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On The Verge
This text shows that we may be close to our miracle,
but our miracle will come to pass after
coming in contact with Jesus.
Scripture – John 5:2-9
Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the
Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of
impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. For an
angel went down at certain season into the pool, and troubled the water;
whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of
whatsoever disease he had. And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity
thirty and eight years. When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a
long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole? The impotent
man answered him, Sir, I have no man when the water is troubled to put me into
the pool; but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me. Jesus saith
unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. And immediately the man was made
whole, and took up his bed, and walked, and on the same day was the Sabbath.
Introduction – “Life on the Verge”
I want to talk to you now about this great miracle. But more specifically, let's talk
about a man with a severe problem who spent 38 long years of his life just on the verge
of receiving God's blessings and grace and power. That's the subject of this message –
"On The Verge."
Thirty-eight years is a long time. It's just about the average of a man's working
life, of productivity. It may be about the average of a minister's life in real full time
service. Thirty-eight years is a long time.
But here is a man who had spent that many years waiting beside a pool, wanting
to receive help from God, needing the supernatural touch of God's power and grace and
being very close to it but never quite close enough. He was separated from health and
vitality by about only one step. Just one step away was healing, strength, health, vitality,
real life. He was so near and yet he was so far.
What really separated him was not that one step, but his own negative thinking
about himself. Because he was somewhat resigned to his situation. Almost accepting it
like fate or like a destiny and seeing no hope to ever rise above it. Seeing no door of
escape from this prison house of being impotent, powerless, weak, a failure, having no
strength, no real life and health. Finally, he was just simply resigned to it. And he all the
time thought in a negative fashion about it.
He was just on the sidelines. He was close to where the action was, but he was not
in the place where it was really happening. But he was an observer looking on. And every
time the season came and the angel came and the waters were troubled, about all he got to
do was just look at it. He was so close to a miracle and yet it never touched him. He was
so close to divine angelic activity, but it never really touched him. All he could do was
look longingly. His life was always, "On the Verge!"
A. The Challenging Question
Then one day, Jesus came and challenged this man. He challenged him to the very
heart and core with a question that I think Jesus would ask every person who would listen
to Him. And I dare say He has asked you this question – In all of your life, in your misery
or troubles or sinfulness or sicknesses or afflictions or doubts or fears. I wouldn't be
surprised but what Jesus has come again and again and asked you the question, "Don't
you want to be free from this? Don't you want to be made whole? Don't you want to
change your life? Don't you want something different?"
You see, the Lord Jesus somehow wants to challenge every person even today.
There are people today who are just, in a sense, on the sidelines. They're close to holy
activity. They're very close to miraculous power. They have watched it. They have
witnessed it. They have seen it year in and year out. They have seen God work. They've
seen God move. They've seen His miracles. They've seen the power of His Word and the
power of His Spirit, and yet it has not worked for them actively in their lives. They're just
on the verge. They keep thinking, "Well, it may be for me; or, perhaps one day; or,
someday, perhaps it will come my way."
If you're like that today I want to challenge you with the words of Jesus and let
you know that Jesus is zeroing in upon your life and He sees you waiting by the pool of
God's blessing and power and grace.
He sees where you are. He sees the negative attitude of your own life and the way
you shrink back in fear and doubt and worry and the way you hold your self back and fail
and refuse to take the plunge into God's blessing and grace and power.
He sees it all and He wants to challenge you. He wants to touch you today with
His glorious Spirit and His Word so you will just cast away all and abandon all care and
make one desperate plunge into the power and grace and love of Jesus Christ and throw
yourself completely upon His mercy and His love. When you do, you will find the
glorious power of God there to sustain you and strengthen you and hold you up and make
life different for you.
B. The Human Excuses
When Jesus challenged this man with this question, he began to offer the kind of
excuses that come up out of a lifetime of negative thinking. I think sometimes that the
greatest enemy of the church are the so called spirit filled people who make excuses to
God and excuse themselves for just parking on the sideline and not really getting in the
main stream of the moving of God's Spirit. The greatest thing the church needs in this
hour is to cast all care to the winds so to speak and plunge in by faith into the mainstream
of the moving of God's grace and power.
1. The First Excuse – "I Have No Man!"
But his kind of attitude brings forth some excuses that sound so familiar. The first
thing he said was, "Sir I have no man. I haven't got anybody. I'm looking to some person.
I'm looking to some man to help me get in the pool. I'm depending on some personality.
Would you please show me a man that can help me to get into the water."
Oh I wish that somehow we could transfer our longing kind of faith away from
personalities and focus and zero in on Jesus of Nazareth and find the man of miracles and
power and let Him transform our lives. Amen? Oh, hallelujah! Praise the name of Jesus! I
don't have anybody. I'm depending on somebody. I'm looking to somebody else. I'm not
looking within. Long ago I gave up looking within and hoping I'd find the strength. I
have no man.
I've seen a lot of people who waited, depending upon men to elevate them and
promote them even in the work of God. That's a sad state of affairs when we as God
called ministers try to look to personalities and to men to open doors for us when after all
God is the one who calls and God is the one who empowers and God is the one who
sends forth and God is the one who stand us up and fills us with His power and Spirit.
Hallelujah! Let us look to God. Would you say Amen? Hallelujah!
2. The Second Excuse – "I'm Just Too Weak"
His next excuse was, "I'm just too weak. I can't get up." What he is really saying
is, "I'm too slow." I know what it means to be slow. I've been plagued with that kind of
thing all my life. My father used to try to encourage me about that to speed me up. He
never had much success. It was only temporary. But this man was so slow, that's the main
thing that was wrong with him, hesitating. Oh he would see the water troubled and
moving and I don't know if he saw the angel.
I don't know if they could physically see the angel or not. But all of a sudden they
saw an unusual commotion in the water and don't ask me to try to explain it because it
was God's arrangement and I don't try to explain arrangements that God has had in cases
like this. But I suppose they could see it happening and while he was sort of turning and
making up his mind and sort of trying to get up and reach out with his foot, somebody
else rushed in. And he said, "I'm just too weak. I can't make it. I don't have anybody to
3. The Third Excuse – "Another Steps in Front of Me"
The third excuse was he blamed others for his failures. Other people are too
aggressive and they're too fast and they're too quick and they're too greedy and they run
in ahead of me. There are some awful sad stories that people tell about, "If it hadn't been
for so and so," or, "If I hadn't been a little bit late," and on and on building excuses for
C. There Are No Excuses With God
I'm feeling a little bit reckless and I just may as well knock the props completely
out from under you and let you know that God has no patience putting up with our
excuses for failure. Nobody likes to hear excuses.
I was a freshman in college. I was doing so well in English and I was a pastor of a
church too. One day I walked into the class and Doctor Lowery gave a pop quiz – you
know, great profound questions like, "What's the name of Perhanser's cow?" You know
some crazy thing. Well, I hadn't read the assignment that day and I just made a flat zero.
So in a lot of dignity and with my preacher face on and everything, I walked up to
him after class and I told him my excuse. I explained that I was so busy in the pastorate
and all that I hadn't read that particular assignment and that's why I made that failure on
that pop quiz. He looked at me and his head shook like this all the time. He said, "Mr.
May, I'm just here to grade you on what you know and not on why you don't know it."
That's the day I learned more in school than any other day of my life. I learned
that you don't get promoted by making excuses. People don't hire you when you make
excuses. You go in to get a job and you tell a man all the reasons why you can't do it, do
you think he's going to hire you? Why, no.
But yet that's the way we live in our Christian experience – all the time talking to
God, making excuses to Him why we fail. We blame it on others. Or we say, "I'm looking
to some person or I'm looking for a special time or a special place or a special person or a
I hear preachers say, "Oh, if I could just get one break." Well I tell you, the one
break you can get and the one break you can have, and that is to break your will at the
altar of consecration and God will open the door of opportunity and power to you.
D. The Empowering Command
Jesus quickly moved passed all his excuses. He changed that challenging question
into a command. If you're hesitating, if you're faltering, if you're wavering, you don't
need to figure out a lot of things and you don't need to be psychoanalyzed. You just need
to go back to the Word of God and let the Holy Spirit talk to you and hear the clear-cut
command of the Lord Jesus. Oh, that will clear your mind. That will clear your head
quicker than anything else. Receive the command. The Lord Jesus said to him, "Rise,
take up your bed and walk."
He's telling him to do the physically impossible. But oh, something happened.
Listen I want to tell you, you never have to be afraid of doing anything that Jesus tells
you to do. It may seem like the impossible, but along with God's Word and along with
God's commands there comes the power and
the authority to see that it happens. Hallelujah!
If you could look deep into the Hebrew language and understand what the Word –
the Word of the Lord, when the Word of the Lord comes to the prophet – and fully
understand what that means, you would see that when God speaks the Word alo ng with it
comes the authority and the power to perform whatever the Word has said. His voice
when it speaks has authority and power. The world hears it. The universe hears it. The
animal kingdom hears it and understands it and they obey.
I read some of the Psalms today where it talks about the voice of the Lord. When
He speaks He causes the calves to be born. The animal kingdom, the material universe,
everything hears His voice because the power accompanies the Word. Jesus' command is
reaching toward us today and along with that Word comes the power to operate and stand
up in faith and respond in faith. He says, "Rise!"
Oh, here's a man that hasn't stood up in a long time. The only way he has stood up
is when he's been leaning on somebody on either side and they have propped him up.
Jesus said, "Get up!" Oh, hallelujah! I hope we hear His divine call and that somehow if
you are wallowing in some kind of self pity, somehow if you're wallowing under some
cloud of doubt and fear, somehow if you're stuck in the mud of doubt and unbelief, I hope
you hear His command to "Rise" to "Get up out of it." Rise in faith and touch God and let
Him touch you! Hallelujah! For when you start to stand to your feet, when you start to
rise, His great hand is going to meet yours and the strength will come flowing in like a
flood. Oh, hallelujah!
Then He said, "...take up your bed and walk with it." Here's a man 38 years with
his back on his bed and now he goes with his bed on his back! Which is to say to me that
every problem you have and get stuck in, if you will just listen to the command of Jesus,
you can handle it. Every burden and every load that's pushed off on you if you'll hear the
Lord's command and not pity yourself, you can rise with it and walk with it and handle it
by the grace and power of God!
I feel constrained of the Holy Ghost to urge you today, there is nothing that comes
your way but what you can handle it by the power of Jesus Christ. It doesn't matter what
your bed is, what your pallet is, you can walk with it in the name of Jesus Christ.
The Bible says, "...immediately he was made whole." I love that word
immediately because it speaks of the now! Here's a man who had lived on the verge for
so long until he could just look toward some kind of vague future-sort of fading away out
of the picture somehow. But Jesus suddenly helped him to understand that he could live
I'm saying to you in this message now that Jesus is ever present. He is here with
the challenge for your life. He is not pointing you to tomorrow or the next day or next
week. If there are high and noble things that you want to do for God, start now! If there's
praying and faith you want to do, do it now! If there's ministry of the gifts of the Spirit
that you want God to work through your life, start now! We serve the God of the here and
now. I know He's the God of the past and of the future but oh, gloriously, He's the God of
the present and immediately His touch can transform you and change you. He is the God
of the now. YOU DON'T HAVE TO LIVE ON THE VERGE ANY LONGER.
This text shows that we may be close to our miracle, but our miracle will come to pass after coming in contact with Jesus.
Thompson's Chain Reference: 1539 (Christ - Heals)
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