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?
I think Jesus was telling the man to pick up his mat because he wouldn’t need it anymore. He wouldn’t need a place to beg, to worry, to suffer. He needed no more dependence on a mat. He had found the Healer!
And, I think even today – whatever you are holding on to tighter than your faith, I believe Jesus would say, “Pick up your mat and walk!”
If we aren’t careful our mats can become our hope rather than our hope being in Christ.
Our goal should be to trust Him with we trust in most. We are to allow Him to carry our burdens, strengthen our walk and brighten our future.
Jesus wants to help you – and, the best way He can do this is lead you to trust Him more. Listen for His command to pick up your mat and walk!