesus was in Galilee. In chapter 1, He was in Bethany across the Jordan. We see Christ personified in humility.
Can you imagine Jesus going from village to village and a missionary who keeps eternal promises? I am tired of flying, I had to sleep nine hours just yesterday! Jesus was walking and walking, and maybe had to sleep somewhere on the floor. The Son of God who had all the glory, and angels worshipping Him, and He comes to earth to show us humility and the power of God that was able to change lives even up to today.
Christ is consistent, that is why His Word is so powerful. Because God sent His only Son to become flesh and to show us His love. This example which we remember ourselves! Philippians 2:3-7 says:
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.
What an incredible exhortation! Jesus Christ gave the example to lead a life that was to serve others. These words are very important because they models Christ. Now it says in John 5:1 that Jesus was in a feast of the Jews. But it was not important to John to mention what kind of feast it was. Next it says in John 5:2-3:
Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew Bethesda, having five porticoes. In these lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, and withered.
In those days, there was not any healthcare, hospitals, medicine, or doctors. It is a very difficult concept for us to understand now because we do not see places like that. We are so far away from that reality.
For me in Colombia, I have seen a lot of poor people. Those without arms and legs who are begging for money. Those who have been in India and so many other countries, have seen where there are a lot of poor people. We are so blessed to be in a country where we do not see those needs. There is such a security for so many things.
But that reality that we are living should not be an element to keep us away from the reality of the world. That was what it was like for so many people. But what did the Son of God do? He left His glory, came down from Heaven and became a man to keep a divine appointment. He came, as it says in John 5:5, for even one man:
A man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years.
He comes all the way from Heaven to meet and keep an appointment, eternally established by God in His love and mercy. At that time, there must have been thousands of people in Jerusalem. In the Bethesda pool, there were also hundreds, a multitude. But John 1:5 talks about just one man who was there. In the Greek, there is an adverb now to talk about time. “Now there was a man.” Why? Because John was drawing the attention from the multitudes to a single man. In the middle of the thousands of people, Christ has the knowledge and love to reach out to every single person in the world. The many was paralyzed for thirty-eight years, a long time.
John 5:6 says:
When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, “Do you wish to get well?”
We see that Jesus saw him and knew. Jesus had the initiative to look for and distinguish him from among the multitudes. It says He knew, which means in the Greek of arriving at the knowledge on His own. Just like with the Samaritan woman; no one had to tell Him about the life of this woman. Jesus knew the suffering and difficulties in life. And then Jesus asks in John 5, does the man want to be healed.
That is my first point in this message, the healing of Christ. He did not start by going to the palace of a king, but to a person that maybe none of us would visit. Christ sees him and takes the initiative to extend mercy. Why do you think there are homeless people and drug users in the streets? We do not know why but Jesus does not judge them and ask why they are there. Jesus extended mercy to this man.
What is mercy? We do not hear about that word a lot. We hear about kindness, gentleness, awesomeness, cool. We are so used to not deserving or receiving mercy. This reminds me of a friend of mine that was in Starbucks in Santa Barbara, California, a very nice place. And he saw a homeless man who asked him for money. He asked for a couple of dollars, and my friend brought him to the counter and bought a fifteen dollar breakfast or him. And the homeless man threw it to the floor and said he did not need his mercy, he had only asked for a dollar.
Sometimes we say that we do not need mercy from anyone, we just need to prove ourselves. That is not how it works with God at all. We all deserve mercy and compassion.
What is mercy? Mercy is one of the most essential qualities of God. In Exodus 34:6, it says:
Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, "The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth.
In Deuteronomy 4:31, it says:
For the Lord your God is a compassionate God; He will not fail you nor destroy you nor forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them.
Is that not awesome to have a God who is merciful? Mercy specifically designates wishing faithfully for God to keep His promises despite our unworthiness and our unfaithfulness. Mercy is that attribute of God by which He is faithful and keeps His promises despite our unworthiness and our unfaithfulness.
This man was not worthy to receive the healing in the pool of Bethesda. He was not a rich man, maybe he had a lot of sin. Why do you think he was there? Maybe he did not lead his life by worship, or maybe angry at God. God is a God of mercy and compassion and shows him love.
This term of mercy is very rich in the Hebrew and Greek. It has the connotation and other words that try to explain the concept of mercy as kindness, lovingkindness, goodness, grace, favor, pity, compassion, and steadfast love. All of these words are trying to explain mercy but the umbrella, the main term is mercy.
As a way of application, let us start thinking about God and His mercy towards us. Do you think of God as a merciful God in your life? Have you experienced His mercy and are you grateful for it? Do you rejoice in it? Without His mercy, no one could be here today. The first one that would be out would be me! You would not have a preacher today and would have to call Pastor Babij!
We all are here because He has been merciful through His general revelation. As it says in Matthew 5:45:
He sends rain on the just and the unjust.
He also given us a special revelation through Scripture and through Christ, it has allowed us to have a knowledge of Christ. The only reason why you are here is because God’s grace and mercy has been upon you and has allowed you to hear these words. It does not come from me, but comes from God’s Word and is powerful.
It is the Word of God that is speaking to us and allows us to understand that there is a merciful God. Look at what it says in Psalm 139: God knows your past, and is acquainted with all your ways. You cannot free from His presence and His Spirit is everywhere. The whole chapter talks about the knowledge of God. Look at verse 14:
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made
And verse 17:
How precious to me are your thoughts God! How vast is the sum of them!
He is a very merciful God. He sees you and knows you. He loves you! Without Christ, we would still be blind. Luke 4:18 tells us:
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind.
He has opened our eyes to see Him to see the gospel of God and the glory of God. Did you know that without Christ, we were lame. Leviticus 21:18 says:
For no one who has a defect shall approach: a blind man, or a lame man, or he who has a disfigured face, or any deformed limb.
Without Christ, we would not be able to enter into the sanctuary, into the presence of God. But by Him coming and dying on the cross, the curtain of the temple was torn in two. So we have direct access to the presence of the Lord. Are we not privileged? He has extolled mercy upon us. We were utterly sick without Christ. Isaiah 53:5 says:
By His wounds we are healed.
Without Christ, just like the paralyzed of the pool of Betheseda, we could not be saved. Look at John 5:7:
The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me.”
That just affirms one thing, that without Him we could never have been saved. Just imagine how sad the life of this man would have been if he had not been healed. Every single day he spent in the prison of his illness, his infirmity, his condition. There are many other people with a thousand dollar watch, a Mercedez-Benz, or even a mansion are also living in the prison of their sin.
They are part of the multitude living one day at a time, just like this man. He gets up every day hoping that the angel would move the water so he could get in and be healed. Likewise there are many people who are hoping that one day they would find that relationship, that job, or even a ministry that would completely satisfy their lives.
But it is only by the mercy of God that can truly open our eyes and help us to understand that mercy is achieving the things of this world, which is having a hope based on somebody helping us. That was the experience of Paul! It says in 1 Timothy 1:13:
Even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief.
It does not say that he became a nice person or just worked hard. He received mercy! This was Paul, who knew so much about God and had so much knowledge of the Scriptures and the Old Testament. He was a high figure in the Jewish and Roman communities. He received mercy. Titus 3:5 says:
He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit.
He did not acquire this mercy, but only as a gift. We can only be saved by His mercy. 1 Peter 1:3 says:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
This is according to mercy! Mercy must be an eternal and infinite attribute of God. It is like when you go to the ocean and see its vastness. No one has to tell you it is great, of course it is! He called us to be born again, so the mercy of God is not passive but active. His mercy becomes power!
That leads me to my second point of the outline, which is in John 5:8:
Jesus said to him, “Get up, pick up your bed and walk.”
That mercy and compassion of Christ is not passive. It becomes power in the life of this man. John 5:9 says:
Immediately the man became well, and picked up his bed and began to walk.
Here is the power of God, which we do not see today. We do not know the extent to which this man was paralyzed but he must have been really paralyzed! Just think, he had to be carried by someone. And yet Christ healed him just like that.
Today, I hope you are beginning to identify with the paralyzed man at the pool of Bethesda. Just as this man experienced the mercy and power of God, you have also experienced His mercy. Christ has offered you have salvation. I hope also that you have experienced His power, because in that He gives you eternal life. That is the power of God.
What kind of power is this? I think of phrases like, power couple, or a powerful car. Today, we think of people as powerful. I am not talking about that kind of power though. I am talking about the power of God. Ephesians 2:4-5 says:
But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ.
Colossians 1:13, it says:
For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.
Is this not incredible power? Romans 1:4 says that Jesus:
…was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead.
The power of God creates. The power of Christ brings to life. Sometimes we forget the miracle that God has done in our lives. Just think how we were dead in our transgressions and sins. He has brought us back to life. That is an incredible miracle! Have you ever seen a dead body come back to life? If I said that I have, you would not believe me. I am talking about myself. I was dead in my sins and transgressions, and He brought me back to life. Have you thought about that? How merciful God has been to you and how powerful He is?
Just think how you were in the dominion of darkness, not only blind. If you are in the darkness, you cannot see! There is no hope there. And He brought us out. Incredible! That is why Romans 1:16 says:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
He heals with His own life. That is the gospel. Is that not incredible? The mercy and power of God give us salvation and access to Him. That gospel and power of God fulfills the promise of God. John 20:31 again says:
These have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.
Now that I have established how the mercy and power of Christ is manifested in the life of this man at the Bethesda pool, let us look at the third and final point of my outline. Look at John 5:9-14:
Immediately the man became well, and picked up his bed and began to walk. Now it was the Sabbath on that day. So the Jews were saying to the man who was cured, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not permissible for you to carry your bed.” But he answered them, “He who made me well was the one who said to me, ‘Pick up your bed and walk.’” They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Pick up your bed and walk’?” But the man who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had slipped away while there was a crowd in that place. Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you.”
I want to take you to my last point, which is to sin no more. Jesus knew that he would sin again because he was a human being. What Jesus was telling him was to depend on, trust, and have a relationship with Himself. Notice that now he is in the temple. He was with the Jews, who are the enemies of Christ. He was fulfilling all these rituals because it was the Sabbath. Whatever the paralyzed man did to take up his bed and walk was unlawful. To do things against the law would have meant him being outside the religious system.
Most scholars agree that this man went to the temple to say that he does not know who this man was but that He healed him. He was going deeper in religion, and that is sometimes how we become. We become experts in religion by reading the Bible and going to church. He is going to the synagogue, reading the Scriptures, memorizing them. Yes, these things are all good but it is about the relationship with the Lord. This is what John 15:4-5 says:
Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.
Nothing is nothing. You cannot please God, obey His commandments, or change your life on your own. It is only by your relationship and intimacy with Christ which would allow you to lead a victorious life with Him.
Jesus says to not sin anymore that nothing would happen to you. Is that not ironic? That nothing would happen. This man does not have a wife or family because there is no one to help him get there. Maybe he does not even own a house or pay any money. And yet, Christ says to him to not sin anymore. He had better follow Christ and be close to Him, unless something worse happens to him. What could that be? In John 15:6, it says:
If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.
In the context of John 5, which we are reading, verse 25 and 28-29 say:
Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.
Christ is beginning to build his case against the Jews. He is the Son of God and He came to judge those who have not experienced and received His mercy and the power of His salvation. What is worse than being in the situation of that man? Only to be spending eternal life in hell.
Jesus Christ is speaking through this and wants to say that whoever believes that He is the Son of God can have the opportunity to have eternal life with Him. But those who do not understand His mercy or experience His power to bring people back to life, will experience judgment. That is the worst thing that can happen.
We talk about people being losers. Maybe this guy would be considered a loser. But he who has Christ is not a loser because He has a hope that is eternal. The circumstances of life do not matter.
In conclusion, I want to give you a couple of reflections. Here in this room, there are only three kinds of people. By human standards, we can have many classifications. But there are truly only three.
There are those who believe in Christ, the Son of God, those who belong to Him. If you have experienced His mercy and power, I want to encourage to keep pressing on and to remember every single day His mercy and power. Be grateful to the Lord and keep on growing. Keep on loving Him, do not be like this man who went to the temple and be busy with doing things, even ministry. Do not forget that it is about your relationship with Christ. Make sure in the most basic way that you have that.
Be grateful for everything the Lord has given you. Share this message with others. Sometimes we forget the joy of salvation and the privilege that it is to have salvation. The way is narrow and hard and we struggle with sin, but people sometimes really have no choice. It is not easy to like everything, but just be grateful and fortunate that you have a pastor that cares about God’s Word and preaches it. Continue pressing on and sharing this message with others.
The second group who is here today is believers who may have lost their joy and intimacy with Christ. You have lost your first love. I want to encourage you that mercy flows out of a heart that has love. I am not here to call out anybody. I am here to share the mercy and love I have received. If you have loved that first love, remember what He says to the church of Ephesus in Revelation 2:4-5:
But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place– unless you repent.
This church that had come to life was now struggling. It is normal, but God’s love, mercy, and power, are there for you. The third group includes unbelievers.
These are people who may have heard the gospel for years, or maybe it is your first time. You just have not experienced that change in your life, that joy, that mercy, and that awesomeness of once being paralyzed and lame and now being able to see. My encouragement to you is to talk to one of your elders and deacons: Khaleef, Greg, and Brian. They are here for you! Keep your word to Christ and experience His love. Then tell others of the great news, that you have received life and mercy.
In summary, we have learned about His mercy, power, and the response we should have to that mercy and power. We are talking seriously about eternal life. This narrative was written with only one purpose, that you may have eternal life. Is it not incredible that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, would leave Heaven and His glory to come to earth so we can learn about His mercy and power.
Let us pray. Heavenly Father, thank You so much for Your Word. Your Word alone is powerful and effective and more powerful than any two edged sword. Thank You for the privilege we all have to be here. We are so blessed and Revelation 1:3 says:
Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it.
But we are also blessed as we give thanks for the mercy and the power to obey, love, and serve the Word. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.