Today’s reading: John 9:1-23
Today we read the famous story of Jesus healing a man who had been born blind. The passage has some interesting details:
His disciples questioned Him: “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” Jesus answered. “This came about so that God’s works might be displayed in him. We must do the works of Him who sent Me while it is day. Night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
After He said these things He spit on the ground, made some mud from the saliva, and spread the mud on his eyes. “Go,” He told him, “wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means “Sent”). So he left, washed, and came back seeing. John 9:2-7
During that time there was a general belief that if you suffered physical afflictions is was because of punishment for generational sin in your family. Jesus is putting an end to that idea. These things are not God’s divine judgment for sin. Judgement comes at the end of our lives and is based on the choices we make.
Jesus also says that “we”, meaning himself and the Apostles, must do the works of the Father. This is a consistent message of Jesus, he is here to do the Father’s works and if we are to be faithful disciples we must do the will of the Father as well.
By far, this story is known for the unusual manner in which Jesus chooses to heal this person. In every other case, Jesus simply commands that the person be healed and then they are. This time Jesus makes mud from his saliva and the dirt on the ground. Why does he do this? Some people speculate that because the man is born blind and was “blind from the beginning” that Jesus is “recreating” him and the mud represents the forming of the earth. This seems to me to be a possible but unsatisfying explanation. For me, I think the key is in the editorial comment that the name of the pool means “Sent”. The pool was a popular place and we see from the rest of the passage that this blind man was well known in the community for suffering this affliction. Thus, when he arrives at the pool, his face covered in mud, people are going to take notice. In fact, this is exactly how this plays out. The blind man will then tell everyone that it was Jesus who healed him. Jesus has effectively enlisted this man to be a herald for him.
This healing is also happening on the Sabbath. They will investigate how this healing happened. They will even interview his parents. The man will testify to the works of Jesus. This will aggravate the Pharisees and push them closer to a confrontation with Jesus. Again, this man has in effect been “sent” by Jesus to move events in the direction he wants them to go, that direction will ultimately lead to the Cross.
Tomorrow: John 9:24-41