Jesus’ Life and Ministry
Doing Good Works on the Sabbath
IT IS the spring of 31 C.E. A few months have passed since Jesus spoke to the woman at the well in Samaria while en route from Judea to Galilee.
Now, after teaching extensively throughout Galilee, Jesus again leaves for Judea, where he preaches in the synagogues. Compared to the attention given to his Galilean ministry, the Bible tells little of Jesus’ activity in Judea during this visit and during the months he spent here following the previous Passover. Evidently his ministry did not receive as favorable a response in Judea as it did in Galilee.
Soon Jesus is on his way to Judea’s principal city, Jerusalem, for the Passover of 31 C.E. Here, near the city’s sheepgate, is the pool called Bethzatha, where many sick, blind, and lame come. They believe that people can be healed by getting into the pool’s waters when these are agitated.
It is the Sabbath, and Jesus sees a man at the pool who has been sick for 38 years. Being aware of the long duration of the man’s sickness, Jesus asks: “Do you want to become sound in health?”
“Sir, I do not have a man to put me into the pool when the water is disturbed,” he answers, “but while I am coming another steps down ahead of me.”
Jesus says to him: “Get up, pick up your cot and walk.” With that the man immediately becomes sound in body, picks up his cot, and begins to walk!
But when the Jews see the man, they say: “It is Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to carry the cot.”
The man answers them: “The very one that made me sound in health said to me, ‘Pick up your cot and walk.’”
“Who is the man that told you, ‘Pick it up and walk’?” they ask. Jesus had turned aside because of the crowd, and the one who was healed did not know Jesus’ name. Later, however, Jesus and the man meet in the temple, and the man learns who it is that healed him.
So the healed man finds the Jews to tell them that it is Jesus who has made him sound in health. On learning this, the Jews go to Jesus. For what reason? To learn by what means he is able to do these wonderful things? No. But to find fault with him because he is doing these good things on the Sabbath. And they even begin persecuting him! Luke 4:44; John 5:1-16.
◆ About how long has it been since Jesus last visited Judea?
◆ Why was the pool called Bethzatha so popular?
◆ What miracle did Jesus perform at the pool, and what was the reaction of the Jews?