This article describes two healing miracles that exemplify the love, mercy, and compassion of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ lives and continues to show love, mercy, and compassion to all who by the grace of God have an encounter with the Risen Savior.
In Mark Chapter 2, we are told that Jesus entered Capernaum again. Capernaum had become his base of operations after he left Nazareth. The people heard that Jesus was in Capernaum, so they gathered in a house to hear him preach. The place was so packed with people that when some men brought a paralyzed man, carried by four of them on a mat, to Jesus for healing, there was no room for them. In a daring act, they climbed the building, made an opening in the roof, and lowered the mat for the man to be dropped in front of Jesus.
Jesus marveled at their faith. The first thing Jesus did was to forgive the man of his sins. This probably did not go well with the man or his carriers since they did not go through all that trouble so that his unknown sins could be forgiven. Besides, they had to be worried about their legal and financial exposures for causing damage to the roof. And it certainly did not go well with some teachers of the law who thought Jesus had blasphemed for forgiving sins. Then, Jesus told the man, “I tell you, get up, take up your mat and go home” and the man got up and walked, to the amazement of all present (Mark 2:11-12 NIV).
The second tale, recorded in John Chapter 5, took place in Jerusalem. There was a pool near the Sheep Gate called Bethesda around which many disabled people gathered. The belief was that from time to time an angel of the Lord stirred up the water, and the first person who jumped into the pool of water after each disturbance was cured of his or her disease.
Among those gathered and lying by the pool side was a man who had been disabled for thirty-eight years. It is not clear how long he had been there. Fortunately for him, Jesus was in town for the feast of the Jews. Jesus learned that the man had had the condition for a long time. He approached the man and asked him whether he wanted to get well. The man did not know Jesus and did not provide a direct answer to his question. Instead, he complained about how there was no one to help him get into the pool when the water was stirred, and how others went ahead of him. Jesus said to him. “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” Immediately, the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked (John 5:1-9 NIV, including verse 4 at the footnote of NIV).
The man carried his mat which, according to the Jews present, was a violation of the Sabbath. Apparently, so was the healing on the Sabbath. When they questioned him, he did not know at that time that it was Jesus, so he told them the man who made him well told him to carry his mat. When Jesus found him later at the temple, he told the man to stop sinning or something worse would happen to him. Then the man went and told the Jews that it was Jesus who healed him (John 5:10-15).
The Bible does not tell us the names of the two men. To differentiate between the two men for purposes of this article, the one in Capernaum may be called “Man of People,” because he had people following him and four of them carried him. The other one in Jerusalem may be called “Man Alone,” because he was at the pool without help from any relative or friend.
Both men had mobility challenges; they were unable to walk by themselves. Man of People most likely had a home and family to go to and that may explain why when Jesus healed him, he told him to take up his mat and go home. On the other hand, Man Alone probably did not have a home or family to go to and that may explain why Jesus told him to take up his mat and walk. It appears that God’s mercies and grace find us regardless of our circumstances. The lonely, helpless, and homeless, as well as those who have many people and things, all meet at the intersection of God’s mercies and grace. Therefore, hold on to your faith in God. Wherever you are, God’s eyes are on you, and His mercies, grace, and healing power reach far beyond our imagination.
Jesus healed the two men without any clear demonstration of their own faith in him. In the case of Man of People, the miracle started with forgiveness of sin “when Jesus saw their faith,” which arguably included the faith of the man and those who brought him. And in the other case, Man Alone did not demonstrate any degree of faith in Jesus at all. He did not even know who Jesus was, and did not directly answer Jesus’ question whether he wanted to be healed. However, there is no serious doubt that Jesus knew something about Man Alone which was not known to others, and may have gone to the festival for the primary purpose of healing him.
These indicate that we should continue to pray and intercede for everyone - believers and unbelievers alike - because we do not know how the Sovereign God may use our faith and prayers to address our own or someone else’s problems. After all, it was God who said to Moses, ““ I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” “It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or efforts; but on God’s mercy.”” (Romans 9:15-16 NIV). In other words, it is primarily about God, not about us.
Sometimes we focus on the wrong things. Man Alone needed healing. However, he thought that the only way he could be healed was to be the first to jump into the pool. He did not know that Jesus could heal him without the intermediate step of jumping into the pool. If the man prayed about his own healing at all, it was probably not a prayer to be healed directly, but for someone to put him in the pool first so that he could be healed. We should focus on what we need and not so much on the means to get it. God may have a better plan for us, one that may not involve jumping into a pool, and that should be good news to those who do not know how to swim!
Many people traveled far to see Jesus during his ministry in Israel. Some went to him seeking solutions to their specific problems and others went to listen to him or admire his miracles. Man Alone was lucky, or let’s say “gracey,” because it was by God’s grace. He did not look for Jesus; rather, Jesus found and approached him.
Even more noteworthy is the fact that there were many other disabled people at the pool who were expecting to jump into the pool and be healed at the time Jesus went there, but it appears Jesus healed only Man Alone. Interestingly, Man Alone did not specifically ask Jesus to heal him. Nor did he ask Jesus to stand by and put him in the pool first after the angel stirred the water. His healing was purely by the grace and mercy shown by Jesus. Pray that if there is only one blessing left, you will be the one to receive it. Pray also that God’s grace and mercy will always find you no matter the circumstances. And sing Fanny Crosby’s hymn: “Pass me not, O gentle Savior, Hear my humble cry; While on others Thou art calling, Do not pass me by.”
It is conceivable that Man of People heard about Jesus and asked the people to take him to him. Or, the people heard about Jesus and took him to him. Either way, people carried him to Jesus. People take or lead their family members and friends to places for deliverance from many problems, including sicknesses. Some take or lead them to Church, hospital, counseling etc. Watch where people take or lead you when you have a problem, and watch where you take them or advise them to go. Do you visit or encourage others to visit people or places you know God does not approve of, such as fetish priests and other agents of the devil, in order to solve your problems?
For example, King Saul was afraid of defeat in the hands of the Philistines, and he felt God was not responding timely to him, so he did the wrong thing by secretly visiting and consulting with a witch at Endor, a practice he himself had banned in Israel. Prophet Samuel had died by that time, but Saul requested the witch to bring up his spirit. When the witch did so, Samuel, who was unhappy that his peace had been disturbed, told Saul that Israel would be defeated and he would die (1 Samuel Chapter 28). We should seek help from the right sources.
Sometimes, we allow our problems to block our solutions. Jesus asked Man Alone a simple question of whether he wanted to be healed. Instead of just answering a big YES, he started complaining about how he did not have anyone to carry him to the pool, and how others went ahead of him. Many of us behave like that. Instead of spending valuable time praying and working hard to find solutions to our problems, we find it easier to complain and blame others. Prayers and hard work solve problems; complaints and blames do not.
Some people read these stories about Jesus solely from an historical perspective with no relevance to their own present or future situations. However, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8 NIV). Jesus has done it before, and will do it again. Hold fast to your faith. Trust in Jesus and trust in God. Your problem may seem too big in your own eyes, but nothing is impossible for the Almighty God. Jesus Christ still heals! Jesus heals the soul, mind, and body. And you do not need to be dropped from the roof or lie at the pool side to meet Jesus. Jesus welcomes all and is accessible to all at any time and place.
Prayer is the key. May God grant us the grace to seek Him daily through our prayers.
Dr. Daniel Gyebi, Attorney-at-Law, Texas, U.S.A., and Founder, PrayerHouse Ministry, Kumasi, Ghana.
PrayerHouse Ministry is dedicated to providing a quiet facility for Christians to pray individually by themselves without any intermediary priest, pastor or any other person. This is a free service. No money is demanded or accepted. One facility is located at Kyerekrom / Fumesua, near Building and Road Research Institute Offices, one mile off the Kumasi-Accra Road and next to a house called Grace Castle. If you are interested, please contact Agnes at 054-7498653. Another is located at Kantinkyiren, at the junction of Kantinkyiren and Konkori, off the Kumasi-Obuasi Road, branching left at Trede junction. Contact Kwadwo at 020-8768461 / 0246-989413.