One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
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. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”
There is so much for us to learn from this short passage in John's Gospel.
I guess it was traditional for people to gather round that pool and await for the water to stir before jumping in. We are not told whether people actually got healed or not; but presumably so since people kept going there.
Jesus too went there. He obviously did not want healing. But He went there for a purpose.
He saw a lame man and learnt that he had been an invalid for years. He asked him an obvious question: Do you want to get well?
Duh ... of course, otherwise I would not be here!
But the sick man does not answer the question. He says that he cannot get to the pool on time because others more able than him jump in first; and it is only the first one in who gets healed.
So Jesus simply says: Get up! Pick up your mat and walk!
Note that this happened on the Sabbath. The day when the Jews were not allowed to work. And apparently, according to the Jewish leaders, they decided that carrying one's mat was in fact work.
Jesus could have said: Get up and walk.
He did not have to mention the mat. But had He done so, the man would have walked away unnoticed and that would have been the end of the story.
Jesus went to the pool deliberately on the Sabbath. He certainly planned to make a point of healing someone on that day to test the reactions of the people.
Rather than rejoicing and praising God for another miracle amongst their mist; and celebrating with the man who had been healed after so many years; the Jewish leaders were nit-picking and fussing about the minutiae of the law.
Aren't we like that sometimes? Each interpreting our Christian beliefs our own way and certain that we are right and therefore everyone else is wrong.
Rather than rejoicing in what unites us in faith, we argue about what divides us and sets us apart.
Would we not much rather hear Jesus say: Get up and walk. Your prejudices have been healed.