Ironically, not long ago I preached a sermon about how we should all hate to see an empty chair in a church. Here is the one great exception to that: An empty wheelchair!
At some point back about 11 months ago it became known as the Santa Rosa Fire; a family of God breathing believers with a from several churches with a simple passion for more of Jesus. Nobody can credit the continuing ignition of this revival in Santa Rosa to any one man or congregation.
When I agreed to return last night for the one year anniversary of this FIRE I was concerned about nostalgia. I did not want to try to recreate something Jesus did before. I told them that I did not want to “Twist Again Like We Did Last Summer.”
One thing we did revisit was the miracle of the man paralyzed 38 years who waited by the pool of Bethesda in John 5. A simple but mighty truth overcame us all. By healing the man without an angel stirring the water and by doing it on the Sabbath day Jesus destroyed two religious abuses in one fell swoop.
Satan yearns to attach a superstition to any simple truth and fog it with side issues. When form and ritual overwhelm the original goal we see silly things. The Pharisees sought loopholes and hilariously ended up working hard at resting on the Sabbath.
We can all see the modern versions of this. We all believe in angels, gold dust, feathers, soaking and even shaking under the power but it is so easy to forget Jesus Himself. When any of these acts become an end in themselves or a means to the end we lose something priceless. Jesus is the means and the end!
Miracles do the most immediate and widespread damage to Satan. This is why he labors more in this arena than any other. His constant aim is to pervert the simplicity of healing: By adding emotionalism and superstition, he able to discredit the glorious weapon of healing.
I have no illusions about the limits of my preaching. What happened next in the meeting could never be credited to oratory: Jesus came and began to heal people in the audience. It happened effortlessly and freely. Jesus prevailed over every method and approach to healing and simply removed disease.
I walked to the back of the hall and the lady in the wheelchair caught my eye. I could see the epic struggle in her heart. She strained to see all of the other healings and wanted desperately for it to be her turn.
The next time that I walked by her the struggle had subsided; she now had the look of someone simply waiting on Jesus. That faith, the miracle which only Jesus can impart began to emanate in her soul.
Back in the pulpit, I turned to survey the audience and we were all startled to see her up out of the wheelchair. Stutter steps turned into a forceful stride. After one lap she was not content with power walking so she began to run! Bedlam!