Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 12 (1897)


Ms 192, 1897

The Miracle at Bethesda, Part 2


February 1897

Previously unpublished.

As the healed man went on his way, he met the Pharisees, and immediately related to them the cure he had experienced. He was surprised at the coolness at which they listened to his story. These men who should have been filled with joy that this poor sufferer had been made whole, met with him a frown upon their faces. They thought more of the blanket he was carrying than of the glorious work that had been done in his restoration. 12LtMs, Ms 192, 1897, par. 1

Presently they interrupting him by inquiring why he was carrying his bed, saying, “It is the Sabbath day; it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed.” He answered them, “He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk. Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed and walk? And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place.” [John 5:10-13.] 12LtMs, Ms 192, 1897, par. 2

Before the eyes of a large number who were looking upon him with astonishment, the man pressed his way to the temple, there to present the praise of a full soul to God. Christ knew that the man’s own sinful course of action had brought its sure result, and finding him in the temple, he said unto them, “Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.” [Verse 14.] 12LtMs, Ms 192, 1897, par. 3

“The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole.” [Verse 15.] The man did not once think that in naming Jesus as the One who had healed him, he was provoking the anger of the priests and rulers so as to imperil the Saviour’s life. He was overjoyed to behold his deliverer, and, ignorant of the malice which the Jews held against Jesus, he had informed the Pharisees who had before questioned him that this was he who had wrought the wondrous cure. 12LtMs, Ms 192, 1897, par. 4

The Jewish dignitaries well knew who had performed the work of restoration; for Christ alone had shown himself able to do this deed. But they wished to get direct proof, for then they hoped to condemn him as a Sabbath-breaker. 12LtMs, Ms 192, 1897, par. 5

The object of the Sabbath requirement had been lost sight of, and the sacred ordinance which had been given in love to secure to man rest and peace, was turned away from its purpose by the inventions of men. The Jews claimed to observe the Sabbath of the fourth commandment; but the day that God had given to man for a blessing, they had made a day of rigorous exactions. That which God had made a blessing, these teachers of the people were making a curse. That which was given in mercy to man for a rest and a joy was made oppressive. Burdensome customs lay heavy upon it, and it was loaded with frivolous and senseless restrictions. 12LtMs, Ms 192, 1897, par. 6

The Jews had covered up the significance of the Sabbath with man-made traditions. They added their own commandments to God’s law, and then pronounced them binding. They wrested the Scriptures, and perverted the Word of God by their own foolish interpretations. Under the lengthy specifications of the “Thou shalt” and “Thou shalt not” of man, they entirely lost sight of the original holy requirements. The action of the healed man in carrying his bed on the Sabbath day was converted by these men into a crime. The Sabbath had become a yoke of bondage. 12LtMs, Ms 192, 1897, par. 7

As the divine Redeemer, Christ had a work to do in restoring the day to its true dignity and glory. He came to establish anew the Sabbath truth, which with the lapse of time man had displaced, and covered up with false representations, and disconnected from its true position. He desired to free God’s holy rest day from this mass of rubbish, to relieve it of the cumbersome “Thou shalt” and “Thou shalt not” of man. He would give it to the world in its true importance, with a fresh and elevated force which would commend it as God’s memorial. 12LtMs, Ms 192, 1897, par. 8

Jesus did not choose to sanction the prejudices of the Pharisees and to leave undisturbed their perversion of the Sabbath. He wrought many miracles upon the Sabbath-day. In the case of the impotent man, Christ did not wait to be asked to perform the work of restoration. He sought him out, and volunteered to heal him. He foresaw the result of his action, but did not make the least effort to avoid it. He knew that it would secure attention and be violently resisted, for the action of the man in carrying his bed would be interpreted as breaking the Sabbath. He might have charged the healed man to remain where he was until the going down of the sun; but no, he could not sanction a false standard. He must place before the people the true import of the Sabbath. 12LtMs, Ms 192, 1897, par. 9

Christ sought to impress upon the narrow minds of the Jews a sense of the folly of their view of the Sabbath. He showed them that God’s work never ceases. It is even greater upon the Sabbath than upon other days. And, in like proportion, man has a work to perform upon that day. The necessities of life must be attended to, the sick must be cared for, the wants of the needy must be met. The holy Sabbath was made for man, and acts of benevolence and mercy are always in order upon that day. God does not desire his creatures to suffer an hour’s pain that may be relieved upon the Sabbath or any other day. 12LtMs, Ms 192, 1897, par. 10

God instituted the Sabbath that it might be a day of cessation from labor, a day of rest and peace in which to contemplate God, the Maker of the heavens and the earth. But in order to keep the Sabbath holy it is not necessary that we enclose ourselves within walls, shut away from the beautiful scenes of nature and the invigorating air of heaven. On that day we may walk in the fields and forests and behold the trees and flowers that deck the mountains and plains with their endless variety. Thus we should allow our minds to become acquainted with God in the scenes of nature; we should see in his created works the tokens of his love. And as we view the beautiful things he has made for our happiness, we shall be led to regard him as a tender loving Father. We shall see that his prohibitions and injunctions are not intended merely to show his power and authority, but that he has the happiness of his children in view. 12LtMs, Ms 192, 1897, par. 11