“Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew Beth-zatha, which has five porticoes. In these lay many invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.” Jesus said to him, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.” At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk.” (John 5:2-9a)

The man who had been ill for 38 years evidently had a story that there was only enough power in the stirred-up pool to heal one person and one only, and - since he never got there first - there was no healing for him!  Then Jesus came along and healed him by commanding him to stand up, take his mat with him, and walk - without the pool being involved at all.

It is easy to relate to this man, because we often have our own stories that hold us back from participating in the healing that God wants to offer us, whether that be a physical, emotional, or spiritual healing, the healing of a relationship, or making a change that could dramatically improve our lives.

“I don’t need help from anyone else.  I’m fine.”
“I don’t have the money.”
“Counseling is for people who are really messed up, not me!”
“The Church is full of hypocrites, and they just want your money.”
“I’m too old to change at this point in my life.”
“This is my cross to carry.  I must grin and bear it.”
“Jesus could never forgive me.  I am not worthy of God’s love.”
“I’ve always been this way.”
“This is as good as it gets, I’m afraid.”
“This is the only kind of work I know how to do.”
(Add your favorite story that you tell yourself here:  ___________________)

Meanwhile, God shows up and says, in one way or another, “Do you want to be made well?”  And then the Spirit invites us to take some kind of action, so that we will participate in the healing process.  I don’t know too many people who get “zapped” and healed by God.  There are occurrences that may seem to be 100% God and 0% us, but usually, if you look closer, someone has embraced some form of “Stand up, take your mat and walk.”  Or, in the alternative, friends of that person have been praying and stepping into action.  (See Mark 2:1-12 for a great story of this, though presumably the paralytic on the mat consented to his four friends bringing him to Jesus.)

From what do you want to be healed today?  Something physical?  Something emotional?  Something spiritual?  Are you in a relationship that needs to be healed?  Are you stuck in some way that is deadening your life, and you need to make a move?

What would “standing up” look like for you?  What one step can you take today that would be the equivalent of you rising up to embrace the healing power of God?

Jesus says to you and to me, “Do you want to be healed?”