One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him, “Would you like to get well?”
“I can’t, sir,” the sick man said, “for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me.”
Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!”
Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up his sleeping mat and began walking! But this miracle happened on the Sabbath, so the Jewish leaders objected. They said to the man who was cured, “You can’t work on the Sabbath! The law doesn’t allow you to carry that sleeping mat!”
But he replied, “The man who healed me told me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’” (John 5:5-11)
The man’s situation looked hopeless. After thirty-eight years, his problem had become a way of life. No one had ever helped him. He had no hope of ever being healed and no desire to help himself. Until Jesus showed up.
This man had been lame, or paralyzed, and suddenly he could walk. This was a great miracle. But he needed an even greater miracle—to have his sins forgiven. The man was delighted to be physically healed, but he had to turn from his sins and seek God’s forgiveness to be spiritually healed.
Trust the Pharisees to rain on this parade. According to the Pharisees, carrying a mat on the Sabbath was work and was therefore unlawful. It did not break an Old Testament law, but it did break the Pharisees’ interpretation of God’s command to “remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy” (Exodus 20:8). This was just one of hundreds of rules they had added to the Old Testament law. A man who hadn’t walked for thirty-eight years had been healed, but the Pharisees were more concerned about their petty rules than the life and health of a human being.
No matter how trapped you feel in your infirmities, God can minister to your deepest needs. Don’t let a problem or hardship cause you to lose hope. God may have special work for you to do in spite of your condition, or even because of it. Many have ministered effectively to hurting people because they have triumphed over their own hurts.