Take Up Your Mat
The man in John 5:1-9 sat on his mat for 38 years. He did the same every day. He sat waiting, watching and hoped, but nothing happened. This was just his way of life. He was stagnant and unable to see what was already in him. He was convinced that real life is only over there in that pool. That life had to come from somewhere else, anywhere else.
The pool of Beth-zatha was known for healing powers. An angel would come down from Heaven and stir the waters. It was said that whomever was first to the waters would be healed. So the man waited.
He was living an “as soon as” life, waiting for something to happen outside of himself to live. He thought that “as soon as” the bubbles started and someone took him to the water, he could live, but only then and not before. So he waited. Stagnant.
Can I let you in on a secret? The pool of Beth-zatha was a mirage, an illusion. It was a trick to convince them that something external must happen to allow them to be healed. We have pools like that? Lies that convince us that we need something else, someone else to change us so that we can live the way God wants us to live or have what God wants us to have.
There will always be another Beth-zatha. There will always be another thing we need to wait for to have “fill in the blank”. We place ourselves in time out. We wait on the sidelines (or our mat) and do not move. We are paused. We’ve imprisoned ourselves due to our circumstances.
What does Jesus ask the man? Does he ask him what’s wrong? Does he ask him if he needs help? Not Jesus. He simply asks “Do you want to be healed?” He asked because he sees that the man is allowing himself to be imprisoned by his circumstances. And what does the man say in response? He replies with excuses and circumstances that he feels are keeping him from being healed. He blames external things, not internal ones. Is that you?
I love that Jesus doesn’t take the man to the pool himself. He comes to the man on his mat, in his circumstances, and tells the man to get up. He tells him to pick up his mat and go. He tells the man to change the circumstances, not leave them behind or stay with them, but change them. He tells him to take his mat and move it. Change how he sees it and go. He is already healed.
This is a great example of how Jesus does not always change our circumstances, but will change us and how we see our lives. Only then can we see our circumstances change because we do the work. He becomes the living water inside of us, bubbling up, providing new life.
Are you going through circumstances that feel to big or too hard for you to face on your own? Do you feel like you’re waiting on your mat? God shows us we have the power to change our circumstances. So, get up, take your mat, and WALK! You are already healed.