Leaving the Mat Behind, Entry #23

“When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, 

“Do you want to be healed?”

John 5:6 (context, vv. 2-9)

He’d been sick for 38 very long years. On this day he was laying like usual in his spot by the pool of Bethesda. He doesn’t realize it, but he was about to encounter Jesus. His life, as he knows it, is about to be turned upside down.

The question Jesus asks is pointed, and it savagely confronts him–“Do you really want to be healed?” Sometimes the sick, the injured, the handicapped become so aware of their issues that they can’t see any life beyond them. Perhaps Jesus wanted to jolt this man with this very odd question; of course he wants to be healed– doesn’t he?

Jesus clearly knew what was happening.

The Lord knew that this man must make a decision, and healing would only come if he could leave his mat behind. Before we get too hard on him though, we should consider that 38 years is a long, long time to be sick. One thing he had learned over time was that having any kind of hope was a very dangerous thing. In these many years he had worn out lots of mats.

Apparently, an angel would come and stir the waters; the first one who somehow jumped in would be healed. Over time the pool became the gathering place where there laid “a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed” (v. 3.) Someone once said that ‘misery loves company.’ The odds for healing however, were definitely not in their favor.

I’m somewhat curious, not so much with the ‘angel/pool’ thing, but with the Lord passing by a crowd of sick people. Jesus didn’t stop and just wholesale heal them, but instead He makes a bee-line to where this man lay. Why did He do this? Perhaps an encounter with Jesus was far too radical for the crowds; perhaps they weren’t ready. IDK.

The question Jesus asks does seem strange– “Of course he wants to be healed.” And yet the Lord (and this man) had to know for sure. It really isn’t a question of Jesus’ healing power–it is however, an issue with one’s desire to be made whole, and then to leave his mat behind.

A disclaimer though.

People will often talk about having enough faith to be healed, and that’s well and good, but what about having faith to continue to be sick; day after endless day? Will we continue to believe in Him no matter what happens to us? I do wonder about this sometimes.

“How sweet the name of Jesus sounds, In a believer’s ear! It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds, And drives away his fear.”

-John Newton


Mercy for My Sin, Entry #19

“And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic,” 

“Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.”

Matthew 9:2 (context vv. 1-8)

This man needed a touch. But more importantly he had to know that he was forgiven. It seems to me that this was his real need. Forgiveness must come first and foremost. And Jesus’ spoke directly at him. Jesus completely released him. There were no preconditions. Only the faith of his friends (v. 2.) Interesting.

“Your sins are forgiven.”

The religious leaders are very disturbed. Their analysis of this man’s forgiveness was a frontal attack on Jesus’ right to acquit sin. They said nothing, and the miracle really wasn’t even acknowledged. These leaders were in sharp contrast to those who witnessed this first-hand.

The text says that “the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men” (v. 8.)

The religious leaders determined that only God Himself could forgive; to let someone ‘off-the-hook’ like this. They said nothing (perhaps they were feeling ‘out numbered? IDK.)

To forgive sins is God’s exclusive prerogative. No man can release another man from sin. It has the Lord’s exclusive territory. And yet Jesus did precisely that to the chagrin of the ‘legalism’ that was running rampant in the hearts of the religious leaders .

I’m of the opinion that we’re all suffering a certain paralysis of sorts. Each of us have issues that cripple us. We each are sick, and we desperately need Jesus’ touch. “None of us is righteous” (Romans 3:10.) Perhaps Matthew 5:3-4 explains our walk knowing that we all need to be touched.

It seems that we are all dead men walking, separated from God.

The healing of this man was astonishing in itself. To miraculously heal was certainly profound. It doesn’t happen everyday. And yet these scribes, who were thinking about what Jesus said, called it “blasphemy.” They could not see the miracle that freed this man’s great burden.

“The high heaven covereth as well tall mountains as small mole hills, and mercy can cover all. The more desperate thy disease, the greater is the glory of thy physician, who hath perfectly cured thee.”

-Abraham Wright


Preaching With a Purpose, Entry #17

“But he said to them, 

“I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.”

Luke 4:43 (context, vv. 42-44)

God directed preaching extends the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus understands this and embraces a calling from the Father to communicate God’s rule in the heart and souls of people. He publicly acknowledges that this was now His ministry and purpose. This was the reason He came for us. He was sent!

Jesus understands that when the Gospel is combined with the Father’s intentional purpose it develops into a true understanding of what He is looking for in our lives. Perhaps it’s the only thing that can. He obeys and the world is completely changed.

Anointed preaching accomplishes Kingdom purposes.

Understanding the Kingdom takes humility and repentance. The message of Jesus is not a ‘given,’ It requires a solid reaction that will take the listener deeper than he has ever gone before. The gospel message must be understood through a ‘broken’ life. It has zero impact when the heart is hard. We are teflon.

Preaching this “good news” is the only thing that can pierce the hard shell of the human heart. I believe that His purpose requires a commitment on the preacher as well as the listener. It demands obedience. It requires a repentant faith.

Jesus seems to agree.

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words.”

― Francis of Assisi