In the Gospel of John, Chapter 5, Jesus is in Jerusalem and stops by an area called Bethesda. This particular place was of interest to Him as people with illnesses, infirmities, and other ailments visited here as they believed the water held healing powers. Specifically, they believed that whenever the water stirred, the first one to enter would be healed.
Interestingly, this place has been discovered by archeologists in the area described in John’s account. The story begins as Jesus enters the area and notices an invalid lying on his mat. We know this man was in this condition for 38 years. We don’t know at what point in his life he became this way, we just know he had suffered for a long time.
Jesus approaches him and asks what appears to be a strange question. He simply asks the man, “Do you want to get well?” The man replies, “Sir, I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. Someone always goes ahead of me.”
Next, Jesus says to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk!” Amazingly, the man does just that – he gets up and is able to walk. Later on in the story, we know this man is in the Temple telling others about this man who commanded him to walk.
At this point in the story, many focus on the issue of the Jewish leaders admonishing Jesus for healing this man on the Sabbath. At the time, there were very strict rules regarding what could and could not be done on the Sabbath.
For my purposes in sharing this, I want to focus on the miracle of the mat. This miracle goes way beyond the physical healing of this man. The real miracle was in the change of heart. Jesus recognized this man also needed a spiritual awakening.
When Jesus posed the question if the man wanted to get well, in essence, He was referring to the condition of his heart. So often, we get mired in our own filth and sin that we miss the true issue of an unrepentant heart. When we finally arrive at a place where we can see beyond our physical needs, this is where Jesus can meet us.
What is your mat that you need to pick up and move forward toward Jesus? Have you allowed your circumstances in life to keep you from a loving relationship with Him? If so, what are you waiting for? He is there with open arms!