The man’s head remained lowered. After what seemed like the hundredth time attempting to get into the pool, he had just about convinced himself that he would never make it in. When he would try to draw closer to the healing waters, others would push in front of him and he would be left alone. Why didn’t anyone help him? Couldn’t they see how desperately he longed to be healed?
Just when he was about to give up all hope, He stepped into the picture. At first he did not notice when He stepped up beside him. But as the shadow from His presence was cast over him, he looked up slowly. Already he could tell that He was different. There was something in His eyes that was unfamiliar to him and the longer he gazed into them, the more he began to realize what was so different. It was warmth and what he perceived to be compassion. Yet, he forced himself to look away. Perhaps it was just wishful thinking.
“Do you want to be made well?” The mysterious man asked him.
He looked up at once in surprise. Was this man serious? The longing of his heart cried out at once yes. Still, he held himself back from crying out. He did not want to get his hopes up, just to have them dashed again. This had happened too many times to count.
The man sighed deeply. “Sir, I have no one to help me. I try to get into the pool, but every time I do, someone steps in before me, and I lose my chance.” His voice cracked a little as he spoke these words.
He smiled and reached out his hand. At that moment, He offered him something he had desired for so long, but never dreamed of being able to receive. “Rise,” He told him. “Take up your bed and walk….”
Despite his earlier misgivings, the man became hopeful once again. Something is different about this man. It is as if He is looking into my heart and reading it. But surely that cannot be…
He stared at this man strangely, not once breaking his gaze, as he gathered up his beddings and rose to his feet. Once he was up, he took a moment to steady himself. His legs felt strange, and somewhat leaden; as if they belonged to someone else. He had not used them for thirty-eight years.
Suddenly, as if he was truly recognized what was happening, he whipped his head around him in shock. Then he started to walk, slowly at first, then with new strength and vigour. He let out a joyful exclamation, and did not bother to care about who was watching him. He even allowed himself to jump up and down a couple of times. He was so overcome with joy that he nearly forgot to thank the man who had healed him.
He looked into the man’s eyes with confidence now. He was no longer uncertain. “Thank You.” He said. Jesus smiled at him once again, and went on His way…
Like the paralyzed man at the Bethesda pool, this same offer of healing is being presented to us today. What will your response be? At times, we tell ourselves that we want to be made well. We want to be free from the physical and spiritual plagues in our lives. Yet, when Christ offers us a chance at true healing, we do not even accept His gift. Thus, we continue to be bonded in our prison cells of grief, anxiety, addictions, bitterness and anger.
This summer, a friend and I were canvassing in a neighbourhood in Toronto, less than a few minutes away from where I currently reside. We met a lady by the name of Eleanor. She was quite the charming and sweet elderly lady, and we asked to be invited into her home. She obliged. Less than a few minutes after we stepped into her home, she began to chew off our ears, by sharing all of her problems and her life history. She covered every topic possible from marriage, to sickness, to family…the list went on.
About halfway in the conversation (after being there for little over an hour), my friend felt impressed to ask her if she needed help with anything. Eleanor lived on her own. She told Eleanor, that we would be willing to come back to her house, and help with little chores, such as washing the dishes, cooking…etc. Despite what we could see and understood from the conversation (that she desperately needed help), more than once, she declined our earnest offer. In the end, we left without being able to help her in any other way, although we did give her a copy of the Great Controversy.
Like Eleanor, we tend to treat Christ like this, at times. Here He is patiently offering His help to those of us that are in need, yet we repeatedly wave him off. We seem to think that we can get by on our own.
At times we expect God to simply zap our issues away. But that is not the way He works. When the Lord offered healing to this man, there was still a part that he had to play. Yes, Jesus had told him that he was healed, but the man still needed to demonstrate faith, by taking up his bed and walking…
“The poor sufferer was helpless; he had not used his limbs for thirty-eight years. Yet, Jesus bade him, ‘Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.’ The sick man might have said, ‘Lord, if Thou wilt make me whole, I will obey thy word.’ But no, he believed Christ’s word, believed that he was made whole, and he made the effort at once; he willed to walk, and he did walk. He acted on the word of Christ, and God gave the power. He was made whole. “(Steps to Christ, p. 49-50)
Sometimes we do not demonstrate faith in our God. We say that we do, but we don’t. At times, the Lord is trying to pry something out of his hands that He knows is harmful, yet we insist on holding on to it. So even if the Lord were to heal us at that moment, it would not benefit us as it should, because we are still holding on to the thing that caused us harm in the first place. The Lord desires to heal us completely – physically, mentally and spiritually. God’s ultimate goal is to work a complete transformation within us, which means freedom from sin.
When Jesus ran into this same man again in the temple, His words to him were: “Thou art made whole. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.” (Verse 14)
Jesus was trying to eliminate any and every possibility of a comeback of the physical sickness, and was also truly concerned about his spiritual condition, because Jesus’ healing was holistic. He was interested in this man as a whole, and he realized that the condition of one would certainly affect the other. As well, He did not want the healing work that He had done to be vain. He longed for the man to continue in this new life, and to enjoy the blessing of being made whole in him.
Let me paint a picture for you. Say, for example, one became sick through smoking or drinking alcohol. Any good physician would encourage their patient to abstain from these practices in order to avoid being sick in the future. Not only would he wish to cure you of the present condition, but he would wish to prevent the possibility of any others from returning in the future.
When undergoing surgery, the surgeon knows that he needs to extract the cancerous or infected areas in your system, so that it does not affect the rest of your body. It is no doubt a painful and severe process, but one that needs to be done, in order for the person to be completely cured. This is what the Great Physician is trying to do with us. He is trying to extract the harmful things out of us. He wants to take our diseased heart and give us a new one. I don’t know about you, but I am most grateful to God for this heart transplant. (Ezekiel 36:26)
So once again, the question is posed to you: “Do you really want to be made well?” Are you willing in simple faith to take God at His word, trusting in His promises not only to heal you physically and mentally, but to cleanse you from all sin? You may have been struggling with your sickness of sin for quite a long time, but the Lord is asking that you rise to meet him, and walk in this renewed life; a life that offers hope, restoration and complete healing.
Glory Belongs to God
Copyright: designpics / 123RF Stock Photo
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