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"Here a great number of disabled people used to lie — the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there — had been an invalid for thirty-eight years!" John 5:3-5
"Then 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
The man might have said, "Why, I cannot get up. That is the very thing which I have not been able for thirty-eight years. Pick up my bed! Why, I could not lift a feather; and as for walking — I could as easily fly! I cannot do these things — until I am cured."
We have all heard people talk thus about starting in the Christian life. They plead their helplessness as reason for their delay. There is a fine lesson for such in this man's obedience. The moment he heard the command — he made the effort to rise, and as he made the effort — the strength was given. New life came with his simple obedience. Christ never commands an impossibility. When He bids us rise out of our sin and helplessness and begin the Christian walk — He means to give grace and strength to enable us to do it.
The same is true of all that Christ requires of us in His service. People think it "humility" to be timid about duty and about accepting responsibility at Christ's call; but it is not humility at all — it is unbelief and sin. We lie on our poor 'mats' and say, "I have no strength for this, no wisdom for that," while if we simply arose to obey every call of Christ — He would use us for noble service.
This man showed his faith — by immediately exerting himself to do what Christ had bidden him do. Had he not done this — he would not have been healed. There are many who lie spiritually paralyzed, year after year, just because they are waiting to be healed before they try to rise and walk. There are many who never do any worthy service for Christ, and lie in a condition of uselessness through years — because they think themselves unequal to the duties to which they are called. It is time we learned to step forward instantly, to do whatever Christ bids us do. When we begin to do this — we shall find ourselves strong.