You’re So Lame. I Bet You Think This Blog is About You

Jesus Restored My Life

John 5:1 TLB “5 Afterwards Jesus returned to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish religious holidays. Inside the city, near the Sheep Gate, was Bethesda Pool, with five covered platforms or porches surrounding it. Crowds of sick folks—lame, blind, or with paralyzed limbs—lay on the platforms (waiting for a certain movement of the water, for an angel of the Lord came from time to time and disturbed the water, and the first person to step down into it afterwards was healed).

One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him and knew how long he had been ill, he asked him, “Would you like to get well?”

“I can’t,” the sick man said, “for I have no one to help me into the pool at the movement of the water. While I am trying to get there, someone else always gets in ahead of me.”

Jesus told him, “Stand up, roll up your sleeping mat and go on home!”

Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up the mat and began walking!

But it was on the Sabbath when this miracle was done. 10 So the Jewish leaders objected. They said to the man who was cured, “You can’t work on the Sabbath! It’s illegal to carry that sleeping mat!”

11 “The man who healed me told me to,” was his reply.

12 “Who said such a thing as that?” they demanded.

13 The man didn’t know, and Jesus had disappeared into the crowd. 14 But afterwards Jesus found him in the Temple and told him, “Now you are well; don’t sin as you did before, or something even worse may happen to you.”

15 Then the man went to find the Jewish leaders and told them it was Jesus who had healed him.

16 So they began harassing Jesus as a Sabbath breaker.

17 But Jesus replied, “My Father constantly does good, and I’m following his example.”

18 Then the Jewish leaders were all the more eager to kill him because in addition to disobeying their Sabbath laws, he had spoken of God as his Father, thereby making himself equal with God.”

I think we could all agree that there is so much about God, Jesus, and Heaven that we simply cannot comprehend.  In our limited scope of knowledge and imagination, we form our own ideas and beliefs.  I’ve said many times before that I may be called to God’s Throne as soon as I arrive in Heaven and be told I had so many things wrong.  I don’t think God is opposed to us using our imagination as long as we don’t teach it to be the gospel truth.

I was thinking of some verses in Hebrew this week.  Hebrews 11:1 CEV “Faith makes us sure of what we hope for and gives us proof of what we cannot see.  It was their faith that made our ancestors pleasing to God.”  The remaining verses in chapter 11 of Hebrews name several of our ancestors and their stories of faith.  Abel, Enoch, Noah.  Of course, Abraham, Sarah, and Moses were named.  References are made to many individuals as well as several examples of demonstrated faith in chapter 11 and the context continues in chapter 12.  Hebrews 12:1 NASB “Therefore, since we also have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let’s rid ourselves of every obstacle and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let’s run with endurance the race that is set before us.”

I was thinking of that great cloud of witnesses surrounding us and my imagination took off.  I couldn’t help but wonder if the lame man in our scripture today is included in that group of witnesses.  I could picture him just a few weeks ago elbowing those around him as if to point out that we were talking about him and his healing.  I could see him smiling with pride as if to say, “That’s me they’re talking about!”  His brief conversation with Jesus, his healing, and his obedience were used for us to discuss how our lives are symbolic of gears or cogs that fit together with others to cause a reaction.  We talked about how that interaction was life-changing for both the lame man and for Jesus.  Life-changing for the man because, after thirty-eight years of being unable to walk, he was healed by Jesus and able to pick up his mat and walk.  The interaction was life-changing for Jesus because this event was a turning point for the religious leaders. 

I could imagine the lame man tearing up, recalling those first moments of standing for the first time, having the strength to pick up his mat and walk.  Looking at Jesus and remembering that day that changed his life.  But this week, the “lame man” is sitting among the other witnesses as we open our lesson for this week, and realizing, once again, he is our topic of conversation. 

We’re never told his name so we can only refer to him as “the lame man”.  The same is true for many of the people Jesus encountered.  The woman at the well, the man with leprosy, the paralytic who was let down from the roof by his friends, and the woman with the bleeding issue.  We know them by their afflictions or their conditions and yet, one encounter with Jesus and everything changed.

The woman at Jacob’s well recognized her sinfulness and asked for the living water Jesus offered.  The man with leprosy came to Jesus begging for healing and was made clean. The paralyzed man lowered from the ceiling had his sins forgiven first, then was told to get up, get his mat, and go home and he did just that.  The woman, suffering from hemorrhaging for years, reached out in faith to simply touch the hem of Jesus’ robe and was immediately freed from her affliction.  For all of these people, their interaction with Jesus was the beginning of a new life.  The label that may have been stuck to them is crossed out.  The sinful woman at the well is forgiven.  The leper is now clean.  The paralytic now gets up.  The bleeding woman is healed.  And the lame man now walks. 

There was and still is more to their story than just their affliction or their condition.  We may not know any specific details of what occurred in their life after their encounter with Jesus, but we can be sure that Jesus took off that label that they were known for.  He gave them restoration. 

One tree in field

The definition for restoration is “the action of returning something to a former owner, place, or condition”.  Synonyms or similar words for restoration include repair, fixing, mending, refurbishment, reconditioning, rebuilding, remodeling, makeover, renovation, and updating.

When you think of restoration, what comes to mind?  Furniture, houses, antique cars, toys, tools, etc.

Lives can also be restored.  Just like our ancestors that were just mentioned, lives today can be restored.

I go back to the man we know as the lame man.  That’s how he is categorized by us although he is no longer lame.  I picture him in that great cloud of witnesses wondering why we are going over his story once again.  Why are we putting him back at the side of the pool, stricken and afflicted, unable to move quickly enough on his own, day after day, year after year? 

But that’s something we are guilty of, isn’t it?  Labeling people with who they used to be or by what they used to be afflicted with.  The one whose husband cheated on her with the next-door-neighbor, the athlete diagnosed with AIDS, the woman who used to be a prostitute, the child no one ever wanted to babysit because of behavioral issues, the man who lost everything because of his gambling addiction, the teenager who used to cut herself, the teacher with the skin disease, and the family that once lived in their car. 

Just as we identify the man in today’s story as what he used to be and not who he became after he met Jesus, we tend to label people by their former selves.  And sadly, we are prone to do the same thing to ourselves.  Even though God makes changes, He restores us, mends us, fixes us, refurbishes us, and makes us into something new, we have a hard time letting Him scrape off those outdated labels we’ve been known by. 












The list is endless.  And there are labels that get affixed to us not because of our own actions, but because of the actions of others that we are related to.

-the one whose husband was arrested

-the mother whose daughter has multiple children with multiple fathers

-the son whose mother is in jail

Even labels that we might consider to be complimentary can be harmful.

-The brainiac who struggles to get through college because of the high expectations.

-The athlete who beats himself up if he doesn’t win because he is always expected to win.

-The pastor’s child who rebels because they just can’t measure up to what is expected of them.

Labels have a way of sticking to us long after they no longer apply. Despite encounters with God, radical changes, and restoration to a new life in Him, those labels can remain. And those labels can be harmful, hurtful, and regressive. 

How many times did the lame man come close to giving up hope?  Did he figure after 38 years, this was just the way life would always be for him?  Or did he cling to the words of Isaiah 35:5 NIV “Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
    and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
Then will the lame leap like a deer,
    and the mute tongue shout for joy”?

Did he wake up that morning sensing that something good was about to happen or was it just an ordinary day?  Was he going to the pool every day out of habit or did he really expect to be healed? You may have noticed that when Jesus asked the man if he wanted to be made well, the man never really answered.  Instead, he gave an excuse to Jesus as to why he had not been healed.  But Jesus didn’t need the man’s answer.  He told him, “Get up.  Take up your mat.  Go home.” 

“Consider the plight of this man. He was suffering from a long-term malady. He had the desire to overcome it and had come to a place that gave him hope. Unfortunately, that place of promise was questionable in its ability to produce the results he desired. And the whole process was dependent on the man’s ability to get there. If he had that ability, he probably would not have needed to be there. Hence, he needed a more reliable source of healing and he needed someone to come to him and do for him what he could not do for himself. And someone did; it was Jesus who would show him mercy.”[i]

But what if the man who had been unable to walk for 38 years had said, “I can’t”?  What do you think Jesus would have said?

What do you think life was like for that man after that day?  I can imagine him reuniting with family and friends, spending time with them, helping out with chores, offering to run errands, and rejoicing in his new freedom.  I can see him retelling his story and describing that brief encounter with Jesus that made all the difference.  But I could also see him not wanting to be referred to as the “lame man” anymore.  I can imagine him walking by the pool at Bethesda, looking at those with whom he used to spend his days, and being thankful that he no longer needed the healing waters, but still feeling as if he were still labeled as one of them.

I say that because, if you’re anything like me, it’s tough to scrape those old labels off, isn’t it? 

I recently bought a name-brand travel mug at a discount retailer.  It had a label on it and I’ve soaked it, washed it, used baby oil, and a few other things to get rid of that label, but it’s mighty stubborn.  There’s a sticky residue that reminds me of where that label used to be.  I keep meaning to get some Goo Gone and try that because it’s annoying to me every time I go to use it.

“Is not this story a parable of the plight of every person? Needing to be made whole; finding something that gives hope; discovering that the hope it promises may not be real or is dependent on one’s own effort. Thus, the promised hope of being made whole turns out to be no hope at all. Then Jesus comes.” [Retrieved from]

Some of us need to use some Goo Gone on the labels we’ve been living with for a long time.  Labels, characterizations, and identities that Jesus mercifully got rid of for us, but we still tend to keep hold of. We can’t seem to accept that a past affliction has been healed and that part of our life has been restored.  How do we do that?  How do we let go of those labels that no longer apply to us?

The first step is identifying those labels that don’t describe you anymore.  If you are still allowing old habits, past sins, and former behaviors to identify you, it’s time to recognize your restored self.

Secondly, realize that some labels that you’ve been wearing for a long time are in error.  Maybe you’ve been misunderstood or a part of your life has been retold in a not-so-truthful manner. 

Thirdly, make a choice.  Either choose to hang on to those debilitating labels and remain hindered by them or choose to believe what God has to say about you.

You’re preciousIsaiah 43:4 BSB “Because you are precious and honored in My sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you and nations in place of your life.”

You are His masterpieceEphesians 2:10 NLT “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

You were chosen for good thingsEphesians 1:4 NLT “Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.”

You’re the apple of His eyePsalm 17:8 KJV “Keep me as the apple of Your eye” That’s an expression we’ve heard throughout our lives, but do you know its meaning?  “The apple of the eye was a favourite idiom of the Old Testament writers to indicate something, and particularly a person, that one values above all other things. The phrase comes from a Hebrew expression that literally means ‘little man of the eye.’ It refers to the tiny reflection of yourself that you can see in other people’s pupils.”[ii]

Instead of allowing those negative and derogatory labels to stick, isn’t it time to let them fall off?  As Jesus asked the man at the pool at Bethesda, “Do you want to be well?”, He’s asking us, “Do you want to be made clean?”  Brush those labels free, pick up your mat, and walk away from them.  Just as the lame man walks, you can defy what your label says about you.  The lame man is no longer lame.  He has been given freedom from his affliction.  You can be given freedom from yours as well.

There’s one more step in letting go of those labels and that is to stop sticking them to others.  Ask Jesus to help you see others the way He sees them.  Don’t be like the religious leaders in today’s scene.  Don’t overlook the miracles of God because you’re too interested in watching to see if they do something wrong. 

2 Corinthians 13:11 NIV “Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.”

Strive for full restoration.  That means ridding ourselves of old labels that no longer apply, but it also means recognizing our need for Jesus to make us well, to fix us, and to restore us.  You may be feeling broken in a certain area of your life and Jesus is asking, “Do you want to be made well?”  Maybe that brokenness has crippled you for as long as that man sat by the pool waiting to be healed and you’ve just about given up hope.  Don’t be discouraged.  Just as Jesus knew that man’s condition, He also knows yours and whatever is broken, He can still use it.

“God uses broken things beautifully;
Broken clouds pour rain, Broken soil sets as fields, Broken crop yield seeds, Broken seeds give life to new plants.
So when you feel you are broken, be rest assured that God is planning to utilize you for something great.”

[i] [Herschel H. Hobbs (2023). (p. 24). Bible Studies for Life: Herschel Hobbs Commentary – Spring 2023. LifeWay Press.


Published by Diane Simcox

Daily I am humbled at how God shows me that He is active and involved in my life. He is gracious enough to simplify every day things so that I have a better understanding of Who He is to me.

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