IN THE SPRING OF THE YEAR 29 Jesus went up to Jerusalem to celebrate the Pasch. One Sabbath He visited a mineral spring, the Pool of Bethsaida, which was much frequented by the sick and infirm. From time to time the waters of the pool bubbled up (stirred, an ancient gloss indicates, by an angel). When this boiling up took place, the invalids who lay in the porches surrounding the small pool would scramble down to the water, or be carried down by attendants, for at this time the water had miraculous curative power.
In one of the porches Jesus found a cripple who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. He said to him:
“Dost thou want to get well?”
The cripple explained that, having no one to bear him to the pool, he had never succeeded in reaching it while the water was stirred up. Thereupon, Jesus said:
“Rise, take up thy pallet and walk.”
Cured instantly, the man took up the litter on which he had been lying and began to walk about. A crowd gathered around the former invalid, and the Jews pointed out that he was breaking the Sabbath by carrying his pallet. The man repeated to them what Jesus had said, but he did not know the name of his healer, and Jesus meanwhile had slipped away into the crowd.
Shortly afterward, Jesus came upon this man in the temple, and said to him:
“Behold, thou art cured. Sin no more, lest something worse befall thee.”
Now the man recognized Jesus as the one who had healed him, and he went off and told the Jews. They then began persecuting Him as a violator of the Sabbath. But Jesus answered:
“My Father works even unto now, and I work.”
The Sabbath is for man, not for God, whose activity is unceasing. Jesus was not here proclaiming His divinity, but the Jews were exasperated by His reply, which they construed as blasphemous. Further explaining His relationship to the Father, He said:
“Amen, amen, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but only what He sees the Father doing. For whatever He does, this the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all that He Himself does. And greater works than these He will show Him, that you may wonder. For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He will. For neither does the Father judge any man, but all judgment He has given to the Son, that all men may honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son, does not honor the Father who sent Him.”
“Amen, amen, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has life everlasting, and does not come to judgment, but has passed from death to life.”
“Amen, amen, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is here, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear shall live. For as the Father has life in Himself, even so He has given to the Son also to have life in Himself; and He has granted Him power to render judgment, because He is the Son of Man. Do not wonder at this, for the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs shall hear the voice of the Son of God. And they who have done good shall come forth unto resurrection of life, but they who have done evil unto resurrection of judgment. Of Myself I can do nothing. As I hear, I judge, and My judgment is just because I seek not My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”
Speaking in justification of His claims to divine authority, He continued:
“If I bear witness concerning Myself, My witness is not true. There is another who bears witness concerning Me, and I know that the witness that he bears concerning Me is true. You have sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. I however do not receive the witness of man, but I say these things that you may be saved. He was the lamp, burning and shining; and you desired to rejoice for a while in his light.”
“The witness, however, that I have is greater than that of John. For the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish, these very works that I do, bear witness to Me, that the Father has sent Me. And the Father Himself, who has sent Me, has borne witness to Me. But you have never heard His voice, or seen His face. And you have not His word abiding in you, since you do not believe Him whom He has sent. You search the Scriptures, because in them you think that you have life everlasting. And it is they that bear witness to Me, yet you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.”
“I do not receive glory from men. But I know that you have not the love of God in you. I have come in the name of My Father, and you do not receive Me. If another come in his own name, him you will receive. How can you believe who receive glory from one another, and do not seek the glory which is from the only God? Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you, Moses in whom you hope. For if you believed Moses you would believe Me also, for he wrote of Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”
Now Jesus left Judea and returned to Galilee, for the Jewish leaders were seeking to put Him to death. He did not entirely escape them, for the Scribes and Pharisees sent out agents to spy on Him, just as they had spied on John the Baptist. But these factions were less influential in Galilee, and Jesus had nothing to fear from them there.
Meditation: Out of compassion for an invalid who had suffered for thirty-eight years, Christ worked a miracle. But the result of the cure was a flare-up of opposition by the Jews. They might have thanked Him for relieving this sufferer; but instead they persecuted Him. At times our kindness to another is similarly received. We may offer our help and find ourselves victimized-even by those we try to serve. To accept such ingratitude and to continue, in spite of it, graciously to serve others is to imitate Christ, our model.
Information from The Life of Christ “Our Lord’s Life with Lesson in His Own Words for Our Life Today” The Catholic Press, Inc. 1959. 97-100. © 1954 edited by Reverend John P. O’Connell, MASTD and Jex Martin, following mainly A Chronological Harmony of the Gospels by Stephen J Hartdegen OFM NIHIL OBSTAT John A McMahon; IMPRIMATUR Samuel Cardinal Stritch, Archbishop of Chicago August 1, 1953. Print. Drawing by Albert H Winkler.