I knew that the miracles Jesus performed were called “signs” by John, (eleven times!) indicating they didn’t just show His power, but were meant to tell us something about why He came. Though He was a prophet, He was so much more than a prophet. He came, as John said, that we might believe, and that by believing we might have life through His name.
We already saw turning the ceremonial pots of water into wine meant “Out with man’s failed way of making himself clean before God, in with God’s way, of being made clean only through His blood.” Keller also pointed out the significance of the first miracle happening at a wedding by our ultimate bridegroom.
That was an eye-opener for me about fifteen years ago.
But I didn’t really comprehend how this miracle at the pool of Bethsaida was a sign until listening to Keller.
(Archeologists uncovered the 5-sided pool)
The whole miracle, from beginning to end, illustrates our life with God is all of grace.
This is so foreign to the secular ear, and even to our way of thinking. My second son, John, is here with his big family this week. He belongs to a group of philosophical executives in Canada who meet to brainstorm and grow. They read classic books, even C. S. Lewis, though they are not believers for the most part. The last time they met they were sharing what fears they had and how they had overcome them, if they had. John said he shared: “At times I fear appearing before the Judgment Seat of God, but then I remember Christ’s sacrificial atonement in my place paid it all, and that I am completely forgiven.”
He said they stared at him like he was speaking another language. Judgment Seat? Sacrificial atonement?
But then one man, whom John deeply respects, asked, with earnest wonder: “How can you be sure?”
John had “put a stone in his shoe,” causing him to wonder about God, eternity, and himself. May he discover the Savior and His amazing grace!
Click here for the sermon:
Download the transcript:
I can’t resist this funny story that pertains to this scriptural section. We have a sign at the top of my driveway announcing our home church, “The Orchard” with John 15:5 on it. My neighbor, whom I doubt knows the Lord, transposed the verse in her mind and it took her instead to this episode. So she thought we were taking crippled people into the water. She invited me to lunch and asked:
“I saw your sign. Tell me about your church.” 🙂
1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
2. How has God shown grace to you recently?
Monday: The Text
3. Read John 5:1-15
A. What stands out to you upon first reading and why?
B. What did the people think was the source of their healing?
C. How long had the man been an invalid? Who approached him and what question was asked?
D. Did Jesus take him into the water? What did he do?
E. What did the Jewish leaders ask the man and why? How did the man respond?
F. Why do you think Jesus sought the man out? What did he tell him?
G. How did the man then respond?
H. Do you see any overarching theme that tells you something vital about the Messiah?
Listen up to when Keller begins talking about “The Pool.”
4. What was Keller’s point about someone writing about mountain climbing who had never actually climbed a mountain? How does that relate to how people who have not studied Jesus imagine He is like?
5. C. S. Lewis said: “Christianity is not the sort of thing anyone would have made up”. If man were to make up the founder of a religion, what might he be like?
6. What was the main purpose of John’s signs according to John 20:30-31?
7. Review question: How did the first miracle point to why Jesus came?
Wednesday: The Pool
Listen up to Keller gets to the man “The man is willing to partner with Jesus”
8. Keller says that because there was no historical evidence of a 5 sided pool, people used it as an argument that the Bible wasn’t written by contemporaries of Jesus, or they would have known that 5-sided pools weren’t part of Jesus’ time. What happened that dismantled their case?
9. Keller also said that if Jesus were just a model, (like Odysseus or another fictional her0) it wouldn’t matter if these stories were true or not. What point was he making?
10. The first stage in our relationship with Jesus is that He comes to us. How do you see that in this incident? How as this true in your life?
11. Paul says “no one seeks God.” What did Keller have to say about that? What biblical illustrations did he give about God helping people overcome their fears or opening their hearts?
12. Did you have fears about surrendering to God? Did you fear He was a “happiness killer?” If so, how did He help you overcome your fears?
Thursday: The Man
13. Second stage Keller says is we are willing to “partner” with God. How does this incident show this?
14. Have you tried to use God to get something you really want instead of just wanting God?
15. How does David describe God in Psalm 43:4? Is He that to you yet?
16. Watch the following and share your comments:
Friday: The Sabbath Controversy
Listen to the end.
17. Why does the man acts like he didn’t know who healed him when questioned by the chief priests?
18. What possible explanations does Keller give for Jesus’ words “Stop sinning or something worse might happen?” What are your thoughts?
19. How do you see Jesus pursuing the man twice?
20. How does this incident go against the thought that God saves the worthy?
21. Rabbis said only God could work on the Sabbath. How does this shed light into Jesus response.
22. How did Keller explain the Sabbath rest? Are you experiencing this? If not, why?
23. What’s your take-a-way and why?