A few years ago, i was walking through Chinatown in New York City. As i crossed an intersection, i suddenly sprained my ankle and yelped in pain. My sister and phan helped me hobble across the street; and as i paused to rest, leaning wearily on a newspaper dispenser, i fainted.
The next thing i knew, my sister and phan were frantically trying to get my attention, and i was trying to figure out why i was lying down on the ground in the middle of New York City.
As i sat up, a few people had gathered to see what the hullabaloo was all about. And because this was Chinatown, people were not hesitant in offering their suggestions and advice. One woman said, “You should have eaten breakfast.” Another person said, “Drink some tea with sugar in it.” And yet another person said, “You should be more careful. And watch where you’re walking.”
Suddenly everyone was a Chinese mom.
Listening to Ashley’s message this week about John 5, i found myself wondering about that paralysed man, sitting near the healing Pool of Bethesda. Here was a man who had been here for 38 years. And in those 38 years, how many countless numbers of people had offered him advice? How many times had he tried to get up and walk? How many times had he tried to even get to the healing pool?
So what happened this time? Jesus comes along, has a short conversation with him, and then tells him to “Get up, pick up your mat, and walk.” Why did this man listen to Jesus? It’s not like Jesus walked in and said he was the son of God. Jesus wasn’t a doctor. Yes, he probably looked like a teacher, and carried some level of authority. But surely in these past 38 years of being an invalid, other people of authority or responsibility had said similar words.
It seems to me that somehow in this conversation with Jesus, in this short dialogue between the two, something remarkable happened. There was a deeper connection. There was a confidence from Jesus. There was a reality about Jesus’ words. There was something deeper. Something deeper than just words.
In his sincerity, honesty and compassion Jesus spoke deep into the heart and life of this paralysed man. It’s almost as if when Jesus says to the man, “Get up, pick up your mat, and walk,” the man believes not in his own power to get up — but he believes in Jesus. He believes in the words that Jesus says. He puts his faith in Jesus.
When i sprained my ankle in New York, lots of people suddenly wanted to offer me advice. But i didn’t trust any of them. i mean, these were complete strangers off the street. And yes, some of their ideas may have made sense, but others were completely off the wall. In the end, i made my own decision based on my own logic.
For the paralysed man, he made a decision not based on his own logic. In fact, not even based on his previous experience. He got up, picked up his mat and walked, because he believed in Jesus.
There is something about Jesus that is remarkable. So much so, that a paralysed man stands up and walks when Jesus says so.
Come and see Jesus. His very words give life to those who receive them.
These were some thoughts from our current series The Remarkable Life of Jesus and our Strong and Courageous Life in Him. The message from John 5 is available here, and all our previous messages are available on the Sunday messages page.