Greg Laurie writes columns for World Net Daily. This recent article tells the story of the miracle of the paralyzed man at the pool of Bethesda. Although Greg speaks about sin and salvation I am posting this because God worked in a very personal way in this man’s life, something we all long for. If this article speaks to you about personal sin God is willing and able to forgive. Allan
Some people think the Bible teaches that God helps those who help themselves. But you won’t find this quoted in the Bible. In fact, it is not a biblical concept. The fact is that God helps those who can’t help themselves. God helps those who see how radical their condition is, who recognize there is no way they can save their own souls.
The Bible tells the story of a man like this, a man who was in a very difficult state – a seemingly hopeless situation. I think it may even have been his utter helplessness that drew Jesus to him. He had been abandoned. He was a desperately lonely man, a man who, for all practical purposes, was an outcast.
Paralyzed for 38 years, he spent his days by a pool in Jerusalem called Bethesda, hoping for a miracle. All alone and in need, he was surrounded by people who were blind, lame and paralyzed. Each were waiting for the stirring of the water – believed to be the work of an angel – because the first one to step into the pool would be healed.
Perhaps the night before, this man had offered up a prayer to God. Maybe he prayed, “Lord, if you would just help me be the first one into the water when the angel stirs it up, I would be so grateful.” Little did he realize that God himself would come in human form and give him far more than what he asked for. Instead of sending an angel to stir up the waters, God was about to stir up his life – not just physically, but – more importantly – spiritually. The Bible tells us that God is able to do above and beyond that which we could ask or think (see Ephesians 3:20). And that is what happened in this man’s life.
The Bible says that “Jesus saw him lying there” (John 5:6 NIV). What I find interesting is that he wasn’t the only person there at the pool. There were a lot of people. But we don’t read that Jesus saw them. The Bible says that Jesus saw him. And that is important to realize, because when God looks into a crowd of people, he sees you. He sees you as an individual, just like he saw this man. In the midst of all this activity Jesus had time for an individual whom he knew by name.
Then Jesus asked him – and in a broad sense, all of us – a poignant question: “Do you want to get well?” (verse 6 NIV). Or to expand the question, “Do you want to change your life?” Jesus was essentially asking, “Are you willing to put yourself, just as you are, in my hands? Are you ready for me to do for you what you are unable to do for yourself?”
Now this may seem like a strange question. We might think, What kind of thing is that to ask a guy who is paralyzed and unable to move? Of course he wants to be made well. But not everyone wants to change. Not every drug addict wants to be free from the power of drugs. Not every immoral person wants to be a moral person. Not every person who has chosen a certain lifestyle wants to break free from it. So it is a valid question: Do you want to change your life?
Many are like this man. They have given up all hope of ever changing. They have resigned themselves to their position in life. There are a lot of people who say, “Oh, I want to change. I hate the way that I am. I hate the lifestyle that I am in. But I have tried, and I have failed.” Yet I think that some people like the life they are living. They find a certain comfort in the darkness. They like the people they are hanging around with. They feel at home in that environment. There are a lot of people who really don’t want to change. They really don’t want to get out of the lifestyle they are in.
Years ago, one of my sons had a pet rat. One day he decided he to build a cool little balsa wood house for the rat, complete with windows, a roof, and a little front door. We all thought it was so cute. As we all went to bed, the rat was going into his little house. But the next morning when we looked in the cage, the house was gone and the rat was fatter. We attached human characteristics to the little rat, but he just did what rats do.
There are a lot of people who don’t want to change, because it is just their nature to keep doing what they are doing. And I would suggest they have never really tried it God’s way.
When it comes to change, there is God’s part, and there is our part. If we want to change, we can. But we must do it God’s way.
Jesus expected the impossible of the paralyzed man. He said, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk” (John 5:8 NIV). And God expects the impossible from us as well. He is greater than our problem, and He expects us to believe that.
By telling the man to pick up his mat, Jesus removed all possibility of a relapse. There was no safety net. There was no backup plan. He had to take that step. And we do too.
Yet many people have never done this. They have never made a clean break with the past. One of the conditions of being a Christian is that we must repent, which means to change our direction. Therefore, if a person says he or she is a believer in Jesus, but hasn’t made a break with the old lifestyle, then I question whether that person really is a Christian. Jesus said, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62 NLT).
People who are trying to live in two worlds will be unhappy. Is that you? Then it is time to make a break with the past. Jesus says, “No backup plan, no safety nets. This part of your life is over. I have a new plan for your life.”
God can do for you what you have been unable to do for yourself. But you will have to make a candid admission. You will need to acknowledge that you can’t do it on your own, that you are helpless, and that you are in need of God’s help and God’s forgiveness. And if you will do that and reach out to him, then he will forgive you. And your life will be changed – for the better.