The 4 Questions English
Today, I am going to share from John's Gospel chapters 5 to 7, and we will be discussing parts of it.
I am going to ask 4 questions that Jesus asked.
Question 1 in John 5:6
The first one is John chapter 5, verses 1-9:
1 After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. 3 In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. 4 For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had. 5 Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. 6 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?"
When you read that, it is actually a really hard question to ask. Because this man has already been lying sick for 38 years. Why would Jesus ask him, “Do you want to get home? Do you want Me to heal you?”
Because Jesus sees into our hearts.
Do understand that, it is very easy to fool people. Personally, I have raised five daughters. and I am very aware how easy it is for my daughters to fool Dad. We had this really strict rule that they were not allowed sweets or candies, except on the weekends. I subsequently discovered that they kept stores of sweets at their friends’ houses, among all kinds of things that used to go on that I knew nothing about, being an innocent kind of guy.
But you cannot fool the Lord. The Lord knows exactly what we are doing and why we are doing it.
So, if Jesus said, “Do you want to get well?”, it must have been because the guy could say yes or no. He could say, “Actually, all my friends are here. So if you heal me, I wouldn't be here, and I wouldn't have any friends left.” He could say, very truthfully, “I have been sick for all these years. My identity is as a sick person. If you healed me, I wouldn't know who I was,” If you have been sick for 38 years, not nine days, you wouldn't necessarily know who you were.
Here is what happened:
7 The sick man answered Him, "Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me." 8 Jesus said to him, "Rise, take up your bed and walk." 9 And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked. And that day was the Sabbath.
The two kinds of “hidden”
Do you and I have a hidden life in Jesus? Do we have a life that is inexplicable, but for Jesus? There is another verse that I have been chewing on recently, and I share it with you. Colossians chapter 3, this is what it says:
1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
There are two kinds of hidden. One is, our real life is hidden with Christ and God. In other words, the people around us have no explanation for why we are what we are, because they do not know Jesus. If you come from a non-Christian family like me, you may have an experience similar to mine.
I had good parents who gave me a very good education. I went to Cambridge University, and when I graduated from Cambridge with quite a good degree, I told them that I am actually going to a church in the northeast of England to work. “Oh really? How much they paying you?” they asked me, and I answered, “Well, actually they're not going to pay me anything.” There is an expression we have, that they didn't understand, which means “I'm going to live by faith. In other words, God is going to provide.” It is as simple as that.
Around October 1967, my mum, who was a good person, as was my dad, said to me, “Son, when it's all fallen to pieces, you can come back at Christmas, and we'll help you start again.” I could perfectly understand why they would say that. There was a whole part of my life which was hidden from my family. It was not hidden because I kept it hidden, but because that relationship I had found with Jesus, that walk with Jesus, was just a blank in their life.
Of course, I went home many times. But I never went home and said, “Please help me start again.” I never needed to do that, because that hidden part was Jesus’ providing.
In the 1960s, when there were communist countries, part of what I did then was smuggling Bibles into Eastern Europe, into countries like Russia and Poland. We took Bibles and books to the Christians there.
I can remember one time when I had a little bit of money, and I needed it for the trip. I was having lunch with one of the families in the church that I was working in, and God said, “You are to give them this money, because of a thing that they are involved in.” I thought, “That's not really a good idea, Father, because I need it myself.” But He said, “No, give it to them.”
The next morning, there was money on the doorstep of the house where I was staying. Cash, addressed to me, which is more than the money I had given away. Now I'm not trying to be critical at all, but the problem with my family is that that side of things was a complete mystery to them, that faith is believing that God exists, and He rewards those who seek Him.
My family said, “Son, you did law and theology at Cambridge, just get a good job and then you'll get money.” Well, that is not what God said to me!
You see, there was a hidden part where God said, “I'm going to provide for you.”
So, in 1969, I got on a plane and flew to Taiwan. When I got off the plane, I didn't have a career path nor an organisation behind me. I just said, “Jesus” and He provided, up to this day, raising one wife, five daughters, five granddaughters and now, two weeks ago, one grandson.
Here, Paul says, “You die to this life and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.” Let me ask a really blunt question. Is it true? Is your real life hidden with Christ in God? Is there anything that those around you, who don't yet know the Lord Jesus, cannot explain?
Let me turn it around another way. Where are you most at home? Hidden in Christ in God, or here? You are either hidden with Him, or you are hiding stuff from others, and you think maybe from God as well.
There is a hidden in everybody's life. That is why Jesus said to the guy, “Do you want me to heal you?” Because Jesus saw something hidden that the guy needed to resolve. Similarly, with some of us, we may come, we may worship and raise our hands, but it is the hidden stuff that is in real conflict.
Here is a rather strange example. I was in Burundi a month ago, speaking at a missions conference. They gave an example of a guy who went to an all-night prayer meeting. Isn’t that the ultimate test of spirituality? To forsake your sleep to pray? However here was what happened. He went out from the prayer meeting, and killed somebody.
You might be thinking, how does that work? Well, in spite of the fact he was in the prayer meeting, there was obviously an anger and hatred in his heart. The longer he went praying, the hotter the anger got, so he went straight out from a prayer meeting and killed somebody.
They gave another example of a guy who was in an evangelistic meeting. On the first night, he came forward and accepted the Lord, and then went away. On the second night, he came forward and accepted the Lord, and went away. The same thing happened on the third night.
So, they asked him, “Could you tell us what you're doing? I mean, you only need to do it once.” And he said, “Well, here's the problem. I am an accountant in a company, and I stole from the company. I stole the money to marry my wife, I stole to buy a house, I stole for the furniture in the house, and every time I come forward to pray, God says I have to confess my sins to the people I stole from.”
Here's the difficulty. If the wrong stuff is hidden in our hearts, it is a blockage to us from really finding the Lord. It stops us from really having our lives hidden with Him.
So, where are you most at home? With Him? Or here? Where are you most at ease?
Are there parts of our life that people just cannot explain, because of what God has done? Be it His financial provision, His provision and blessing in our work, and all the different things he does.
What do you want?
I love the story of Joseph in the Old Testament. It says that when Joseph went as a slave to work with Potiphar, God was with him. Hence, what he did was successful. Moreover, it says that Potiphar realised that God was with him. Potiphar realised that there was something hidden in Joseph's relationship with God, that he had no way of explaining.
That is honestly what I feel the Lord wants to offer us. When He looks at us, like how He looked at that sick man by the pool, He is asking us, “What do you want? Do you want a hidden life with Me? Do you want a relationship with Me, that does not make sense if folk don't know Me? Do you want to experience things, that doesn't have any explanation to the family or friends who don't know Jesus Christ? Do you want Me to change you in such a way that your friends have no explanation for?”
Question 2 in John 6:5
1 After these things Jesus went over the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. 2 Then a great multitude followed Him, because they saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased. 3 And Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat with His disciples. 4 Now the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near. 5 Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, "Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?"
The point I want to stress here, is that He said that to Philip. He could have said it to Peter, because Peter was never at a loss for words, he always had an answer. He could have said it to John, because it says in the Last Supper that John was close to Jesus. John was the guy who stayed close to Jesus, and had that close relationship with Him.
But Jesus did not ask either of them. Instead, He said it to Philip. In the Gospels, we know almost nothing about Philip, except that he is cold. He hardly features in the narrative at all. But right at this moment, Jesus looks at him and says, “How are we going to feed these people?”
It is also important to stress that it was not 救命(a cry for help), because Jesus asked this only to test Philip. Jesus already had in mind what He was going to do. We do not know if the other disciples heard it, but I very much doubt so. This was Philip’s moment. This was Jesus very quietly saying to Philip, “What do you think? How are we going to deal with this?” And this left in Philip a history that none of the other disciples had. He had a hidden experience of Jesus actually turning to him.
I want to say to you, with all of my heart, that experience is for every one of us. Abba Father loves to talk to His children and He loves to use His children. He loves to speak into our lives, and say, “This is what you need to do.”
Now, I don't really regard myself as sensitive enough in the Holy Spirit, but I know enough to know that Father wants to speak to each of us in amazing ways. He wants to speak supernaturally into our lives, that is the value of a church like this. You can learn how to hear the Holy Spirit. You can learn to have God heal your heart, and do things which are hidden things with Father, because Father speaks to you, personally. Sometimes He speaks openly in the church, but He speaks into your heart as well.
To me one of the most precious things about being hidden with Christ in God, is the fact that Dad is a communicator. Jesus is a communicator, He talks to us. He talks to everyone who wants to listen. He wants to give us a hidden testimony of the things He says and does in our lives.
Question 3 in John 6:67
60 Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, "This is a hard saying; who can understand it?"
Jesus then turned to His own disciples, the ones who stayed behind, and said:
67 Then Jesus said to the twelve, "Do you also want to go away?"
"Do you also want to go away?" Jesus is asking, “Do you want to leave me too?”
Now, in Latin and Greek, there is a way of asking a question that is expecting the answer “yes”, and another way that is expecting the answer “no”. This question expected the answer “no” but Jesus still asked it.
This is also an experience that needs to be hidden in our hearts. That time when we make a decision, it is a contract we do with God. Paul puts it this way, “I know whom I have believed, and I know that He is able to keep everything I've entrusted to Him against that day.”
When we come to that hidden place with God, whether individually or as couples, it changes the whole deal. What we are saying is, “Lord, my decision is ‘No, I do not want to leave You.’ But my decision, Lord, is also that I need Your hidden keeping. I need Your strength. I need Your power, if I'm going to hold to that desire.” That is the contract. When we genuinely say, “Lord, I want to run with You. I don't want to leave You. Would You make this contract with me, Lord, that You will keep me until I meet You face to face?”
If we have that surrender and hidden history with God. He will keep us.
All of us have a hidden history of times where we faced significant pressure to walk away from the Lord, and we found His Grace was sufficient. When I look back, there were moments in my life when I could have made some really bad decisions, and yet God was there saying, “Son, don't go that way, it's not the right way.”
The Lord wants this to be something hidden in our hearts. It is not so that we just accept Jesus as Saviour and accept that it is a distant relationship. It is when we say, “Lord, You are the equation.” Paul said, “I am convinced that He was able to keep that which I have entrusted to Him against that day.” So, what is the equation? It is simple. As much as I entrust to Him, He will keep.
There was a point in my life as a Cambridge student, when the Lord came to me and said, “Son, I am your Saviour, I am just not your Lord.” That was a huge battle, but something radically different happened when I said, “Okay God, I'm just putting the whole lot in Your hands. I’m trusting You, that one, Your ways are better than mine, and two, that You'll keep me to the end.”
Question 4 in John 7:19
Finally, the fourth question is in John 7:19 when Jesus is talking to the Jewish leaders:
19 Did not Moses give you the law, yet none of you keeps the law? Why do you seek to kill Me?"
Jesus asked, “Why are you trying to kill Me?”
Nobody had the faintest idea what Jesus was talking about, because Jesus had a hidden life with the Father. Jesus said, “I only do what the Father does. I only say what the Father says.” He knew He was going to the cross. The problem was, nobody else did. The disciples, in particular, thought that was a really bad idea. So, He spoke to them, and said, “Why do you want to kill Me”.
This is the only time He directly asked that question. Never again did He actually pose that question, either to the disciples of the Pharisees. Many times He says, “The Son of Man will die and rise from the dead the third day.” And they still didn't hear Him.
At this point, the disciples never heard Him. If they did they would have said, “你那句话是什么意思? (What do you mean by that?) What do you mean by saying ‘they're going to kill you’? They're not going to kill you. You're going to be Emperor, and we're going to be Prime Minister and 外交部长 and all this kind of stuff.” Jesus said, “No, I'm going to the cross.” But they didn't hear it!
My supposition is, if the disciples had taken that word and hidden it in their hearts, this would have been the conversation that may have happened.
Disciples: Lord, what on earth do you mean by that?
Jesus: I keep telling you the same thing. I'm not going to be Emperor. I'm not going to be king. I'm not going to start a revolution on earth. I'm going to start a spiritual revolution on the cross, that will change millions of lives.
Disciples: So you've got to go to the cross?
Jesus: Yes, I'm going to the cross.
If the disciples had heard that and embraced it, their experience of the death of Jesus would have been totally different. It would have still been very painful, but they would have realised that He is coming back on the third day, that is what He said.
But they didn't listen. So, in Luke 24 you have two of them walking on the road and being really unhappy. When Jesus draws beside them, they don't recognize Him, and He said, “你们为什么那么闷? (Why are you so unhappy?)” And they said, “Because we thought He was going to be Saviour but He's gone.”
13 Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened. 15 So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him. 17 And He said to them, "What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?" 18 Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, "Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?" 19 And He said to them, "What things?" So they said to Him, "The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. 21 But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel…
Now, if they had heard His word, that would never have happened. It is as simple as that.
What exactly is my point?
God has hidden words for each of us. God speaks into each of our lives. The thing is we have to hide those words in our hearts. Whether it is the words of Scripture in a book or an iPad, hide them in your heart! Keep them in your heart!
Have you heard before of a book called The Cross and The Switchblade? It is a remarkable book about a guy who worked with drug addicts in New York. The reason he started the work was God saying to him, “Sell your TV and spend the time praying.” That single action, spending time with the Lord, reading His word and praying, launched a worldwide ministry to drug addicts that changed so many lives.
Now I'm not saying that God is saying “sell your TV” to everyone. I am just telling you the hidden story that this particular person experienced with God.
Am I hiding God's word in my heart?
We are bombarded all the time, from Whatsapp to Line to WeChat to emails to websites and all kinds of things. Do we spend time with the Lord? Do we hear what He says and keep it in our hearts?
If you really want to walk with the Lord, there is going to be a time when you need to know you are there, because God told you to be. It sounds simple, but it can get really tough. You need to be able to say, “Lord, I'm here because You spoke to me and told me to be here.”
To put it a bit crudely, you need to be able to pray, “God, You've got me into this mess, so You have to get me out of it.” If you can't pray that, you are in trouble.
So, keep God's word in your heart.
What is hidden in my life?
Are you hidden with Jesus? Are you at home with Him? Is He really the center of your life?
One quick biblical example is the story of the prodigal son, particularly the older brother. So, they are having a party because the younger son has come back. And in Chinese, it says the older brother 离家不远，不肯进去 (The older brother was not far from the house, but he was not willing to go in). The older brother says to his father, “You never gave me a lamb, like the one you're killing for my brother, so that I could make merry with my friends.”
Do you know what he was saying? He was actually saying, “Dad, I have never left home. I've worked in the fields everyday, but actually my hidden life is with my friends, not with you.”
If you are that way, it will be such a release just to put your life in God's hand, and say, “Father, I just want to put the whole thing in Your hands. I want to be hidden with You, and I want to start a hidden history with Jesus. One that maybe nobody else can understand in my family, but You do.”
Let us pray. Father we thank You for Your favour. We thank You for Your kindness. We thank You, Lord, that You are preparing us for an eternity with Yourself. And it begins with a relationship where we are at home with You. Lord, I want to pray first for those who feel like their family doesn’t understand them because they are not believers. If there’s anyone here struggling with that, I can feel the Lord He says, “It's okay, I'll wipe your tears. I'll heal the situation. Trust Me, trust Me and I'll restructure it in such a way that you will see My glory in your family, and in that situation where you're being so misunderstood.” Lord, help us each one, I pray, help us to kick the wrong hidden things out of our hearts, so that we can be hidden with You in Your safe place. In Jesus name, Amen.