Rise, Take Up Your Bed and Walk!
Jesus’ healing miracles related in the gospels are true happenings of physical healing, but they also picture healings of the soul (mind, will and emotions.) The account of the infirm man by the Pool of Bethesda is a prime example.
Jhn 5:1 After this there was a feast of the
Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
Pity this poor man. He was crippled in his legs and could not move about freely. He was bound to his bed. He lay close to a pool that was renowned for its healing powers because at certain times an angel came down and troubled the waters; and whoever stepped into the troubled waters would be healed. The poor man lay there for years. He could never get into the pool at the proper time because no one would assist him, and because of his infirmity he could not make it into the pool in time to be healed; someone else always usurped his place and kept him from his victory. Thus, he remained bound to the bed and to the incapacity of his crippled body.
This passage is a picture of someone who is bound by: (1) an infirmity of the mind, will or emotions that cripples him and keeps him from the abundant life; (2) ignorance that looks to external ways -- symbolized by the pool and the angel -- to be delivered from bondages rather than looking to God Who is the Source of all supply; (3) the passive acceptance of an escape – an excuse not to act -- symbolized by the bed, a place to “flop in,” as he blames others and other things for the continuance of his infirmity, and (4) the substitution of fear and indecision for faith.
Let us analyze the conditions of this story.
Jhn 5:2 Now there is at Jerusalem by the
sheep [market] a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches.
Note in John 5:3 that there was a great multitude of impotent folk – blind, halt, withered, who were waiting for the moving of the water. Note their physical conditions. Physical blindness is a metaphor for spiritual blindness. The word “halt” is a figure of someone who is stopped from living life to the fullest. Physically, years of misuse can cause someone’s legs to become “withered.” The muscles atrophy and become of even less use because of this withering process; it is a progressive debility. Much worse a soul’s withering in which years of living in a hopeless condition leads to inner, debilitating hopelessness and helplessness. Man actually becomes a slave to the dark conditions of his mind. He comes to believe that there is nothing that can be done but to lie and wait for something to “happen” to him that will relieve his hopeless situation. Instead of taking action against it, he becomes passive in his hopelessness.
And thus he waits by a “pool,” of life that will act upon him and accomplish all, if only certain things will take place. The pool is over there and he can see it, but it is out of his reach. He is alone; there is no one to assist him in getting into the pool so that he may be healed of his inability to function. And when that quickening thing happens in the pool -- that he can observe but cannot be a part of -- he laments and makes excuses. It would be the perfect time for him to get into the pool and be acted upon, but some one or some thing comes along and takes his place! He believes, “Only one can get into the pool at the time, and when they steal my opportunity, why, I have to flop back on my bed and wait for the next opportunity.” It is a hopeless, never-ending, never-resolved situation!
So many live in and are repressed and consumed by the bondages of the soul. They are bound by tradition, believing in a false, set pattern that must occur for them to be delivered. Their minds tell them that they cannot be victorious in life because it is forever someone else’s fault that they are as they are. They want some fallible, imperfect being to come along and provide a way out, stirring up things and assisting them in getting into the pool of deliverance. And when this does not happen, they do not look to God for the answer, and for His strengthening within; instead they flop back on their beds of passivity, doubt, fear, hopelessless, and – waiting. Thus they become more depressed, more fearful, more impotent. They shield their minds and hearts with bitterness and unforgiveness, blaming others and the awful circumstances of life that have them bound. There are multitudes lying infirm around the pools of deliverance – pools they believe will set them free from all bondages, if only… Pools that will never be acquired because of missed opportunity, lack of assistance, lack of faith and blindness. Gradually they lose all faith and all hope, and become even accepting of their "fate."
Let us examine closely the mindset of the particular infirm man in this story. We know his mindset by his words:
Jhn 5:5 And a certain man was there, which
had an infirmity thirty and eight years.
He had been lying there a long time. His mindset had become, “There is only one way to be delivered, but I will never get into the pool. There is no one to help me. Not only is there no one to help me but when the opportunity arises to get into the pool, I am so slow I cannot make it in before someone else comes along and steals my opportunity.” He believed in his heart that the pool was the only way out of his infirmity. This angel came down regularly and troubled the water, which would bring miraculous deliverance to the one who got in before everyone else. The man’s mind is set on that one way to get out of his difficulty and rid himself of his infirmity so that he can walk and live life to the fullest. To him there is no other way, and even if there were, he does not have the strength or determination to look for it. For every time he is prohibited from getting into the pool, he withers and dries up just a little more.
Every person by the pool suffers the same infirmity as this man. There are many lying and waiting by a “pool” they believe would bring about a miraculous effect if only they could get into it at the proper time; and life is filled with missed opportunities. Some think, “If I could just win the lottery, I would be rich and all my problems would vanish. But since that will never happen, I am in bondage to a dead, dull, useless, unfulfilled and impoverished life!” Or, “If I had gone to college when I was young, I would have a good job today. It is too late now. Everybody else seized what should have been my opportunity, and stole it from me.” Or, “If I just had someone to help me, to bear my burden, to lift me up out of this pit of despair and give me what I need to equip me for life, all would be well! But instead of that, everybody in my life just stands in my way of being fulfilled and set free!” There are many excuses; do you have your own?
The bondages of life grip us in these false belief systems and we cannot overcome them in and of ourselves! Slowly but surely we become more withered up inside, more bound by fear and despair. The longer we continue in our debilitating condition, the more hopeless and fear-stricken we become.
This infirm man was living in a continual pity party, unwilling to divert his attention toward any other possible solution to his problem than the pool and the angel, and unwilling to cease from flopping back onto his bed of despair and hopelessness when barriers got in his way. It is a figure and picture of a mind devoid of truth, and a walk in spiritual blindness and ignorance. The infirm man was looking for deliverance to come from outside of himself, to be acted upon him by some external force. And the minds of many are in that same kind of bondage.
And then the One Who is Truth came His way!
Jesus saw at once the man’s true condition, just as He sees ours. He came across the man's path so that he could physically heal him by a miracle. But the greatest of miracles is when Jesus heals a crippled soul. Jesus sees us in our weakness, whatever it may be. He knows that what we need is not the “pool” of external action affecting us; rather, we need to be set free from the bondages of our own inner selves! We allow false belief systems to become ingrained in our minds and hearts. Often we sink deep into despair over our conditions; we see no way out. We become unwilling to look past the barrier, to redirect our minds and search out some better solution; we are hopelessly bound by our own mindsets, our own delusion that only the traditions of men can deliver us. In our false beliefs, we must be acted upon by external powers. We are not led to look to God for the healing of our soul. We become bound by the belief that as time passes we are growing weaker and weaker and there is nothing that can deliver us. And we become convinced that no one will ever come to help us “get into the pool,” and that someone will always get in before us; and there is nothing we can do about it. Our own minds get in the way of Truth!
Some imprisoning and debilitating mindsets today:
“I’m too old to accomplish anything.”
“You see, I have this fear problem. It came upon me because of my lousy childhood and the abuse I suffered at the hands of others. And now I cannot get past it; I must live in this condition forever. It is not my fault; it is the fault of those who abused me as a child.”
“I want to get close to God; I want to have the abundant Christian life, serving and living for God. But I have too many bondages, not the least of which is fear.”
“There are a lot of people in my past I just cannot forgive; I am bound by bitterness.”
“I want to live a stable, ordered life, possess a sound mind, and walk in Truth. But so much has happened in my life to give me instability and confusion; I cannot overcome them. I guess God wants me to be confused, lack order, cast about by every wind of doctrine, and run around all over the place seeking fulfillment!” (Nothing could be further from the truth!)
The infirmities of the soul are many and great; and they are internal, within us. Jesus said, “The Kingdom of God does not come with observation; it is within you.” (Luke 17:20, 21) Likewise, the infirmities that beset us and keep us from living life to the fullest in the Kingdom of God are within us also!!! Many today are believing that it is the external circumstances of life that prevent them from living in God’s Kingdom and the blessed state of His abundant life. They are misguided and deceived.
Allow Truth to come on the scene.
Jhn 5:6 When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time [in that
case], he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?
The first thing Jesus asks the man is, “Wilt thou be made whole?” He directed the question to the man’s will, indicating that the determination to be delivered from infirmity begins internally in man’s own will -- the free choice of man himself -- and not in the circumstances of life or in what other people do or do not do. Wholeness has to do with the entirety of the individual in spirit, soul and body. When man repents of sin and is drawn to God through the Cross of Christ, his spirit is born again -- made whole by God’s Spirit -- but his soul must still be renewed on truth and his body brought into submission – made a living sacrifice to God. (See Rom. 12:1, 2) The desire to be made whole must culminate in the faith of the individual that reaches out to take and receive God’s deliverance. The will cannot lie helpless and dormant, submissive to the lies of the soul’s enemy. It must take authority over the situation in Jesus’ Name and act, receiving the miracle by faith! Faith without works is indeed dead! (James 2:17) We are to have faith and respond to that faith by action. Faith is an internal process; and the action required is often internal also, not merely external. Faith, to be effective, must result in an internal response, a redirecting of the will.
Jesus asks a direct question of the man’s will, “Wilt thou be made whole?” But the man -- impotent in spirit as well as soul and body -- replies with excuses, “I have no man to help me; and others get in before I do.” Whereas Jesus is asking him to make an internal decision of faith, the man is responding with external excuses!
And then Jesus speaks again. He did not say, “I will wait until the angel comes and troubles the waters and then help you into the pool.” Neither did He say, “I Myself will trouble the waters and put you in so that you can receive healing.” No! What did He do? He commanded, “Rise, take up thy bed and walk!” “Obey God, exercise faith and act!” The pool, the angel and the troubled waters, played no part in His command. Right action out of right faith was necessary. Obedience to God was imperative. Jesus spoke directly to the man’s will and faith was born there which gave birth to obedience, resolve, determination and action on the man’s part. He no longer needed to be acted upon by external forces. The power of God had come inside him to change the course of his life.
Jesus wanted the infirm man to realize the true situation, exercise his will, obey the Word of God, and reach out and take hold of God’s power to heal by faith. The pool was not the infirm man’s solution; the timing of the angel was not his concern; others getting in the pool before him and stealing his blessing was not his problem! His problem was the world’s ways, superstitions, traditions and false belief systems; and he needed to substitute the ways of the Heavenly Father! His problem was a lack of true faith for things eternal, and a misplaced faith in things temporal and material, which brought only inner weakness instead of inner strength!
In this physical healing miracle, Jesus was teaching spiritual truth for the healing of souls. He spoke words of faith, power and authority to the man – words that immediately strengthened him within. Our Lord did not offer him an excuse, or indulge him in his excuses. He commanded, with authority, “Rise, take up thy bed and walk!” Jesus did not speak to the pool; or to the people around the pool. He did not wait for the angel, or for the troubled waters. The pool, the angel and the troubled waters never entered into His plan of delivering the man at all! Because they were all external to the man himself, and not the problem or solution. He wanted to remove all the man’s excuses about external things and have the man dispense with the tendency to flop in his bed of despair, doubt and false beliefs. The bed itself was a great stumbling block. Jesus did not want it left there to give comfort to human excuses and failure. So He ordered the man to take up his bed – that object of escape into hopelessness, indecision, and impotence – and walk. “Move forward; don’t just lie there! Don’t return to the bed of despair! Reach out by faith; take hold of the power of God; be healed!”
God can and does miraculously heal physical ailments, as proved by this passage. But the implicit teachings on the healing of infirmities of the soul are far more significant than the explicit physical healing miracles. If we believe that Jesus’ healing miracles had only to do with healing physical disease and infirmities, we miss the far greater teaching of inner spiritual strength and deliverance -- of the inner work of God in our soul! For man is bound by far more than physical sickness. One day all who are of faith will have perfect, whole, glorified bodies, free of all infirmities, even of the aging process and death. And of course some are miraculously healed today; but that is not the issue for the present. For now, there are diseases of the soul: emotional disorders and infirmities of the mind, will and emotions that God is dealing with in His Divine Order. We are spirit, soul and body. Our spirits are redeemed when we are reborn spiritually. When our spirits were reborn, we received what is necessary to heal our souls, namely the Power of God living in us by His Spirit. As we renew our minds on the Truth of the Word, empowered and enlightened by His Spirit, our souls will be transformed. Ultimately God will give us perfect, glorified bodies, and we will be whole in spirit, soul, body. But everything takes place in order.
For now, He calls for obedience to His Word. When he says that we are not to walk in fear but by faith, we are to obey. His Word says it, we believe it, we walk! One of the most debilitating diseases of the mind is fear, something that Christians should have no part in. Fear binds many today, including many Christians, who are not to walk in fear, but in Perfect Love. (1 John 4:18) We are to rise, take authority, take up our beds and walk out and take hold of the abundant life in Christ.
This is what the passage teaches above all else. When He Who is Truth spoke the words of faith to the infirm man, with an authority that was immediately received into the man’s spirit, his will became redirected. He was immediately made whole; and he acted! He rose, took up his bed and walked. He was instantly freed from the bondage that had beset him for so long; and he would never return to the bed of helplessness again. Christ, if we obey Him, not only removes the infirmity; he removes the bed also!
And so, if Jesus is truly your Lord -- if you abide in Him and His words abide in you -- you can ask whatever you will and it will be done unto you. (John 15:7) And you will take up your beds of fear, indecision, hopelessness and weakness and become whole and strong in Him Who is Wholeness and Strength itself. As a child of God, with His Spirit living and abiding in you, do not settle for anything less!