Healing Our Hearts

John 5:1-9

Rev. Cornolius Moore, Paster
St. James Baptist Church
Rocky Mount, NC

Over the past three decades there have been numerous changes in the social order. Having been born in the south on a clay hill in North Carolin, the youngest of eight siblings, it is safe to say that most African Americans were engaged in agricultural production and extractive industries. Health care services, education and other opportunities wer influenced by a pattern of racial separation that permeated much of the social reality for both races.

Yes, there are numerous other reasons and factors that can be considered while African-Americans comprise only 12% of the US population.  However, their rates of poor health, disability, disease, and premature death are much greater than those of other groups in the population.

One of the most disturbing comments that I hear most often in this 21st century is this: “Reverend, people are dying and going to hell everyday and you want to take the time to talk about good health practices?  You need to be telling folk how to get saved.  There ain’t no time for that stuff.”

My spirit is compelling me to throw this in parenthetically.  My mother used to say to me “Son, you must learn to deal with the conjunctions in life and until you learn that lesson you will always be struggling.

So here is my conjunction…”but”….Psalm 103:2-5 says “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits….who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with loving kindness and tender mercies;  who satisfieth they mouth with good things (such as food); so that thy youth is renewed like the eagles’.

Now let’s look at that text.  It talks about an odd shaped pool that is a little north of the temple in Jerusalem surrounded by five porches called Bethesda, where crowds of sick people lay waiting for the troubling of the water.  Watch this---notice there was no equipment, no doctors, no nurses, no staff, and no medicine.  Just a complex of five porches called Bethesda.

The pool was known to have healing powers at certain times, that is why the five porches are called Bethesda; for Bethesda means “house of mercy” or “house of healing.”  It is a good name for the place situated around the pool.  The   people were waiting around the pool because they had been told that when the water was troubled, the first to jump in the pool after the troubling of the water was to be healed of whatever disease he or she had.

Let me back up and make it plain.  Remember there were no nurses, no staff, and no doctors.  There are some things we can do to improve our health condition without the aid of others.  Notice the mode of transportation that Jesus exercised most of the time.  You got it right, he walked.  So why not walk a mile or two or maybe even three.  When I was growing up and learning to play the guitar, one of the first country songs that I learned says “walk a mile, cry a smile for my mommy and daddy…I want them to know that I love them so.”

So why not exercise that heart muscle by walking a mile…and if it hurts, cry a smile because God loves you and desires that you have an abundant life.  You do not need a staff of nurses or doctors to change your eating habits.  In I Corinthians 9:27 the apostle Paul said “ I buffet my body and make it my slave” (NASB).

Now let’s face it.  The word “buffet” in this passage isn’t pronounced “buf-fay”, and Paul isn’t telling us to eat a table full of delicacies.  Sorry---he’s advising us to discipline our bodies.  In this text John shows us God’s work and our work side by side.

If healing is to come forth, God must work, but we must work, too.  God’s work does not displace our work, but it makes our work both possible and necessary.  An old revivalist, Rev. W.E. Beamon once said, “there is no need of praying and asking God to come down from heaven to make him a pan of biscuits because He was not gonna do that.  But he thanked the Lord for sending an old lady by his house with a pan of biscuits.

God has given us knowledge, strength, wisdom and some power to do some things for ourselves.  Diabetes, cancer, and heart disease can be prevented by utilizing the divine design or can certainly delay complications of these diseases and often cure them as we.  These three principles are found to be true:

  • Eat the things God created for food, and avoid everything else.
  • Eat the things created for food before they are changed into nutrient deficient toxic products.
  • Avoid addiction…intermittent fasting will help.

Isaiah 48: 11,18 says “ I am the Lord your God who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.  If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea.”

Look at the text again.  We do not know who or what construction company built these porches at Bethesda.  But we do know that there is a picture of the co-operation that exists between God and us.  God opens up a pool of healing, but we must build the porches around the pool.

God provides the healing but we must provide the supportive services of hospitals and clinics and foster careers in nursing and medicine.  God opens up fountains of spiritual healing but we must build the churches around the experience and make available to others the good news of salvation and the possibility of new creations and moral energy to change the world.

God reveals both truth and wisdom.  God scoops up the pool of opportunity, but we must build up the 5 porches of human responsibility and those porches are faith, hope, love, wisdom, and work!  Yes, God digs the pools but we must build the porches.  Notice if you will, the purpose of the porches.  The porches were built in order to help people come close to the pool.  The healing power was not found in the porches, but in the pool.

Churches are not built for the sake of the building, but for the benefit of the people both in, but especially outside of the church, that they might be brought close to the pool and that they may be healed from their sickness and cleansed from their guilt.  People need to know that there is life in the pool….that there is mercy in God and that there is a full fountain of healing springing up in dry deserts of despair.

The world needs to know that disabilities can be transcended…..defiencies can be transformed and disadvantages can be overcome by the power of God.  Churches are built in order to proclaim this hope.  Notice also that the porches were only valuable because they led to the pool.  The porches were not good to anyone unless that person went beyond the porch and got into the pool.  So it is with the church, some folk are still on the porch and have not gotten into the pool.

The church is valuable and necessary only in so far as it points beyond itself to Jesus Christ.  Its buildings are worthless and it’s doctrines are false, its teachings are fertile, its music is dull, its preaching is hallow and empty “unless” they point the way to Jesus Christ.  It will do the church no good to point to its building, its budget, its bank account…the main question still remains ---is Jesus Christ the focus of its life?  Is Jesus Christ the center of its joy?  Is Jesus Christ the source of its power?  In case you don’t know, let me share with you that the effectiveness of what we do is predicated on what God is doing.  Nothing that we do is anything in and of itself unless it be of God!

Bethesda is meaningless without the troubling of the pool.  We can’t do anything without God.  Even the medicine is nothing unless God blesses it.  The doctor is nothing unless God uses the doctor…the teacher is nothing unless God inspires the teacher…the church is nothing unless God visits the church….the preacher is nothing unless God puts a word in the mouth of the preacher---puts the Holy Ghost in the heart of the preacher---puts life in the soul of the preacher---and puts fire in the bones of the preacher.  Jesus said “I am the vine and ye are the branches…as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.

Now again, if you notice the text there are three things that I want to lift before you.  First, the compassionate question—Do you want to be whole?  This question suggests that healing is a choice.  You must first admit that you are hurting.  During the past twenty years of ministry, I have concluded that some people don’t want their hurts healed.  Some folk don’t want to change anything.  Just because some folk show up on Sunday morning does not mean that they want to be healed, transformed, or delivered.  This would meant that things would have to change in their daily walk.  No longer would you be able to blame some one else for your infirmities.

But sir, I have no man to put me in the pool when the water is troubled.  But while I am coming, another steps down into the pool before me.  That’s not the question that Jesus asked the man.  It’s time for each of us to take full responsibility for our health and who we are in Christ Jesus.

Secondly, it’s in your hands---we must choose healing over our hurts.  Yes, that does mean added responsibility.  So I’ll walk a mile and if it hurts, I walk another mile…..and if someone is looking at me as my body aches, I’ll cry a smile.  It’s in your hands.  If you want to be made whole, if you want the healing of your hurts to take place then start with the God given abilities that you already have.  My daughter said to me several years ago when I was sick, “Daddy, you have lived for years eating anything that you desired, now it’s time for you to eat to live because I want to keep my daddy as long as I can.”

Finally, in verse 8, Jesus said unto him, Rise, take up thy be and walk,  When you choose healing over hurts there is a blessed result.  Notice that the water had to be troubled in order to have a healing effect.  The water could not heal as long as it was still------it had to be troubled in order to bless and heal.  Even though you may be troubled with some health problems, don’t give up.  Rather look up and thank God for the trouble in your life.  For new possibilities will spring up and leap up from tension and frustration,

Healing comes out of troubled waters; it uncovers some hidden gifts…it releases some surpressed songs.  Healing comes from brokenness---salvation is raised up out of trouble.  You’ve got to break a seed before you can make it grow….you’ve got to crush a rose petal before it well give up sweet perfume…you’ve got to agitate the strings of a violin before it brings forth music.

This man in our text said that it was only after Jesus stirred up the water, stirred up my mind, stirred up my attitude, ….it was only after Jesus stirred up my behavior, that I received some blessed results.

So pick up your bed and walk.  Walk if your health is bad---walk anyhow, you’ll get stronger.  Where there is a will there is a way.  So stand up, look up, get up, stay up, keep up, pick up-----take up your bed and walk.  Jesus told the man what to do because Jesus had already given him the strength to do it.  That’s the way God works.  He said you don’t have to wait around here for the troubling of the water.

We, too must not wait for someone else to do for us what we can do for ourselves.  We can change our eating habits, include some exercise in our schedule, and look to Jesus.  Can’t you hear Him saying that I have what you need because I am what you need.  To the hungry I am the bread of life…to the blind I am the light of the world…to the lost I am the good shepherd…the the outcast I am the door….to the rejected I am the true vine….to the weary I am the way…to the hopeless I am the bright and morning star…..to the dead I am the resurrection and the life.

There’s a man walking around here---He has all power in his hand----there’s a man walking around taking the names of persons who want to be healed---He healed my body----He healed my soul----He lifted my head----he changed my name----What He’s done for me, He’ll do for you!!!!