|Jesus Heals a Cripple and a Man With a Withered Hand Matt. 12:1-15; Mark 2:23 to 3:6; Luke 6:1-12; John 5:1-18|
NOT FAR FROMthe temple in Jerusalem was a pool called Bethesda. At certain times the water in this pool was made to bubble on the surface. Many sick people, and cripples, and blind folk came to the pool and waited long for the water to move. And five porches were built beside the pool, where these afflicted people might rest in the shade and wait for a chance to be cured of their affliction by bathing in the troubled waters. One Sabbath-day while Jesus was in Jerusalem he walked through the porches beside the pool. And there he saw the afflicted people who had come for healing. How many there were we do not know, but lying on a mat near the edge of a porch was one man who had not walked for nearly forty years. What a pitiful sight he was! Jesus knew how long the poor man had been crippled although no one told him.
He stopped by the man and asked gently, “Would you like to be made well?”
Perhaps the cripple thought this a strange question. He answered “Sir, I have no one to help me when the water moves, and before I can crawl down some one else steps in.
Then Jesus said, “Rise up, take your bed and walk!”
The surprised man felt strength pouring into his weakened body and he sprang to his feet. Then he rolled up the mat and taking it in his arms started toward his home. How happy he felt!. But he could not thank the stranger who had spoken to him, for Jesus had disappeared in the crowd.
He answered, “I was lying a cripple by the pool when a stranger came to me and told me to rise up and take my bed and walk away with it.”
“Who is this stranger?” they demanded, for they were angry to think that any one should break one of the laws they kept on the Sabbath. But the poor man did not know who Jesus was, so he could not tell.
Not long afterwards Jesus found the man in the temple, worshiping God. And Jesus told him to sin no more, lest something worse than his long affliction should come upon him. Then the man knew who Jesus was, and he ran out to tell the people that it was Jesus who had made him well.
The Jews were angry because Jesus had healed the poor man on the Sabbath-day. They did not care for the poor sufferer as much as they cared for their own pretenses to be righteous. They believed it was wrong to do even such a good work as healing the sick on the Sabbath. But Jesus told them that his Father worked on the Sabbath, and so did he. Then they were more angry than ever because he said that God was his Father. They wished to kill him.
After this time the Pharisees became enemies of Jesus. They often followed him just to find fault. One Sabbath-day while he was walking with his disciples through a field of corn, the disciples picked off some of the kernels to eat, because they were hungry. The Pharisees were near by, and seeing what the disciples had done they came to Jesus to find fault.
They said, “Your disciples are breaking the Sabbath laws, for they are gathering food to eat.”
But Jesus told the Pharisees that God was not pleased with their regard of the Sabbath law that would not allow a person to do even what is right. He reminded them of the time when David ate from the temple the bread that belonged only to the priests, and God knew David and his men were hungry so he did not punish David for this act. He told the Pharisees that the priests and the Levites work every Sabbath, when they offer the morning and the evening sacrifices. And he said, “The Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath-day.”
When Jesus returned to Galilee, there were Pharisees in the city where he went to teach in the synagog. And again it was on the Sabbath. Jesus knew the Pharisees were watching him. And, too, he saw a man sitting by who had a withered hand.
He called the man to stand up where every one might see him, then he turned to the fault-finders and asked, “Is it lawful to do evil, or good on the Sabbath? to kill, or to make alive? If any one of you have a sheep and it fall into a pit on the Sabbath, do you not lift it out? And a man is more valuable than a sheep.”
Then he turned to the man standing before him and commanded him to stretch out his withered hand. The man obeyed, and immediately the hand was healed. The Pharisees went out of the synagog in an angry mood, wishing to kill Jesus; but the man who had been healed went to his home feeling very happy.
Tomorrow: The Twelve Men Called Apostles
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