Wednesday, May 14, 2014
John 9 . . . but now I see, Part II
Last time we studied this chapter, we discussed God's purpose in adversity, and our responses to it. Today we will get into the controversy that was sparked by the actions of Jesus in this passage.
When we reach verses 6 and 7, we see the actual healing of the man who was born blind. I've heard many sermons, as you probably have, drawing analogies between the blindness of sinful humans, and the healing Jesus brings to our lives. But the Spirit is pointing our study in a slightly different direction today.
Having said these things, [Jesus] spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’ (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.”
So here is where the controversy starts; Jesus has told us that the works of God will be made manifest, and then He, Himself, heals the man. This action (designed by God) is going to reveal some hearts here -- some are going to be blasphemers in their response; others will worship Him. Those who have eyes to see will say in effect, "We have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth." The blind man will respond this way. The Pharisees won't.
Ready? Let's dive in!
Ever wonder why Jesus used mud to heal the blind man? First, He did it because it was against the Law to do it on the Sabbath; at least, it was against the Pharisee's take on the Law. These folks were uber sensitive, uber legalistic; they actually were puffed up and arrogant about how righteous they were, and how good they were at complying with the Law. Look in verses thirteen and fourteen:
"They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes."
Did you catch that? John is giving us a clue, just like he had turned to us and remarked so that we would "get it." The mud-making is explicitly connected with the Sabbath -- and the Pharisees. They had developed lots of paragraphs and sub-paragraphs under the prohibition of work on the Sabbath, and one of them was the kneading of dough. The word used for mud or clay in this passage is the same as the word for dough, so Jesus had "broken the Law" against kneading dough, or clay, or mud.
Why did He do that?
To show that He was "Lord of the Sabbath." Remember Matthew 12:8?
"For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."
He (Jesus) defines the Sabbath. He tells us what the whole point of the Sabbath rest is -- it's healing. Recuperation. Rest. The reason we rest on the Sabbath is that we are weak, and helpless, and God sustains and heals us. He gives us the strength we need. What better day than a Sabbath for God to find and heal a broken man? To give to him, and to his parents, rest from all of the struggles of blindness, of taking care of a helpless individual, of fending off questions of "whose fault was it?" That is the whole purpose of the Sabbath rest; it's to give God's blessings to weary human beings!
We are going to see in the rest of the chapter that the blind man becomes clearer and clearer about Who Jesus is, and become stronger and stronger in his courage -- even defending Jesus against adversaries that could prove dangerous to one who "bucks the system." He is going to see Jesus, confess faith in Him, and worship Him. And others will reveal their blasphemous hearts after this controversy develops.
The second reason Jesus used the mud is to show that God often uses simple, everyday means to do His wonderful works in our world.
We all know that Jesus could simply have spoken.
The man would have been healed.
His sightless eyes would have had the gift and power of sight.
God doesn't need these simple, everyday things to do His work, but He uses them. Look at Proverbs 21:31:
"The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord."
Does He need the horse? Does He need the warrior on the horse's back?
But He uses them. God doesn't despise, or look with contempt, on this marvelous world that He has created. This physical world can be used for His purposes. He uses food to sustain our lives. He uses sunlight to give us needed vitamins. He allows men to discover, invent, create, and the things that they create, from cough syrup to antibiotics, can be used to bring about healing. Scientists can pontificate about how these things work, but when you get right down to it, at the molecular level, we have to just say that it works because of God. Because He created it. Because He allows it to be used. And if our hearts are humble and worshipful, we will agree that God is at the root of everything!
It's an important thing to believe that God uses simple, everyday things to accomplish His purposes. And what are His purposes?
Ultimately, that the glory of His work will be displayed:
"The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork."
So now, Jesus tells him to wash in the pool of Siloam, which means "sent." This is another remark directed at us by John -- telling us the meaning of the name. Why? Well, perhaps because the water in the pool came by a stream from a distant spring. Jesus might have been making a comparison between the pool, called "Sent," and Himself, sent from the Father as living water for us.
This water then, signifies cleansing, healing and life. Remember in John 4, Jesus offered the woman at the well "living water." It was the water of life. When we meet Jesus and receive Him by faith, we will live and see and begin to be healed. We will be completely healed at the resurrection. All of our healing is because of our new spiritual lives, and those come from Jesus, the One Who is sent!