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We had seen some mighty works done by Jesus. James and John and Andrew and I were the only ones to see Jesus fill a boat with fish from only one dip of a net. After that Jesus said we would fish for men, and we left our boats to follow him. Believe me, we told others about the miracle catch until they were tired of hearing us. We also saw Jesus turn water to wine. Most of the people at the wedding never knew what happened, but we did. He healed the official's son. That too was done in a way that most people didn’t know what happened. His fame had spread through Galilee. But up to now most of his mighty works were not widely known. All of us were excited to go to the feast in Jerusalem. He had demonstrated his power at a previous feast. Who knew what he might do at this one. Everyone would see and understand who Jesus was.

When we arrived we walked together around the city. That was always a treat for those of us who didn’t live there. And we had the sense that Jesus was looking for just the right person to heal. We were wondering what would make him known to the nation. Jesus had hinted that he only did what his heavenly Father told him to do. I understand now that he was looking for the person his Father wanted him to heal

We came to the pool of Bethesda near the sheep gate. Many people were there who needed to be healed. I’m not sure how the rumor got started, but people said an angel stirred the water from time to time. They believed the first person into the pool after the water was disturbed would be healed. The sick wanted to desperately believe it was all true. Occasionally someone would shout that the water was disturbed. Each one would try to be first to get into the pool. People who brought the infirm to the pool would help them into the water. From time to time someone would start shouting that he had been healed. But all I ever saw were quarrels over who was first or whether the water had actually been stirred. 

A big crowd there to see whatever Jesus did. There was a guy who had been there as long as anyone could remember. People said he had been coming there for nearly 40 years. Jesus went straight to him.

“Do you want to be healed?” Jesus asked. “Or have you given up on that altogether?”

The man answered. “I cannot be healed. I’m left here alone in the mornings. I don’t have anyone to help me into the pool when the water is stirred.”

“Stand up!” Jesus said “Take up your mat and walk.” And the man was healed immediately. He stood shakily and then grabbed his mat and almost ran away in front of the whole crowd. While the man had everyone’s attention, Jesus disappeared into the crowd. We were still standing there and saw the funniest thing. A Pharisee stopped the man before he got far. 

“This is the Sabbath,” he said. “It is not lawful for you to carry your mat.” A crowd gathered around evidently to help accuse the man of breaking the Sabbath. The Pharisee spoke with enough authority that the crowd who saw the man healed were cowed into silence. We may have been the only ones there who were trying to keep straight faces. Bartholomew laughed out loud. Could they not see what a great miracle had been done? The fellow answered them. “The man who healed me told me to pick up my mat and leave.”  

Someone in the crowd, probably another Pharisee, raged, “Who is this that dared tell you to break the Sabbath?” It seemed to us like a guard from Jericho trying to arrest Joshua for making too much noise with the trumpets. I suppose the Pharisees would have been even angrier if they realized how ridiculous they looked. After it was all over and we had found Jesus, we went with him into the temple. The man who was healed was there giving thanks.

Jesus approached him and said, “See, after all these years you are well. Stop sinning lest something worse happen to you.” Jesus evidently knew the man would immediately go tell the Pharisees. We followed him to them. They turned and attacked Jesus for abusing the Sabbath. 

Jesus said, “My Father is at work, so I am also working.” The Pharisees didn't understand that Jesus taught that it was his Father who worked miracles through him. But they did understand that Jesus was saying he was the Son of God. This became the primary reason they persecuted him. 

This story is taken from the 5th chapter of The Gospel of John.





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Comment by David Young on December 6, 2020 at 2:27pm

I thank God for your encouragement, Malva.

Comment by Malva Birch on December 2, 2020 at 10:20am

Lord God,

Thank You for Your love that fulfilled the law and at the same time set us free.

Help us to be merciful to others, because You are merciful to us. 

We praise You in the Name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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