Occasionally, when the water ripples, it would create a commotion of a rushing throng into the pool. The belief is that whoever gets into the water first will get healed. Invariably, most if not all will climb out of the pool disappointed. Perhaps, once in a while, there would be a shout of joy of one lucky soul at the feeling of getting better. The pain relieved and a seeming pride of being the first to get into the water.
Jesus stops for one guy whose eyes are fixed on the water in great expectation. He has that, ‘the-next-time-the-water-is-stirred, I-will-be-the-first-one-to-go-in’ attitude. Eagerness is one thing but being able to do so is completely another. Paralysed from his waist down, he has been in that condition for the past thirty-eight years. He prays that the next time when the angel comes to stir the water, it will also help him to be the first among the rest to taste the water. That is his only hope and prayer. But waiting for so long has sapped his confidence and now he finds excuse for his predicament. He even blames his sins for this hopeless situation.
“Get up! Pick up your mat and walk,” Jesus commands. Instead of seeing a stirring of the pool’s water, he feels the stirring of the inside of his body. He hasn’t felt this kind of sensation for God knows when. Both of his feet grow strong at an instant, those bones and muscles making a strange sound from within his body. At first, he kneels with his new found strength, and then rises to a brand new world.
Mat in hand, his only possession, he dances like a madman. “Hey, I am healed!” he shouts incessantly. Before he can leap on to proceed to the temple further south, the place he has always wanted to go, a man violently takes his mat and slams it to the ground. “It is Sabbath: the law forbids you to carry your mat,” he lashes out. Taken by surprise, the healed-man utters, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’” He is shocked that there are people who are not shocked over such marvellous wonder of healing. And moreover, that healing is wrought just by some spoken words!
“Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?” another man angrily asks. “Oh! It was so exhilarating that I have forgotten to even thank him,” the once paralysed-man suddenly realises. He tries to look for this ‘Healer-Man’ but the crowd is just too big. “Excuse me!” he quickly dashes out of the compound to proceed to the temple to praise and worship God!