At a funeral, St. Augustine once said, if I weep for the body from which the soul is departed, should I not weep for the soul from which God is departed? It's the most merciful thing you could ever do to a person is to get past the physical needs down into the spiritual, because there's no other message like the gospel that can bring healing. And people who are dying need to know about eternal life.
Well, happy New Year and welcome to Connect with Skip Weekend Edition. Growing up, my dad won every game we played. It didn't matter if it was Candyland or Monopoly, if he was playing, he was playing to win. Didn't matter if I was five or 15, much to the consternation of my mom who would tell him, especially when it came to games like Chutes and Ladders, that the child was supposed to win. Well, when I had kids of my own, and despite having a fairly competitive spirit myself, I've learned to show a little mercy when playing games with my kids.
That means sometimes I just let them win. Now, that's not exactly the type of mercy we're talking about today here on The Connection, but it does come from the same heart. Open once again to John chapter five, and let's catch up with Skip Heitzig as he continues with our study. Mercy begins by how we see, how we see people, how we see their condition. In Matthew chapter nine, when the multitude came to Jesus at the Sea of Galilee, it says, and he saw the multitude, and when he saw the multitude, he was moved with compassion.
Same idea, mercy, because they were weary and scattered like sheep having no shepherd. And so, what he did was based upon how he saw. The two little boys were talking, and one of them said, I'd hate to wear glasses all the time. Something my boy would say. His friend said, I don't know, if those glasses were like my grandma's glasses, I think I'd like to wear glasses all the time, because my grandma, he says, is able to see when somebody's hurting or tired, and she knows exactly what to say. And I asked her one day, grandma, how is it that you're able to see like that all the time? She said, it's the way I learned to look at things the older I get. The other little boy was sort of befuddled at that and said, you're right, it must be her glasses.
Well, may God give me those same glasses. I often find in my prayer life asking God to make me sensitive, because we see a lot around here, we see a lot of suffering, we do lots of funerals, but to keep us sensitized to what we see as Jesus saw this man. And by the way, it's this example that we find in this chapter and other places in the New Testament, the gospel story of Jesus showing mercy and healing people that has caused Christians ever since this time to engage in what we call mercy ministry, reaching out to the poor, reaching out to the sick, mission work around the world, orphanages, hospitals. It's sort of ironic, isn't it, that while unbelievers are spouting off their questions to the church like, well, how can a God of love allow suffering to exist?
They're just sort of standing around asking those questions. But the Christian church is the one building the orphanages and the hospitals and the feeding centers and the clinics. An example is Haiti. If you look at Haiti, just what happened a couple months ago, and yes, I know that movie stars and everybody started responding. In fact, Richard Dawkins, the very outspoken atheist, decided that he would get an atheist group together to raise money for Haiti, to show people that atheists are good people.
Okay, fine. Then he wrote a letter boasting that they had collected, get this, $10,000. Okay, listen, you know, a dollar towards something is good, but he raised $10,000.
And I thought, if I were Dawkins, that's a lot. I'd never want to admit that because in the same period of time, just one Christian organization that I work with raised like $100 million for Haiti. That just shows that Christians, like a groundswell, will raise up when there needs the time to be shown mercy. I love that.
I love that about the body of Christ. I was in Iraq years ago when the first Gulf War, after the first Gulf War, I was there carrying some of your presents, 32,000 of those shoe boxes that you pack every year. So we brought in about six semi trucks, 32,000 shoe boxes to the children of Baghdad and around Iraq. Well, when we got there, and we're unpacking these things, I was there on my team, a Canadian was there, a Lebanese man, a couple others, and they wanted to know who we were, what we had, and why we were there, especially since the UN said nothing can go in. So they wanted to know why we were there. Well, one of the people we met with was the minister of religious affairs for all of Iraq under the regime of Saddam Hussein. And we said, sir, we want to make it very clear, we are not here in the name of the American government. We're not representing America.
We're not here in the name of the Canadian government or the Lebanese government. We are here in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, who told us that we should love people that He created in His image and share that love with your children. And we told them why we were there, told them a little bit about the Lord. His remarks, I'll never forget. He looked at us and He said, do you know that until now we have always believed that it's the Christians of the world that hate us? Isn't that a statement?
Isn't that an amazing statement? Why would He think that it's the Christians of the world who hate Him, hate them? Because He had equated the western culture with Christianity. He thought they're all Christians, they're all against us, Christians hate us. He said, now sir, I realize it's the Christians who love us.
That's what we wanted to leave with that man and it was left with him. Here's a third, confront honestly. As you gather frequently and you have the opportunity to share with people mercifully and you observe what's going on in their lives and you have compassion, there may come a time and there probably will when you have to confront that person who is suffering and in need with something at a deeper level. Think of verse 6 again. When Jesus saw him lying there and He knew that He already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, do you want to be made well? What kind of a question is that to ask a sick dude?
Look what He said. The sick man answered, sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up. While I'm coming, another steps out in front of me. So He's been in this condition so long now He's blaming everybody else. Jesus said to him, rise, take up your bed and walk.
And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed and he walked. But back to verse 6, what kind of a question is that? I've been doing hospital visitations for 25 years. I've never once asked a patient, would you like to get out of here?
Duh. So why would Jesus ask that? Verse 6 is a clue. Notice it says He knew that He had already been in that condition a long time. Jesus is honestly confronting a man who had become so used to this lifestyle that Jesus is saying, are you sure you want to change? Here's some insight.
J. A. Finley, a biblical scholar, said in those days for a man to be instantly healed would mean that he would give up a good living. Been living off the contributions of people around him. And he's down here, but he's looking up at the streets and he's able to watch people carrying burdens in the hot sun, working for next to nothing, laboring under the slavery of the Romans. You sure you want to be made well?
Jesus asked him. I was watching television not too long ago about how panhandling has become like an alternate way to bring income in. Some people do it as a profession, not everybody, but some that hold the signs will work for food. I saw one sign that said, atheists will convert for food. This special said that some of these people are making 300 bucks a day doing this.
Again, I'm not saying everybody does that, but this broadcast said there's a lot of people they found that did. And so the question is appropriate. You sure you want to change? This is going to change everything.
This is going to bring responsibility with it. Go down to verse 13. But the one who was healed did not know who it was, that is who had healed him, because he was in the temple and Jesus left. For Jesus had withdrawn a multitude being in that place. Afterward, Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, see, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.
That's striking. What could possibly be worse than a lifelong suffering, a 38-year suffering from a debilitating disease? What could be worse than that? Sin no more, lest something worse come upon you. What could be worse than that? I'll tell you what could be worse than that. Eternal suffering that is the result of unrepentant sin.
That could be worse. This disease has robbed you, sir, of the best years of your life, but unrepentant sin will rob you of eternity. That's a confrontation. I'm sure no one ever spoke to this man like this, like Jesus did, but Jesus loved him. Listen, Jesus loved him enough to not just make him feel good physically and give him a handout, but to also at some point deal with something much deeper and that is his soul. That's mercy. That is mercy. Mercy is shown by preaching the gospel. Mercy is shown by caring for souls, not just broken bodies.
That'll put you in the hot seat like nothing else when you reach out to a person. At a funeral, Saint Augustine once said, if I weep for the body from which the soul is departed, should I not weep for the soul from which God is departed? It's the most merciful thing you could ever do to a person is to get past the physical needs down into the spiritual because there's no other message like the gospel that can bring healing, and people who are dying need to know about eternal life. We had a woman in our church. She used to come up all the time and she'd say, pastors, give what you pray for my son. We'd always pray for her son and such a great mom to want prayer like every week.
One night, I think it was a Saturday night, it might have been a midweek study, she came and she said, I really need prayer for my son, especially tonight, she said. He's running with the wrong crowd, and he was. That night, we found out later, her son had been shot in the head. The bullet didn't kill him, lodged in his brain, but it didn't kill him.
If that bullet would have traveled a few millimeters in either direction, he'd have been dead, but he lived. Two weeks after two weeks after that, he was in church. He came forward at an ultra call and he said to me, I know I'm here because of God's mercy on me. That's why I'm here. Now I want to discover what his plan is for my life. And so that's the whole point. Jesus takes it from this level down to the deepest possible level, and it was a confronting sort of a question and a confronting thing to say number one, are you sure you want this?
And then number two, this issue of his soul, sin no more. Okay, so what happens when we do this? Let's just say we're going to do this. We're going to keep our eyes open. We're going to start observing people at a deeper level of how we can help them.
We're going to gather frequently so that we can do that. We're going to, if need be, confront honestly. What's going to happen? Well, it won't be a piece of cake. You can expect the fourth and next, and that is expect adversity. Expect adversity. Not everyone is going to understand your love and showing mercy to people, especially if you bring in the spiritual element of bringing the gospel in.
You're going to have some enemies. Look at verse nine. Immediately the man was made well, took up his bed and walked. That's the first sentence.
Here's the second one. And that day was the Sabbath. You know why John put that there? Because it now marks a change. It marks a change against Jesus because he did this. It's sort of like if this were a movie script, the music would change right about now and go, and it was Sabbath.
And watch. The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, it's the Sabbath. It's not lawful for you to carry your bed. What a bunch of meatheads. I mean, don't you think they should be so, when was the last time they saw a miracle? When was the last time they did a miracle or healed anybody? A guy can walk. He's been paralyzed for 38 years. It's the Sabbath.
You can't carry that. He answered them, he who made me well said to me, take up your bed and walk. They said, who was the man who said to you, take up your bed and walk? But the one who was healed did not know who it was for Jesus had withdrawn, a multitude being in that place. Afterward, Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, see, you have been made well, sin no more lest the worst thing come upon you. The man departed and told the Jews that it was Jesus who made him well. For this reason, the Jews persecuted Jesus and sought to kill him because he had done these things on the Sabbath.
Oh, goodness gracious. Don't you see it's their understanding of the Sabbath that kept them from rejoicing that a man can walk? No wonder Jesus just unleashed at these dudes and said, whoa, unto you scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
He said, for you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, but you've neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice, mercy, and faith. What's their deal? Why are they saying this kind of stuff?
They're so hung up on this. Well, they had become a group of list makers. You know what a list maker is? Makes a list. You didn't do that right.
You didn't do this right. Well, that was okay, but that's a list maker, legalist. They didn't start that way. You need to know that the Pharisees especially started as the most noble, pure hearted group of people, simply wanting to keep God's law to the best of their ability. But as time wore on, they started adding manmade regulations to biblical regulations of the Sabbath. For example, according to their law, their law, you couldn't look into a mirror on the Sabbath. You know why? Because they, here's our rationale, if you look into a mirror on the Sabbath and you see a gray hair on your head, you'll be tempted to pluck it out. And that's labor. It's not labor in my book.
It's good news. Here's something else. You couldn't wear false teeth on the Sabbath. Now, I was blown away to find out 2,000 years ago they even had false teeth. But some of them had them, and you couldn't wear them on the Sabbath. Because if they fell out, you would want to pick them up. And to pick them up is to be bearing a burden on the Sabbath.
So you had to go around for a whole day, give me a kiss. And so they tell this man, you can't carry your mat. It's the Sabbath. According to their law, anything that weighed more than the combination of two dried figs was considered a burden to bear.
And so they nailed him. It's the Sabbath. The point is this, they turned into a bunch of hard-hearted legalist list makers, and they couldn't even rejoice that good had been done. The most vicious people in the body of Christ are those people that make it all about rules. They don't care about showing mercy or doing good.
You can do that, but I have my rules, and you better keep my rules. And they'll find some strange Bible verse pulled out of the hat to justify their behavior. They find no joy in helping others or being merciful, unless it's according to their rules. Over the last few years, we've reached out to the AIDS community in New Mexico, helping those people affected by AIDS, either because they have the disease or they're family members. Well, you'd be surprised the interesting response we get from both sides, either the AIDS side, why is the church helping us, and people who are Christians, why is the church helping them? We've reached out to inmates over the years. We have a pastor who faithfully goes in and trains inmates, wins them to Christ, disciples them.
When they get out of prison, they go to our school of ministry, many of them, and we hire many of them. That just angers some people. It's so risky.
Yeah, it is. I want to take that risk. I've stood up for people and stood next to people and brought people in that I believe are men of God that have something that I believe are men of God that have something to say, but it can be very controversial.
It doesn't go according to my rules. Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 25? He said, and I will say to them, I was hungry and you gave me to eat, thirsty and you gave me to drink. I was a stranger and you took me in. I was naked. You clothed me. I was in prison and you visited me. And they will say to me, when were you ever naked and hungry and all of that stuff?
We never remember that. Jesus will say, you know it well. And as much as you did it to one of the least of these, you have done it unto me.
But that's not so if you're a list maker, if you're a legalistic person who hates grace, it would sound more like this. I was hungry and you formed a humanities group to discuss my hunger. I was imprisoned and you crept off quietly to your chapel and prayed for my release.
I was naked and in your mind, you debated the morality of my appearance. I was sick and you knelt and thank God for your health. I was homeless and you preached to me of the spiritual shelter of the love of God. I was lonely and you left me alone to pray for me.
You seem so holy and so close to God, but I am still very hungry and lonely and cold. Before we go, we have a great new resource for you this month from connectwithskip.com. Ready to upgrade your Bible study in 2023? We have a plan and a package for you. Skip Heitzig's book, The Bible from 30,000 Feet, is an ideal companion for a survey of the entire scope of scripture.
Here's a great goal for the coming year. Conduct a personal study of all 66 books as Skip Heitzig guides you from a biblical altitude of 30,000 feet. We want to give you firm direction to unlock the riches of God's word by sending you two resources from FasterSkip, How to Study the Bible and Enjoy It, and The Bible from 30,000 Feet.
You'll gain helpful Bible study tools as you practice how to observe, absorb, and interpret the Bible, then apply it to your life. These two resources are our thanks for your gift today of $50 or more. Skip has asked the team at Connection Communications to make it a priority in 2023 to take their daily messages as you have heard them today and expand them into more metropolitan areas.
Will you help us make that happen? And with your gift, you will receive copies of How to Study the Bible and Enjoy It and The Bible from 30,000 Feet, both books by Skip Heitzig to kickstart your 2023 Bible study plans. Call 800-922-1888 or give online securely at connectwithskip.com slash offer.
That's connectwithskip.com slash offer. Thank you for joining us today. Connect with Skip Heitzig exists to connect listeners like you to God's truth, strengthening your walk with him and bringing more people into his family. That's why these teachings are available to you and so many others on air and online.
If they've inspired you to keep living for Jesus, please consider giving a gift today to encourage other listeners like you in the same way. Just call 800-922-1888. That's 800-922-1888 or visit connectwithskip.com slash donate. That's connectwithskip.com slash donate.
Thank you. Join us next time as we learn how Jesus was very much like his father and how we can be more like him right here in Connect with Skip Weekend Edition, a presentation of Connection Communications. Make a connection. Make a connection at the foot of the cross.
Cast your burdens on his word. Make a connection. Connection. Connection. Connecting you to God's never changing truth and ever changing times.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-01 04:17:06 / 2023-01-01 04:25:58 / 9