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The Blessing for Cripples PDF Print E-mail

 

John 5:2-9. Read entire passage.

 

                “Impotent” - Weak; feeble; wanting strength or power; unable by nature, or disabled by disease or accident to perform any act.       Noah Webster’s 1828 Dict.

 

                “Halt” -  To limp; that is, to stop with lameness. To hesitate; to stand in doubt whether to proceed, or what to do.       Noah Webster’s 1828 Dict.

 

                “Withered” – Dried, shrunk, as in the limbs; akin to our modern “infantile paralysis”, where the muscles in the limbs are shrunk and powerless.      Noah Webster’s 1828 Dict.

 

                Withered -  Used figuratively to express leanness of soul, spiritual impotence, a low condition of spiritual life.

 

                This place, Bethesda, was located in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, the place-to-be if you were an Israelite. At this pool, a great multitude of folk described as we have just discussed were gathered. Why were they gathered there? They sought healing!

 

                Oh yes, they wanted healing....they LONGED for healing! Day by day, week after week, they waited for healing, gathering at the place where they believed they would find healing.

 

                What were they were waiting for, to heal them?

 

                Vs. 3  “lay a great multitude...waiting for the moving of the water.”

 

This great multitude, they were waiting for an event, a divine, supernatural intervention in their lives. They were waiting for something extraordinary to happen.

 

                Vs. 4  “For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.”

 

                Now two points:  1st. This was God’s people, gathering in the capital of God’s people, looking for something supernatural from God to heal them. Is there anything out of place about this? No, they ought to look to God as their Healer and Saviour.

 

                Now the second point: This “troubling of the water”, which it was believed would heal the people; do we know if it was of God or not? Can we tell? Yes we can.

 

When Adam and Eve sinned, did God come to them in the cool of the evening, and tell them: I am going to get my Son to die on the Cross, so that the first and quickest sinner who reaches him will have his sins forgiven, and be healed.

 

DA 201. “At certain seasons the waters of this pool were agitated, and it was commonly believed that this was the result of supernatural power, and that whoever first after the troubling of the pool stepped into the waters, would be healed of whatever disease he had. Hundreds of sufferers visited the place; but so great was the crowd when the water was troubled that they rushed forward, trampling underfoot men, women, and children, weaker than themselves.”

 

Is God in the business of healing the first, the strongest, the quickest, of sinful men, only healing the one who gets to him first? Is God party to such arrangements? Is this the spirit of the Gospel, the workings of Heaven?

 

                No!

 

John 3:16. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that WHOSOEVER believes in him, should not perish, but have eternal life.”

 

                But such was the common belief of the great multitude. They were all there, longing for healing, waiting for the troubling of the water.

 

Our story now turns....

 

Vs. 5 “And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years.”

 

                This man too, was an Israelite, one of God’s chosen people.

 

                “Infirmity” - An unsound or unhealthy state of the body; weakness; feebleness.

 

                Also calls him, ‘impotent’ vs. 7   [wanting strength or power; unable by nature, or disabled by disease or accident to perform any act.]     

 

DA 202. “[The man’s] disease was in a great degree the result of his own sin, and was looked upon as a judgment from God. Alone and friendless, feeling that he was shut out from God's mercy, the sufferer had passed long years of misery. [ How opposite to the mercy and love of God that was REALLY for him. Can we see how important it is that we have a right view of our heavenly Father!]  At the time when it was expected that the waters would be troubled, those who pitied his helplessness would bear him to the porches. But at the favored moment he had no one to help him in. He had seen the rippling of the water, but had never been able to get farther than the edge of the pool. Others stronger than he would plunge in before him. He could not contend successfully with the selfish, scrambling crowd. His persistent efforts toward the one object, and his anxiety and continual disappointment, were fast wearing away the remnant of his strength.”

 

What a picture! Cant you feel his anguish, his burning desire, his anxiousness to get to the pool. This man believed in the troubling of the waters. Him lying there, day after day, waiting, hoping, for what he believed was his only hope of healing.

 

He trusted in getting to the water first; He trusted in his friends to get him to the water first, so he could be the one healed. He felt that his healing rested on CHANCE, combined with consistent effort---if he PERFORMED WELL.

 

This man believed it was God that stirred the water, yet felt he could only get healing if he got himself by some method to the edge of the pool. This must have agonized his heart, stressed him out beyond measure. This hope, this way, each time, in thirty eight years, had failed him.

 

Brethren, many of us are like this crippled man. We believe in God, we know we are a part of his true Church, but we are weak, withered, powerless for do what is right and spiritual. We feel our spiritual condition; we know we need healing, we feel our weakness, but where is our hope focused. Where are we looking for healing? We are looking to get ourselves to the healing, looking for the strength, the resolve, the will, to put ourselves into the water we believe God has touched.

 

But, brethren, is God in the business of saving the strongest, the quickest, the most determined? Is He biding His time, party to your agonized, stressed out soul, holding off His blessing until you muster enough effort to reach the pool of healing you believe He has created? Is this the God we serve, the picture of our Heavenly Father the Holy Spirit impresses you with?

 

No, no!  Our God is not party to such a picture!

 

The man was focused on reaching the pool in time, believing this to be his one hope of healing, when along comes Jesus!

 

John 5:6  ”When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole? ”

John 5:7  “The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me.”

 

        The man wanted more than anything to be made whole; yet all he can see is his efforts to get healing had failed. He was despondent, hopeless, and had resigned himself that he would die.

 

However, Jesus stretches out his hand to the impotent man, understanding the man’s yearning desire for healing. Jesus Himself had created that desire, and placed Himself in the life of the poor cripple so He could answer it. How pitying, how compassionate, of Him. This is the God we serve.

 

Jesus bends over the man and asks, ‘Wilt thou be made whole’.

 

Do you notice, Jesus does not offer to carry the man to the edge of the pool at the right time. Jesus does not offer to watch out for the man, to tell him when the water would be troubled. Why? The man’s healing was not in the troubling of the water. The healing was in Jesus Himself. Jesus would heal him.

 

The man responds to Christ’s question; but what does the man say....a moan, a pitiful, despairing sentence.

 

But this does not send Jesus away? The man’s is not a doubting, sinful reply, only a stating of things as they were. Remember the demoniac who came rushing down the aisle in the synagogue, crying, Jesus, what hast thou to do with us? Even this, though the very words of the devil are spoken, Jesus reads the unspoken desire of the suffer’s heart.

 

How encouraging for us? We might not have the right words to speak of our desires to God. We might only be seeing the helplessness of our situation. But the fact that we come, that we respond to the invitation, shows our unspoken desire. Our hope might be so low, our despondency so real, that words cannot be found, except, “Lord, hear my cry, the longings of my heart” ; and know that it is enough. It shows faith.

 

John 5:8  “Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.”

John 5:9  “And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.”

 

# Notice Jesus does not ask this sufferer to exercise faith in him; but with a voice of command said, "Rise, take up thy bed, and walk." Immediately his whole being was stirred with a healing power, new blood and strength leaped into every limb and member. He bounds to his feet in obedience to the Saviour's command, and stooped to take up his bed, which was only a simple rug and blanket. As he straightened himself again, with a sense of delight at standing upon his feet after so many years of helpless infirmity, he looked around for his deliverer, but he was nowhere to be seen.

 

# How simple an exchange!  Jesus, said, Rise---and healing power surges into the man’s limbs, and he bounds to his feet in full vigor of manhood. The man believed Christ’s words, and he was healed. The power was in Jesus-- He did the work.

 

Brethren, the message to you today, is one of simpleness. Jesus is bending over you, asking if you want to be made whole. If it is your desire to be whole, free of defects, and sinfulness, let the eyes of your soul look up. You are bidden, “Arise in health and peace. Thy sins are forgiven thee.”

 

Don’t wait to FEEL whole, happy, relieved. Believe you are made whole because JESUS says it. This faith is really simple. We too often get above this simple exchange, between God and us, and try to explain, and reason, and lay it all out in our minds. But listen to the pen of a Christian author...

 

 “And when Christ bade him to rise, take up his bed and walk, he did just as Christ told him to do. He did not say, "Why, I have been here thirty years and have not taken a step during that time." He did not stop to argue, but did just as he was bidden. He took up his bed and walked out and was healed from that time. This is the faith that we need. But if you stop to explain everything and reason out every point, you will die in your sins, because you will never be satisfied.”  -- Ellen G White, Faith & Works 68.

 

                As an illustration of faith, try this sometime. You will need to be a passenger in a moving car. Watch the road for sometime, the curves, the bends, the cars going the other way. Then, having watched the road for a bit, close your eyes.

 

                You are still hurtling forward, following the curves and bends in the road, but you cannot see a bit of it. Your staying on the road is dependent on the driver, on someone else.

 

                This is faith. Your salvation, the work of change in your character, is God’s work. He has promised to save you, to be with you to the end. The business of healing your temper, or senuality, or appetite, or procrastination, or whatever your weakness may be, is the road you are travelling on. You study it, you watch it, you experience it, but you are not in control of it. You travel it safely by faith. Your progress is dependent on the driver, which is Jesus. Let Him drive, let Him do His work, and you will walk with health and vigor. Talk to Him, and He will encourage and educate you. You will be no longer crippled and despondent; you will go out, with free, joyous step.

 

                And dont worry about the Pharisees who frown on you for carrying your bed on the Sabbath. He who made you whole is greater than these. Go seek out Him who made you whole, and then you will have seasons of worship and thankfulness at His feet.