THE POOL OF THE ANGEL
 I SAID that our Lord, at the beginning of his
ministry, stayed most of the time near the
Lake of Galilee. But the great days came as
the year went round,—the great days of the
church,—when all who could get away from
home made a journey to the temple. So our
Lord went also to pray in the great church
which they called the house of God. And
one day there was a feast of the Jews, and
all the roads to Jerusalem were filled with
pilgrims on their way to church, and Jesus
and his disciples went up with them.
The temple stood on a rocky hill, looking
out over all the country round. At the foot
of the hill there was a spring, and a little
stream of cold water running out of it. They
had a sheep market by the side of the stream,
for the sheep were thirsty after being driven
in over dusty roads out of the country. There
was always a flock of them with their noses
 in the water drinking, and there were men
buying and selling. But besides the shepherds
and the men who were buying sheep, there
were always other people who were there, not
for that business, but for medicine. Amongst
the shepherds, and the butchers, and the priests
who were getting lambs for the sacrifices at
the temple, were sick folks in great numbers,
some of them blind, some of them lame, who
had come to bathe in the spring.
The water bubbled up out of the ground
in a great pool. And beside the pool was a
porch with five arches. And the sick people
lay on blankets in the porch waiting for the
moving of the water. For this was a strange
pool. Sometimes the water lay so still that
the sick folks could use it for a looking-glass
and could see their thin and anxious faces in
it—all but the blind ones. But presently
there would be a great commotion in the
water, as if somebody were blowing it with
the breath of a giant, or were stirring it with
a huge stick. And some people thought that
this was caused by an angel going down into
 the clear pool. And as soon as this happened,
the sick people scrambled down as best
they could into the water, and the sickest
were helped down by their friends. The idea
was that whoever got in first would be made
whole of whatsoever disease he had. It must
have been a strange sight, that crowd of
miserable people limping and crawling and rolling
down into the pool.
Now one day our Lord came by, and he
was very sorry, for his heart was always full
of compassion for those who were in trouble.
It made him sad, too, to see them struggling
so one against another, each trying to be the
first and to get the blessing for himself. So
he stopped and looked. And there among the
crowd he saw one man who had been sick
longer than the others. He had had an infirmity
thirty and eight years; he had hardly
had a well day since he was a boy. There he
lay close by the pool, waiting for the angel,
but waiting always in vain; for when the
spring began to stir somebody else always got
in before him. When Jesus saw him lie there,
 and knew that he had been now a long time in
that condition, he said to him, "Do you wish
to get well?" To get well! That was what the
man desired with all his heart, though he had
almost ceased to hope. So he answered, "Sir,
I am a poor man and I have no friends. When
the water is beginning to stir, I have no man
to put me into the pool; but while I am coming,
another steps down before me." Then our
Lord said, "Arise, take up thy bed and walk."
And immediately the man started to get up.
That shows that he had great faith in our Lord.
He had never seen him before; probably he had
never even heard of him; but he saw him now
and heard his voice, and he believed in him with
all his heart. Some men would have said,
"Why, I can't do that. You don't know how
sick I am. I have been lame all my life, almost
forty years. I can't get up." But this man tried.
When Jesus told him to get up, he tried to do
it. And when he tried, God gave him strength.
So he took up his bed and walked.
But it happened that that day was the sabbath.
You remember that the people had made
 themselves a great many rules about it. The
commandments said that nobody should work
on that day, meaning that there should be a
good holiday every week, and that all people,
especially those who worked very hard, should
have a rest. But the ministers had been so
anxious that the day should be a rest day that
they had tried to keep the people from doing
anything at all. They had spoiled the beautiful
day. One of their rules was that it was
wrong to carry anything during the sabbath.
So when they saw this man, with his glad face,
leaping up and down as he walked, first on
one leg and then on the other to make sure
that they were both sound and strong, and
carrying his bed rolled up in a bundle under
his arm, they stopped him. They said, "It is
the sabbath day; it is not lawful for thee to
carry thy bed." He answered them, "I have
been a sick man, lying on my bed for eight
and thirty years, and today I have been cured
at the pool of the angel. He that made me
whole, the same said unto me, 'Take up thy
bed and walk.' " Then they asked him in an
 angry voice, "What man is that which said
unto thee, 'Take up thy bed and walk?' "
They did not think at all what a good and
wonderful and blessed thing it was that this
poor neighbor of theirs had been made well.
All that they thought of was that one of
their little rules had been broken. They were
angry with the man for being healed, and with
our Lord for having healed him.
All this seems very strange to us, though
there are still people who care more for their
own way than they do for the bodies or even for
the souls of their fellow-men. Such persons
made many a complaint during our Lord's
ministry, for he went straight on doing good
deeds, no matter what day of the week it was.
One sabbath day he was in a synagogue, and a
man was there who had a withered hand, and
they watched him whether he would heal him
on the sabbath day, that they might accuse him.
And he called the man to come and stand up
where all could see him. So there he stood,
the poor man with his useless arm.
"Now," he said, "say what is in your hearts.
 lawful to do good on the sabbath days?" And
they said never a word. And he looked around
upon them all with deep indignation, being
grieved because their hearts were so hard that
they thought of their rules rather than of the
need of the man. And he said to the man,
"Stretch forth thine hand." And he stretched
it out; and his hand was restored whole as the
But the man who came from the pool of the
angel did not know who our Lord was; so
when they said, "Who told you to carry your
bed on the sabbath day?" he could not answer;
for our Lord had gone away through
the crowd. Afterwards Jesus found the man
in the temple, and said unto him, "Behold,
thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse
thing come unto thee;" meaning that sin is
worse than sickness, and that disease of the
soul is a worse thing than disease of the body.
But the Jews not only hated our Lord for
what he had done, but from that day forth
they sought to kill him, because he had done
these things on the sabbath day.
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