Afterward Jesus returned to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish holy days. Inside the city, near the Sheep Gate, was the pool of Bethesda, with five covered porches. Crowds of sick people—blind, lame, or paralyzed—lay on the porches. One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years.
When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him, “Would you like to get well?”
“I can’t, sir,” the sick man said, “for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me.”
Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!”
Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up his sleeping mat and began walking! (John 5:1-9)
One thing I focused on recently as I read through these verses was the lame man’s mat. Jesus instructed the man to pick up his mat. We discover later in the passage that by doing so the man was breaking a Sabbath rule. Moving your bed is considered work and work was prohibited. Yet, I can’t help but wonder if that mat became a symbol of praise as this healed man walked upright through life for the rest of his days.
Thirty-eight years his mobility was limited and he was confined to that mat. And then one day, he encountered Jesus and it changed his situation forever. I wonder if that mat prompted the man to whisper a prayer of thanksgiving each time he rolled it out to rest and each time he rolled it back up to walk. I wonder if that mat became a tangible item that reminded him every single day of the miracle that occurred in his life.
I love visual reminders in our faith walk like this one. I love tangible moments in my own life that remind me of the time Jesus asked me the same question, “Do you want to get well?”
When the Great Physician offers you a miracle, you don’t delay. You don’t ponder whether it’s a convenient time or whether it’s the right day of the week. You answer, yes Lord, and you pick up your mat and you walk.
Do you have mats in your life that remind you to pause and offer a prayer of thanksgiving?