Take Up Your Mat and Walk

Sun, Sep 25, 2022
Teacher: Mark Hull
Passage: John 5:1-14
Duration:28 mins 3 secs

Message text


John 5:1-14

As we look at our world today, we realize that many people carry incredible burdens. Hearts are broken from disappointments and betrayal. Stress, loneliness, and anxiety are rampant. Addiction to alcohol and drugs is at an all-time high.

Something is desperately wrong, and the term that comes to mind when I try to describe it is "dis-ease." Not disease, but "dis-ease," meaning "without ease," without peace - mentally, emotionally, spiritually and even physically.

Even people who are supposed to have their act together are dis-eased. You see, we’re not perfect. In some ways we're all dis-eased. And some are here hoping to hear something to bring about the healing of their dis-ease.

If that describes you – I have good news and, maybe, bad news. The good news is that, on many occasions in His earthly ministry, Jesus sought out broken, messed-up, dis-eased men and women and healed them.

But the bad news - maybe - is that Jesus didn't always do things the way people expected Him to, including healing. Sometimes Jesus' healing was painful because it required people to face truth about themselves that people just don't like to face.

This morning we're going to look at one of those kinds of healings because I think the lessons we will learn from it can be of help to us today.


Our scripture text is John 5:1-14, and it talks about Jesus healing a man who had been an invalid for a long time. And as we look at it, I want us to consider some questions that arise.

verses 2 and 3 of our text tell us, “2Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, [a]Bethesda, having five porches. 

3In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, [b]paralyzed, [c]waiting for the moving of the water.

Question #1 – “Why are these people here? What are they hoping to find at this pool?”

Vs’s 5 and 6 tell us, “5Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. 6When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”

Question #2 – “Why would Jesus ask him that?” It seems like a strange question to ask an invalid.

But it gets even stranger because the sick man answered in verse 7, “The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me..”

Did you notice? Jesus asks him if he wants to get well and the man doesn't answer the question! Instead, he complains about having no one to help him get into the water.

Notice Jesus' response. Jesus ignored his complaint. Instead, “Jesus said to him in verses 8 and 9, ‘“Rise, take up your bed and walk.” 9And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked.

And that day was the Sabbath.

Thirty-eight years of helplessness gone just like that –

and after only 8 words from Jesus' mouth!

But 4 of those words - "Pick up your mat" - are puzzling.

I mean, is one extra mat left lying on the porch among so many sick people important?

“Why did Jesus tell him to pick up his mat?”

That's Question #3.

Let's continue. Vs’s 9-10 tell us, “10The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, “It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed.”

11He answered them, “He who made me well said to me, ‘Take up your bed and walk.’ ”

That's because, in their opinion, carrying a mat was work and God had commanded "no work" on the Sabbath.

“But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, 'Pick up your mat and walk.’ So they asked him, ‘Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?’

Verse 13 13But the one who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a multitude being in that place. 

Now, isn't that kind of odd, also?

The man who was healed had no idea who had done it.

He didn't even know Jesus' name.

But Jesus knew him. From the hundreds of men and women in need of healing, Jesus had singled him out.

Question #4 – “Why? What was so special about this man?”

Listen to vs. 14, “Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, ‘See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.’”

Oh! Jesus did know him well enough to seek him out a second time and give him a very stern warning. It's almost like there's some unfinished business that Jesus needs to take care of in this miracle of healing.

Question #5 – “Why did Jesus deliver such a warning to this man?”

Ok, let's summarize where we are. There are a lot of sick people lying on 5 covered walkways that overlook a pool, and we want to know why they are there.

Jesus comes to just one man - and we want to know why this man - and asks him what seems to be a ridiculous question: "Do you want to get well" - and we want to know why He asked that question.

Then, after a strange dialogue in which the man complains and Jesus just ignores his complaint, the man is healed.

Jesus tells him to get up and walk, and to take his bed with him - and we want to know why.

Finally, after the fuss from the religious authorities dies down, Jesus finds him one more time to deliver a warning - and we want to know why Jesus did that.

By the way, just a tip here on studying the Bible. When you read a passage and things strike you as a little odd, it's good to ask these kinds of questions. More often than not, the really important lessons are found in the answers.


And I believe that's true in this case, too.

There are lessons to learn about healing and wellness that come from God. So, let's work back through these questions and see what the answers teach us.

Let's start with the last question first.

“What's the significance of Jesus seeking out the man after the healing and warning him, ‘Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you’?”

By the way, do you realize that in all the miracles of healing that Jesus did, I believe that this is the only one where Jesus warns the one who was healed to stop sinning?

I think there's only one answer that makes sense, and it helps us understand what may have been this man's trouble all along. he

Was he involved in some sin that had at least a part in causing him to lie helpless for 38 years?

We don't know what kind of sin it was. But the lessons we need to learn are clear.

Lesson #1. Sin can cause much of our "dis-ease" - mentally, emotionally, and even physically.

Now, obviously, there are other reasons for actual disease that range anywhere from germs to genetics.

But sometimes dis-ease is caused by sin.

In fact, there is an area of medical science that has been developed in the past 40 years that seems to support this idea. It's called Psycho-neuro-immunology or "PNI" for short. The basic idea is that the ways people think, feel, and behave can have profound effects on the body, including its ability to fight disease.

And the Bible states this principle in Galatians 6:7-8.

 “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked.

 A man reaps what he sows.

The one who sows to please his sinful nature (i.e. - the one who thinks he can ignore what God says about right and wrong),

"from that nature will reap destruction (i.e. - injury, hurt, damage, heartache, sorrow and/or death);

The one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life (and that includes peace, love, joy, good things that keep us whole).”

Let me ask, “Are you doing what you know in your heart you shouldn't be doing - and could that be a source of the dis-ease in your life?”

I can't answer that question, but God can.

If you're struggling, it would be worth asking God if your sin is the cause of dis-ease in your life - just as it was for the man who was lying there at the pool.

That brings us to another question we brought up earlier:

 “Why are all these people here?”

Very simply, in that day people believed that, on occasion, an angel would come and stir the water, and that the first one into the pool after that happened would be healed.

Bible scholars describe the typical scene this way:

"Suddenly, the waters of the pool begin to bubble… and chaos breaks out. Every ailing person there is in competition with the rest of the multitude who are also hoping for a healing.

“Can you imagine the pushing, shoving, and tripping that takes place? What a pathetic sight, to see people crawling, hopping, rolling, clawing their way to the water's edge. What chaos there would be!

"And even if one person was healed…

it would not be the most disabled person because one with the least disability would be most likely to reach the pool first."

That's the situation this man found himself in time and time again. Whenever the water stirred, someone else always got in ahead of him.

Can you see his hopelessness?

1st of all, his problem was probably a personally INWARD problem.

2nd, his solution for healing didn't really work .

3rd, he would never be the first one into the water, anyway.

That's Lesson #2. Our solutions for "healing" don't work.

In one sense, a lot of us do exactly what he was doing.

Not only do we overlook the possibility that sin might be the cause, we try to figure out our own system to get relief.

For instance, at some point in many marriages, couples begin to sense a "dis-ease" in their relationship.

So, to find relief, some people have never felt good about who they are, so they try to build a system to prop themselves up. They work like crazy to make themselves "successful."

Or they pursue making money passionately, only to discover, as the Bible says, that kind of love is the root of all sorts of evil.

Do you see the point?

Our solutions for healing often turn out to be more pathetic than the dis-ease. And that was certainly true of this man!

That's why Jesus ignored his complaint.

Jesus didn't say, "Don't worry, I'll help you get into the pool first the next time the water is stirred up."

He didn't say that because Jesus isn't interested in endorsing our faulty solutions.

He'd rather shoot straight with us just like he did with this man: "Look, do you want to lie here for the rest of your life? Or, do you want to get well? If you want to get well, ‘Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.’"

That's Lesson #3. Only Christ has the cure for the dis-ease of sin. What we need to cure the mental, emotional and sometimes physical symptoms that drag so many down is forgiveness of sin and freedom from it's power that's offered in Christ.

How do we get that?

We do exactly what the man at the pool did.

We take Jesus at His word. He says, "Get up! Pick up your mat, and walk" and we do it.

We put our faith in Him.

Today we can take all of our sin - past, present and future - and give it to Him.

"Jesus, I confess that I'm a sinner. I believe that you died for me - to pay for my sin. I'm totally dependent on you." There is no other solution for our problems.

Lesson #4 - We must quit what we have been doing wrong!

This is what Jesus was implying when He told the man to “Pick up your mat.”

Remember he didn't just say, "Get up and walk."

He said, "Get up! Start walking and take your mat with you."

In other words, "Burn your bridges. Don't even think of going back. Get up and walk and take your mat with you."

In those words He is saying something very important to people who need to be healed of the dis-ease of sin:

"Give up your sin.

Pour out the alcohol! Get rid of the drugs!

Get rid of the pornography.

Say ‘No!’ to and GET RID OF the “so called” friends who lure you into evil."


THAT lesson is important and here's why:

Some have turned to Christ as their only hope for forgiveness, and their hearts were lifted for a time.

But they never really left their old life.

In effect, they just added Jesus in as one of many options for dealing with their dis-ease.

They admit, that He is  the best option

but they still return to the old ways.

They take their mat and go back to the poolside.

And once again their hearts are filled with hopelessness,

just like they were before Christ healed them.

That's the final lesson in this story.

The "dis-ease" can return.

That's why Jesus went to the temple and said to the man,

"Look, you've been healed. But quit your sinning or your condition will be worse than it was before."

Jesus once explained it this way, in Matthew 12:43-45

"When an evil spirit leaves a person, it goes into the desert, seeking rest but finding none. Then it says, 'I will return to the person I came from.'

"So it returns and finds its former home empty, swept, and clean. Then the spirit finds seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they all enter the person and live there. And so that person is worse off than before.”

If we don't forsake our sin and allow ourselves to be filled with God's Spirit, we'll be empty and a prime target for evil to sink its teeth into us with even greater force.

I think that is what has happened to some people.

They were set free from sin's power and dominion when they came to Christ, but they allowed themselves to get a little too cozy with it and now they're overwhelmed once again.

Fortunately, healing is still available by coming back to Jesus, and heeding His words.

Now, let's bring this to a close. We've answered all of the questions that we raised earlier except for one:

 “Why did Jesus choose this particular individual instead of someone else?”

There's no answer for that one.

He just did.

And He offers this same invitation today.

Do you want to be well?

Do you want to have power to overcome the sin in your life?

 Do you want to find the peace and joy that Jesus offers?

You have to choose, just like this guy at the pool had to choose.

2 Chronicles 7:14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 

Acts 3:19 Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, 

Mark 16:16 tells us that Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

This morning will you choose to “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk”?

Sermon Contributor: Melvin Newland


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