Get Off Your Mat!

From John 5:1-14a

Jesus went to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish religious holidays.  Once inside the city, near the Sheep Gate was the Bethesda Pool. It was well known for the sick (blind, lame, paralyzed, etc.) to lay around the pool on the platforms to wait for a certain movement of the water caused by an angel of the Lord agitating the water. Seeing a certain movement of the water, the first person to step down into it was healed. Jesus came in and stood by the pool of Bethesda. One of the men lying there had been sick for 38 years and Jesus noticed him. Jesus asked him, “do you want to get well?” The man answered, “Sir, I have no one to put me in the pool when the water is stirred up.” Jesus told him, “Get up, pick up your mat, and walk.” Right away, the man was miraculously healed. He picked up his mat and started to walk. This happened on the Sabbath, so the Jews told the man, it is against the law to pick up your mat on the Sabbath. The man replied, “the man who healed me told me to.” “Who was the man?” the Jews asked. But the man who was healed did not know. By this time, Jesus had slipped away. Later, Jesus found the man in the temple. Jesus said to him, “See, you are healed. Do not sin anymore.” …

The Bible does not specifically say what this man’s sickness was … it could have been a physical weakness or ailment, a lack of strength, a moral weakness or failing.  But what we do know is that he had been on that mat laying outside the pool for 38 years. Again, we are talking 38 years just wanting to get inside of that pool for healing but never making it.  What was holding him back? 

We can speculate but the real question is do we do the same thing today?  Do we have our own personal mat that we hang onto and never leave?  We all have had our own personal mat.  They can come in different shapes, sizes, and colors.  These mats are our own personal hurts, habits, addictions, etc.  What is keeping you from getting off your mat? Are you scared or afraid God will NOT help?

You see … this offer from Jesus is meant for you also.  Jesus is asking … do you <insert your name> want to get well?  This sick man was there 38 years, how long have you been on your mat?  Even 38 days seems long especially when your answer is right in front of you calling you by name. Are you ready?

Okay, confession time here.  I stayed on my mat for over 30 years.  I bet even close to those 38 years that this sick man experienced. All because I held onto a sexual addiction that I clung onto and was afraid I could not beat.  Well, the thing is … I did NOT have to beat it.  That is why Jesus died for us in the first place. It was not until I quit trying to get off my mat but instead focused on our Father in heaven did changes truly take place.  It is not about jumping off your mat.  It is about grabbing the hand of Jesus to pull you off your mat. You see, we can NOT do it.  It must be our desire for Christ that pulls us off.

Please understand that getting off your mat will come with a cost.  There is a lot of discipline, healing and changes in your life that getting off your mat will require. Yes, it can be easier to stay on your mat and just blame people from your past.  But getting off the mat will take you to places you have never been or had a vision for. So, what is your decision?  Are you going to continue camping on your mat -or- is it time to reach for the hand of Jesus to lead you off your mat?  The decision is yours.

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