THE CRIPPLE AT THE POOL, AND THE WITHERED HAND IN THE SYNAGOGUE

Matthew 12:1 to 14; Mark 2:23, to 3:6; Luke 6:1 to 11; John 5:1 to 18.





HILE Jesus was living in Capernaum the time for the Passover of the Jews drew near and Jesus went up to Jerusalem to keep the feast, as he had kept it a year before. You remember that at that time he drove out of the Temple the people that were buying and selling. The feast which Jesus now kept was the second Passover in the three years while Jesus was preaching. While Jesus was at Jerusalem he saw in the city, not far from the Temple, a pool called Bethesda. Beside this pool were five arches or porches; and in these porches were lying a great crowd of sick and blind, helpless and crippled people. At certain times the water rose and bubbled up in the pool; and it was believed that at these times it had power to cure diseases. We know that there are springs of water that will cure many kinds of sickness, and this may have been one of these. On the Sabbath day Jesus walked among these poor helpless and suffering people, who were waiting for the water to rise. Jesus looked at one man, and though no one told him, he knew that this man had been a cripple, without power to walk, for almost forty years. He said to this man, "Do you wish to be made well?"

The man did not know who Jesus was. He answered, "Sir, I cannot walk; and I have no man to carry me down to the water when it rises in the pool; but while I am trying to crawl down, others crowd in before me, and the place is full, so that I cannot reach the water and be cured." Jesus said to the man, "Rise, take up your bed, and walk!" The cripple had never heard words like these before; but as they were spoken he felt a new power shoot through his limbs. He rose up, took the piece of matting on which he had been lying, rolled it up, and walked away toward his home! Some one who saw him said, "Stop; this is the Sabbath day, and it is against the law for you to carry your bed!" The man did not lay down his load. He only said, "The one who made me well said to me, Take up your bed and walk." The Jews said, "Who was this man that told you to carry your bed on the Sabbath day?" The man who had been cured did not know who it was that had cured him; for there were many standing near, and Jesus, after healing the man, had walked away without being noticed. But after this Jesus met this man in the Temple, and said to him, "You have been made well; do not sin against God any more, or something worse than disease will come upon you."

The man went away from the Temple, and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. The Jews were very angry at Jesus because he had cured this man on the Sabbath. But Jesus said to them, "My Father works on all days to do good to men, and I work also." These words made the Jews ready to kill Jesus, not only because, as they said, he had broken the Sabbath, but because he had spoken of God as his Father, as though he were the Son of God. He was indeed the Son of God, although they would not believe it. After the feast of the Passover Jesus went again to Capernaum in Galilee, beside the lake. One Sabbath day he was walking with his disciples through the fields of ripe grain; and the disciples, as they walked, picked the heads of grain, rubbed them in their hands, blew away the chaff, and ate the kernels of wheat. The law of the Jews allowed any one walking through the fields to eat what he could gather with his hands, though it did not allow him to take any of the grain home. But the Pharisees, whose goodness was all for show, said that it was a breaking of the Sabbath to pick the ears and to rub them in the hands on the Sabbath day. They said to Jesus, Do you see how your disciples are doing on the Sabbath what is against the law?"

Jesus answered them, "Have you never read what David did when he was hungry? He went into the house of God, and took the holy bread from the table, and ate some of it, and gave some to his men, though the law said that only the priests might eat this bread. And do you not know that on the Sabbath day the priests in the Temple do work, in killing and offering the sacrifices, yet they do no wrong ? I say to you that one greater than the Temple is here; for the Son of man is lord of the Sabbath." Jesus meant them to understand that he was the Son of God, that God lived in him even more fully than he lived in the Temple, and that he spoke as Lord of all. We have read this, about David and the holy bread in the Tabernacle, of which Jesus spoke to the Jews, in Story Seven of Part Third. On another Sabbath day Jesus went to the synagogue. A man was there whose hand was withered. The Pharisees watched Jesus, to see whether on the Sabbath day he would make his hand well. Not that they felt for the poor man; they only, wished to chance to speak evil against Jesus. Jesus knew all their thoughts, and he spoke to the man, "Rise up, and stand where all can see you!"

The man rose up from the mat where he had been sitting, and stood before all the people. Then Jesus looked around upon them sternly, being sad because their hearts were so hard and cruel, and he said, "Is it against the law to do good on the Sabbath day, or to do evil? to heal a man, or to try and kill a man, as you are doing? If any one of you owns a sheep, and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath day, will he not take hold of it and lift it out ? Is not a man worth more than a sheep? I say unto you that it is right to do good to men on the Sabbath day." And then, turning to the man, he said, Stretch out your hand!" The man obeyed the word of Jesus, and held out his hand. At once it became strong and well, like his other hand. Many of the people were glad as they saw this; but the Pharisees, who hated Jesus, went out very angry; and they met together to find some plan for putting Jesus to death.