Then Jesus said to him, Get up! Pick up your mat and walk. At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.
Notice that the first thing Jesus says to do is what the man could not do, what he had tried for 38 years to do. On what basis does Jesus say these words to him? Somehow this man senses what that basis was. Perhaps he was thinking, If this man tells me to rise (and I cannot rise), it must mean that he intends to do something to make it possible. Thus his faith is transferred from his own efforts to Jesus: He must do it. I can’t. The man must also have reasoned somewhat along these lines, If this man is going to help me then I have got to decide to do what he tells me to do.
That is a critical clue many miss when they are looking for help from God. There is always something God tells them to believe, and do, and act on. This is a word of action. Jesus does not say, Try to build up faith in your mind. Try to fasten your thoughts on this or that. He tells them to do something: Rise! Stand up! Obviously it was Jesus’ will that this man should do what he told him to do, and the moment the man’s will agreed with the Lord’s will the power was there. I don’t know whether he felt anything or not. All I know is that strength came into his bones and into his muscles and he could stand.
Then what? The Lord did not merely say, Rise, he said, take up your pallet and walk. G. Campbell Morgan states that Jesus said this, in order to make no provision for a relapse. The man might have said to himself, I’m healed, but I had better leave my bed here; I may need it tomorrow. If he had said that, he would have been back in it the next day. But he did not. Jesus said, Take up your pallet, and the idea was to get rid of it. In those words he is saying something very important to people who need to be healed: do not make any provision to go back on what you have done. Many people fail right here. Burn your bridges behind you. Cut off any possibility of going back. Let somebody know the new stand you have taken so that he will help hold you to it. That is so important. Many individuals have been touched by God, delivered from some inner attitude, a bitter spirit or whatever, but then he has allowed the past to come back in again and he finds himself back where he was. Our Lord knows what he is talking about—take up your pallet.
And then he tells him to walk. Do not expect to be carried—walk. Many people want to be carried after they are healed. They expect everybody to gather around them and keep them going—a common area of failure. But if Jesus gives you the power to rise, Jesus is the One who can give you the power to walk every day, to keep going. That is an important thing to see—you and the Lord. Keep your eyes not on your friends or on yourself, but your eyes on him.
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Lord Jesus, I am like so many others, lying by the pool of Bethesda, waiting to be healed; trying various ways and means, hoping somebody will help. I have not yet listened to that wonderful voice that says to me in the inner heart, Rise, take up your bed, and walk. Grant that I will do so from this moment forward.
Do we want to be healed from whatever impediments limit our spiritual health and fulfillment? Are we settling for dysfunctional and unfruitful lives when Jesus calls us to get up and walk in the power of His Presence?