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Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” John 5:8

In order to appreciate the value of Jesus’ command, you need to consider the culture of the day. Today, although some may feel we don’t do enough, there are limited opportunities for the physically handicapped to work and lead productive lives. In Christ’s time on earth, the handicapped were outcast. They lived off handouts they could obtain from begging.

In the above instance, the man had been crippled for a long time. Probably the only possessions he had were the clothes on his back and the mat on which he lay. The mat was almost a symbol of the only hope in his life. His existence was one to be pitied. There was no known cure for what ailed him (except Jesus), and even if there had been, he certainly couldn’t have afforded it.

Jesus had sympathy for the man, and with the spoken word, the man was healed. Jesus told him to “Get up!” Take his mat and walk. Obviously, this was a gift greater than anything money could have bought.

Whenever I read this verse, this question comes to mind:

What mat am I holding on to today?

This man was holding on to his mat. It had surely become a treasured possession to him. He slept on it, rested on it, and watched the world pass by on it. He couldn’t have imagined facing the day without it. Jesus tells him to pick it up and walk. When Jesus was finished with the man, he didn’t need the mat anymore. It would take faith to trust Jesus and attempt to walk, but the victory was worth it all. Instead of a mat of hope, this man had the hope of Christ!

What would Jesus have you and I pick up today? What are you holding on to tightly as your only hope?

Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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Join the discussion 15 Comments

  • Sonia Lewis says:

    Absolutely Awesome!! Jesus once again has shown me His grace and mercy! I was on my bed of sorrows for months after the death of my Mom. Jesus said to me: Get Up!!
    I was stuck, but now delivered!
    Thank you Ron!! Thank you Jesus!

  • Tom says:

    I read the post twice and must be missing something. If the man no longer needed the mat — because his hope was now in Jesus — why would Jesus tell him to pick it up? Jesus does not want me to pick up (hang onto) my false hope. Quite the opposite, he would have me leave it behind. Appreciate your thoughts! 🙂

    • ronedmondson says:

      I'm reading the phrase “pick up your mat” not as an indication he was going to hold onto it but as he wasn't going to need it any longer. No need for a mat upon which to beg for existence. He could have total reliance on the sufficiency of Christ.

  • brandon hester says:

    Ron, my favorite part of the Gospels are that every time Jesus changed a life as such there was usually the command to also go and sin no more (v14). Being honest, we don't like to hear those types of commands sometimes because we're prone to wander and easily give in from the start to "lay back down".

    I really connected with how you said that the mat was "his life". It was all this man knew; stuck on it and tied down to it. Then he meets Jesus and the power of God that heals and commands him to TAKE UP his mat–which is his life– and now live it different way….WALKING. In other words, we are and that man was tied down in his life because of sin…. then when one meets Jesus, God's healing, and by personal obedience of faith following Jesus's command you may now walks anew still with the mat but holding onto his mat (his life) just in a different way (walking with it).

    Take up your cross and follow…Oh the power of the Gospel!

    • ronedmondson says:

      Amen. Thanks Brandon. Proud of you!

      • sara says:

        This is my exact interpretation as well. The mat represented his former life, a life where the man was stuck. Jesus’ instruction to pick it up and move into action, a new way of life was like a re birth, a shedding of the old and action into the new. Whenever I am stuck in worry I imagine Jesus instructing me to “Pick up my mat and walk” as this stirs me to ignore my senses, return inside, and draw on the infinite amount of faith and trust in Jesus to lead me to just act on whatever it is I set out to do. It is a such a powerful scripture!!! I highly recommend getting a print of this and hanging it in a place where you can see it every day!!

  • Jon says:

    "Are you drowning in your sorrow, because you refuse to completely trust God? Are you moping about the setbacks of your life, because you have failed to accept His grace? Are you suffering from the sin that has wrecked everything around you, because you won’t submit yourself to accountability? "

    This is exactly where I have been for the last several years, which has played out very poorly in my marriage. He has shown me over the last year how to trust and how to accept His grace and to be accountable for my actions and attitudes. This has caused a huge change in my life and how I approach most everything, especially my marriage.

    The one thing that I still long for is for Him to fill the hole in my heart that hurts everyday because of how my wife now views and treats me. I trust in His plan and I have faith that He wants me to stay committed to my wife and my marriage, but most days that is quite hard. I try and present to her every day the picture of a committed and loving husband. I pray that He work in her heart so that each little action penetrates deep into her heart and that she sees the love behind each word and action and not just the words and actions.

    But regardless of what happens, I know that I am doing what He wants.

  • wackywilliams says:

    thank you so much Ron! I needed this alot!! I am in the mist of some big tansions & still struggle grately to trust God to know whats best for me, & let the hurt, fear, & uncertiny evelop me sometimes. thank you so much for the heart & willingness to ecourige us walking wounded!

    • ronedmondson says:

      Thanks! I've been there many times.

      • wackywilliams says:

        I can tell! I figered out there are three types of people in generel: those that have been through hell & now want to make others go through it too, those that have been through hell & become determent to walk others through it as best as possible, those that have yet to encounter any real hardship & can't understand why some one is going through hell. you defintly strike me as the seconed, I guess you could say it takes one to know one. 🙂 thank you so much for being a light to those that are still still travling through our own personal hell, & may someone return the favour, maby I will get that chance someday, that would be a double blessing to me!! have a great one man!

  • Oleg says:

    Ron, everytime I read your blog I hear a voice of God. You don’t know me but you changed my world, I meant God changed through you.

  • Mark says:

    Ron, a big thumbs up. I needed that!