“Arise, pick up your mat, and walk”
Although we may not be physically handicapped, we are often incapacitated by other disabilities, real or imagined. The lame man in this story has been an invalid for thirty years. Other sick people linger around that pool where he stationed himself, waiting for an angel of God to stir the waters. Everybody around that pool believes that to be inside the pool at the exact time of this stirring will heal them of their various sicknesses. Within the heart of lame man is a will to be healed and not just a dream of walking.
Jesus singles him out and asks, “Do you want to get healed?” A pro-active question indeed if we consider our fast-paced times. Jesus’ question is also a challenge. His healing required an equally pro-active effort from the lame man. “Arise, pick up your mat and walk.”
Faith also requires that our wills cooperate. There are times when mere praying and waiting for the miracle to happen just isn’t it. God in his wisdom also requires that we take action – “Arise, pick up our mats, and walk.”
Often the actions we need to take are specific and directive, but we have to be careful that we take them one step at a time. Jesus pro-active list goes: rise, one step; pick up your mat, second step; and walk, third step. Remember that it has been thirty long years for the lame man. Imagine those joints and muscles finally being stretched. It could be a real effort.
Yet, Jesus’ words also carried with it a sudden strength, a deep and real encouragement for a motivation that has been with the lame man. The lame man did not even know who Jesus is. Maybe he thought this was the angel of God finally come to personally bring him healing since he couldn’t bring himself to the pool. Who knows how this angel has noticed his persistence even as he always fails, and given him a nod of approval? So instead of stirring the waters, this angel was so kind as to just heal him where he is. Of course, later, the man learned that it wasn’t an angel at all, but the Lord Jesus.
Often we look for miracles elsewhere. But Jesus is the only one who can give us what we truly need. If we have the motivation and the dream and the passion, all we need is a powerful push of confidence that can only come from the source of all good gifts.