John 9: 1-7 (NCV)
As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been born blind. His followers asked him, “Teacher, whose sin caused this man to be born blind-his own sin or his parents’ sin?” Jesus answered, “It is not this man’s sin or his parents’ sin that made him be blind. This man was born blind so that God’s power could be shown in him. While it is daytime, we must continue doing the work of the One who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” After Jesus said this, he spit on the ground and made some mud with it and put the mud on the man’s eyes. Then he told the man, “Go and wash in the Pool of Siloam.” (Siloam means sent.) So the man went, washed, and came back seeing.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this story. I love the book of John, and his emphasis on healing. You may think it is because of my own struggle with disease, and perhaps that is where the fascination began, but now it is because of the picture of compassion that it stirs up in my mind. This story is my favorite. Of all the stories of Christ healing someone, this one is the one I wish I could have witnessed.
I just keep thinking about this mud, and how crazy it must have been to have some man come up and put mud on a strangers eyes. I think about the blind man. I pretend to be the blind man. I wonder for the blind man. I wonder whether his attitude was cynical or welcoming. I’m sure he was confused. I’m sure he must of thought, if he didn’t say it out loud, “What is this guy doing?!” And I wonder, had he heard of Jesus before. Did he know about HIM? Or was he blind to His reputation as well as His person.
I love how John says Jesus just did it. He doesn’t say Christ asked for permission or even gave a sweet, “excuse me.” Nope. Jesus just walked right up to the guy. Or rather went to him and then started spitting in the mud right next to him. I wonder about conversation. Did they speak anything to one another. If it was me I don’t know if I could have just sat quiet. I couldn’t sit quiet as a regular member of society. But I especially couldn’t sit quiet as an outcast. He was blind. He was a beggar. He was questioned as either a man from sinful parents, or a sinner himself, considered to be judged and punished for his sin. He was ignored. He was walked by. He was put out from society. He was (I’m sure) lonely. And if he was me, he would have said something.
And I think about that conversation always. I imagine the blind man saying, ever so humbly, “hi.” Because if he was to say something harsh perhaps the man would walk away. And while putting mud on his eyes was definitely an odd thing, it was also an intentional thing. It was a connection with another human. And as quickly as the man says hi, I imagine Jesus with a beautiful, sweet, compassionate smile, and maybe even a small laugh replying with, “hey.” And I imagine Jesus is full of compassion for this man’s struggle and excitement for the impending blessing. Because Jesus knew what this man had been through. And He knew how much He was about to change a life. I wonder if Jesus smiled just because He loved that blind man. He loved him so much, and I often think He must of been looking forward to this day of healing. Did Christ yearn for this day of healing since the moment He created this blind man? The day this man whom Christ loved so dearly would finally get to see. And he wouldn’t just be able to see, he would be able to see his savior. I think about this and I think it was a day Christ looked forward to. It was a day that made our Jesus smile.
And then all of that brings me to one question: How many times does our Jesus put mud on my eyes? Every time I read this story it amazes me that the blind man goes and washes off the mud. It AMAZES me. Because if that was me, I would probably yell at Jesus. I would scream at him, “I can’t just go walk to a pool! I’m blind!” and I would probably wipe off the mud and keep sitting, angry after all this emotional build up that He would ask something like that for a blind guy like me.
And then I think, how many times do I actually do that? How many times am I presented with a situation from God and I just blow it off. I blow it off because I’m mad or frustrated at all the things that He has put into my life. All the things that don’t make sense to me. Because let’s be honest, most of the things in my life I don’t get. And I get mad for not getting it. How many times have I refused to follow His commands, His prodding, His guidance, because I can’t see anything. Because none of what He’s asking makes any sense to me.
I look at the story of this blind man, I know this story of the blind man and it still doesn’t make any sense to me. Why would God put mud on a man’s eyes to heal him? Why make him walk however far to wash it off? Wouldn’t it be easier for both parties involved to just skip the mud and go straight to the healing?
But I also think of the beauty of his obedience. The fact that he went speaks volumes to me. The fact that he spoke about Jesus. You can see the cogs of his brain turning as he processes who Christ was. First He is “the man” then “a prophet”, then “of God”, and finally he finishes by worshiping Him. And I think, if it didn’t happen exactly like it did, do we know if the blind man would have processed it through like he did? Would he have learned to love Him like he did?
And if I don’t go through the steps that Christ sets up for me, would I process as I have? Would I learn to love Him as I have? What things is He trying to get me to see? What places in my life has He put mud on? In what places is He asking for obedience and a humble heart? May I learn from the blind man and have a heart like his.