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world to the kingdom of God, who made it. He must not remain alone.
MARK i. 36-38. “ And Simon and they that were with him followed after him. And when they had found him, they said unto him, All men seek for thee. And He said unto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also : for therefore came I forth.”
LUKE iv. 42-44. “ And the people sought him, and came unto him, and stayed him, that He should not depart from them. And He said unto them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also, for therefore am I sent.”
Mark i. 39. “And He (departed and) preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee."* And Galilee was at that time full of cities and villages, thickly crowded with people.
Prayer. O blessed Saviour, Holy Jesus, how shall we adore thee; how shall we love thee, cold, weak and sinful as we are ? We can but cry unto thee, Lord ! have pity upon us. Thou didst take upon thyself the burthen of our miseries and of our sins, take upon thyself this burthen also, that we cannot worship thee as we ought; pray thou for us.
Thou hast returned to the bosom of thy Father, but we are still toiling and suffering here. Still we need thy power to save. Sickness, and sorrow, and the malice of the devil, still weigh heavily upon us; but it is our comfort to know that, even as thou didst rise up to pray before it was day, and when
The Jewish historian Josephus, who lived immediately after the time of Christ, describes Galilee as full of flourishing towns and cities, almost beyond any other part of the world. He states that, though not quite sixty miles long and seventy broad, there were in it 204 cities and villages, and at least three million six hundred thousand people !
men were sleeping wast praying for them, so now thou art making intercession for us. The night is far spent, and the day is at hand. O grant to us that we may be children of the light, that we may put from us the works of darkness, and may rejoice at thy coming. Amen.
It was in the end of the first year of our Lord's ministry upon earth, that He went through all the towns and villages of Galilee, preaching everywhere the Gospel, or good news, of the kingdom of God. He then went up to Jerusalem to keep the solemn feast of the Jews, the Passover; and this marks the beginning of the second year of his ministry. When He had been there before, He had taken to himself authority and power, and had cleansed the temple of God, driving out the buyers and sellers, who had turned its sacred courts into a market-place. (John ii.) This act had fixed upon him the attention of the chief priests and pharisees. They remembered with anger the answers He had made them when they asked what sign He could show to them as a warrant for taking such authority upon himself. He had answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The meaning of this saying was quite dark to them, but they remembered it against him with spite and anger. It was not understood by any one, till his body, the true temple of God, after being, as it were, destroyed by death, and lying three days in the grave, was raised again by his own power when He returned to his Father's throne.
It was at the time of the first passover, after his baptism in the river Jordan by John, when God, by a voice from heaven, had declared him to be his well-beloved Son, that Jesus had cleansed the temple, and had made this answer to the Jewish priests. Then many had believed in his name when they saw the miracles which He did,” but the chief people had always been against him. He was not the kind of Messiah they desired to have, and all they had heard of him, during the year He had passed in Galilee, made their feelings against him more bitter. Some of them had been there to hear him, and bad seen the wonderful works He had done. (Luke v. 17.) But their report only filled the Chief Priests with anxiety, and with a proud and jealous fear. They soon had cause, for the Lord Jesus began this second year of his ministry, by publicly showing that while he was come to fulfil the law, he was also come to do away with their traditions, that is, with those sayings of their own, by which they had so changed many of God's laws as to make evil that which God had made good. From the beginning they had been commanded by God to “keep holy the Sabbath-day, and to do on it no manner of work.” This command they had, during a long time, often disobeyed, and for this, and for their continual rebellion against God, they had been punished. Jerusalem had been destroyed, and they had been carried away prisoners to a far-off land. But after their punishment was ended, and God had brought them back again to their own country, the sinful pride of the Jews, which had always made them a rebellious people, shewed itself in a new way. Proud of being called the people of God, they hated and despised all other nations, and added many things to those laws which kept them separate from others. They made it
an unlawful thing for a man that was a Jew to keep company or come unto one of another nation.” (Acts x. 28.) Instead of being, as they often had been before, unwilling to keep holy the Sabbath-day, they now made it a real slavery, a complete bondage.
Their teachers had made laws for the keeping the Sabbath, which, as it were, tied the people hand and foot, and prevented them even from doing good on the Sabbath-day. It seems as
if it were the nature of man to love the rules he makes for himself; and while the Jews hated Christ because he showed them the pure service of God, which would set them free from many an irksome rule and custom, they loved the yoke they placed upon their own necks, and prided themselves in it.
The Lord Jesus, by his first act in Jerusalem, when He had this second time returned there, gave them a lesson how they might keep holy the Sabbath-day according to God's commands, but not according to the traditions, or added sayings, of the teachers of the law. He sought a place where He knew He should find many sufferers. The Sabbath-day brought no rest to the bodily pains of the diseased, and they needed help on the Sabbath as on other days.
JOHN v. 2-4. “There is at Jerusalem by the sheepmarket a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, (or, the house of mercy,) having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water : whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in, was made whole of whatsoever disease he had."
To this place our Saviour went. He was sure to find there many sufferers, for it was believed that an angel, at certain times, went down into the pool, and, troubling the waters, gave them a healing power from God, and the first diseased person who then bathed in them was immediately made whole.
It is not written that the angel was seen, as in other places, where the words are expressly, that an "angel appeared " unto Mary, and Zacharias, and Joseph, and others; therefore we may suppose that in this pool, his presence was only felt by the blessing he brought from God, when from time to time He gave a healing power to the waters. And we do not now know how often the unseen angels may be bringing their messages of love when we little think it.
Bethesda was indeed “ the house of mercy,” for five porches had been built round the pool, that under their shadow, the poor creatures who waited there might be sheltered from the summer-sun and the winter-storm. One only, could enter the pool at a time. When the bubbling of the water showed the hour was come, how great must have been the anxiety among all these sufferers! Each sought to be that happy one. Jesus stood amongst them. It was the Sabbath-day, and He had come there to teach the whole nation that He was Lord of the Sabbath, and by his deeds and his words to sweep away all the rubbish of man's invention. He had come there to give back to the Sabbath its first purity, when God commanded that it should be remembered “to keep it holy,” but not to make it a bondage and a snare. This was the cause for which He came to the pool of Bethesda, and we shall find that his words flowed afterwards in a healing stream, better than all its waters; but the first thing we mark in what He did, speaks to our hearts of the tenderness of his loving-kindness. It was needful by a miracle to cure one of the diseased objects that lay around him, that He might shew to all men, that, on the Sabbath, as on other days, Christ the Son performed his deeds of mercy even as God the Father carried on his works of Providence ; but He did not choose the object of his kindness and his power at random. He looked round on the many sufferers who lay within the porches. All could see whether they were maimed or blind, whether they were young or old, whether they were sad as well as sick ; but the Saviour saw much more than this. The story of each sufferer's life was to him written as on their foreheads, and ne among them He knew was without a friend.
Verse 5. "A certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years."