Introduction 

It’s time to get up and at it – Are you up and at it for the Lord?

I can hear my dad now, yelling upstairs to me and my brother early on a Saturday or a Sunday morning, “it’s time to get up and at it!”  In other words, it was time to move!  What’s funny about this is that I remember him doing that after I could hear him moving around downstairs loudly shutting cabinet doors in the kitchen, which he would often deny ever doing.  Honestly, when I was little, I couldn’t stand to hear him yell it was time to get up and at it!  Like anybody else, I just wanted to be able to sleep for a little bit, but staying in bed all day was simply not something he would allow because to him, it was a sign of laziness.  He did not believe in staying in bed all day!

So, when I read today’s passage of scripture, I hear the Lord saying to the world that it is time to get up and at it.  I believe that in this passage of scripture (John 5:1-15), we see a microcosm of our world and I believe we also see the purpose for Jesus’ ministry.  Today, we will see Jesus has told us to rise, take up our beds, and walk.  

When Jesus tells us to rise, I believe we ought to stand up immediately, and when He tells us to walk, I believe we should do so without hesitation.  So, I want to ask this question again today — Are you up and at it?  Specifically, are you walking (moving) for the Lord?  If not, why aren’t you up and walking for the Lord?  Why are you still laying down?  This is what I want you to consider today as we move through today’s word from the Lord.

At the Pool of Bethesda

In the opening of John 5, we are introduced to a man who we are told had an infirmity for 38 years (John 5:5).  We see him lying at the pool of Bethesda along with a great multitude of others who were sick, blind, lame, and paralyzed (John 5:3).  Why were all of these impotent ones at the pool of Bethesda?

We are told that it was believed that the pool of Bethesda had healing powers.  The saying was that an angel would come down at a certain time into the pool and stir up the water, and whoever was first into the pool at that moment would be made well (John 5:4).  So, this man, who it is believed was unable to walk, along with all the other impotent ones of that great multitude would wait for the waters to be stirred up so that they could try to be the first one to jump into the pool and be healed.

Jesus visits the pool

While these people may have been impotent, let us consider that they were also important as well – especially this one certain man.  I say this because we see that Jesus made His way to the pool of Bethesda; He certainly did not go to the pool because of its perceived healing properties – Jesus did not need healing.  No, Jesus was there for all of those impotent ones, especially the certain man.

When Jesus arrived at the pool, He saw the certain man laying at the pool, and asked,  “Do you want to be made well (John 5:6)?”  The King James Version takes out the word ‘well’ and uses the word ‘whole’.  So, again, Jesus was asking this man, “Do you want to be made whole?”  This was a very interesting question for Jesus to be asking this man, right?

Again, I tell you that this is a microcosm of our world and the ministry of Jesus.  I want us to consider that the impotent multitude that was waiting at the pool of Bethesda is representative of mankind which was sick in sin, and was waiting to be healed. There are many still in our world today that are waiting at the pool of Bethesda, whether they realize it or not, to be lifted up and healed.  

Some are waiting for a sign from heaven.  Some are waiting for a great feeling or emotion to pass over them that will magically lift them up and heal them.  Others are waiting for something big to pop up in their lives that will magically lift them up and make them whole.  I tell you again, they are like those who were waiting at the pool of Bethesda for the waters to magically move.

Now, as Jesus came to all of those who were at the pool of Bethesda, I tell you that He was sent to the great multitude of mankind.  A multitude that I want you to understand was waiting to be healed and Jesus asked the multitude of mankind, “Do you want to be made well (whole)?”

Desiring to be Healed

So, why has Jesus asked this question?  Why did Jesus ask the man that question?  Let’s take a moment to examine Jesus’ reasoning for asking that question.

The defeated heart

Now, being someone that had an infirmity for the past five years, I believe I can somewhat understand how this man may have felt upon hearing that question.  After only a few days of my infirmity, I badly wanted out!  If someone had come up to me and asked me if I wanted to be made well, I would have looked at them like they were foolish!  Of course I would want to be made well!  Yet, I would tell you that when you deal with something long enough, you can grow used to being in that condition.  

Something that I am dealing with now is having to adapt back to living after receiving my transplant.  After living with my physical infirmity for the last five years, I can tell you that while I wanted and believed I would be healed, there were days where it seemed like it would never happen.  I was hopeful yet, at the same time, kind of hopeless.  So, I can only imagine how this man may have felt after living with his infirmity for 38 years.  Considering it had been 38 years, I can only imagine that this man was an older man.

We don’t know how long the man had been visiting the pool of Bethesda and waiting for the waters to be moved but scripture seems to indicate it had been quite some time.  After all, the man had a bed (or a mat) there that he would rest on.  What scripture also makes quite clear to us is that the man was highly frustrated with his visits to the pool.  We see him tell Jesus that when the waters did move he had nobody to put him in the pool and that others would jump in before him (John 5:7).  

I believe that this man felt a bit hopeless because he could never get in the pool to be healed.  Now, I don’t know if you have ever felt that way before, but it is possible for one to have hope but at the same time, hopelessly wait for something to happen.  In other words, it is easy to become hopeless while patiently sitting and waiting for something to happen for you.  This feeling, I want you to understand, is a feeling of defeat and there are many people who are waiting for something to lift them up that are defeated in their soul.  Yet, after 38 years with his infirmity and the frustration that came with it, I would say the fire (the desire) to be healed still seemed to burn in the man’s heart.

True desire

So, I believe that Jesus asked him that question for two reasons.  First reason:  to gauge whether or not this man was defeated in his heart;  Jesus wanted to see if the man truly desired to be healed.  Again, I tell you that Jesus asks that question of all of mankind today to gauge whether we are defeated in our hearts or do we desire to be healed.  

Everybody is in need of healing but some of us don’t truly desire to be healed.  We either hopelessly wait for something that we don’t truly believe will happen or some of us just love sitting and waiting poolside.  You see, some folks love going and sitting down by the pool.  To speak spiritually and not metaphorically – some love living in their sin and they do not desire to be healed!

The second reason Jesus asked the man if he wanted to be made well was because He wanted to see if this man would take his eyes off the pool and turn his attention (his heart) to Him.  Let us remember that the man and all of the other impotent ones would focus intently on the pool to see if the waters would move.  So, could the man give up his hope in that magic for the true healing touch of certainty from Christ?  Jesus did not need that pool and was not going to put him in that pool!  According to the desire of his heart, Jesus was going to either heal that man in that moment or move on.

You see, I believe Jesus desires to see if we truly desire Him or will we continue to desire everything but Him?  He desires to see if we will take our attention off of those things and turn our attention to the one who truly can make us feel better!  I truly believe that the Lord does not want us to walk around in our infirmities.  So, again I must ask, does your heart truly desire the Lord?  Do you truly desire to be made whole?

Rise up and walk

I believe that Jesus determined that this man truly desired in his heart to be healed of his infirmity.  Jesus tells the man, “Rise, take up your bed and walk (John 5:8).”  Notice that Jesus didn’t even lay hands on the man!  Jesus simply said the word.

Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked.

And that day was the Sabbath.

KEY VERSE – JOHN 5:8-9 NKJV

This was a man who had been waiting by the pool to be healed for some time and Jesus was telling the man who could not walk to now rise and walk.  Pay very close attention to the fact that the moment the man took his eyes off the pool and turned his attention (his heart) to Jesus, he was immediately healed and made whole (John 5:9).  I believed he jumped to his feet in that moment!  He then took up his bed and walked!  He no longer needed that bed to lay in poolside because he no longer needed the supposed magic of the pool to heal him!  That spot was no longer his resting place!

Now, something that I want you to understand about his healing was that this healing was not just physical but was also spiritual.  I say this because we see Jesus say to the man later, “You have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you (John 5:14).”  In this microcosm, we see that Jesus did not come to the world just to heal us physically but to heal us spiritually as well.  

To those whose heart desires to be made whole by Him, Jesus will heal instantly in that moment!  In that moment, Jesus will tell us that it is time to get up and at it!  Get up and sin no more is what Jesus says to us because He has come and healed us from our sins – our spiritual infirmities!  As it was time for the man to get up and do something productive, it is time for us who have been healed to get up and get to work — do something that is productive!

Up and at It

When we turn our attention to the Lord and are healed, you should feel compelled in your soul to jump to your feet, take up your bed, and walk – get up and at it for the Lord.  Let us not do as I do nowadays when my alarm goes off in the morning and lay in bed for a while.  I want you to notice, again, that the man did not hesitate to get moving when Jesus told him to walk.  When the Lord tells us to rise and walk, let us not hesitate to do so!

Why does the Lord heal?

Do you believe Jesus healed the man so that he could continue to lay at the pool and do nothing?  Absolutely not.  So, for what purpose did Jesus heal the man of his infirmity?  For what purpose has Jesus healed us of our infirmities?  We have seen that Jesus healed him because the man turned his attention to Jesus and truly desired to be healed in his heart of his infirmity.

Yet, there is another very important reason as to why Jesus healed the man.  There is a specific reason told him to walk instead of continue lying there.  You see, this man was to be a testimony – a living testimony – of God, His grace and power.  We are told on the day that he was healed, that the healed man went and told the Jews that it was Jesus that healed him (John 5:15).  What this means is that the man walked – he moved – and testified of what Jesus had done for him.  So, I would ask you this:  When the Lord healed you of your infirmities – physically and spiritually – did you take up your bed and walk?

Why do you suppose Jesus said to us, “Rise, take up your beds and walk?”  You see, Jesus said that to us for the same exact reason that He told the healed man in our text for today.  Jesus has healed us of our infirmities so that we can be a testimony to all of those around us – those we know and even those that we do not know!  We are to be a living testimony to both saints and sinners!

We must understand that while we have turned our focus to the Lord, there is still a great multitude that is waiting poolside for help.  Our testimony is something that can help them; it is something that can lift them up and encourage them to focus in on the certain and true healer that is our Lord, Jesus Christ!  Instead of them listening to lore and to other beliefs, we can testify of the truth of what God has done for us!

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul wrote that the things which happened to him actually worked for the furtherance of the gospel (Phil. 1:12).  All that we have gone through in our afflictions and our infirmities, I tell you that they have worked for the furtherance of the gospel.  We are able to minister the gospel of Christ through our testimonies and our testifying of all that God has done for us is very powerful and useful.

Hindered from walking

Unfortunately, something that happens to us when we get up and at it for the Lord is that we often face attempts to hinder us in our walk.  Just take a look at what happened to the man who was healed as soon as he got up and started walking with his bed.

Scripture tells us that the religious leaders approached the man that was healed and said to him, “It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed (John 5:10).”  Again, they said this to a man who had just been healed!  There should have been great rejoicing at this man’s healing but these religious leaders are essentially accusing this man of sinning after he had been told by the Lord to do exactly what he was doing!  Let us understand that they were trying to deter him in his walk for the Lord.

I tell you today that there are many who will attempt to deter you from getting up and walking for the Lord.  Some of those that will try to deter you in your walk will be some of those still sitting poolside waiting.  You see, some enjoy their time at the pool; they are there first thing in the morning!  You have heard me say it before, there is a great multitude in our world that is happy and content with living in sin.  Being sick – spiritually – does not seem to bother them as they continue to live by the hopes and wishes of the world.  

So they believe you’re ruining their enjoyment of sitting at the pool with your getting up, moving around, and testifying!  So, they set rules and say to you what you can and what you cannot do by the pool.  Walking and running for the Lord is frowned upon at the pool (in the world).  I tell you today that we cannot let our walk and testimony of the Lord be hindered.

Our response should be just like that of the man who was healed.  He responded to those that would hinder him, “He who made me well said to me, ‘Take up your bed and walk (John 5:11).’ ”  Jesus was the one who made him well and He is the one who made all of us that turned to Him well.  So, to anyone who would attempt to deter me on my journey of faith, I say to them, He who made me well told me to rise, take up my bed, and walk.  Will you get up and at it for the Lord?

Thought: Time to Get Up and at It

By Rev. Leo H. McCrary II – October 10, 2021
Responsive Reading – John 5:1-15
Key Verse – John 5:8-9