The Lame Man and Jesus


Thank you for joining us for Encounters with Jesus. Each week, we will hear a story from the Bible told from the perspective someone who encountered Jesus firsthand. If you would like to learn more about these charcters and their stories, you can read about it in the Bible. See: John 5:1-15




As long as I can remember, I’d always been that way... lame… you know, unable to walk.

And as long as I can remember, I’d always been labeled an outcast.

And as long as I can remember, I’d always felt hopeless.

But I wasn’t the only one. There were lots of us. In fact, all my fellow outcasts—some blind, some paralyzed, some lame like me—we’d gather right outside the temple around this pool called Bethesda, and that’s where we’d spend our days.

Legend had it that an angel would sometimes stir the waters of the pool, and the first one in the water would get healed. It sounds silly now. I’m not even sure I believed it would work. In fact, I don’t remember anyone actually being healed.

But that didn’t stop us from trying; we... I… was desperate. I had no other options.

Then one day—I remember it was the Sabbath—this man came up and asked me if I wanted to get well.

I guess it would be easy to be offended by a question with such an obvious answer… but not this time. The way he paused, knelt down, and actually looked me in the eyes… his question felt so genuine. Like he actually cared... about me.

So I just told him the truth: with no strength or friends to help me, I never could get to the water first.

I guess at that point, I thought maybe he’d help me get into the water… you know, if he happened to be there the next time the waters were stirred. But instead, and I still can’t believe this happened, he said something that took me a few moments to comprehend. I can still hear them as clearly as I did that day:

“Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”

He spoke with such power and authority. Yet each word held such love, compassion, and grace. I’d never heard anything like it before or since.

Once I understood what he’d said, I felt something stir within me… was it hope? I somehow gathered the courage to believe I could do what he said, and to my amazement and the amazement of those around me, I did what I had not been able to do in 38 years: I got up, I picked up my mat, and I walked!

He just said it... and it happened!

I don’t even remember where I was going, I just started walking! But before I got too far, a few religious leaders stopped me, saying, “It’s the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”

Now, I knew that was true, but in my excitement, it never even crossed my mind.

So I told them what happened: “The man who healed me told me to pick up my mat and walk, so I did!” I thought they’d be excited for me, but instead, they just asked me who the guy was, but I never got his name.

Fortunately, he found me later when I was in the temple.

“You look good!” he said with a big smile. Then he put his arm around me and said, “Now don’t go back to your sin. Otherwise, your sin will lead you to a worse place than where you were!”

And then he was gone.

I found the religious leaders and told them it was Jesus who healed me. And then they were gone, grumbling under their breath as they went.

I still marvel that Jesus did something so undeniably glorious… and all they could do was grumble! But I knew Jesus was the real deal. He changed my life forever.


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