“Jesus said to
him, ‘Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.’ At once the
man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.” – John 5:8-9
Imagine you’re awakened in the middle of the night by the sound of a lawnmower. When you get out of bed and step onto the front porch, you see your next-door neighbor, who’s been in a wheelchair for 38 years. And he’s dancing around your front yard, mowing your lawn like he just won the lottery. How would you respond? Would you yell across the yard, “Charlie! I can’t believe it! How on earth did you get out of that wheelchair?” Or would you wave your fist at him and say, “What in tarnation are you doing at this time of night? GET OFF MY LAWN!”
That’s Pastor Chuck Swindoll’s great illustration of the two different ways religious leaders could have reacted after Jesus healed a paralyzed man in John 5.
The man was
one of many disabled people who used to gather around the Pool of Bethesda,
hoping for a healing. The name “
Thankfully, the God of grace and mercy, Jesus Christ, stepped onto the pool deck. And he wasn’t looking for the fastest or healthiest man to heal. When the paralyzed man explained to Jesus that he had no one to help him get to the water first, Jesus had just one thing to say to him: “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk” (v. 8). Immediately, the man was healed—so he got up and did just that. It should have been a happy ending, right?
But as it turns out, the healing took place on the Sabbath Day, and the religious leaders didn’t take kindly to anyone doing anything that even resembled work on the Sabbath. So, when they saw the healed man walk into the temple courts carrying his bed mat, all the religious leaders could say was, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.” The healed man responded, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk’” (vs. 10-11).
Now, what is the most remarkable detail in this man’s statement? Is it A) that someone had just healed his severed spinal cord and paralyzed legs? Or B) that the healer told him to carry his sleeping bag? That’s a real stumper, isn’t it? But look at what the religious leaders focused on in verse 12. They asked: “Who is this fellow who told you to pick up your mat and walk?”
Be very careful that you don’t make the same mistake that the religious leaders made in John 5. They were so entrenched in their legalism that they completely flushed grace down the toilet. They were staring an earth-shattering miracle right in the face, and all they could see was an out-of-place sleeping bag. How sad!
Here are three Life Lessons we can draw from these passages:
Life Lesson #1: Just like in Jesus’ day, our community is filled with hurting people who are searching for a house of mercy and grace. And as Jesus’ followers, we have what they so desperately need. Every week, people walk through the church door who are hurting or sick. Every week, there are people watching church services online who, like the crippled man, have been pushed around and mistreated, and they feel like they don’t have a friend in the world. You and I who follow Jesus are called to offer them kindness, mercy and grace.
Life Lesson #2: Just like in Jesus’ day, there is healing in the house of mercy and grace. The same Jesus who healed the crippled man in John 5 is working in this world today. And His power to heal back then is still available to heal right now. Maybe you need physical healing. Maybe you long for an emotional healing from depression, anxiety or addiction. Or maybe you recognize your greatest need: a spiritual healing. You need to get saved and be born again. Maybe it’s your day to be healed. But if it’s not, keep coming back to the house of mercy and grace, believing that your healing is coming.
Life Lesson #3: Just like in Jesus’ day, there are wet blankets in the house of mercy and grace. I suppose we shouldn’t be too surprised that the religious leaders in His time were ignoring the miracle and focusing on the infraction, because, honestly, sometimes you and I do the same thing. Hurting people are being ministered to and decisions for Christ are being made, but we’re complaining about the service going too long. The Word of God is being preached in power, and Christians are growing in their faith, but we’re all miffed because someone “took my seat.” There are any number of ways that we can be wet blankets in the house of mercy and grace. Let’s stop doing that.
Let’s all be ministers of mercy and grace. Let’s spill mercy and grace all over everybody, and then watch and see what miracles Jesus Christ performs when we do.
Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church. Join us for worship on Sunday
at 8:30am or 10am at