This is a story about God making something happen when it is "not supposed to happen".
Afterward Jesus returned to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish holy days.
Everyone there was hoping that today was their day. They had gathered there as people do and some of them had assistance. Rich folk could have servants who helped them push to the front. Strong folk could muscle their way in and get to the front. Some people could have been using this as a chance to make money by selling things and the religious ones who seem to be everywhere were also around. They wanted to make sure that no one broke any laws, or did what the protocols of their religious traditions dictated.
It was in such a setting that Jesus saw this man and asked him a very simple, yet important question.
Such a simple yet powerful question really has only one answer—“Yes”, but this man replied, “I Can’t.”
This man was paralyzed. He was crippled physically, but there are other situations that can make us just as paralytic mentally, emotionally, intellectually and financially and in other ways that make us dependent on others. When we depend on other sources, no matter who or what they may be, it is prone to put us in a state of perpetual dependency and keep us crippled.
Jesus stood right in front of him and asked him, “Do you want Me to help you?” knowing everything about this man, who had gone there year after year for 38 years, did not give an answer but, motivated by his problem of depending on someone else, revealed his real problem. He had been there the year before, hoping that this day would be his day and the year before, and the year before that...for 38 years.
There was more to it than simply giving help to the man, so Jesus did not help him to stand. The man had to do that by himself!
Often times our own destinies are in our own hands.
This is where many people fail. They depend on others and never rise above their own circumstances.
That man looked at his problems and saw nothing but having no one helping him, little knowing that his destiny did not rest in his hands or in the hands of another man, but in the one who asked him if he wanted to get well.
The man had generated his own paralysis and all of us have done that at some time in our lives. It is self-perpetuating until we break the mould and this is done when the mould breaker comes onto the scene. This man has been there when the water started to bubble up and watched someone else beat him to it. He had seen others get the blessing and he missed out. He did at least have persistence, probably saying that it would be his turn next year. Sure enough, next year came and he watched someone else get into the water before he did, but kept hoping that it would be his turn next. Never stop hoping. You may be next! Things have changed since then of course although our needs and problems may still exist. Believe it or not—you are next. I keep saying it. You may be next. Today could be your turn!
The Lord asked this man, “Do you want what God has for you?” and he replied, “I can’t!” The Lord was telling him that it is not about you, but about Me! That was his main problem. Everything was all about him.
Jesus was on an assignment to do something new and when that man replied as he did, the Lord ignored him! I am so glad that there are times He ignores me. I am so pleased that He seems to not hear some of the things I come out with and He just keeps going on. He is working to a plan and all that it takes is one word from Him for that plan to be put into effect! One word!
The Lord told him to stand up. The man was crippled. He couldn’t stand up!
Obedience is not a popular word in many Christian circles, but it is paramount we understand how important it is and then go about it and do it.
Jesus told a man with a major issue in his arm to stretch it forth That also was impossible to do, but the man obeyed and as he was in the act of doing as instructed, his arm was restored to normal.
There are times when God tells us to do something that we know full well is impossible and does not make sense, but we are not making sense—we are exercising faith!
On such occasions, when everything seems impossible, we have to activate our faith and respond to the command of the Lord and as we are doing that—the miracle happens. If we do not...it will not. It is not about what you have or do not have; where you live or not; if there are jobs or no jobs, if you have money or are broke, the word of command is what will change your situation. I keep teaching on this. I keep saying that if you have a need, do not ask others to help you, but get a word from God and then do what that word tells you. Other people can help you, but the Lord has to tell them to do so.
According to the religious folk, what happened should not have been done. I find it very interesting that when the Lord does something wonderful like this, the Pharisees come out. They never helped the man anyhow and after the Lord healed him, they should have been happy to see him get well, but they wanted him to get sick again for the sake of political and religious convenience and correctness.
Crowds of people with big needs were gathered there waiting for something special to happen. An angel came at this time every year to dip his big toe into the water and cause it to become agitated.
Angels do not do things unless they are sent on assignment and they are always faithful to that assignment.
Your right time could be now and you might not know it yet. A door had opened up. Doors give access to what is on the other side and I will come back to this later. Jesus asked a perfectly normal and reasonable question, “Would you like to get well?”
If He stood right in front of you now and asked you if you wanted your need met, how you would you answer? Think carefully and answer honestly now. Remember that this man had been in this condition for 38 years, so that was his way of life. It was all he knew. He had become so familiar with it, he probably didn’t know anything different, so the Lord had to change his way of thinking before He did anything else.
You and I have the tendency to become so familiar with our situation, we thing it is the norm and could easily adopt the attitude that there will never be a way out. If so we need to change the way we think. This man should have been so pleased, he would have said, “Yes.” That’s what he should have said, but he said, “I can’t.” Of course he couldn’t—he was a cripple. We do not ignore our plight whatever that may be, because that is where we are at, but the One who can had asked him if he wanted help and he did not say, “Yes” but “I can’t”. When we say, “I can’t”...we can’t. We immediately close down everything down and tie Gods hands.
Ignoring that, Jesus gave several words of instruction. The first one was rise. The Greek word is egeirō that can mean to literally rise up and to stir yourself up. The man had to motivate himself first. The second command was airō with meanings like weighing anchor in a boat or to hoist something up. The Hebrew equivalent is interesting because it relates to expiation of sin. This means that sin is lifted up and carried away or removed. Jesus always deals with the sin issue as well as healing sickness. The third word is to walk, that comes from the Greek word peripateō. This describes the action of someone who is actively occupied with walking, giving proof of ability—and becoming a companion.
By getting him to pick up his sleeping bag, that was a sign of a person’s state, Jesus prevented him from sinking back down again. There were times He healed someone and told them to go their way and sin no more as He did to this man.
From that time onwards, the man had a change of attitude and a change of direction in life. He couldn’t return to the old ways.
The command to walk is more than simply taking a step or two. Walking is a process of taking a successive series of steps forward. Jesus gave him a purpose, a goal, a future, whereas he had nothing before.
The Lord set an open door in front of the man. I like that. We all like to be given opportunities, or open doorways. A preacher likes a door of utterance. A job-seeker wants one. We all want one. Now there are doors and there are doors. Some are big and heavy and have big locks and handles on them and can be difficult to open, but when the Lord opens a door for us, all we have to do is walk through it!
If you have gone to a supermarket or a department store and noticed those automatic doors, all that you have to do is walk up to one and the sensors pick up your motion. If you are standing still, they will not open, but as you walk forwards, they do and you do not have to do anything else.
What the Lord has done for us is to take the hard labor and sweat out of things. I’m not saying we do nothing. What I am saying is that the toil that came with the curse is gone.
When God created everything, it took six days and He then rested on the seventh. He was not tired from His work, but rested because His work was complete. This is the rest we can enter into and the Lord has opened the door to us. Our laboring is to walk through it. There is much more to this little story than we think.
According to religious tradition, God did something that He should not have done. To those religious bigots, Jesus actually did some work on a holy day. That man did some work on a holy day and they did not like it.
He did more than give the man physical healing that day.
It is quite possible that when God does something remarkable for us, someone will have a negative reaction, but do not let that be a problem...walk in the victory. To bring this to a conclusion, I believe that we can all be a little like that man at times. The Lord can stand in front of us and offer something to us and we can respond with an “I can’t.” We say we cannot do it because...and give all sorts of excuses whilst the one who can is standing in front of us with the answer.
Allow me to ask a question, “When was that man healed? Was it when he stood up? Was it on the first step?
You may have tried to do something and failed for some reason. You may have tried again and failed once more. It never happened. Don’t quit. Never give up. The Lord could have opened that door for you now and what has to be done is to stand up on the inside, pick up your bed so you will not return to that state again and start walking.
If this message has been a blessing or an encouragement, or even a challenge to you, I'd like to hear about it. Your feedback would be appreciated.