“One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years.” — John 5:5
On a wall in his bedroom Charles Spurgeon had a plaque with Isaiah 48:10 on it: “I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” This great preacher wrote, “It is no mean thing to be chosen of God. God’s choice makes chosen men choice men…We are chosen, not in the palace, but in the furnace. In the furnace, beauty is marred, fashion is destroyed, strength is melted, glory is consumed; yet here eternal love reveals its secrets, and declares its choice.”
Jesus never looked for the easy cases in his ministry. He did not heal a man with a scratch on his finger, some illness that would probably have healed itself. He took a leper who was being destroyed with the most horrible kind of infection and pollution, and healed and cleansed him completely.
At the pool of Bethsaida he did not seek out someone whose limbs had been stiff for a few hours or a few days. On the contrary, he picked out a man who had not walked for thirty-eight years. It seemed daring, this willingness of Jesus to accept the difficult cases.
I believe that Jesus chose these “hard cases” to bring glory to the Father and to give assurance to yearning souls down through the ages. By his actions he was saying, “No matter how great the need, I can meet and conquer it by my power. Have you committed such sin that you do not see how God could possibly forgive you? Do you reject the pleas of those who encourage you to come to Jesus for his help because you think you have gone too far in your sin and rebellion?
You and I cannot possibly know the extent of God’s grace and forgiveness towards us. We cannot possibly know what this God of wonders can do in a life that is surrendered to him. He is able to do more than we can ask or think (Ephesians 3:20).
Our sins may be great and our situation may be dark, but God is greater than both! Our needs may seem bottomless, endless; but our God is able to supply all our needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. His offer reaches to the lowest depths and stretches beyond the farthest horizon of space and time.
The writer of Hebrews assures us that Christ is able to save to the uttermost those who come unto God by him (Heb. 7:25). Paul told the Corinthian Christians that God is the God of all comfort who will comfort us in our time of pain and suffering (2 Cor. 1:3-4). Jesus told his disciples that he was a very real place of rest for those who come to him in their weariness (Matt. 11:28-30).
So, how great is your need today? Are you at the place where you see no way out? There is one that is greater than all your need. Look to Jesus today. He is equal to the challenge.