In John 5 , Jesus likens us to sheep - this message gives several ways this is true! One similarity is that sometimes sheep are "cast", lying down, unable to move, unable to function. If we are lying down we may have many excuses, feel a victim, and be waiting for something to happen. However, like the man in this story, who had been waiting 38 years for help, we need to answer this same question Jesus asked: Do you want to be made whole? We have the power of choice - to receive Jesus and have the power of sin broken.
I want you to have a look at this story here – “After this, there was a feast of the Jews and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now, there was in Jerusalem a sheep gate”. It’s where the sheep came in and out of the city. Actually, maybe they only came in. For some kind of lamb stew or something like that.
Anyway, “there was a pool which called in Hebrew Bethesda – having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of sick people – blind, lame and paralysed, waiting for moving of the water, for an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water and whoever stepped in first after the stirring of the water was made well, whatever disease he had. There was a man who had an infirmity 38 years.” That’s a long time.
“When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him: “Do you want to be made well?” The sick man answered: “Sir, I have no man to put me in the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I’m coming, another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him: “Rise, take up your bed, walk.” Immediately, the man was made well, took up his bed and walked, and that was a Sabbath day.”
So here is a story of a man in desperate need. Before we look at the man, I want to just look at the situation there. The Bible describes it – there was a sheep gate at the side of the city where the sheep would come into the city. There were several porches there and it was called Bethesda, the place or house of mercy. There were multitudes of people who were needing healing.
Just in a moment, we’re just going to focus on the sheep gate. The Bible says that Jesus is the shepherd. He said: “I am the good shepherd.” In another part it says “We all like sheep, have gone astray.” So, God uses many natural pictures to help us understand spiritual things. So, God uses many pictures to describe what people are like; and many pictures to describe what He is like.
So the Bible describes people as being like sheep. Of course, if you haven’t’ seen sheep or know much about them, that doesn’t mean anything. If we said they’re like people on a motor scooter, now you know what they’re talking about because you see heaps of those. They’re all wild, all going their own way.
There’s no place like Taiwan for these motor scooters. I’ve never seen so many. You get there, and they’re all at the lights, all crowded around you. Motor scooters everywhere, surrounding you. Where did they come from? They all line up. Lights change, woah they’re gone, weaving in and out of the cars. First couple of visits here, I get quite frightened. All these motor scooters. Then, when it’s wet, there’s this big long coat that they wear. Our daughter had a motor scooter. We thought she’d like one of those. She’s laughed, “I’d never wear anything like that.”
So, the motor scooters. We talk about motor scooters, then you know what I’m talking about. If I talk about sheep, “Bah, I don’t know.” So I’ll tell you a little bit about sheep. Years ago, when we went to a small country town, we were in a place with many farms, lots of sheep. So I decided we would get a pet lamb. So cute. They’re lovely. But they grow to be big sheep. They don’t stay cute very long. I had to learn a lot of things about sheep. So I share with you a few things about sheep. Here are a few characteristics of sheep.
The first thing, sheep have got absolutely no sense of direction. None whatsoever. The moment they get out of sight of the other sheep, they’re lost. They have no sense of direction. You get a cat, you can take it across the city, it’ll come home and find you. You take a sheep, just move it round the corner, it’s lost. That’s why the Bible says in Isaiah 53:6 – “We all, like sheep, have gone astray.” We just got lost. Sheep get lost. Once they’re lost, they’ve no idea where home is. They need a shepherd.