Pick up your mat!
“After this, a Jewish festival took place, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. By the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem there is a pool, called Bethesda in Hebrew, which has five colonnades. Within these lay a large number of the sick — blind, lame, and paralyzed — waiting for the moving of the water, because an angel would go down into the pool from time to time and stir up the water. Then the first one who got in after the water was stirred up recovered from whatever ailment he had.
When Jesus saw him lying there and knew he had already been there a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to get well? ” “Sir,” the sick man answered, “I don’t have a man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I’m coming, someone goes down ahead of me.” “Get up,” Jesus told him, “pick up your mat and walk! ””
John 5:1-4, 6-8 HCSB
“Do you want to get well?”
Why did Jesus ask this question? Wasn’t it obvious to him that the man needed healing? He had been in this state for 38 years! Then why? Why did Jesus ask this question?
Was it possible that this man had become comfortable in his misery? It is possible you know. We can be in a miserable circumstance for so long that we can get comfortable there. This man had been laying there for 38 years and people visiting the temple in Jerusalem possibly gave these handicapped food and money. They didn’t have to work and it’s easy to go, “I’m fed, I know I have a place to sleep, this is good.” People get comfortable in their misery and sometimes afraid of change.
If this man were healed and moved out of there, he’d have to get a job, find a place to live, find his place in the community. Those are a lot of challenges. Poverty can become familiar, sickness can become comfortable, bondage ...can become comfortable. At a local homeless shelter that I visit, as wonderful as it is that they provide food and shelter to the deprived, there is another step they take. And that is equipping the homeless with the resources needed to find a job. So that their place in the homeless shelter is just temporary and doesn’t become residence. This would get them back on their own feet.
Jesus, was also trying to get this man back on his feet, figuratively and literally speaking. So the reason Jesus asked him this question “do you want to get well?” was because He knew there needed to be healing on the inside of this man before He could heal the outside. Healing his physical deformity wasn’t the only aim Jesus had here. We tend to think about the end product - the healing. Jesus was concerned about this mans illness BUT he is also concerned about the process of moving forward for this man and enabling him to live in FREEDOM.
I am guilty of getting comfortable in misery. If you’re familiar with my story you know that I was diagnosed with postpartum depression after the birth of my baby. It went beyond just blues to chronic depression. And there were many days where I would pull the covers over me and stay in my dark room. Some of these were enforced by illness. But other days it was fear that kept me there, uncertainty of the future and what was out there.
“Pick up your mat and walk!”
Why did Jesus ask him to“pick up his mat?” Because He didn’t want the mat to be under the man anymore as a crutch. We can get prayed over and get healed, but we have to pick up our mat ourselves and walk. The church, family or friends cannot do it for us. Jesus, will not do it for us. Don’t get me wrong Jesus certainly has compassion for us, He will heal us, but He wanted this man to move forward in life and not remain where he was. It would have been very easy for the man at Bethesda to stay there by the pool, on his mat, and continue receiving whatever people were giving him, and he would never have to work or step out of this place.
God wanted me to do the same. During my illness, He impressed upon on my heart that I needed to get up from my bed, step out and share my story. But I was afraid, of people, what they would say, fear that I wouldn’t be able to do it. Proverbs 29:25, AMP “the fear of man is a snare”. A trap.
God wanted me to be intentional about it. Fear is natural. But we have to trust that God is with us and step out!
Jesus did his part, now he needs us to pick up and walk! He asked me to share my story. He asked me to start helping others. He started to deal with stuff within my heart. I used to speak negative over the circumstances in my life. Instead, I had to be intentional. I started to speak life-giving scripture over my circumstances.
What circumstances have you spoken things that should not have been said? We may say it out of frustration. But have you rectified that statement? If not. Start doing it now. Speak out life. Be intentional about it. Watch God change things around. With my tongue I have spoken ill over myself and now the same tongue has been turned around by God to declare His word over me, over everything I see.
Do you want God to come into your life and set you free? - from physical bondage, spiritual bondage, emotional bondage. Do you want to be used by God? Do you want to be a conduit of hope to others? Then pull that mat out from underneath you and rise up and walk into your healing, walk into your purpose.
“Do you want to get well.....Get up....pick up your mat and walk”