SanLo Community, an update for the week of February 17, 2019…
Thank you Greg Ng, for the message from John 5:1-18, “Get Up and Walk.” The key question I want us to explore is this, “To whom is the gospel of Jesus Christ for?” The gospel of Jesus Christ is more than the message of salvation, rather it is a message of change and transformation. Tim Keller says this about gospel change, “The Gospel is not simply the minimum Christian doctrine required to believe in order to go to heaven when you die. The Gospel changes your life now, thoroughly, radically, completely, now.”
1. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is for me. (verses 1-8) Jesus comes to the man and asks him, “Do you want to be healed?” The healing that Jesus is offering is more than just physical. The word healed here is used 5 times in this passage. The Greek word means sound in body, to make one whole or restored to health; being sound and whole in body, mind, spirit, and soul. The man answers with excuses. I’m trying and maybe with a little more effort I will be healed. He wants to do it his way. But Jesus offers another way. He says, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.”
First Jesus says, “Get up!” The focus is on Jesus’ power and not the man’s faith or ability. Sometimes we think that we just need more faith and then we will be healed. Sometimes we think we just need to try harder and we can change. But time and time again, Jesus demonstrates this truth, with man it is impossible, but with God all things are possible.
Then Jesus says, “Take up your bed!” This bed refers to a stretcher for carrying someone. By having the man pick up his bed, Jesus is telling him don’t leave any possibility for a relapse. Don’t give yourself a back door. Don’t leave any possibility or reason to go back.
Finally, Jesus says, “And Walk!” We are to walk and move forward. Gospel change and transformation materializes in our life step by step, decision by decision, day by day.
The book, “The 3D Gospel” by Jayson Georges describes 3 major cultural worldviews as it relates to the Gospel message. First are the guilt-innocence cultures where people who break the laws are guilty and seek justice or forgiveness to right a wrong. For these cultures, God is a judge who declares us innocent and gives us forgiveness. When sharing the gospel with a guilt-innocence person or group, you want to emphasize God’s laws, penalty, payment, forgiveness, justice.
Then there are shame-honor cultures where people are shamed towards following group expectations and seek to restore honor before the community. For these cultures, God is a Father who restores our honor and gives us face. When sharing the gospel with a shame-honor person or group, you want to emphasize face, acceptance, adoption, family, harmony.
Finally, there are the fear-power cultures where people are afraid of evil and curses and seek power over the spirit world through magic or rituals. For these cultures, God is a deliverer who utilizes His power for us and gives us freedom. When sharing the gospel with a fear-power person or group, you want to emphasize blessings, curses, healing, peace, and kingdom. There is one Gospel for all cultures, all nations, all tribes and peoples and languages. Jesus tells us: “Get up, take up your guilt, and walk in innocence,” “Get up, take up your shame, and walk in honor,” and “Get up, take up your fear, and walk in power.”
This is what the cross represents. At the cross, Jesus takes on our guilt, our shame, and our fears. Through His resurrection, Jesus declares me innocent, restores my honor, and gives me power. This is why the Gospel of Jesus Christ is for me.
2. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is for me? (verses 9-18) There is a question mark because while the Gospel is for all people, not all people will accept and embrace the Gospel.
The man gets in trouble with the Jews for breaking the law by carrying his bed on the Sabbath day, a day focused on resting and not working. The man told the Jews that it was Jesus who healed him. So now the Jews diverted their attention to Jesus’ breaking of the law by healing the man on the Sabbath. Jesus' defense is that His Father is working and He is working. This is an amazing statement in its clarity as His opponents understood immediately that Jesus is claiming to be uniquely related to God and equal to God.
Their focus demonstrated that they loved the law more than the people the law was designed for. And in doing so, they ended up rejecting Jesus. In the same way, when we hold on to the traditions, to the cultural norms, to the status quo more than we hold onto the Gospel, we too will eventually end up rejecting Jesus.
The Jews rejection of Jesus is clear. But, these verses also reveal the healed man’s apathy towards Jesus. First, we see that the man didn’t even know that it was Jesus that healed him. Then Jesus finds him. The man wasn’t looking for Jesus, but it was Jesus that purposely searched for and found this man. Finally, after meeting Jesus again, the man goes and tells the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. He is the informant that gives up Jesus to stay out of trouble.
This is a picture of apathy. We get what we want out of Jesus and thank Him. But when problems come, or when life gets hard, we end up turning our backs on Jesus. That is apathy and it is worse than rejection. Another term for apathy is lukewarm. In Revelation 3:15-16, Jesus says to the church, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” Apathy is not how we want to respond to Jesus, lukewarm is not how we want to respond to the Gospel.
When Jesus searches for us and finds us – what will be our response? Is the Gospel of Jesus Christ for me? Will we reject the Gospel like the Jews? Will we be apathetic to the Gospel like the healed man? Or will we treasure Christ by embracing the Gospel in our lives and be changed thoroughly, radically, completely, now.