I don’t know how much time you all were able to put into thinking about the questions posed this morning, but I believe that the Scriptures are so much more rich than we can even begin to comprehend.
As we read this story of the healing of the blind man, I imagined what it would have been like being that blind man and hearing people talking about me as if I weren’t there. Could it have gone something like this? True, I’m blind, but I’m not deaf. Stop talking about me as if I’m not here. What about talking to me? And what does that guy mean when he says I am this way so I can bring glory to God? Yeah, right. All my life I have struggled. I’m poor. I’m dirty. I’m a beggar. Me, a common beggar – how can God’s glory possibly be shown through me?
And then I hear someone spit. I scoot over a bit trying to avoid getting hit. They’re probably spitting at me. Disgusted with me like everyone else is – sure, spit on the outcast. But then, I am touched. Something cold and wet is smeared on my eyes. I’m startled by the invasion of my privacy. I recoil at the touch. And then I am told to walk to the pool of Siloam. The pool of Siloam! That’s across town and downhill. That’s not going to be easy to navigate with no sight. And what about this goop on my eyes – did he put spit on me? Gross.
Amazingly there is nothing said about his journey to the waters, but I imagine it must have taken some time. From what I gather from maps, the pool is on the other side of town. It is the Sabbath and the distance people could walk from their homes was curtailed on the Sabbath. People must have been watching him or following him through town.. Those who hadn’t experienced that whole interaction with Jesus might have snickered or made fun of the man with mud smeared on his face. Was this man deliberately asked by Jesus to walk a great distance on the Sabbath to stir up the Pharisees? They were allowed to walk a certain distance on the Sabbath so they could get to the temple, but would going to wash at the pool have been forbidden? Was that considered work too? I think it probably was. What went on in the heart and mind of this man during this time?
What most amazes me about this man is his unquestioning obedience. He must have known the strict rules surrounding the Sabbath. Yet he did what Jesus asked, though he hadn’t even been promised healing. It seems Jesus truly knew what He meant when He had said to his disciples that this man was born blind so that the works of God might be displayed in him. He was foreshadowing what was about to happen. Here this man went stumbling through town, drawing attention to himself all along the way. Jesus didn’t just touch him and heal him on the spot. He sent him through town so that the work of God might be displayed in him.
And why mud? Why not just saliva? Or why not just wave His hands in front of the man’s eyes? Why not any other number of ways….? For one, it was forbidden to make mud on the Sabbath. It was another rule. Spit, clay and sand could make bricks or pots…… What Jesus did with His spit was also considered work. It certainly seems to me that he just deliberately pressed another BIG RED BUTTON! Walking for leisure forbidden on the Sabbath. Making mud forbidden on the Sabbath. Healing, forbidden on the Sabbath. And not only that, but he smeared it on the man’s face and showed the work to the whole town as the blind man stumbled on his way to the pool and returned back through town rejoicing.
This is the same Jesus that just prior to this event, right after having declared that He is equal with the I Am, went and hid. Yet now, he is getting the town involved. Seems to me that Jesus was deliberately doing things that would aggravate the Pharisees. The Pharisees are in an uproar.
And then the man returns seeing. What was that trip for him like as he returned back to the temple? He had not only obeyed, but he spoke boldly and apologetically when questioned. He spoke with courage to the Pharisees. He gets snarky and challenges them, “what do you want to be His disciple too?” Yet his parents, who are obviously also witnessing a miracle cower in fear in front of the authorities. They don’t want to say anything that might get them into trouble. Anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah would be put out of the temple. “Ask him, he is of age,” they say. Interesting how different people react so differently to the same event. And so the Pharisees ask him again and again and again. Four times they ask him the same thing. I don’t know if you all have ever been in this situation before, but unfortunately, I have had to testify in court and have an attorney grill me. The same question over and over again. It is nerve wracking. But this man was not shaken. It was a huge deal to be put out of the temple, but the healed man did not care. He actually sounds a lot like Jesus. He even pokes fun at the Pharisees. He says, in essence, “wow, it is amazing to me that you highly educated religious gurus don’t get it. He healed me, of course He comes from God.” Then they throw him out.
I asked the question last night, why did Jesus hide? This is my best guess at it. Consider this, Jesus ran from the people when they were going to stone him, but it obviously wasn’t because he was afraid of them. He had no problem right after that incident going out of His way to agitate those around him. Is it possible that He hid, because when they were going to stone Him, His time had not yet come? He could have done something amazing to make them drop the stones, He could have glued the stones to their hands. He could have turned them to dust. He could have blown something up. But His time had not yet come and He was not going to let them take His life and He was not going to put on a show. We know that Jesus says He lays down His life. He gives it freely. But this was not His time. Jesus wasn’t interested in creating a scene or being the center of attention. So He simply hid. Waiting until His time came to be taken. He was going to give up His life according to God’s will and in God’s perfect time.
But as soon as He had gotten away from that situation, He immediately went about His purpose – continuing to make Himself known and continuing to show others the truth about themselves. The biggest lesson for me in this passage is that Jesus consistently does the unexpected. Everyone around Him had ideas about what He should be like. But He did not fit into their mold. He did not fit into their box. He wasn’t a valiant King who came riding on a mighty steed. He wasn’t handsome. He wasn’t tall. He didn’t care about titles or education. He didn’t care about rules and traditions. He wasn’t interested in being the center of attention. And He consistently used ordinary, mundane things to shame and humiliate the wise and the learned. If we think about it, this is God’s pattern throughout history. He had Noah build an ark in the desert. He used a small shepherd boy to kill Goliath. He chose a teenage virgin to carry Him. He was laid in a feeding trough. His A-team of disciples consisted of uneducated fishermen and despised tax collectors. He chose the cross over the crown. He broke the rules. He spit to heal. Jesus delighted and still delights to work with in and through the lowly and common things of this world.
Who are we most like in this account? I think we should all really stop and ponder this point. When our days are filled with the ordinary and the mundane, do we think God can and wants to work through us? Do we believe that unquestioning obedience is beautiful to God? Or are we more concerned with seeking titles and recognition.? How important is it to us to feel important or be looked up to by others? What drives us – God’s standards or the world’s? Speaking very candidly, I have experienced first hand, that people treat me differently when they hear what schools I have attended. Isn’t it true that having a diploma from a prestigious school or a bunch of letters after one’s name, gain’s one more respect and recognition? Isn’t it true, that as Christians, we often times fall into this same trap? Either thinking we have to be a certain way or accumulate some pieces of paper or titles in order to be somebody or treating somebody differently because they have these things?
This thinking is so not like Jesus. The Pharisees were the most learned, the most esteemed, had the highest credentials of their time. They studied and knew the Scriptures the best They held power and authority among the Jews. To put it into modern day terms, wouldn’t it have been like this healed man was now in the very presence of the President or the Pope? (regardless about how we feel about either of these people, I think we can all recognize that these positions command a certain respect). He was speaking to the best of the best – the creme de la creme. Yet these things did not concern or impress the man that had been healed. Nor did they impress Jesus. God is not impressed by degrees or titles our upbringing or our education. He is not concerned with our “smarts.” Rather, He is concerned with our “hearts.”
The blind man had a heart of gold. Though his eyes were sealed, he saw more clearly than all the wealthy, healthy and highly educated around him. This is what Jesus valued and used to make God’s glory known.