It was a part of our Lord's ministry among men to restore to health the body as well as the soul. He was often moved with compassion by the disease and suffering which he saw as he went about Galilee or passed through the streets of Jerusalem. St. John, the evangelist (chapter v.), relates an incident which took place at a pool called Bethesda near a sheep market in Jerusalem.

There were here five porches in which lay "a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water." It seems that at certain intervals the waters of the pool were troubled, as if moved by some unseen agency. It was believed that the first person stepping in thereafter would be healed of any disease he might have.

"And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole? The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me. Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked."[20]

[20] There was another case of Christ's healing a paralytic, but as on that occasion the sick man's bed was let down through the roof into a house, the incident does not fit the picture so well as that of Bethesda.

This is the incident illustrated by our picture. Jesus has already brought the paralytic to his feet, and now sends him on his way. Two other men complete the group, but take no part in the conversation. One is a disciple, perhaps John, who accompanies the Master, the other is a spectator peering curiously over the paralytic's shoulder.

The restored paralytic carries under one arm a rug, which has been clumsily rolled into a bundle. This is the sort of "bed" used among the poor of Eastern countries. He is but half clad in a garment which slips from his shoulders, showing his emaciated form. The face is sharpened by suffering; he is altogether a strange and repulsive figure. Like the beggar who lay in St. Martin's path he represents a degraded class of humanity.

He leans now towards his unknown friend in a pitiable effort to express his gratitude. The eyes have a look of dumb devotion like those of a faithful dog. He lays one hand humbly upon his breast. Jesus turns to the poor creature with an expression of infinite compassion. He reads the man's heart with his searching glance. Thanks he does not need; his first care is to send the man forth to begin life anew.

Buckingham Palace

The head of the Saviour is painted after the ideal portrait which has been handed down from generation to generation since the early days of Christianity. The oval face with classical features, the full beard, the long hair parted in the middle, such are the familiar features which we have all come to associate with the person of Jesus. Yet notwithstanding this general similarity in the many pictures of Christ, every great artist has brought out something different in the face.

It was Titian's peculiar glory to show the intellectual side of our Lord's character as no other Italian had done. Van Dyck, with characteristic admiration for the great Venetian, followed his example. If we compare our illustration with Titian's Christ of the Tribute Money[21] we shall see how closely the former imitates the latter. Yet, as no man of imagination can copy exactly another's work, Van Dyck's ideal of Christ is less ascetic than Titian's and somewhat more benign. In both pictures the pure countenance of the Saviour is sharply contrasted with the coarse face beside him.

[21] See Chapter VIII. of the volume on Titian in the Riverside Art Series.

We are interested to read on in St. John's narrative the sequel of the story illustrated in our picture. It happened to be the Sabbath day, and, as the restored paralytic passed through the city, the Jews said unto him: "It is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed."

"He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk. Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk? And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place.

"Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee. The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole."