Mud and Spit
“Mud and Spit”
1 Samuel 16: 1-13
John 9: 1-41
Ephesians 5: 8-14
How many of you know people who have experienced a miracle? Now, you don’t have to raise your hands, but how many of you are skeptical about that miracle? When you were first approached by the person and were told of what they experienced, what questions ran through your head? As you thought about it over time, what really stuck out to you? Did you find yourself holding onto the truth of the miracle, or did you find yourself picking it apart with logic and discounting the event as told to you?
Perhaps you don’t know of anyone who has experienced a miracle and you are not sure how you would feel to hear such news. So, let me build for you a hypothetical situation. Let’s say that you have a good friend who has a child. The child is born with a severe disability that makes it impossible for the child to use their legs. You watch this child grow up and you see the experiences the child must go through every day because of their disability. But, one day your friend calls you, “You have got to come over, right now!” Because of the sense of urgency in your friend’s voice, you drop everything and make your way to their home. Upon arriving, this child whom you have watched grow and experience pain after pain runs to your car door to meet you. Mouth wide open you stand, watching the child run and jump with excitement. Your friend approaches you with eyes full of tears, “it happened so fast! All He did was pick up some dirt and spit in it then rubbed it on my child’s legs. As soon as we washed it off, my baby sprang up from the wheelchair as if it had only been a seat at the dinner table.” Your friend, looks at you, “It is a miracle, my child was healed.”
What questions do you have?
The Blind Man is Healed
Today we understand the body a bit better than they did in the first century of the common era. We know and accept that diseases and defects can be caused by multiple genetic traits, as well as, unforeseen side effects or possible accidents. To be born without sight in today’s world would not be viewed as a punishment from God by most people. But, that is not the case in the story we hear today. The affliction that the blind man suffers from must be a punishment for sins against God. Jesus’ own disciples ask the question, “Who sinned, this man or his parents?” There is no other assumption made. The man is in the state he is in because the price for sin must be paid. Jesus turns this thought process on its head though, by responding to his disciples, “Neither this man nor his parents have sinned. He has been made this way so God can be glorified through him.” Next Jesus reaches down and fills his hands with dirt and spits into his hands until he has made a clay mixture and then he places this mixture over the man’s eyes. He instructs him to go to the pool of Siloam and to wash. After doing so, the man is able to see.
For the ordinary reader of scripture this would be the way God is to be glorified, through this miracle of Jesus’ doing. But, we are not ordinary readers of Scripture! There is more to be found here, for God’s glory is yet to be revealed in our blind man seeing the world for the first time. The story is less about the miracle of healing and more about the miracle of faith.
When the man returns from the pool with his sight his neighbors begin to question many things. “Is this even the same man?” they ask. “No, this is simply someone who looks like him,” they convince one another. It is easier to for them to believe that this man has a complete look alike then to believe his sight has been restored! But, is this really that far fetched? In our hypothetical situation with our friend and their child, wouldn’t our thought process be something similar? Maybe, the doctors have misdiagnosed how permanent this disability really was. Maybe it was as bad or as untreatable. Maybe they just needed to grow out of it. It is easier to come to some logical rationalization, no matter how improbable, than to believe that an actual miracle has taken place. Our blind man exclaims, “no it is me!” In disbelief and without answers the people take the man to the Pharisees.
The Pharisees are also in disbelief about the man’s ability to see. Again the question of sin returns, but this time it has nothing to do with the blind man and everything to do with Jesus. The Pharisees believe Jesus to be a sinner because he healed on the Sabbath. Not only did he heal, but he worked with his hands by making clay from mud and spit. They ask the question, “how can a sinner heal?” The Pharisees seem to ignore the miracle that has taken place and rejoice in the restored sight in front of them. They are more concerned with how someone less educated than themselves and who seemingly doesn’t operate under the Temple laws could have this power that alludes them.
We will come back to that.
In part of their disbelief the Pharisees call the man’s parents for questioning. The parents, seem to provide a pretty lackluster defense of their son. The Pharisees ask them two questions, first, had their child been blind since birth? The parents responded, “yes” to the first question. The second question was how did the healing from this blindness take place. The parents respond, “ask him he is of age.” Not, the most staunch backing from the parental units on that one. The writer shares with us some background as to why the parents may have responded this way. Because they were scared of being expelled from the synagogue.
This fear is not something we should begrudge the parents though. Let me ask this rhetorical question. In your life, have you ever downplayed the miracle of Christ’s salvation because you were afraid of the ridicule? Have you ever not stood up for Christianity amongst a group of people who seemed to be putting it down? Have you ever had the inclination that revealing your faith and understanding of who Christ was to you would change how certain people viewed you, so it is better to keep it a secret? Well, you are not alone. For if the man’s parents would have revealed they believed that Jesus had healed their son, then they stood the possibility of being expelled from the Synagogue. Being part of the Jewish center was much more important and offered much more contentment than breaking ties to faithfully serve this man called Jesus. Even if he had healed their son.
The Glory Revealed
Just as the parents suggest, the Pharisees return their questioning upon the man. Once again they state the sinful nature of the man Jesus. But, the blind man responds in a simple and direct way. He reveals a quote that we all have heard before, “look, all I know, is that I was blind but now I see.” Simple. Direct. To the point. He seems to be saying, “Say what you want, but when I woke up this morning, I could not see. Just like every other morning for my entire life up to this point. But, after my experience with this man, things are different. I don’t know why. I am not sure who He is. Say what you want, He changed me.”
The man even gets a little playful in his answers to the Pharisees. They ask who this man is? The question is asked so, they can condemn Jesus, but the man responds, “Why would you like to worship him too?” There is something to be considered here. This man, cannot answer the question. He cannot pick Jesus out of a line up because he has not seen Him. The man was blind until he washed the clay from his eyes in the pool. Yet, he doesn’t say that. He is more interested in knowing who the man is, so he can praise Him.
The Pharisees again exclaim the sinful nature of Jesus. The man, fed up, exclaims, “Look he healed my eyes! What are you talking about? God responds to the devout and that is what this man is! The evidence is before you! I was blind but now I see!” Enraged at the audacity of the man who was begging on the street merely hours ago to attempt to teach them, the Pharisees expel him from the synagogue. The miracle is not to be celebrated, it is easier to sweep it under the rug and remove it from sight. The Pharisees turn a blind eye to the miracle of the man’s sight.
Jesus, however, finds the man and reveals Himself to him. The man, without hesitation, worships the Son of Man. In shaping clay, just as God did in the beginning of time, Jesus has created new life. He has changed who the blind man was, not just in a physical aspect, but more so in a spiritual understanding. The man has faith and the man has purpose, because his life is now in tune with the one who offered him salvation. He sees Christ before him, and he follows Him.
Our response to miracles is likely not too different than our response to faith. We want to believe, but sometimes, it is easier to question or to offer other theories. Sometimes, it is easier to hide our amazement at the fear of ridicule. When confronted with a miracle, maybe we feel jealousy or anger that we have not experienced one for ourselves.
A friend of mine’s wife made a post on Facebook this week. I have not seen this friend in over 30 years, but we were close as kids. He and his wife have adopted a few children and their oldest has autism. The particular spectrum of autism, it seems, allows his son to become easily agitated and he can sometimes harm himself because of it. Just weeks ago, his son developed a strep infection that caused a greater syndrome that increased this ability to get agitated and to hurt himself. My eyes filled with tears when I saw the posts he made of his son with scratch marks on his face. Oh, the turmoil he must feel in not being able to help, I thought to myself.
But, the post that was made, stated something we all should all take to heart. She was out for a jog and she saw a seemingly normal family packing up the car for a typical Saturday morning soccer game. Her heart became sad for a moment as she considered how nice it would be to have a “normal” life. But, then she was overcome with joy in the life that Christ had given her. She realized that her life was not to be normal or ordinary, but it was to be extraordinary. God had equipped her and her family to accomplish great things. Her life was to be lived in the glory of knowing who she was and who God created her to be. She did not dwell on the difficulties that faced her each day and the struggles that her child must walk through each day. Her post indicated to me that she understood that the reason her life was the way it was, is do God can be glorified through it. In her faith she found restored sight. She was blind, but now she saw.
Don’t discount your faith. Don’t downplay the role Jesus has in your life. Don’t hide from the truth that faces you every moment of every day. Christ came to this world to walk among us, so we may know Him. So that he may deliver us from sin and give us eternal life. Sometimes it just as simple as it sounds to give into the faith of knowing Him. It is quite easy to say, “Look, all I know is, I was blind but now I see.”