Thirty-Eight Years Later: Rising From the Place of Hopelessness and Walking Out With Your Mat

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as written and recorded by the apostle John. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first fifteen verses of the fifth chapter. When you come to the fifth chapter of the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ you will find the apostle John shifting gears within the gospel to now writing and speaking about a certain feast that was taking place in the city of Jerusalem. As you read the fifth chapter of the New Testament chapter of the gospel of John you will find the apostle writing how there was a certain feast which was taking place within the city of Jerusalem, and how Jesus has left Galilee with His disciples in order to journey to the city. It’s actually quite interesting to read the words which are found in the fifth chapter of the gospel which the apostle John wrote, for while the apostle writes of a feast taking place within the city of Jerusalem, he doesn’t state what feast was taking place. The only thing we know for certain when reading the words found within this passage is that there was in fact a feast which took place within the city of Jerusalem, and how Jesus and His disciples made their way from Galilee to the city. In the previous chapter we read—not only of an encounter which Jesus had in a Samaritan city called Sychar with a woman at Jacobs well, but also of an encounter with the men of that city. You will find and read that after her encounter with Jesus the Christ this woman left the water pot she had brought to the well in order that she might return to the city to speak of what has just taken place within her life there at the well. The apostle John writes and declares that when the woman left her water pot, as well as Jesus there at the well, she returned unto the city to speak with the men and speak unto them of a man who had told her everything she had ever done. What is so unique and powerful about this reality is that the men within the city initially believed the word and report of the woman—not only because she spoke of one who had told her everything she had ever done, but also because she thought that this man whom she was speaking with might very well be the messiah. The apostle John goes on to write how the men of the city came out from their place within the city in order that they might meet and encounter this man whom the woman spoke about. The encounter in Samaria doesn’t end with the woman, nor does it end with the woman at the well, for it ends two days later after Jesus has agreed to stay and spend two more days with the men of the city.

I have to admit that as I stand here this morning I can’t help but wonder what those two days were like with Jesus the Christ. I can’t help but wonder what it was like to spend two full days with the messiah after having heard a woman from your midst speak of one who not only told her everything she had ever done, but also inquired whether or not this man might be the messiah. Initially Jesus made as though He would depart from the city until the men of the city implored and entreated Him that He might remain and abide with them. The apostle John goes on to write and declare that Jesus would spend two days in this city of Sychar which was located in the region of Samaria. This is actually quite remarkable and quite powerful when you think about it, for not only were the disciples in awe and marveled when they saw Jesus talking to this woman, but the woman herself was in awe and wondered why and how Jesus would even speak unto her since he was a Jew. The woman herself spoke unto Jesus and declared that Jews have no dealings with Samaritans, and yet not only did Jesus pass through Samaria, but Jesus actually sat down by Jacobs well within Sychar in order that He might meet with this woman whom He was waiting for. It’s quite remarkable and powerful to think about and consider the awesome reality that not only did Jesus talk to a woman there in the region of Samaria, and not only did Jesus associate with Samaritans, but we also read of Jesus abiding two full days with the samaritans. What would begin with the apostle John merely speaking of and suggesting Jesus passing through Samaria would continue with Jesus the Christ sitting down by a well to speak with a single woman from within that city, and then choosing to abide two full days with the men and people of that city. How incredibly my wonderful and powerful it is to think about and consider the fact that within this passage—not only do we find Jesus choosing to associate and speak with a Samaritan woman by Jacobs well, but we also read of Jesus choosing to abide two days with the men of the city in order that they might speak and talk with Him. How absolutely and utterly captivating and breathtaking it is to think about and confide the fact that not only would Jesus choose to speak with this woman at the well, but He would also choose to remain within the city in order that He might speak and talk with the men of the city.

As I read the words which are found in the fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel of the apostle John I can’t help but wonder in awe and amazement at what those two days were like for the people of the city of Sychar. I cannot help but wonder what it must have been like for the men—and perhaps women—of that city to speak with and encounter Jesus the Christ whom the woman suggested and hinted might be the messiah. What we do know for certain is that when the account of Jesus in Samaria draws and comes to a close, it does so with the men of the city making a poker full and emphatic statement unto the woman who had initially spoken unto them concerning Jesus the Christ. If you read the words which are found within this passage of scripture you will find that initially the men of this city believed because of the word which the woman herself spoke, but as you continue reading you will find them declaring how they believed all the more because they had spoken with Him face to face and had encountered Him personally for themselves. Please don’t miss the incredible significance of the words which the men of the city spoke unto this woman, for they declared how they had initially believed in and upon Jesus because of the word which the woman herself spoke, but there was something different which took place and happened when they experienced and encountered Jesus for themselves. The very words which the men of the city spoke unto the woman cause me to wonder what those two days were like with Jesus after He had made the conscious and deliberate decision to remain and abide with them. What makes this even more interesting is when you think about and consider the fact that when the fourth chapter of the gospel which the apostle John wrote opens, it does so with the apostle writing of the Pharisees hearing and learning that Jesus has made and baptized more disciples than John the Baptist had. As a result of Jesus learning of the Pharisees hearing that He has baptized and made more disciples then John the Baptist, Jesus withdraw from that place in order that He might depart into the region of Galilee. It’s quite remarkable to think about and consider the fact that Jesus would choose to leave a place within Judaea where He was making and baptizing disciples in order that He might journey to Galilee. What’s more, is that not only did Jesus depart from Judaea in order that He might journey unto Galilee, but we also find Him needing to pass through Samaria in order to arrive there. How absolutely remarkable it is to think about and consider the fact that Jesus would choose to leave a place where’s He was making and baptizing disciples of Jews in order that He might enter into Samaria that He might make disciples of the Samaritans as well. Oh please done miss and lose sight of this wonderful reality, for it is actually quite astonishing when you take the time to think about it in the context of leaving Judaea and making disciples of Jews to enter into Samaria in order that she might make disciples in Samaria.

If you continue on in the New Testament gospel of John you will find it written how after Jesus has departed from Samaria He chose to bypass Nazareth where He was neither welcomed nor received. What we find next is Jesus returning to the place where He had performed His first miracle—the miracle of turning water into wine. While we don’t read of Jesus performing a second miracle within Cana of Galilee, we do read of Jesus journeying unto Galilee and being met by a certain ruler whose son lie home sick and on the verge of death. The fourth chapter of this New Testament gospel ends with Jesus having spoken a word unto this certain ruler concerning his son and that his son would live. Before Jesus even spoke a word of healing and life over the son of this ruler He first declared that except men see signs and wonders they would not believe. In response to these words which Jesus had spoken unto this man, he responded by emphatically declaring unto Jesus that He needed to come down or else his child would in fact die. Upon hearing the words which this man had spoken unto Him, Jesus declared unto him, “Go thy way; thy son liveth.” It’s actually quite interesting to consider the words which are written and recorded within this passage of Scripture, for it actually brings us face to face with something that is mentioned earlier on in the first chapter of this New Testament gospel of John. If you turn and direct your attention back to the thirty-ninth verse of the chapter you will find it written concerning those in Samaria believing on Jesus for the saying of the woman which she had told them concerning a man who had told her everything she had ever done. In the thirty-ninth verse of this particular chapter you will find the following words written by the apostle John concerning those within Samaria—“And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on Him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did” (John 4:39). If you continue reading within this passage—after Jesus had agreed to stay two full days with the people of Samaria—you will find it written that not only did that initial group of Samaritans believe on Jesus because of the word which was spoken by the woman, but many more would also believe on Him because of His own word. Consider if you will the words which are written and recorded within this passage in the forty-first and forty-second verses of the chapter: “And many more believed because of His own word; and said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard Him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world” (John 4:41-42). If you continue reading a little further within this passage of Scripture you will find another statement and declaration of belief—this time manifested in the life of this certain nobleman and his entire house. Initially you will find the fiftieth verse of this chapter the nobleman believing the word which Jesus spoke concerning his son and going his way—“And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way” (John 4:50). Before the chapter concludes, you will find another statement of belief—this time not merely manifested within the life of this nobleman concerning the word which Jesus had spoken concerning his son, but also by his whole household when they had learned that his son had recovered at the very hour Jesus had spoken unto him and declared his son would live—“so the father knew that it was at the same hour, in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house” (John 5:53).

Before we get into the fifth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John, I feel it absolutely necessary to set the events which would take place in the fifth chapter against the backdrop of what we find in the fourth chapter, as well as the words which we find in the first chapter of the New Testament gospel of John. If you read the fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John you will find it written that many of the Samaritans believed on Jesus because of the word which the woman had spoken unto them. After Jesus had spent two full days walking with them, fellowshipping with them, talking with them, speaking with them, and undoubtedly teaching them, many more Samaritans believed on Him. What’s. more, is that those within Samaria would declare unto the woman how they initially believed on Jesus because of the words which she had spoken unto them, but how they now believe—not only because of her saying, but because of spending time with the Messiah, and even listening to and hearing the words which He spoke among them in their midst. The Samaritans who spent time talking and speaking with Jesus the Christ would declare unto this woman that they believed all the more because of spending time in the presence of Jesus, and because of spending time in the presence of Jesus, they would emphatically declare that He was indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world. As you continue moving on in the fourth chapter you will find it written concerning the nobleman who had approached Jesus that he initially believed the word which Jesus spoke concerning his son, and when he learned that the very hour his son’s condition improved was the hour in which Jesus declared unto him that his son would live—not only did he himself believe all the more in Jesus, but also his entire household believed on Jesus. Pause for a moment and consider the fact that Jesus didn’t even have to journey and walk with this nobleman in order for him to believe the word which Jesus had spoken concerning his son, and Jesus didn’t even have to enter into the house of this nobleman in order for he himself, and his entire household to believe on Jesus who was the Christ, the Saviour of the world. All it took was Jesus speaking a single word to the nobleman concerning his son living, and the nobleman learning that it was at the very hour when Jesus made that declaration that his son would recover from his sickness for an entire family and household to be radically changed and transformed. How absolutely remarkable and wonderful it is to think about and even consider the fact that an entire household could be changed simply by a single word Jesus spoke unto this nobleman father concerning his son who was sick and on the verge of death. What we find toward the end of the fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John is not only the nobleman believing on Jesus the Christ, but also his entire household—simply because of the word which Jesus spoke concerning his son. It is against the backdrop of the Samaritans believing on Jesus that He was the Christ and the Savior of the world, and against the backdrop of the nobleman and his entire household believing on Jesus that I call your attention to the words which the apostle John wrote and recorded in the first chapter of the gospel:

“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through Him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. HE came unto His own, and His own receive Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will o man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. And of His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. NO man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him” (John 1:6-18).

It is against the backdrop of what we find in the fourth chapter concerning many Samaritans believing on Jesus as the Christ and the Saviour of the world, and the nobleman and his entire house hold believing on Jesus the Christ, and even the words which the apostle John wrote in the beginning of this gospel as a whole that we now turn and direct our attention to what we find in the fifth chapter. If you begin reading with and from the first verse of the fifth chapter you will find that there was a certain feast of the Jews which was taking place, and how Jesus went up to Jerusalem from Galilee where He had performed the second of His miracles among men. As you continue reading the fifth chapter you will find the apostle John writing how there was at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool which was called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, which had five porches. The apostle John goes on to write and reveal how within these five porches lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, and withered—those who were waiting for the moving of the water. The apostle John would go on to write and explain why those who were present within these pools would wait for the moving of the water, fo an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water. What’s more, is the apostle John would go on to write how whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease they had. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and pay close attention to the words which are written within this passage, for within this passage we not only find a great multitude of impotent folk lying and dwelling with each other within the five porches of the pool, but also this great multitude was made up of the blind, the halt, and the withered. What’s more, is that as you read the words which the apostle John wrote concerning the folk which were at this pool you will find that they were all—each and every one of them—waiting for something. Upon reading the words which are found within this passage you will find that while these five porches were made up of a great multitude of impotent folk who were blind, halt and withered, they were all waiting for something, and were waiting for something very specific. Reading the words which are found within this passage of Scripture you will find that all those who were present within these pools were waiting for one thing—were waiting for the same thing. It’s actually quite interesting and unique to think about and consider the fact that these five porches were filled with impotent folk who were all waiting for the same thing—and not only were they waiting for the same thing, but they were also hoping that they themselves would be the first to step into the waters of the pool after the waters were troubled. The apostle John made it very clear that whosoever first stepped into the pool after the waters had been troubled would be made well of and from whatever infirmity they had within their physical bodies. The apostle John made it very clear that while it was true that this great multitude of impotent folk were waiting for something very specific—only one individual person would actually get and find what they were waiting and hoping for.

I sit here this morning and I can’t help but come face to face with the word which was used concerning the angel coming down to trouble the waters which were present at this pool, for the apostle John wrote how the angel came down at a certain season to trouble the waters. Pay close attention to this, for the apostle John didn’t write that the angel would come down daily to trouble the waters of the pool, nor did the apostle write that the angel would come down daily to trouble the waters which were present within the pool. The apostle John was very specific that the angel would come down at a very specific time and at a very specific season in order that they might trouble the waters. It’s worth noting that despite the fact that the angel came down to trouble the waters, the angel did not control, nor did the angel determine who would actually be made whole from whatever infirmity and ailment they had. The only thing we learn about the waters of this pool was that at a certain time and at a certain season an angel would come down and trouble the waters of the pool, and whosoever was first to enter into the waters after they had been troubled would be made whole of whatever infirmity they were plagued with. Pause for a moment and consider this reality of “season,” for those who lived and dwelt in the porches of this pool were not only waiting for something very specific, but they were also waiting for a very specific season to come around—a season of troubled waters. It’s worth noting that the apostle John didn’t write and declare when and what season it was that the angel would come down and trouble the waters—merely that there was a specific season when the angel would come down and trouble the waters. Consider for a moment that all those who were living and dwelling in the five porches of this pool were living their lives and spending their days—not only waiting for something very specific to happen, but they were also waiting for a very specific season. We would be incredibly wise to recognize and understand that all those folk who were living and dwelling in the porches of the pool weren’t merely waiting for something specific to take place, but they were waiting for a specific season for that which they were waiting for to take place. There is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if any of them had any clue or any idea when this particular season was—whether or not this season was the same all the time, or whether or not this season changed throughout the month, or throughout the quarter, or perhaps even throughout the year. What if the season these impotent folk were waiting for didn’t take place at multiple times within and throughout the year, but only at one particular time within the year? What if the season these impotent folk were waiting for came around only once a year, and none of them even knew when that season would take place?

I sit here this morning thinking about and considering the words which are found within this passage of Scripture and I can’t help but be gripped and captivated by the fact that not only were the impotent folk found within the porches of this pool waiting for something very specific, but they were waiting for a specific season when an angel would come down from heaven and trouble the waters of the pool. All those impotent folk which were present within these porches—all those blind, halt and withered—who were waiting for the troubling of the waters were waiting and spending their days waiting for the troubling of the waters so they could maybe try to be the first one in the waters. It’s quite remarkable and astonishing to think about and consider the fact that while it was true all those impotent folk which were present within these pools were waiting for something very specific to take place, and yet there wasn’t even a guarantee that they would even experience that which they were waiting for. Though it was true that they might have been waiting for a specific season, and though it was true that they might have been waiting for the troubling of the waters, it was also true that despite their waiting, there was no guarantee they would even experience that for which they were looking and waiting for. I can’t help but imagine and wonder what it was like to be one of the countless men and women living and dwelling within the porches of this pool and spending your days, weeks, and perhaps even months and years waiting for a specific season when the waters of the pool would be troubled, and yet regardless of how long you were waiting for the troubling of the waters, and perhaps even for your own time to come when you would be able to step down into the waters, there always seemed to be someone else who either stepped in and cut in front of you, or experienced healing within their physical bodies before and above yourself. This actually leads and brings me to something very specific when I think about and consider the words which are found within this passage of Scripture—namely, how many men and women might not be waiting for the troubling of the waters, and might not be waiting to step down into the waters of a pool, but might be waiting for their turn, or waiting for their shot within their own life. There is not a doubt in my mind that there are men and women present among us within this generation who are spending their days living and waiting for their turn to experience—not only what they have been longing for, but also what others have experienced before and ahead of them. There is not a doubt in my mind that there are men and women among us today within this generation who are waiting, and have been waiting for their time and their season when they can experience that for which their hearts and souls have been longing for for quite some time.

As you read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture you will find this account not so much being about a multitude of impotent folk living and dwelling within the porches of the pool waiting for the troubling of the waters, but about one particular man who had perhaps spent most of—if not his entire life living and dwelling within one of the porches of this pool. Upon reading the words which are found within the his passage you will find that there was present within one of the porches of this pool a man who had been lying there, and had been in that case for a considerable amount of time. In fact, the apostle John writes concerning this man that he had an infirmity thirty and eight years, and had perhaps spent all thirty-eight of those years living and dwelling in one of the porches of this pool wondering when his turn would come, and wondering if or when he would ever get to experience healing within his own physical body. I sit here this morning and think about and consider the reality of this man, and not only how he had a specific infirmity for thirty and eight years, but also how when Jesus asked if he wished to be made whole, he stated that whenever the water was troubled, he could never make it into the pool, for he had no one to put him in the waters of the pool when the waters were troubled. Imagine being this man and not only having no one to put him in the waters of the pool when they were troubled, but also to live with this specific infirmity for thirty-eight years. What’s more, is imagine being thirty-eight years and there potentially not being a single individual who would choose to come alongside you in order to help you down into the waters of the pool when they were troubled. I can’t help but think about this particular passage of Scripture and not only wonder at the fact that this man had this specific ailment for thirty-eight years, but also that during those thirty-eight years he had no one to help him down into the waters of the pool. Imagine spending thirty-eight years with a specific infirmity, spending thirty-eight years waiting and hoping that your day would come when you would experience that which others experienced before and ahead of you, and even spending thirty-eight years without anyone to come alongside you to help you down into the waters. Thirty-eight years is long time to spend waiting for change and healing—and not only waiting for change and healing, but also waiting for someone to come alongside you to help you receive that for which you earnestly and eagerly desired and hoped for. Imagine spending thirty-eight years without anyone who was willing to help you experience healing, or breakthrough, or deliverance within your life, and watching as others would find and experience that reality before you.

I happen to find the words which were written concerning this man to be absolutely and incredibly intriguing, for not only do we find this man having an infirmity for thirty and eight years, but we also find it written concerning this man that he had no one to help him enter into the waters of the pool when they were troubled. We read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture and we come face to face with the fact that this man lived with this infirmity for thirty and eight years, and perhaps all thirty-eight of those years were spent without anyone willing to come alongside him and help him in the pool. THIRTY-EIGHT YEARS IS A LONG TIME TO LIVE WITH A SPECIFIC INFIRMITY! THIRTY-EIGHT YEARS IS A. LONG TIME TO LIVE WITHOUT ANYONE TO COME ALONGSIDE AND HELP YOU FIND YOUR BREAKTHROUGH! THIRTY-EIGHT YEARS IS A LONG TIME TO LIVE WITHOUT SOMEONE TO HELP YOU EXPERIENCE HEALING! THIRTY-EIGHT YEARS IS A LONG TIME WATCHING AS OTHERS FOUND HEALING IN THEIR LIVES BEFORE YOU! THIRTY-EIGHT YEARS IS A LONG TIME WAITING FOR SOMETHING TO HAPPEN WITHIN YOUR OWN LIFE, AND WATCHING AS OTHERS ENTERED INTO THAT REALITY BEFORE YOU! What so amazes and impresses me about what we find within this particular passage is that despite the fact that this man lived with this infirmity for thirty and eight years, and despite the fact that this man had no one to help him down into the waters of the pool when they were troubled, there would come a day—not a season—when Jesus of Nazareth who was the Christ and the Son of the living God would find him there in one of those porches, and would once and for all give him the chance and opportunity he had been waiting for. What I can’t help but wonder if anyone even noticed the exchange between this man and Jesus, and if anyone within that particular porch heard the words which were spoken between the two of them. Was there anyone present within this particular porch aware of the divine encounter that was taking place between Jesus and this man who had this condition for thirty and eight years? What’s more, is did anyone even notice when this man rose from the mat he was lying upon, picked up that mat, and walked out of the porch he had been in—perhaps for thirty-eight years? Did anyone notice that this man was missing when they looked at what was perhaps this man’s usual spot within the porches? How utterly and completely astonishing it is to think about and consider the fact that the spot within these porches which this man occupied—perhaps for thirty-eight years—became vacant, and would no longer be occupied by him because of a single encounter with Jesus the Christ.

Pause for a moment and consider the incredible truth surrounding this man, for not only did this man find healing within his physical body, but he also found freedom from the porches because of an encounter with Jesus the Christ. What we find and what we read within this passage is not only a powerful testimony of this man finding healing within his physical body after waiting thirty-eight years for such a miracle, but we also find him receiving healing without needing another to come alongside him to help him into the waters. This man was able to find healing within his life simply because of one single encounter with Jesus the Christ whom he didn’t even know or recognize in the beginning. Oh how absolutely wonderful and remarkable it is that Jesus was able to redeem thirty-eight years of infirmity, and perhaps even thirty-eight years of waiting, hoping, longing for, and perhaps even praying with one single encounter. Oh that we would come face to face with the wonder found within this passage and come face to face with the fact that not only would Jesus redeem thirty-eight years of waiting and hoping, but Jesus would redeem thirty-eight years of having absolutely no one to come alongside this man to help him into the waters of the pool. Jesus came and in a single instant and in a single moment was able to radically change and transform the life of this man who had spent thirty-eight years living with an infirmity which he had received no healing and no cure. One single instant and one single moment with Jesus radically and forever changed the life of this man, as in that instant and and in that moment he would not only be healed of his infirmity, but he would also rise from his place of hopelessness, and would take up the mat he was lying on and walk out of that place of despair and hopelessness. What a powerful picture it is to consider that this man not only walked out of that place of hopelessness he had lived and dwelt in for years, but he also took the mat he had been lying on within that place as well. RISING FROM THE PLACE OF HOPELESSNESS AND WALKING OUT WITH YOUR MAT. Perhaps the single greatest question we must ask ourselves when reading the words found within this passage is what have we ourselves been waiting for, and how long have we been waiting for something—perhaps even something we have watched others experience and enjoy before us? It is true that we might have been waiting for a considerable amount of time, and yet Jesus demonstrates that He came come and manifest Himself in the midst of a period of despair and hopelessness in order that He might utterly and completely transform and change our lives in a way we have only longed and hoped for.

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