Soon another Feast came around and Jesus was back in Jerusalem.
Near the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem there was a pool, in Hebrew called Bethesda, with five alcoves.
Hundreds of sick people - blind, crippled, paralyzed - were in these alcoves.
One man had been an invalid there for thirty-eight years.
When Jesus saw him stretched out by the pool and knew how long he had been there, he said, "Do you want to get well?"
The sick man said, "Sir, when the water is stirred, I don't have anybody to put me in the pool. By the time I get there, somebody else is already in."
Jesus said, "Get up, take your bedroll, start walking."
The man was healed on the spot. He picked up his bedroll and walked off.
The Jews stopped the healed man and said, "It's the Sabbath. You can't carry your bedroll around. It's against the rules."
But he told them, "The man who made me well told me to. He said, 'Take your bedroll and start walking.'"
They asked, "Who gave you the order to take it up and start walking?"
But the healed man didn't know, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd.
A little later Jesus found him in the Temple and said, "You look wonderful! You're well! Don't return to a sinning life or something worse might happen."
The man went back and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.
That is why the Jews were out to get Jesus - because he did this kind of thing on the Sabbath.
But Jesus defended himself. "My Father is working straight through, even on the Sabbath. So am I."
That really set them off. The Jews were now not only out to expose him; they were out to kill him. Not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was calling God his own Father, putting himself on a level with God.
So Jesus explained himself at length. "I'm telling you this straight. The Son can't independently do a thing, only what he sees the Father doing. What the Father does, the Son does.
The Father loves the Son and includes him in everything he is doing.
for in the same way that the Father raises the dead and creates life, so does the Son. The Son gives life to anyone he chooses.
Neither he nor the Father shuts anyone out. The Father handed all authority to judge over to the Son
so that the Son will be honored equally with the Father. Anyone who dishonors the Son, dishonors the Father, for it was the Father's decision to put the Son in the place of honor.
"It's urgent that you listen carefully to this: Anyone here who believes what I am saying right now and aligns himself with the Father, who has in fact put me in charge, has at this very moment the real, lasting life and is no longer condemned to be an outsider. This person has taken a giant step from the world of the dead to the world of the living.
"It's urgent that you get this right: The time has arrived - I mean right now! - when dead men and women will hear the voice of the Son of God and, hearing, will come alive.
Just as the Father has life in himself, he has conferred on the Son life in himself.
And he has given him the authority, simply because he is the Son of Man, to decide and carry out matters of Judgment.
"Don't act so surprised at all this. The time is coming when everyone dead and buried will hear his voice.
Those who have lived the right way will walk out into a resurrection Life; those who have lived the wrong way, into a resurrection Judgment.
"I can't do a solitary thing on my own: I listen, then I decide. You can trust my decision because I'm not out to get my own way but only to carry out orders.
If I were simply speaking on my own account, it would be an empty, self-serving witness.
But an independent witness confirms me, the most reliable Witness of all.
Furthermore, you all saw and heard John, and he gave expert and reliable testimony about me, didn't he?
"But my purpose is not to get your vote, and not to appeal to mere human testimony. I'm speaking to you this way so that you will be saved.
John was a torch, blazing and bright, and you were glad enough to dance for an hour or so in his bright light.
But the witness that really confirms me far exceeds John's witness. It's the work the Father gave me to complete. These very tasks, as I go about completing them, confirm that the Father, in fact, sent me.
The Father who sent me, confirmed me. And you missed it. You never heard his voice, you never saw his appearance.
There is nothing left in your memory of his Message because you do not take his Messenger seriously.
"You have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you'll find eternal life there. But you miss the forest for the trees. These Scriptures are all about me!
And here I am, standing right before you, and you aren't willing to receive from me the life you say you want.
"I'm not interested in crowd approval.
And do you know why? Because I know you and your crowds. I know that love, especially God's love, is not on your working agenda.
I came with the authority of my Father, and you either dismiss me or avoid me. If another came, acting self-important, you would welcome him with open arms.
How do you expect to get anywhere with God when you spend all your time jockeying for position with each other, ranking your rivals and ignoring God?
"But don't think I'm going to accuse you before my Father. Moses, in whom you put so much stock, is your accuser.
If you believed, really believed, what Moses said, you would believe me. He wrote of me.
If you won't take seriously what he wrote, how can I expect you to take seriously what I speak?"
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)