For the man was above forty years old, on whom this miracle of healing was showed.
The words of the text indicate that there was one fact which contributed greatly to sustain the miraculous character of the healing act that had been wrought. We might interpolate between this verse and the preceding - there could be no manner of doubt that this work was of God, "for the man," etc. We instantly recognize the force of the reasoning. When a man has suffered for forty years from physical deformity or rigidity and is restored in a moment, there is obviously some supernatural power brought into exercise. Long continuance in such a case immensely aggravates the difficulty and enhances the virtue of the cure. In this, as in so many other respects, the moral world answers to the material.
I. IN THE EARLIER YEARS THE SOUL IS RESPONSIVE TO THE TOUCH OF TRUTH. As God made us, and before we are acted upon and injured by the forces of evil, we are impressionable and flexible of soul. The mind is eager to learn and ready to receive; the conscience is quick to approve or to rebuke; the heart is tender and affectionate, readily responsive to goodness and to love; the soul is appreciative of that which is spiritually fair and beautiful; the will is open to change if cause be shown for reformation and return. This is the time when moral maladies can best be cured, when we may well hope that the heart will be healed of its sicknesses, and that the spirit will "be made whole" by the great Physician.
II. CONTINUANCE. IN SIN INDURATES THE SOUL. When a human soul has continued for forty years in an evil habit or in a state of sin, it has become hardened in its way. Conscious wrongdoing acts harmfully on every faculty of our nature.
1. It blinds "the eyes of the understanding."
2. It hardens the heart.
3. It weakens and blunts the conscience so that its stroke is decreasingly effective.
4. It stiffens and fixes the will in its chosen course. Thus it makes the man himself unapproachable, unimpressionable, incurable. They who are passing on from youth and young manhood into middle life, not having entered the kingdom of God, have urgent need to "consider their ways." They are reaching the moral condition in which their conversion to God is a thing of greatest difficulty and serious unlikelihood. In the Book of Life, if their name should be recorded, will it not be added, as a proof of the wonder-working power of the Spirit of God, "for the man was forty years old," etc.? Remember that
(1) salvation is never impossible: at twice forty years of age it is within the reach of penitence and faith; but
(2) it becomes growingly unlikely as the periods of human life pass by. The Holy Ghost saith, "To-day." - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: For the man was above forty years old, on whom this miracle of healing was shewed.