John 5:12-13 They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place.
I often think of a funny experience I had shortly after my conversion. My wife Parris and I had moved to Fresno, California to attend Bible school. I worked in the receiving department at Kmart unloading the merchandize from semi-trucks. The manager of the ready to wear department was an elder at the local Kingdom Hall (Jehovah Witnesses). He had heard about my Christian testimony and asked to have lunch with me one day. Now this man was well versed in the scriptures and I was a recently converted pot head. Of course I was no match for him in discussing theology but I had one think this elder never had; I had a testimony. Like the man in today’s Bible verse, I didn’t know much about the word of God but something had happened to me. I can remember the stunned look on the Jehovah Witness’s face when I told him of my God encounter and my deliverance from substance abuse. He really had nothing to say. The Pharisees obviously knew the scriptures more than the paralytic but they could not refute his testimony. Even though he had no way to articulate what had happened, something had happened and that was all that mattered. Here is how Charles Spurgeon describes this passage.
“We must not hastily condemn men for lack of knowledge; but where we can see the faith which saves the soul, we must believe that salvation has been bestowed. The Holy Spirit makes men penitents long before he makes them divines; and he who believes what he knows, shall soon know more clearly what he believes. Ignorance is, however, an evil; for this poor man was much tantalized by the Pharisees, and was quite unable to cope with them. It is good to be able to answer gainsayers; but we cannot do so if we know not the Lord Jesus clearly and with understanding. The cure of his ignorance, however, soon followed the cure of his infirmity, for he was visited by the Lord in the temple; and after that gracious manifestation, he was found testifying that it was Jesus who had made him whole. Lord, if thou hast saved me, show me thyself, that I may declare thee to the sons of men.”
I love that quote, “the Holy Spirit makes men penitents long before He makes them divines”. Thankfully, the touch of God that changes our lives creates a hunger in us to search the scriptures. Today, I could argue more forcefully from the scripture and explain what had happened to me but the testimony remains the same. I was blind but now I see, I was bound but now I’m free, His amazing grace has set me free.