Breakthrough Timing!, part 1

The Lord’s interaction with the lame man in John 5: 1-16 illustrates how the Lord brings breakthrough into our lives in all areas, not just the healing listed there, so I’d like to share about it.

I’m talking about breaking through hopelessness and frustration and into a fulfilment of what’s on our heart. You know the frustration – where everything you do seems not to be blessed (and even thwarted), and you wonder if the path you have been on which you thought was God has been self-deception, or just for a season, or sin and error – you really don’t know for sure.

Such was the case of the man who had been lame 38 years. The situation was that an angel came at various times to stir the waters, and then the first person down into the water would get healed. The man desperately wanted to get down to the pool, but he had no one to help him, so someone beat him to the fulfilment of his dream and goal every time. Sound familiar?

Timing – This man was hoping that God would arrange the timing of his life so that several things would come together all at once. He was hoping a mixture of faith and the right circumstances brought about by God partnering with him would bring his answer. In his case that the pool would be stirred and at the same time someone would come along to help him down into the water before anyone else, and then he would be healed.

Verse 6 says “When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he said to him, Do you want to be made whole?”

This healing, and the larger principle taught here, has to do with the mercy and grace of our Lord and not this man’s faith.

(1) That is the first thing to remember, to look to the Lord and his mercy and grace to help in time of need. In the final analysis it will still be his grace, not our efforts that bring about our answer. He sees you there and knows you’ve been a long time in that condition, and he offers help. Once Jesus shows up, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in that condition.

The question – Jesus asked, “Do you want to be made whole? It sounds like a stupid question to a man who hasn’t walked in 38 years, doesn’t it? And that’s the situation in our lives too; of course I want to be made whole in whatever area – healed, prospered, fulfilled dream, business, etc. If the answer is obvious, why did Jesus ask it, and why does he ask it of us today?

(2) This is the 2nd thing to understand, Jesus asked the question to focus the man’s attention back to his desire. The man could have answered Jesus sarcastically: “Why do you think I’m here?” Instead, he humbly answered it as best as he knew. We stumble over the humility and child-like faith required of our answer.

In the midst of our “lameness” in a situation, especially if we have been in that condition some time or are exhausted from our efforts, the Lord will cause us to focus on that desire once again. We must respond to his voice in humility, going back to square one, to refocus our attention on him, laying aside all the distractions around us. Verse 3 tells us there were “a great multitude of lame, blind, and maimed people waiting for the waters to stir”. Jesus asked this man to focus on him and answer the question, thus once again clearly defining it in his mind.

We tend to get lost in the stress of what’s happening to us, so we complain, stating the problem to the Lord rather than our desire. Jesus helped the man focus on the essential goal, stripping away the distractions around him just to look into the face of Jesus. Focus on the Lord, not the problems.

The answer – The answer this man gave reveals his limited thinking. He has only one way he thinks God will come through for him: “Sir, I have no man, when the water is stirred up, to put me into the pool; but while I am coming another steps down before me.” He wanted healed, but he only saw the answer through the information he had already. Everything in life had told him the order of events was that an angel would come, then some stranger would help him into the pool, then he’d be healed. He could not think outside of his life experience and education to consider the answer might be through a way he had never thought.

Thwarted efforts – This man tried to bring about his healing as best as he understood he could, but was thwarted by others – someone else always seemed to get the blessing first.

It’s like a business person just on the edge of closing a deal, and then someone else gets it. It’s like someone’s prayers for a family member almost gets answered, and then something happens to cause it to not happen. The man had been dealing with this frustration 38 years, and at some point earlier perhaps even wondered if the Lord really wanted to heal him, yet his desire to be healed remained.

Your way or his way? – (3) So this is the 3rd point: This man could only see his fulfilment coming by a way he could think of. We must lay aside our thoughts about how we think such and such would play out and consider that the Lord may have a way outside our life and educational experience. Lay out for the Lord how you thought it would happen, but then go back to the start and just answer the question, stating the desire of your heart.

As we do #2, focus on Jesus and the basic question of “Do you want to be made whole?”, we must let every pre-conceived idea fall to the wayside to be consumed with Jesus standing before us, asking us to break it down to that one question – do you want wholeness?


*Bishop Sunny Emmanuel is a Senior Pastor with Christian Faith Centre International, Tilburg (Holland). He may be reached on