We’ve been looking at the story of the healing of the paralyzed man in John 5.
Jesus is in Jerusalem and ends up by a pool near the sheep gate. It was believed that when the waters were stirred (perhaps a spring occasionally bubbled up there) that the first person in the water would be healed. Because of this there were many lame, blind, and otherwise ill people laying there. One such man was paralyzed and had been in that condition for 38 years.
Jesus approaches the man and asks him, “Do you want to get well?” The man answers that he does want to but that he can’t get to the water in time. In a sense, as we said last time, he is saying that if Jesus would help him with his plan to get well then he could be ok. He is failing to recognize that Jesus is offering something different, something more. Jesus is better than the pool.
Jesus of course does not help the man into the pool. He also doesn’t say, “Man that’s tough. I hope that works out for you at some point” and move on. Instead he does something very Jesus like. He gives him a command.
I think sometimes we forget that Jesus is Lord. He gives commands not suggestions. He doesn’t really give people some things to consider. He says what is. He directs people. Jesus is in command and He gives orders. He does this over and over in the gospels and in many of the healings listed in them.
This is why the whole “Jesus is a nice guy with some good teachings” thing sort of falls apart. He’s not really a philosopher and real Christianity is not a philosophy or an idea (although you can make a philosophical and reasonable argument for the truth of Christianity). He’s not really nice at all. He’s good but not nice.
He’s not nice to the man at the pool. He is loving and good to him. He gives him a command. He says, “Pick up your mat and walk.”
Here’s an interesting thought. When is this man healed? Is he healed when he stands up or before? I’m going to go with before. The man can’t heal himself so him getting up doesn’t really heal him. But in a way it’s his belief in Jesus that gets him up. He has a part to play. He has to obey. He has to get up, pick up his mat and walk. That’s the only way that he can experience the healing that Jesus is offering.
Here’s a reality that we don’t often consider. Salvation is a command. Yes it’s an offer. Yes Jesus is the one who provides it. But it’s also a command. Jesus is saying I’m the way, follow me. Follow Me is a command. Believe in Me is a command. We can obey it or not.
Our part is to stand up. It’s our personal responsibility if you will. And it’s the way we experience healing and all the things that come with it – the parts that are easier and the parts that are harder. But all of it is actually better.
Let’s say that I’ve always dreamed of going to Scotland. I’d like to see it. I’d like to golf there, visit my favorite scotch distilleries and see the highlands. A man who loves me comes along and says, “I’ve created an incredible experience for you. I’ve paid for it all. Here is the plane ticket. I’ve booked you at the Old Course for golf. Yes you heard that right. I’ve set up a tour of several distilleries for you and mapped out a plan for you to see the beauty of Scotland. The plane leaves tomorrow at 6 AM.”
Wow. I’m excited obviously. Thankful even. What I’ve dreamed of is there for me. Paid in full. I pack my bags and my clubs. But here’s the deal. None of that puts me in Scotland. What puts me there is I show up at 6 and get on the plane. Otherwise it’s a paid for trip that I don’t experience.
How we experience the the things of Jesus is by obeying Him. He’s paid for us. He has given us the opportunity. But He has also given us the plan to follow. To experience it we have to actually follow the plan. That’s our part, our responsibility, and it determines where I actually end up.
This doesn’t mean by the way that there won’t be hardship. You know what happens next in John 5? The man obeys Jesus and gets up and carries his mat. I mean he doesn’t even set the mat down. Turns out this happens on the sabbath and a bunch of the Jews chastise him saying it’s wrong to carry the mat on the sabbath. He’s not an hour into the deal and he’s facing persecution. But he answers, “The man who healed me said to carry it and I’m carrying it!”
Here’s the bottom line. If we want to experience life to the full, if we want to experience what Jesus has for us, we have to obey Him. Regardless of what comes.
Jesus has paid for us. He is offering life to the full. Will you get up and walk.