PRINCIPLE OF MIRACLES
The Principle of God’s Timing
By Mark E. Hardgrove, D.Min.
Text: John 5:1-15
Do any of you remember being a child? I know that for some of you it will take a good bit of effort to think back that far, but for others, like me, we still think we’re a kid. We may be bigger and older, but we’re still a kid at heart. Now I want you to remember a time in your life when you wanted something really bad—some toy, or book, or trip. With that event in your mind, here’s the question I want to ask you, When you wanted something really bad, when did you want it? If you were anything like me, you wanted it now. The problem was that if my mother was going to have to lay out a big lump of money to purchase something for me, it would take some planning. She had to decide which bills could wait, and what money she had, to buy that thing I wanted so badly.
The conflict for my mother was that I wanted it now, but she had to plan for it and if I got it, I would get it in her timing. Usually, my mother’s timing was a little uncertain. I would tell her I wanted a horse, and she would say, “Someday,” and that was all I needed to hear. Or I would say, “I want a motorcycle,” and she would say, “Someday,” and I’d let it drop. You know something, she did get us ponies, and she did get me a motorcycle, but I had to learn that someday was not determined by me, but by her. I just had to learn to trust her.
I) UNDERSTANDING GOD’S TIMING
In our text, this man had been crippled for thirty-eight years and year after year he had been coming to the pool of Bethesda (which means, “house of healing”), hoping for healing. The man came to this pool with the expectation of a miracle. No doubt he anticipated his miracle coming relatively soon after his initial arrival, but now years have passed, and still the man was infirmed. The man had been in the right place, and the man apparently had been believing in the miraculous power of God, but it simply had not been time for this man’s miracle to come.
Today I want to talk to you about the fourth principle of the miraculous, and that is the principle of God’s timing. Consider for a moment if, on this day, after years of praying and waiting for his miracle, that this man decided to stay home. What if he had been home reading a scroll on the very day when the Great Physician, Jesus Christ, was passing through the house of healing? I’ll tell you what would have happened, this man would have missed his miracle.
God has a timetable, God has a plan and we are all a part of that plan. In His omniscience, God has woven our destiny into His plan, and therefore we must learn to live in His timing and trust Him.
The Jesus' birth was according to God’s timetable. Paul writes in Galatians, “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law” (Gal 4:4, KJV). So the birth of Christ was accomplished in God’s time.
Also, the life and ministry of Jesus unfolded according to the Father’s timing. Remember, when I taught about the first miracle in John’s Gospel. Mary came to Jesus and said, “They have no wine.” Jesus said, “My hour has not yet come.” In other words, Jesus understood that His life and ministry was all part of the Father’s plan for the redemption of humanity. In the Garden Jesus prays, "Father, the hour has come."
Finally, the time of the return of Christ for His church is set by the Father. Jesus said, “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father” (Mark 13:32, KJV).
Given, then, that each of our lives are part of a larger plan, and that this plan is on a schedule, we must learn to trust God with His timing in our lives. As Americans we don’t want to wait for anything. We go to fast-food restaurants, we microwave our food, we go to ATM’s for our money, and we have self-checkout lines at the stores. We don’t want to wait; we want it now. But the Word of God tells us:
Ps 27:14 Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.
Ps 62:5 My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.
Ps 130:5 I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.
Isa 40:31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
We see the principle of God’s timing with respect to Abraham. God told him that he and his wife, Sarah, would have a son. Years passed and Sarah was well past childbearing years. It seemed to Sarah that God’s timing was a little off, so she encouraged Abraham go to her handmaiden, Hagar. Through Hagar Abraham fathered a son and named him Ishmael. But this was not the son of promise. Abraham was 100 years old. From a human perspective God’s timing didn’t make much sense. But from the perspective of heaven it would be clear that this child was a miracle, a work of God for a barren couple. God didn’t make a mistake, but God was working on His own timetable, for His own purposes, to unfold His plan. And in God’s time Isaac was born.
Another occasion when it looked like God’s timing was off was when some friends of Lazarus came to Jesus to tell Him that Lazarus was sick. One would have thought that Jesus would have jumped up right there and gone to heal His friend Lazarus. But the Bible indicates that Jesus took His time in going to where Lazarus was. In fact, by the time Jesus got there Lazarus had been dead and buried for four days. Martha is sure that Jesus has missed it. She said, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21). But then faith overcomes despair and she adds, “But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee” (John 11:22).
The truth was that Jesus’ timing could not have been better. The Jews believed that the spirit of a deceased person remained with the body for three days. After that the spirit was gone. This was the fourth day. From the Jewish perspective, there was no way Lazarus was coming back. That’s why Jesus waited for the fourth day. This would be an unmistakable, and undeniable miracle.
II) UNWAVERING FAITH IN THE "MEAN TIME"
For some of you it feels like the fourth day. It seems like and looks like it is too late into the problem for even God to do anything about it. But remember this, our God is an on time God. The Prophet Habakkuk tells us, “For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry” (Hab 2:3). In other words, it may seem like a long time in coming, but don’t give up, don’t stop looking and believing, because when the vision comes, when the miracle happens, it will not be early, and it will not be late, it will be right on time!
This man had been coming to this pool for his miracle for many years. Jesus saw him lying there and knew that the man had been in that condition for a long time. God knows. It may seem like no one knows how long you’ve been praying, how many tears you’ve cried, how close you have come to despair, and yet hoping against hope you got up on Sunday morning and came down to the church to pray and praise one more time.
Jesus looked at the man and asked him a rather obvious question. Jesus asked, “Do you want to be made well?”
The sick man had been disappointed so long. So many times he had seen the water troubled and perhaps a few times he was just half a step too slow to get his miracle. Just when he thought his dreams were about to come true, someone else got to the water first and walked away with the miracle that he had been looking for. Someone else got a promotion, someone else got the healing, some else saw their children saved.
So close and yet so far away. Some would have quit coming to pool for a healing. Some would have asked someone to prop them up next to the gate of the temple where at least they could beg for alms. But not this man. He was waiting by the pool, looking and longing for his miracle. Still, when Jesus asked him if he wanted to get healed, the man offered an excuse as to why he had not received his miracle yet. He said to Jesus, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.”
Some of you have been close, so close you could almost taste your miracle, but then it seemed to pass through your fingers before your very eyes. The enemy will try to use this to tell you that no one cares. Satan will whisper in your ear and try to tell you that you missed your chance. Or like Sarah, you will think that God isn’t going to come through so you have to take matters into your own hands. Don’t do it! Our God is an on time God!
Between the time of your need and the execution of a miracle there is something called, the “mean time.” You may not get the answer in your time, but it will come at the right time. The question you’re going to have to answer is What are you going to do in the mean time? Are you going to stop coming to “the house of healing”? Are you going to surrender your joy? Are you going to stop singing your songs? Are you going to give up and give in to depression and defeat? Or will your faith be ready when Jesus comes your way with your miracle in His hands? Will your faith remain strong and unwavering in the mean time?
III) UNLEASHING YOUR MIRACLE
Jesus said to the man, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” In other words, “This is your day, this is your time and if your faith is ready to receive, and if you will simply obey my words, then you are about to see your hopes and dreams come true.”
Jesus told the man to do something that he had been unable to do for many years. Jesus said, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” It’s time to stand. You’ve been lying there and watching others get healed, now it is time for you to get up. Then, once you’ve gotten up, pick up your bed, it used to hold you, now you’re going to carry it. They used to call you up and encourage you, they used to send you money, they used to support you in your mean time, but now it’s your time and once you get up you need to turn around and pick them up. Let your miracle become a testimony and let your life become a ministry. Finally, it’s time to walk. You don’t have to drag your lifeless limbs through the dirt any longer. You don’t have to come crawling in and out Bethesda any longer because this is your time and it’s time to rise, pick up your bed and walk.
There is something very powerful that happens right here in verse 9. Three things converge, and these same three things, as a principle, must always converge in our lives before we will see our miracles. The first thing is God’s timing. The second thing is the man’s faith. And the final thing is the man’s obedience.
Some people get discouraged because they have been believing and praying and seeking and knocking and asking for a long time, but in the mean time they give up and they no longer come to the house of healing.
They may miss their miracle because their faith was insufficient when the day of their visitation came. They may miss the miracle because they refuse to trust and obey when their time comes. They’ve allowed the mean time to bring them down and they’ve been disappointed by so-called prophets who said it would happen by such and such a time, but it didn’t.
Here is a secret of miracles, when our faith and God’s will converge at the right place and time miracles will happen. I know we want it now, but in the mean time we must continue to trust and obey. In the mean time we must continue to praise God. In the mean time we must keep on worshipping God, and we must keep on coming to the house of healing looking for our miracle.
The irony of this story is that what was the right time for this man’s miracle, was the wrong time for the religious folks who didn’t think he should be carrying his bed on the Sabbath. Sometimes it’s the religious folks who have given up and who want us to give up with them. There are religious folks who do not believe in miracles or in healing. But if they don’t want to shout, don’t hinder me. If Jesus says “Get up,” I’m not asking for permission. If Jesus says, “Pick up your bed,” I’m picking up my bed. If Jesus says, “Walk,” I’m walking. If He says, “Jump,” the only thing I’m asking is “How high?”
Remember the principle of purpose? John said that he has listed these miracles so that we would believe on the name of Jesus Christ, and that believing we would have life. Look at what Jesus said to the formerly infirmed man when He met the man later. Jesus said, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more lest a worse thing come upon you.”
There was a purpose for the miracle. There was a reason for the season in this man’s life and it was more than a healed body, it was a redeemed soul. The miracle in this man was tied to his salvation. Often the timing of a miracle in our life is tied to maximum amount of witness that can be gained, the maximum amount of people who can be touched by our miracle.
I don’t know if today is your day for your specific miracle. It may be that this is your mean time. But what I do know is that whatever you are going through, God has not forgotten you. It may seem like it’s too late. It may seem like nothing is ever going to change. It may seem like you’ve been waiting most of your life. But don’t quit now. Don’t give up or turn back because I’ve already been given this assurance, “They that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
I’ve already been promised that “at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.”
Some of you are on the brink of your miracle. God’s timetable is moving toward your need. Don’t lose hope; don’t waver in your faith. Wait for it, because it will surely come. A miracle is the convergence or your faith and obedience with God’s will and timing. For some of you, this may be your day. For others it may come on the fourth day, but in the mean time, keep on praying, keep on knocking, keep on seeking, keep on asking. The door will open, you will find and you will receive your miracle in due season.