By definition, revival means, “bring back to life and to restore.” Revival has nothing to with the culture and everything to do with the church. Revival is coming back or waking up. Revival is getting back to the Christian life as it was meant to be lived. Code Blue is all about revival and coming back to life within the church. If you have ever watched a medical drama or been in the hospital and heard them say, “Code Blue” it means someone has lost all signs of life and needs to be brought back.
Revival is when God gets so sick and tired of being misrepresented that he shows up Himself. But it has to start with us being broken over our sin, broken over the conditions of the world and the church and falling down in repentance begging God to work in us and through us. True, genuine revival happens within the personal circle that Rodney “Gypsy” Smith talks about us drawing. He says if you and I truly and genuinely want revival and if you are willing to stand before God, if you are willing to draw that circle, and if you are willing to stand in that circle and pray for revival to begin within that circle, it is a 100% guarantee that revival will break out within the church and there will be an awakening within the culture.
So often what we do is confuse the meaning of revival and awakening. America does indeed need an awakening, but the church does indeed need a revival. We often use the words revival and awakening interchangeably, but there is a distinction. An awakening is when a nation comes alive spiritually, initially sees its need for God, and turns to Him. A revival is when God’s people come back to life again. Today we are talking about The Action Of Revival. Our Theme for this entire series is . . . Revival inside the church brings awakening outside in the culture.
God is always poised and ready for revival. But the big question that God continually puts before us is . . . Are you ready for revival? We can’t just say it and expect it. We must pray it and act on it! In other words, “If you really want revival, don’t just tell me, show me. Prove to me by your actions that you want revival.” Our Big Idea for today is . . . Revival begins when I respond to Jesus’ challenge.
If you have your Bibles, turn with me to John 5. If you don’t have your Bible, it will be on the screen so you can follow along. In John 5, Jesus has gone back to Jerusalem. And it says that there was a pool that was a common hangout in Jerusalem. “Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.” (John 5:1-2).
This pool at Bethesda was a two-pool complex that was twenty feet deep in some places and as large as a football field. Since it was a large covered area that gave relief from the Middle Eastern sun, it was a popular gathering place in first-century Israel. “3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.” (John 5:3). When Jesus enters the Bethesda pool area, He notices one particular man. It says there were a great number of disabled people—blind, lame, and paralyzed.” (John 5:3).
Among all the people who came regular to bathe there were people who were sick. They probably had their spot reserved where they would beg for money but there was something else that kept them coming back. In most translations of the Bible they leave out John 5:4. It is included as a footnote at the bottom of the page. Some manuscripts include here, wholly or in part, paralyzed—and they waited for the moving of the waters. 4 From time to time an angel of the Lord would come down and stir up the waters. The first one into the pool after each such disturbance would be cured of whatever disease. (John 5:4-Footnote).
There is a reason this is left out of most translations because we know it wasn’t true. Every once in a while the waters would seem to stir, but it was really just the intermittent springs that fed the pool. But over time there was a superstition that had grown up around this event. They began to spread the word and actually believe the stirring was caused by angels. When it was “stirred” there was a race to be first in the water because that person was rumored to get healed of their infirmity. The tragedy was it wasn’t true.
When Jesus enters the Bethesda pool area, He notices one particular man. It says there were a “multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed.” (John 5:3). Out of all the invalids there Jesus picks out this man. Why this man? Was his situation more desperate than the others? According to life expectancy this man was already past his prime and pretty much on borrowed time. The average life expectancy at birth was about thirty years. If you lived past the age of ten, it rose to about forty seven years.
So out of all the blind, lame and paralyzed here in this pool area, Jesus goes directly to this man. “5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” (John 5:5-6). When you think about his situation, Jesus’ question can seem unkind or even unnecessary. It can seem like adding insult to injury. Here is a man who has been an invalid for thirty-eight years and Jesus says, “Do you want to get well?” (John 5:6). Jesus was getting down to his heart and to the very core of his desires. What Jesus was really telling him and challenging him with was . . . Don’t settle.
The truth is more often than not people can get very comfortable, very content and very complacent with the way things are even when it is a terrible situation. They know things should change and they think about changing quite a lot. But when it comes down to it they really don’t want to do what it takes to change. By asking him that question, 6 “Do you want to get well?” (John 5:5-6), Jesus was letting him know if he really wanted to get well he would have to throw away his mat. It meant he would have to get a job. It meant he would have to use his healed legs. It meant a new level of responsibility to himself and to society. Another way we might look at Jesus’ question is, “Do you really want to be healed?”
Think about it. This man’s world consisted of eight square feet. He went through the same routine day after day after day. That might seem monotonous to us but it was safe. That mat could have possibly become his security blanket. Over the years I have come across people who like the idea of “being well” but they don’t want to do what it takes to be well. They really don’t want to pay the price! They either think they can’t change or don’t want to do what it takes. If someone really wants to gets well, they need to hear what they don’t want to hear and do what they don’t want to do!
Another way we can become very comfortable, content and complacent is spiritually. Spiritually speaking God looks at us all the time and asks the question this way . . . Do you really want to change? It might be that you have been the way you are for a very long time. You might have accepted Jesus as your Savior many years ago. You might be very mature in physical years but when it comes to your relationship with Jesus you are still just an infant depending on others for all your spiritual needs and haven’t grown like you should. So when you look at your life do you see that you need to change? And, do you really want to change? Do you really want to see revival?
If you really want to change and if you really want to see revival, then Jesus has some direct words for you. Stop making excuses. 7 “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” (John 5:7). I can almost see Jesus just looking at this guy and going, “Stop, stop, stop! That’s not what I asked you. I asked you if you want to be healed?” He was simply answering from what he knew. He was answering from out of what he knew and not allowing himself to see what God knew.
We can be at a place where we know things need to change. But we are like this man who was an invalid. We live and exist in what we know and don’t allow ourselves to see what God knows. God can come to us and ask, “Do you want to be revived?” Then we start responding with what we know . . . “Well, Jesus I know I am not where I am supposed to be. I believe in You but I know don’t make the right decisions. I pray sometimes. I read my Bible a little. I go to church sometimes. Jesus, I even help people.”
And He goes, “Stop it! That’s not what I asked you. I asked you if you want to experience real life. I asked you if you want more than what you are currently experiencing. I asked you if you want to experience “abundant life” like only I can provide. I asked if you want to be revived?”
God is always ready for revival to break out. The big question is, “Are you ready?” God looks at you and says, “I’m ready. I am always ready. I’m waiting on you to show me you are ready.” He tells the invalid man to do something that sounded at that moment and was at that moment simply impossible for an invalid to do. He looks at him and says, “Get up!” 8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. (John 5:8-9). The very moment Jesus spoke those words there had to have been some thoughts firing off in his brain.
He probably thought, “This is crazy. I can’t get up. I can’t walk so how am I going to get up?” Then there was the issue with the people around who were a part of the same crowd . . . “multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed.” (John 5:3). These were probably his friends or at the least they knew him pretty well. After all, they hung out with each other all day every day here at the pools. So there is the issue of potential embarrassment and ridicule from his peers. He was probably thinking, “Get up? If these people see me even try to get up and I fall down they are going to make so much fun of me and I will be so embarrassed.”
But as quickly as all that came into his mind he had to put it out of his mind. He had to want what Jesus was offering, believe in Jesus and the words He spoke to Him. When you look at your life, do things need to change? Are you at a place where you are just “going through the motions?” Are you at a place where you have been running from God and you know things need to change? Are you at a place where you know you need to be revived? Jesus is telling you to, “Get up!” Are you tired of the doing the same old thing and getting the same results? “Get up!”
Do something to show Him that you want what He is offering and you believe in Him and His word. Don’t worry about how much it doesn’t make sense. Don’t worry about where you have been or where you are. Don’t worry about what you have done or are doing. Jesus can and will take care of all that. God always wants to redeem your past and reclaim you for the future! There might be people around you who you think will ridicule you. But a changed life lived in total surrender to Jesus will silence all of that.
One of the biggest hurdles we face in taking the initial step to accept Jesus’ offer of personal revival is the trap of religion. Many times for most all of us revival feels awkward and sounds weird because all of us at some level have been fooled by religion and religious activity to think we are okay just the way we are. But the truth is . . . Revival goes in the face of religion. 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, 10 and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.” (John 5:9-10). There will always be people who don’t understand . . . even some people who “think” they know Jesus.
For a person who is caught up in religion and religious activity, revival scares them to death. Religion is structured and appears to be safe. Revival is based all on a relationship with Jesus. Revival is liberating and sets you free! When you are revived you are free to be who Jesus calls you to be and do what Jesus calls you to do. Religion traps you into a rigid set of laws, “do’s and don’t’s”. But Revival frees you up from religion into a vibrant and growing relationship with Jesus!
These Jewish leaders totally missed the fact that this man had been healed. In this town they obviously knew this man. They knew he had been an invalid all his life. They couldn’t see him standing before him for focusing on their laws. They looked at this man and without even acknowledging the miracle before them immediately said, “Why are you carrying your mat? You know it is the Sabbath and you are not allowed to carry your mat on the Sabbath.”
His response was sort of like, “Well, if I was still unable to walk I wouldn’t be carrying it but I am healed and I was told by the very man who healed me to carry it so I am carrying it.” 11 But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ ” 12 So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?” 13 The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there. (John 5:11-13).
When you experience revival you can expect opposition from those who are not Christians and from those who are trapped in religion. But when you have experienced true, genuine revival in Jesus you really won’t care. Because what you are continually experiencing in Jesus will be so awesome and powerful you will not care what others say or what they might think!
If you have never surrendered your life to Jesus and trusted Him as your personal Savior . . . Jesus is asking you today, “Do you want to get well?” If you do, then trust Me. Surrender your life to me and “Get up!” If you know Jesus as your Savior but you have been living in rebellion and deliberate disobedience to God . . . Jesus is asking you today, “Do you want to get well?” If you do, then trust Me and “Get up!” If you know Jesus as your Savior but you have just been “going through the motions” in your Christian life and you want more . . . Jesus is asking you today, “Do you want to get well?” If you do, then trust Me and “Get up!”
Remember . . . Revival begins when I respond to Jesus’ challenge. Jesus is putting out a challenge before every one of us. He is challenging us to respond to His offer of revival. To “bring back to life and to restore” what you have allowed to die. His offer of revival is a wake up call to the abundant life He brings to everybody who is committed and sold out to live for Him. Revival is a calling to get back to the Christian life you were meant to live.