The Paralytic Man
by Shery Abdelmalak
TEXT: John 5:1-18
Ready, kids? This one is HUGE. We have seen Jesus that loves beyond our comprehension. We have seen love that can turn sinners into saints. Now, we get a glimpse into the miracles God bestows upon us, His children, through His grace.
Our story is set in a pool called Bethesda. Bethesda comes from the Hebrew word, “Bethchasday,” meaning the “house of mercy.” Rightfully so, for it was here that at a certain time, an angel would come down and stir the waters to give healing to the first person to step in. This is almost a reflection of baptism in the modern day church for by it, we gain healing and new life in Christ.
The angel that stirred the pool is comparable to Christ’s suffering, for it is through His suffering, death and then resurrection that we gain new life. Christ only requires one action from us – to step down into the pool, accept His suffering so that we can born again in Him. Death to the world for eternal life in Christ. While we have freely been given the gift of salvation, it can only be attained by those who accept it, those that step down into the pool to be healed.
We can sit back and look at what Jesus did in this story and think, “Wow, God is amazing, God is great. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” While all very true, we do not study the Bible, we live the Bible. When God tells you to rise, take up your bed and walk, do you do as the man did and immediately rise? Or is there something still holding you back?
Without the man’s obedience, there would be no story. If you cannot overcome doubt, disbelief, shame – there is no story. This man could not walk for 38 years and after one encounter with Christ, he could walk.
A toddler will learn how to walk at about the age 9 to 18 months, even then they’ll just wobble around still. There’s the crawling that comes first and everything in between. Who’s to say that when the paralysed man was to take his first steps after 38 years it should be any better than a toddler? According to the Pharisees, this man’s greatest flaw was carrying his bed on the Sabbath, no mention that he stumbled and no condemnation of Jesus for only doing a half job if the man did walk like a toddler. Their only accusation was that he went against the laws of the Sabbath.
When an adult is re-learning how to walk again after an accident that requires intense physio training and even then, nothing is guaranteed. What does make a huge difference is the power of the mind – if you really believe you can walk again. Do you think the Resurrection is just for show or are you preparing for change?
This man had no hope, but at the click of God’s fingers, he was made well. The two vital factors in all this are:
- Do you believe that God can heal you?
- Are you prepared to be made well?
HH Pope Shenouda III says that repentance can make virgins out of adulterers. God is imploring us all on this day to return to Him in pure and honest repentance. He who is unaware that he is sick does not know to seek help. Sin unrealised, ignored or disregarded are the ones that will cause the greatest separation from Christ. From sins that are a constant source of guilt to the ones that you do willingly yet feel no shame at all. This is what we want to overcome this Lent. There is power in the unity of the church that fights during Lent. You’re not doing this on your own. All those spiritual giants that you look up to, God has numbered you with them.
Those that we look up to in the Bible are those that repented. The ones that depended wholly on God and not themselves. King David, murdered and committed adultery but was the author of the Psalms. The psalms that we pray because our prayers alone could not amount to the beauty of the psalms. We know his sins because of his repentance. Because he was not going to let sin separate him from the love of God. Does God even remember the sins of David? Or just the psalms that came out of them?
When the Israelites rejected God, and chose sin, but God still had a reason to save them; He says,
“For I will defend this city, to save it
For My own sake and for My servant David’s sake”
Isaiah 37:35 NKJV
For the sake of David. David sins may have been great but his repentance was greater.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?”
Romans 8:35 NKJV
He is able and ready to heal you. All that is left for you to do now is act. The Paralytic man is no more, but a witness and testimony to the power of Christ.
What do you want to be healed of this Lent? What do you want to leave behind at the Cross come Good Friday this year? He is completely able but we need to be willing to put to death all hold us down so that we may be raised in Him.
Rise, take up your bed and walk.