No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
(The Jesus Diary Continues)
I was puzzled as I watched the gaggle of Pharisees dogging the footsteps of the man Jesus had just cured of his paralysis. Why were they doing this? I was about to receive yet another lesson in the duplicity, arrogance and hypocrisy of our so-called Guardians of the Law of Moses. Anxious to see what was going on I followed the procession of the man and his friends and the team of scowling Pharisees.
It didn't take them long to catch up with him, since he was lugging his cot with him. That, I soon discovered, was part of the problem.
"Hey!" they shouted, as they accosted him and his friends. "Who was that guy who cured you?"
"I have no idea. He didn't tell me his name."
"Well, he has broken the law!" the Pharisees cried in unison. The cured man, whose name I still did not know, just stared at them.
"Furthermore, you are breaking the law by carrying that cot. Don't you know today is the Sabbath? Don't you know carrying something on the Sabbath is considered work and work is prohibited on the Sabbath?"
"But he told me to pick up my cot and go home. I'm just following his instructions."
"He is an even greater sinner than you are! He also is guilty of labor on the Sabbath by curing you."
One sneering Pharisee said, "How do we know that you were even crippled to begin with? Maybe this was a scheme between you and that fraud to make it seem like a cure!"
This was greeted with laughter from his companions: "Where have you been for the past thirty eight years? Even if you came here just once you would know he has always been here, hoping for just the type of miracle that took place here today!"
I was shocked as I listened to this exchange. This poor man had been paralyzed and immobile for thirty eight years. During all that time, his faith brought him back again and again, confident that a cure awaited him at these miraculous waters. Today it happened, because of a strange man who saw his faith and had the power to do something about it.
Now, these two-faced charlatans were criticizing him for carrying his cot on the Sabbath and Jesus for curing him on the Sabbath, and even questioning the authenticity of his malady. Despite their laughter, his friends were beginning to grumble. I overheard some of their comments.
"What would they have him do? Go back and lay by the pond until tomorrow and see if that kind man might come back again?"
"Don't they understand anything about faith? Don’t they understand that is why he kept coming back to the pond?"
"How can it be evil to do good on the Sabbath?"
"How can they berate a man on such a joyful day? They should be congratulating him and rejoicing with him, happy for his good fortune and blessings!"
"I wonder what Moses would do? Would he agree that the Law is so heartless?"
Turning their backs on the Pharisees, the well-wishers continued on their way. They wanted a party and they were going to have one, regardless of what the Pharisees had to say. The joyous parade was led by a proud lively man carrying a cot and smiling from ear to ear.
But the Pharisees were not smiling. This had not turned out well for them. They had hoped to intimidate the man and his entourage with their accusations and legalisms. Instead of instant obedience and pleas for forgiveness they had been confronted with arguments and angry looks. Worst of all, they had even been laughed at.
I didn't know which way to go. I always like parties, especially if Jesus provides the wine. But I also wanted to eavesdrop on the Pharisees to see how they were going to react to this embarrassment. Threatening glares told me I was not welcome among them. I guess they knew which side I was on. So I went to the party.
(This article has been adapted from the book The Jesus Diary, An Anonymous Observer's Record of the Life and Accomplishments of Our Savior, which is available at Amazon, Walmart.com, and other online retailers, and can be ordered at any bookstore.)