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At Home English School 英会話教室: Communicate with Comfort

The Signs of Jesus (III)
Do you want to get well?
John 5:1-9

During the recent new year’s vacation, we went to a hot spring near my wife’s hometown. It was night time. It was very cold and windy. It was raining, and there was even thunder and lightening. How on earth could it be fun to take off all your clothes and go outside in those conditions?? I always think that – until my body sinks into the hot and comforting waters. I grew up spending new year in a T-shirt and shorts on the beach, but now I have come to love this great Japanese custom!

Well, we have just read about another natural spring just outside the Temple of Jerusalem. There was a pool by a place called the Sheep Gate, which was surrounded by five covered colonnades. It would have been an incredible place, and you can actually go and see its remains today.

We have just read that this place was filled with people. There were sick people. Some were blind. Others couldn’t walk. And these people would lie around the pool area.

Why? What was special about this place? What made it seem so attractive to these people?

Well, this pool was located just on the outside of the temple area. This was the temple of the living God. It was the symbol of their meaning and purpose in life. The temple was where people could go to draw close to God. It was a special place.

So, if we look at it positively, we could say that this pool reflected a hope for the people gathered there. Those people all had some kind of physical problem. But there, by the pool, they shared the hope that they might someday be healed. Each one held a dream that, maybe one day, they would be rescued from their bondage and become able to enjoy a freer kind of life.

On the other hand, there is another way to look at the situation of those people. There is another reason why they were gathered at the pool together.

Those people were all considered to be sick. They could not work or contribute to society. It takes time, patience and effort to look after sick people. And particularly at that time, these were people who would have been considered a burden on those around them. To be blunt, these people were the outcasts of society.

Wasn't it convenient to have a place where they could all be taken and left!

But this was the Temple–the symbol of God's presence–a place of hope. Wasn't that the right place to take people with such needs?

Well, in reality, was it actually a place of genuine hope?

There was one man there who had been an invalid for 38 years./ Please raise your hand if you are older than 38./ Ok. Now raise your hand if you are younger than 38. Thank you./ 38 years is a very long time! But for 38 years, this man had lain by the side of that pool. For 38 years he had held onto the hope of being healed from his problem. For 38 years he had dreamed of being able to live his life in freedom. But for 38 years, for 38 long years, nothing had changed.

Let's look at what this man, what everyone there, seemed to believe.

Occasionally, the waters of the pool would be moved. They thought that when that happened, the first person to get into the water might be healed. So to get healed, the sick person had to get into the water. But not only that, they had to do it before anyone else.

So, getting healed centered around a great personal effort. In spite of your problems, you had to try hard. Even if you were weak, to get into the pool, you had to use your own strength. But they also believed that only the first person to get into the pool would be healed. So getting well was also a competition against everyone else who was sick. But even then, this was only a local custom. There was no guarantee of success.

Does this sound familiar to us? We all have problems and carry burdens in life. We have temptations and habits that we just can't overcome. But when we have a problem, do we believe that we can overcome it if we could only try harder - if we use our own strength and make a big effort? And do we respond to others around us as though they are our competition? Do we fight to get people’s attention – parade ourselves or our problems in an appeal to get people to respond to us?

This man had been by the pool for 38 years. He wasn't able to meet the conditions of that tradition. No matter how much he tried, he couldn't get to that water first. There was always someone faster, always someone better, always someone who would beat him. There was no one who could give him practical help.

But, he was still there. For 38 years he was beaten by his problem and defeated by the people around him. But he had nowhere else to go. He thought that his only hope was that pool of water, but he had no hope of receiving any benefit from it.

So, this pool pretended to offer something that it could not deliver. It provided a false hope to those who went there for help. There was no basis for the hope that people put in it.

Is there a more lonely place in life than where your only hope turns out to be empty? Is there anywhere darker? Is there anywhere more alone?

That is what this pool was. It was right next to the Temple, but it was so far from the reality of God.

The sick who were gathered there wanted healing, but it was not to God to whom they were asking. In other words, the pool was an idol.

But surprisingly, and perhaps ironically, God actually was there. He was in that dark place of false hope. He was there with the people who were sick, who couldn’t see, or walk. He was there with those people who wanted to get better, but who had misplaced their hope.

And on this day, God used the situation of one of those people to teach us something that we need to know about ourselves, and about God. We don’t know why Jesus chose this particular person. Maybe it was because his situation did seem so hopeless. But what we do know is that it was not the man who chose Jesus, but it was Jesus who chose that man.

Jesus knew this man’s situation. Jesus knew this man’s need. And Jesus knew that this man could not help himself. So Jesus wanted to show him where to find real hope. Jesus wanted everyone there to know that Jesus Himself was the source of true hope.

As we have been seeing during our past two talks, Jesus specializes in the unexpected: to demonstrate His control over nature, He turned water into wine; and to prove His authority over life, He healed a royal official’s son from afar, just by His will.

And now, when Jesus saw this man, He goes and does something else unexpected. But I am not talking about healing the man. No, because as we know, Jesus can and does help people. We might be surprised at how He helps them, but it is no surprise that he is able to do so.

What is surprising is the question that He asked this man. “Do you want to get well?”

What kind of question is that to someone who has been trying to get well for 38 years? Wouldn’t you think it a bit insensitive to go to a hospital and ask a long-suffering patient if they wanted to get well or not? Didn’t the fact that this man continued to get his family and friends to take him to the pool probably everyday for 38 years prove his desire to get well?

Well, this man had been there for a very long time. He was used to that place. He was used to the people around him. He was used to the way they treated him, and how he responded to them. This was his world. It was full of the things that he had come to depend on. This was all that he knew.

Yes, I am sure that he wanted to change. No doubt, he hoped that one day, he could change. But there was something missing. What was it?

It was “expectation.” Although he wanted to change, this man did not actually expect to change. He was resolved to his so-called fate.

“Do you want to get well?” asked Jesus.

The man didn’t say yes. He didn’t answer Jesus’ question. Instead, he just gave excuses. He blamed his situation, and he blamed the people around him. Jesus asked him if he wanted to get well. Jesus asked him if he wanted to change. But all this man could talk about was what he thought were his problems – the things he thought were stopping him from getting well.

Sometimes we have to accept that there are medical conditions that we will have to carry throughout this life. However, our problems are not limited to physical illness. There are even more common and widespread burdens that we carry in our daily lives. But most of the time, we aren’t even aware of them: problems such as bad attitudes–anger, bitterness, resentment, bad habits etc. that we just can’t break.

It’s not that we actually want to be like this. If we were asked directly, we would no doubt say that we really did want to change. We really did wish that things were different.

But we have tried. We have used all our strength to change. We have done so many different things to try to get better. But even though we might not always be aware of it, even though we might be so used to it that we don’t even notice, we are still the same.

Are we any different to the man at the pool? We want to get well, but maybe we just see the things that stop us from getting better. If only the things around me were different; if only the people around me would change!

Do you want to get well?

“I tried to change. I would like to change. But…”

Like this man, there are things that we want to change. There are things that we hope will change.

But if we have been carrying a burden for so long, if that burden has become such a part of us, then we probably don’t expect to change.

“Do you want to get well?”

The man did not know who Jesus was. But he thought he knew what his own problems were. The man did not know what Jesus could do for him. But Jesus knew him.

It was not the man who went to Jesus, but Jesus who went to him.

“Do you want to get well?”

Jesus ignored the man's negative response.

“Get up. Pick up your mat and walk.”

What happens next is both surprising and wonderful. The man actually did pick up his mat and walked! It was an instant healing. And this healing resulted in immediate obedience to Jesus.

How could this man, who had been all excuses and no expectations, do this?

When Jesus asked him if he wanted to get well, all he saw were his own problems, and all he gave were excuses. But when Jesus told him to get up and walk, there were no excuses. He didn’t ask how. He just obeyed.

This man hadn't heard the gospel before. But even before Jesus fixed his legs, He healed this man's heart. This man was not a robot and Jesus did not press a remote control. Jesus gave the command and the man chose to obey. But the command was based on the premise of healing, and the man chose to believe.

A dead person cannot stand up. A spiritually dead person cannot believe. The reality is that this person had now changed. But it was Jesus who had made that change happen.

And this is Jesus' challenge for us. You might know a lot about Jesus, or you might be hearing about him for the first time. But if you are in a dark and lonely place, if you have lost hope for change, then Jesus calls you to believe Him. He comes to you. He says you are not alone. He says stop relying on the things that you have used to prop yourself up with. And instead, trust Him.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,” said Jesus, “and I will give you rest. (Mt 11:28)

“Do you want to get well?”

Put your hope, no, put your expectations on Jesus!
















病気を治すために各人の必死の努力が集中的に払われたのでした。 各々が抱えている問題にもかかわらず必死に努力しなければなりませんでした。たとえ力が弱く萎えていても水の中に入るためには自分自身の力を使わなければなりません。更に彼らは最初に水の中に入った者だけが癒されると信じていました。ですから良くなろうとする事は全ての病人との競争を意味していました。しかし当時においてもこのことはその地域の習慣というだけで必ず成功するとの保障はありませんでした。

これは我々にとりなにか聞きなれたことではないでしょうか?我々は皆人生の中で問題を抱え重荷を負っています。我々には乗り越える事のできない誘惑や習慣があります。しかし問題に遭遇した時 より一層努力しさえすれば-もし我々自身の力を使って更に努力すれば克服できると信じているのでしょうか? そして回りの人達に対してあたかも我々の競争相手として対応するのでしょうか? 競って人の注意を引こうとしたり人が答えてくれるよう訴えるために我々自身をあるいは我々の問題をみせびらかせたりするのでしょうか?

この男性は38年間池のほとりにいました。彼は助かるため定められた条件をクリアーする事ができませんでした。どれだけ努力しても彼は池の中に最初に入る事が出来なかったのです。いつも誰かがより早く 誰かがよりうまく立ち回り そして誰かが彼を負かしてしまうのでした。彼が勝てるように助けてくれる人はいませんでした。



人生の中で唯一の希望の場所が実は空虚なものだとわかることほど淋しい場所があるでしょうか?それより暗い場所があるでしょうか? それより孤独な場所があるでしょうか?

それがまさにこの池だったのです。神殿のすぐ隣にありました。しかし神の真実とは はるかにかけはなれたものでした。


しかし驚いた事にそして面白い事に神はそこにおられたのです。神は偽りの希望の暗い場所におられたのでした。神は病んでいる人達 目が見えずまた歩く事ができない人達と共におられたのです。神は病気が癒される事を望みながらその望みの向けどころを間違っていた人達の中におられたのです。

そして今日この日 私たち自身の事そして神様の事を知る必要性を説くためにこれら病人の中の一人の境遇をご利用されたのです。イエス様がどうしてこの人を選ばれたのかわかりません。おそらく彼の境遇があまりにも悲惨で絶望的だったからかもしれません。しかし我々にはっきりわかっていることはその男性がイエス様をえらんだのではなくイエス様がその男性を選んだということです。



そして今回 イエス様はこの男性を見ると彼のところに行き再び予想だにされなかったことをなされました。しかしそれは単にその男性の病気を治した事を言ってるのではありません。決してそうではありません。と言うのはイエス様は人を救う事ができまた救いをなされることは我々は既に知っています。どのように助けるかについては驚きをおぼえるかもしれませんが助けることが出来る事はもはや驚くことではありません。


38年もの間良くなるように努めていた人に向かって何という質問でしょうか? 病院にいって長きにわたり苦しんでいる患者に良くなりたいですかと尋ねるなんて無神経で情に欠けるとおもいませんか。38年の間彼は家族や友達におそらく毎日池に連れて行ってもらい続けているという事実が良くなりたいとの彼の願いを証明しているのではありませんか?





男性は はいとは答えませんでした。彼はイエス様の質問に返答しなかったのです。そのかわりに言い訳をしました。彼の境遇を責め彼のまわりの者を責めました。イエス様は彼に良くなりたいのかと尋ねます。つまり彼に変わりたいかと尋ねている訳です。しかし彼が言ったことは彼が問題だと思いこんでいることつまり良くなる事を妨げていると思いこんでいる事柄についてのみでした。

時に我々は一生負わねばならない医学的な疾患を受け入れなければなりません。しかしながら問題は肉体的な病気だけに限られたものではありません。より日常的なそして広範囲にわたる重荷を日々の生活の中で負っています。しかしたいていの場合我々はそれらのことに気づいていません。例えば悪い態度 怒り 敵意 恨み なかなかやめられない悪習慣などなど


しかし我々は努力してきました。変わろうとして全力をつくしてきました。よりよくなろうと様々な努力をしてきました。しかし例えいつも気が付くわけではないにしてもまたあまりにその事に慣れすぎて気がつかないとしても 我々は依然変わらず同じであり続けているのです。





しかしもし我々が重荷を長きにわたり負ってきたとしたらもしその重荷が我々の一部となってしまったなら おそらくもう変わることを期待しなくなるでしょう。













「全て疲れた人 重荷を負っている人は私のところに来なさい。私があなた方を休ませてあげよう。」マタイ伝11章28節