Yale University Art Gallery/Dura-Europos Collection

“Take up your mat and walk” (John 5:8), Jesus (above center) commands the paralytic (at left), who carries his bed on his back, in this painting from the baptistery. But a group of Jews, the gospel story continues, warns the healed man, “It is the sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your mat” (John 5:10). In the Dura painting, Jesus and the healed paralytic gesture to a second sick man, lying on a bed in the foreground, and invite him to be cured, too, in conscious defiance of Jewish law. The Bible does not specifically mention this second ill man, who may have been added in an attempt to portray the Jewish law regarding the Sabbath as invalid.