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Bethesda, also called Bethsaida and Beth-zatha, in Hebrew meaning house of mercy, was a pool of water near the Sheep Gate (see Jerusalem Gates) in Jerusalem that was believed to have healing effects. When Jesus Christ healed a man there (see Miracles Of Jesus Christ), He was bitterly criticized by the religious authorities.

Bethesda The Miracle At Bethesda

"Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Hebrew called Beth-zatha, which has five porticoes. In these lay a multitude of invalids, blind, lame, paralyzed. One man was there, who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him and knew that he had been lying there a long time, He said to him, "Do you want to be healed?"

"The sick man answered Him, "Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is troubled, and while I am going another steps down before me."

"Jesus said to him, "Rise, take up your pallet, and walk." And at once the man was healed, and he took up his pallet and walked."

"Now that day was the Sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who was cured, "It is the Sabbath, it is not lawful for you to carry your pallet." But he answered them, "The man who healed me said to me, 'Take up your pallet, and walk.'" They asked him, "Who is the man who said to you, 'Take up your pallet, and walk'?" Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place."

"Afterward, Jesus found him in the Temple [see Temples], and said to him, "See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse befall you."

"The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. And this was why the Jews persecuted Jesus, because He did this on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, "My Father [see The Father] is working still, and I am [see The Logos] working." This was why the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath but also called God His Father, making Himself equal with God. (John 5:2-18 RSV)

Did Jesus Break The Sabbath?

In a word, no. Jesus Christ lived a life completely free of sin (Hebrews 4:15).

After the return from the Babylonian Captivity (see Why Babylon?), the Jewish religious leaders vowed to never again allow the people to fall into a state of disobedience that had resulted in God devastating their nation. That was very good, but the difficulty arose from their instituting a great many religious laws of their own invention. It was these human traditions and customs, that had been added to the Sabbath, that they accused The Lord of violating.

And what was The Lord's response to their accusations?

"And He said to them, "Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, 'This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me; in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.' You leave the commandment of God, and hold fast the tradition of men." And He said to them, "You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God, in order to keep your tradition!" (Mark 7:6-9 RSV)

Fact Finder: Who actually gave The Ten Commandments, including the Sabbath laws, to Moses on Mount Sinai?
See Rock Of Ages

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