Whosoever Will

Bible Book: John  5 : 1-14
Subject: Salvation; Love of God; Redemption


John 5:1-14, 24

All right. It’s a joy to see you and have this fellowship in the Word of God. And today, we’re continuing our series on a “Parade of Miracles.” You know, the Gospel of John is a parade of miracles. John said at the close of the Gospel of John that if everything that Jesus Christ did were put into books, the whole world couldn’t contain them. (John 21:25) But John says that he took some specific miracles… And there’s a very special word for miracle that John uses - the word semeion, which means “a sign”; that is, “a miracle with a message,” “a sign with a significance.” John selected seven miracles, and he used them, “that we might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and then, that when we believe that, we would have life through His name.” (John 20:31) For Jesus said in this Gospel of John, in John chapter 10, verse 10: “[I’ve] come that [you] might have life.” (John 10:10)

Now, I don’t know everything about all of you, but I know this about each of you: you’re looking for life. That’s what you want: life, a full life, a meaningful life, a fulfilling life, a life that is worthwhile. You’re on a search for life. I heard about a lady who was looking in her purse for her keys. At first she looked casually, and then she looked seriously, and then she looked very seriously, and then she looked frantically, because her keys were not there. And then, do you know what she discovered? She was looking in the wrong purse. Now, a lot of you are looking for life - some casually, some of you seriously, some of you franticly - but unless you look in the right place, no matter how much you search, you’ll not find it. Life is in Christ. The Bible says, “In him was life; and [that] life was the light of men.” (John 1:4) Only Christ can light up your life - only Christ. That light is life. And, Jesus said, “[I’ve] come that [you] might have life,” (John 10:10) not existence. You’ve already got that. You’re already breathing. Your heart is already beating. You have consciousness, but Christ came to give you life. Now, that’s what these miracles are telling us about. That’s what the parade of miracles is all about.

Now we come to the third miracle. We’ve already talked about Jesus turning water into wine - that was the first one. We’ve already talked about the healing of the nobleman’s son - that was the second one. And, now we’re going to be talking about the third one, all right. So, would you turn with me, please, to John chapter 5 - John chapter 5? You got that? Let’s begin reading in verse 1: “After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda” - incidentally, do you know what Bethesda means? “House of mercy.” Here’s a miracle of mercy that’s going to be performed at the house of mercy, this place called Bethesda - “having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk” - the word impotent means “without strength” - “of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first…stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had. And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?” - that almost sounds like an inane question; it almost sounds like a dumb question, though Jesus never asked a dumb question. Here’s a man who had been sick for thirty - eight years, trying to get well, and Jesus asked him, “Do you want to be made well? Would you be made whole?” We’re going to see the significance of that message, that question, in just a moment - “The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me. Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.” (John 5:1–9)

Now, I want us to learn something from this wonderful miracle, because it has a lot to do with you and all of us who are looking for life - real life, fullness of life - that’s found only in the Lord Jesus Christ. And, our outline this morning is extremely simple. I want you to see this man and his desperation. Then, I want you to see this man in his decision. Then, I want you to see this man in his deliverance. Now, we can all remember that, can’t we?

I. His Desperation

Look at this man in his desperation, this man who was lying there in this place. Some feel that, at one time, it was a health spa. Those of us who’ve visited the Holy Land have been many times to this spot, because the remains of it are still there, this place of Bethesda, this place of the five porches. And, we’ve seen this spot where this man lay. There they were, all of them moaning, and groaning, and sighing, and dying, and crying - a great multitude with all manner of diseases, like a huge hospital. And, the Lord Jesus Christ comes there, and here’s this man lying there. Jesus goes right to him. He singles him out because he’s a very special case, and he’s going to be used for a very special lesson. Jesus asks him this question: “Do you want to be made whole?” (John 5:6) Again, I say, sounds like a stupid question, doesn’t it? But oh, the man did so much want to be made whole. And Jesus, by a miracle of mercy, in the house of mercy, healed him and set him free. But, why this man?

Notice his desperation. I want you to notice that he was an impotent man. That means that he was a man with complete inability - with complete disability. He was in a desperate situation.

A. The Source of His Desperation

Now, what was the source of his desperation? Well, I didn’t read on down to verse 14, but if you read on down to verse 14, when Jesus met this man after he had been healed, Jesus said, “Now look, go your way and sin no more, lest a worse thing happen to you.” (John 5:14) The source of his desperation was his sin. All of the trouble that any of us have is really because of sin. Somewhere, somehow that’s the source of it, friend. “Life is short; death is sure. / Sin, the curse; Christ, the cure” (author unknown). Sin is the problem with this world. I mean, you just put it in boxcar letters over the problems of this world - it is sin. Now, in the university, they’ll not tell you that. In the U.N., they’ll not tell you that. In the halls of Congress, they’ll not tell you that. But, the problem, sir, ladies and gentlemen, the source of it is sin - sin.

B. The Force of His Desperation

But, I want you to notice not only the source of it; I want you to notice the force of it.

Here was a man who was paralyzed. He was unable to do what he needed to do, what he ought to do, what he was created to do, which reminds me of Romans chapter 5 and verse 6: the Bible says, “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the [unjust].” (Romans 5:6) This man had no strength, and it pictures every man, every woman, every boy, every girl outside of Christ.

You say, “Not me. I’m not a Christian, but I’ve got plenty of strength. I lift weights.” We’re not talking about physical strength. “Oh,” you say, “I’ve got plenty of strength. I’m a Ph.D.” We’re not talking about intellectual strength. You say, “Well, I’ve got plenty of strength. I’m a businessman.” We’re not talking about financial strength. We’re talking about the same kind of strength that Paul was talking about when he said that “God [commended] his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners” - “when we were without strength,” rather - “Christ died for [the ungodly].” (Romans 5:8) You see, you don’t have strength to be godly; that’s the strength you need - strength to be godly. “When we were yet without strength…Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:6) Why? Because we ought to be godly. You see, the unsaved man is able to do what he wants, but he’s not able to do what he ought. Christ gives us the power to do what we ought. That’s the strength we need to do godly.

C. The Course of His Desperation

And so, notice this man’s disability: the source of it - his sin; the force of it - it drained him of his strength; the course of it - he’d been this way for thirty - eight years. Day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, here he was. Every day he was none the better but a little worse - again, a picture of the man without Christ. Here’s a man in his disability, and, therefore, he pictures every man apart from the Lord Jesus Christ.

II. His Decision

But, the second thing I want you to notice now: not only his disability as is depicted in verse 5, but I want you to see his decision depicted in verse 6: “When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?” (John 5:6) Again, I want to tell you, it really does sound like a silly question; it really does sound like an inane question to ask a man who is sick if he wants to be made whole. But, I want you to know that Jesus did that because Jesus respected his will, just as the Lord Jesus respects your will and every human will. If God were to transgress your will, if God were to force you to do something you do not want to do, then, my dear friend, you would no longer be a human being; you would become a machine. So, God gave you a will; and God will not force that will, and Satan cannot force that will.

In a moment, I’m going to give you an invitation to come and receive the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. But, because you have a will, there are not enough angels in heaven to drag you down this aisle and not enough demons in hell to keep you from coming, amen? Not enough angels or demons, because, you see, God will not force your will, and Satan cannot force your will. And, the question to you today is, “whosoever will may come.”

Now, you know, there are some people today who don’t like this idea that man has a free will. Oh, they get incensed about that. Some theologians, when you talk about the free will of man, they somehow think that transgresses the sovereign power of God. And, theologians and preachers argue about it. Oh, boy! Sometimes the fur flies when the preachers get together and talk about the sovereign grace of God and the free will of man.

I heard about a preacher’s meeting one time - they got into such an argument and such a fury all over it. These theologians found that half of them had their little holy huddle on this side of the room, and the other half had their little holy huddle on that side of the room. Over here on this side were the men who believed in the sovereign grace of God and that God just predestines certain people to be saved and they don’t really have much to do about it. And, over here on the other side are those who believed in the free will - that anybody who wanted to come could come. One poor preacher was caught in the middle. He didn’t know which group he belonged in. They both kind of sounded good to him, and it sounded like there was truth in both areas. But finally, he decided he had to be in one group, so he went over to this group. And, they looked at him, and they said, “Who told you to come over here?” “Well,” he said, “I came of my own free will.” And, they said, “You can’t come of your own free will. You belong in that other group.” So, he went over to that other group, and they said, “Who told you to come over here? Why’d you come over here?” He said, “Because I was sent over here.” They said, “Look, you can’t be in this group unless you come of your own free will.” And so, he was left in the middle.

The truth of the matter is, dear friend, how silly we are to make things seem to contradict themselves that do not. Of course, God is sovereign. The Lord Jesus was sovereign. But, the Lord Jesus Christ came to this man, and He said, “Do you want to be made whole?” (John 5:6) He respected his will, and God will respect yours. God never made a man to go to hell - never, never! I believe it’s blasphemous to teach so.

One preacher, when he was a little boy - and this man grew up to be a great minister - said when he was about a ten - year - old boy, he heard a preacher - who was what we call a “hyper - Calvinistic type” - say that “God created some people for hell and God created some people for heaven. And, if you were created for hell, you were going to hell.” And, that youngster said, “If God created me to go to hell, then I want to go to hell.” Think about it: “If God created me to go to hell, then I want to go to hell, for anything that does what God created it to do is happy.” That is true. And, dear friend, if God created some people for hell, then hell as we know it would be an impossibility, because the flames of torment would become flames of grace and glory if God made us for it and it for us. The truth of the matter is that God never created you for hell. And, if you go to hell, you will be an intruder. Hell was made for the devil and his angels. (Matthew 25:41) And, the Bible tells us, “The Lord is…not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

God loves you, and He wants you to be saved, but He will not force you. He respects your will. And, Jesus asks this man who is sick, “Wilt thou be made whole?” (John 5:6) And, Jesus is asking you today, “Do you want to be saved?” And, you say, “It’s strange that you would ask a man, ‘Do you want to be made whole?’” Go up here to one of these hospitals and ask one of these sick people, “Do you want to be made well?” They’ll look at you maybe like you’re crazy - but not every one of them. Did you know there are some people who enjoy poor health? I mean, if they were made whole, they wouldn’t have anything to complain about. They enjoy poor health. Now, it’s strange, but I’ve honestly met some who seem to enjoy poor health - not everyone. You say, “That’s strange that a person would have an opportunity to be healed and say, ‘No, I don’t want to be healed.’” Well, if you think that’s strange, what about a person who has an opportunity to be saved and refuses to be saved? What about a person, when you invite that person to the Lord Jesus Christ and say, “Do you want to be saved? Do you want your sins forgiven? Do you want peace, and purpose, and joy, and happiness, and fulfillment, and a reason for living, and a hope in dying? Do you want that?” - “I don’t know. Let me think about it here for a while”? You talk about human depravity! How depraved the human heart is that you have to beg a lost man to be saved. It’s like begging a starving man to eat at a banquet.

I mean, here Jesus comes to this man who’s been sick for thirty - eight years and asks him this question: “Do you want to be made whole?” (John 5:6) But, remember now, He’s doing that to teach us an even greater lesson about salvation, because this is a sign with a significance. And so, you see here the decision that this man made. He decided yes, he wanted to be made whole. Who wouldn’t empty the dirt out of his pockets and let God fill them with diamonds? Oh, dear friend, listen: you ought to say, “Yes, I want to be saved. Of course I do.”

“Well,” you say, “but what do I have to give up?” Well, you have to give up everything that will hurt you. That’s what you have to give up. “Do you want to be healed?” “Yeah, but I hate to give up my cancer.” Wouldn’t that be dumb? “Do you want to be saved?” “Yeah, but I hate to give up that stuff.” Listen, my friend, “the LORD thy God is a sun and [a] shield…[and] no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” (Psalm 84:11) If it’ll make you healthy, happy, holy, God says, “Help yourself.” He “giveth us…all things [richly] to enjoy.” (1 Timothy 6:17) He is a life - giver. Jesus Christ never walked up to any man and said, “Do you want to be made sick?” I’m not inviting you to a funeral; I’m inviting you to a feast. I’m not inviting you to sickness; I’m inviting you to health. And, the question is, today, do you want the Lord Jesus Christ? But, I tell you, sir, it is a matter of whosoever will - whosoever will - may come.

III. His Deliverance

Now, the third thing I want you to notice - I want you to notice not only his desperation and I want you to notice not only his decision, but I want you to notice his deliverance. I want you to look here in verses 8 and 9 as we continue to read: “Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.” (John 5:8–9) What a miracle took place! This man is greatly, marvelously, wonderfully, supernaturally delivered, and he becomes a picture of salvation; he becomes a picture of a man coming to Christ - not for the healing of his physical body, because Christ did not come primarily to heal physical bodies. As a matter of fact, the Bible says that He got out of there quickly and secretly because there were a great multitude there. (John 5:13) You’d think that, if He came to heal, He’d just stay around and heal everybody, wouldn’t you? He didn’t come to heal. If He came to heal, He would’ve stayed there and healed every person in that place. But, He chose this man. Here is a sign with a significance; here is a miracle with a message. And, what is the message? What is the significance? Showing us how to come and get a greater healing - healing for our spirit, that greater miracle that Gargling was singing about here just a little while back.

Now, just stay there in John chapter 5 and write in the margin “Ephesians 2, verses 8 through 10.” Now, I love those verses, because clearly and concisely, plainly and practically, now and forever, they tell us how to be saved and how to be right with God. If you’re not a Christian, if you’re not saved and you want to be saved, if you are not certain of going to heaven and you want to go to heaven, then learn Ephesians 2, verses 8 through 10. Nowhere is it more concisely put than right here. Are you ready for it? Do you want to listen to it? Here it is: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8–10)

Now, there are three prepositions that stand out in those three verses. And, if you get those three prepositions down, you’ve got your theology of salvation nailed down good. Are you ready for them? The three words - the three prepositions: by, through, and unto - you got that? - by, through, and unto. “For by grace are ye saved” - it is by grace - “through faith…unto good works.” (Ephesians 2:8–10) Got it? Nod your heads. Look intelligent. “By grace…through faith…unto good works.” (Ephesians 2:8–10) Now, let’s look at this man and see how he illustrates that.

A. By Grace

First of all, now, he was saved by grace. He’s totally disabled. He’s impotent. He is without strength. He’s paralyzed. He can’t do it for himself. If it is done, it’s going to have to be done by someone else. You see, he is illustrating the grace of God. That’s the way salvation is: it’s not what we do for ourselves; it’s what God through Christ does in us.

Suppose we’d been standing there that day, and we’d heard the Lord Jesus Christ say to this man, “Rise, take up [your] bed, and walk,” (John 5:8) and we’d seen him there, and he’d been there, let’s say, for thirty - eight years, lying in that spot. We would have said, “Cool it. Wait a minute, whoever you are” - suppose we didn’t know Jesus -  “Hold it, mister. Don’t be cruel to that man. You asked him to do something impossible. If he could have risen, he would have done that a long time ago. And, therefore, since it is impossible, it’s unreasonable, and, therefore, I protest.” But, while we’re arguing, the man is up.

Listen, friend, let me tell you something. Let me give you a definition of Christianity. Do you want it? Are you ready for it? Here it is: the impossible plus the unreasonable plus Jesus Christ is Christianity. Amen? The impossible plus the unreasonable plus Jesus Christ - that’s Christianity. You see, God is in the miracle business. Yes, it’s impossible that we could be born again, but it’s possible through Christ. Yes, it’s unreasonable that we can be changed by His grace and by a word, but it happens. It happened to me. It happened to you.

Dr. Harry Ironside used to be the pastor of Moody Church, and before he was the pastor of Moody Church, this great Bible teacher and expositor worked in the Salvation Army. And, he said in an article I read many, many years ago that he was holding a street meeting with the Salvation Army, and they had the brass band there, and people were giving testimonies, and so forth. And, among those giving a testimony was a man who had been a gutter drunkard who had been saved and transformed and been made over anew by the grace of our dear, wonderful Lord. But, while this man was giving that testimonial, a well - dressed man standing on the periphery of the crowd called out and said, “Mister, you’re living in a dream world. There’s nothing to that. You are just dreaming.” And, that well - dressed man felt then a tug on his coattail, and he turned around to see a little girl with a pretty face. And, she looked up at him and said, “Sir, that man who’s talking is my daddy. He used to be a drunkard. He used to come home and beat my mother. And, we didn’t have enough food to eat, and I didn’t have enough clothes to wear. My mother used to cry most of the day. And then, my daddy became a Christian, and now we have plenty to eat. And, look at my pretty dress. And,” she said, “Mamma sings most of the day.” And then, she said, “Mister, if my daddy is dreaming, please don’t wake him up.” Amen?

Oh, dear friend, transformed, made over by the greater miracle than the healing of the physical body. It is by grace - by grace - where people who are totally unable to do it for themselves have something done. A miracle transformation takes place in the heart.

B. Through Faith

But, by grace, through faith. All this man had was the word of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ spoke: “Rise, take up [your] bed…walk.” (John 5:8) At that moment, he didn’t even know who Jesus Christ was, but there was something about the authority of His voice and something about how the Holy Spirit takes the words of our Lord and brings them to a human heart that inculcated faith in that man. For the Master had spoken, and he was up. But, notice what Jesus said to him: “Take up [your] bed.” (John 5:8) Now folks, he’d been trying to get into that pool for perhaps thirty - eight years. He had a place in line, getting an inch closer, an inch closer, an inch closer. And now, the Lord says, “Step out of line. Take up your bed.”

Suppose there are a couple of fellas who have been standing in line for Super Bowl tickets. And, let’s suppose they’ve been standing in line - let’s say one guy - he’s been standing in line for thirty - eight years to get a ticket to the Super Bowl. For thirty - eight years now, he’s been in line. And, his buddy comes to him and says, “Hey, Joe. Man, I got us two tickets on the fifty - yard line. Come on!” And, he looks at that guy, and he’s about as far from here to that door to that window where they’re selling the tickets. Now, I want to promise you, friend, if he steps out of line, he believes that guy. Doesn’t he? If he steps out of line? See?

Well, the Lord says, “Take up your bed now. Get it out of here. You’re not going to need it any more.” You see, what the Lord was saying is this: “There’s no room for a relapse” - right? - “I mean, you’re getting out here, mister.” You see, the Bible says, “Put…on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make [no] provision for the flesh, to fulfil the [lust] thereof.” (Romans 13:14) Do you know what a lot of us do? We want to make a provision for the flesh. Oh, we want to give our hearts to Christ, but we want to keep our place in line. Here’s a guy who says, “Well, I’m gonna quit drinking, but I’m going to keep that fifth around just in case.” He didn’t take up his bed, did he? “I’m gonna quit smoking, but I’m going to keep that carton in the dresser drawer just in case.” You left that bed there - you’re going to be back on it. See? Take up your bed. Get it out of here.

Don’t make a provision for the flesh. If you do, you’ll be sorry. “Put…on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make [no] provision for the flesh.” (Romans 13:14)

One of my favorite stories is about a daddy who was going away one Saturday afternoon. He had to leave his little boy at home. His little boy was somewhat sick with a semi - cold, a head cold; and so, the daddy gave instructions to the boy, and he said, “Now Son, whatever you do, do not get in that swimming hole with the rest of those boys.” “Yes, sir, Daddy.” The daddy went off on that Saturday afternoon. When he was driving, he just happened to drive past the swimming hole, and who do you think was out there right in the middle of it? I mean, with all the boys was his son, Jimmy. He stops the car and brings him over. He says, “Son, come over here. Didn’t I expressly tell you not to go swimming?” “Yes, sir, Daddy.” “Don’t you deserve to be punished?” “Well, wait a minute, Daddy. Let me tell you. I didn’t intend to go swimming - really, Daddy. I just came down here to watch the guys swimming. I was just sitting by the shore, just kind of putting my feet in the water because it’s so hot. And, Billy splashed me a little bit, and I got wet some anyway. And, some of the guys were wrestling with me, and I kinda fell in. Well, Dad, I really didn’t mean to go in, but before I knew it, I was just swimming, Daddy.” By that time, the dad, who was once a boy, was feeling kind of sorry for him and was ready to forgive him. Then, he said, “Well, wait a minute. You’ve got your bathing suit on.” “Well,” he said, “I brought it along in case I was tempted.”

Now folks, look, you’ve got to take up that bed. Now listen, in a moment, I’m going to give an invitation for you to come give your heart to Jesus Christ. And, do you know what the devil will say? I know human nature enough. The devil will say to you, “Yes, yes, you need that new life in Christ. You need to be saved. Yes, you surely do, but don’t go forward. Don’t get baptized. Don’t become a part of the family of God. Don’t make it public, because you might need to go back where you used to be. You might not be able to make it. So, just sort of be a secret disciple.” Friend, that’s not faith. Faith says, “I will make it because He said so. I don’t need this bed any more. I’m going to take up this palette. I’m going to pull it up. I’m getting it out of here. I don’t need this place in the old world and in the old line anymore.”

C. Unto Good Works

It is “by grace…through faith…unto good works.” (Ephesians 2:8–10) Now, I don’t want to insult your intelligence, but I want to tell you what Jesus did not say to the man. Jesus did not say to him, “Walk, take up your bed, and rise.” Jesus said, “Rise, take up [your] bed, and walk.” (John 5:8) Do you know the problem with some of you? You say, “Well, I’ve tried the Christian life, and it didn’t work.” Your problem is you tried to walk before you were up. You see, look, you’ve got to rise before you walk. “As ye have…received [the Lord] Jesus…so walk ye in him.” (Colossians 2:6) You must have that new birth. You must have that salvation experience. You cannot work out your salvation until God works it in and until you’ve been saved - until you’ve had a miracle so that you become a miracle. Quit trying to live the Christian life without Christ. It is not just difficult; it is impossible.

We’re talking about miracles. And so, you must come to the Lord Jesus Christ and hear Him ask this question: “Would you be made whole?” And then, when you give the consent of your will at His word, you’ll rise. There is the miracle. There’s the new birth. Then, you can put away that bed. Then, you can walk. Listen: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works.” (Ephesians 2:8–10) “For by grace” - rise. “Through faith” - take up your bed. “Unto good works” - walk. You see, I want to say it again: Jesus is teaching a greater lesson. And, if all you see is the healing of this man and you miss the greater spiritual lesson, then you miss it all.

Later, there were a bunch of Pharisees who got on Jesus’s case about this. Do you know what they were all hot and bothered about? Jesus healed the man on the Sabbath day. And, when they saw the man who was made whole, they didn’t say, “Who was it that healed you?” They said, “Who told you to take up your bed on the Sabbath day?” (John 5:12) Isn’t that something? You talk about straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! That’s what they did. They didn’t say, “Wow, you’ve been healed!” They said, “Who told you to carry that mat on the Sabbath day?” (John 5:12) And so, Jesus gets into a contest with them, or, at least, they get into a contest with Jesus.

Now, we’re in the same passage, but go down to verse 24 to see how Jesus sums it up and explains the whole thing about this passage here - John 5, verse 24: Jesus says: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” (John 5:24) Why did Jesus say He came? That we might have life. (John 10:10) Now, this man heard the word of Christ, and he received physical healing. But, that was an illustration of those of you today who will hear the Word of God and be saved. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” (John 5:24) Do you know what that word condemnation means? It means “judgment.”

I want to tell you one of the strangest stories in all history. It took place in 1829. The events surround a person by the name of George Wilson. George Wilson was a mail robber and a murderer, and he was sentenced by the courts in 1829 to be hanged by the neck until dead. But, the President of United States at that time, President Andrew Jackson, for some reason which I do not know, pardoned George Wilson and said that George Wilson was not to be hanged. And, they sent that pardon to the governor and to the warden. And ultimately, they came to George Wilson and said, “You have been pardoned by the President of the United States.” Do you know what George Wilson said? “I don’t want to be pardoned. I will not accept it. I refuse the pardon.” Well, what do you do then? Here’s a man sentenced to die. The President pardons him. He refuses the pardon. Do you open the jail and shove him out? Or, do you go ahead and hang him though the President said he’s pardoned? What do you do? Boy, they argued it back and forth. It ended up in the Supreme Court: “What are we going to do about this man who has received a pardon from the President and he refuses to be pardoned? What shall we do?” The Supreme Court met and adjudicated the matter, and Chief Justice John Marshall said this: “A pardon is a paper, the value of which depends upon its acceptance by the person implicated. If it is refused, it is no pardon.”

Now, can I apply that to your life? And, incidentally, George Wilson hung by the neck until dead, even though he had been potentially pardoned. Christ has potentially pardoned you. The Lord Jesus loves you, but He’s asking you this question: “Do you want to be made whole?” - “Wilt thou be made whole?” (John 5:6) And, if you say “no,” even though He hung and bled in agony upon that cross, there’s nothing that even the Lord can do to keep you out of hell. You’ll not go because He sent you; you’ll go because you refused your pardon. The Bible says, “Whosoever will may come.” (Revelation 22:17) Aren’t you glad? Aren’t you glad that whosoever will may come by grace through faith unto good works? And, we can hear Jesus Christ saying in the spiritual sense, “Rise, take up [your] bed, and walk.” (John 5:8)


Let’s bow our heads in prayer - every head bowed and no one stirring or moving about this great auditorium right now. Father in heaven, I pray today that many in this building will join that parade of miracles that’s led by the Lord Jesus Christ - that they will become a miracle, a greater miracle than having a physical paralysis healed, that they will pass from death unto life by believing on Christ. O God, dear God, send your precious Spirit in great power to convict and to draw men, and women, and boys, and girls to Jesus, in whose name we pray.