Today's post is an excerpt from the companion study guide for my book, A Firm Place to Stand. The study guide will be available for download as a free pdf on my website on Jan 31, 2020. The downloadable guide will include questions relating the content and situations from the book to the Scripture passages mentioned throughout.
As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him 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 saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing (John 9:1-7).
In Jerusalem, there was a man who had been born blind. He made his living as a beggar, spending his days sitting beside the road and hoping for charity from those who passed by. The righteous people in his day blamed sin for their physical sicknesses, diseases, and physical infirmities. Because of his blindness, they judged him to be a lowly sinner. And he knew these were their thoughts.
In this passage of Scripture, Jesus is about to undo that notion.
Through Jesus' words and actions, we can understand that, although we may suffer painful and permanent consequences for our sin, these things are not a punishment from God.
Sometimes we allow sin and the consequences we face because of our sins to blind us, at least temporarily, to the truth of God’s love and the knowledge of who we really are. And yes, God will often discipline those He loves (see Proverbs 3:12), but He doesn't do it with cancer or Parkinson's or heart disease or macular degeneration or any other sickness.
Here he sat, a grown man on the side of the road, begging for charity from people he couldn’t see—and who didn’t want to see him.
He certainly didn’t see Jesus coming.
But Jesus saw him.
Just like with the blind man, Jesus sees you. He sees you in your despair, your frustration, your doubt and disbelief. He sees you in your darkest moments and in the shame and guilt you wrap yourself in after. He sees you even when you don’t see Him.
Jesus had compassion on the blind man and offered to heal him. He placed mud on the man’s eyes then told him to go and wash in the Pool of Siloam. Jesus could have completed the act of healing right there with nothing more required of the blind man. Was Jesus testing the man to see if he had faith? Or was He revealing a bigger truth through His request?
This blind man may have never heard of Jesus before this day. But something made him allow this stranger to come and put mud in his eyes. I think it is safe to say he was desperate for a healing. But did he also sense a divine healing was possible when he entered into Jesus' presence?
Scripture doesn’t tell us if the man closed his eyes before Jesus applied the mud, or if the mud had been placed directly on his eyes. Either way it would be painful or at least uncomfortable. Scripture also doesn’t tell us the distance the man had to go to reach the Pool of Siloam, but it was more than a few steps away. And a slow journey for a blind man with mud in his eyes.
John 9 tell us Siloam means “sent.”
In Luke 4:18 Jesus states, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free… ”
In effect, Jesus told this man to go and wash in the One who was sent to proclaim freedom for the prisoners, recovering of sight for the blind, and to set the oppressed free.
By sending the man to the Pool of Siloam, He made the point that only through Jesus will we receive true and lastly healing and restoration.
Perhaps you have difficulty accepting the truth that God created you for His glory because you, like this blind man, have heard the whispered, and sometimes shouted accusations, of others. The disciples even went so far as to ask Jesus who sinned, this man or his parents—within hearing distance of the man.
But while the disciples were busy trying to decide who to blame, Jesus focused on the healing and how that act of restoration would bring glory to God.
“…but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
The past didn’t matter to Jesus. He focused on what the future could be.
Questions for Reflection:
Can you relate to how this man might have felt? From the day he was born he had been told that his blindness was a result of sin. Would he have wondered what sin he had committed to warrant his blindness? Would he have wondered why others weren’t suffering equally for the sins they committed? Do you believe he would have asked Jesus for healing if he thought his blindness was a punishment from God?
Might he have felt distant from God? Or questioned God’s love for him? Might he even have felt angry with God? Have you?
Are you sitting beside a dusty road, unworthy, ashamed, and alone, and wondering why me? Do you believe Jesus sees you? Do you believe He loves you? How would your life be different if you did?
found? Are we sometimes tempted to reach for the nearest relief we can find, to take a shortcut instead of doing the work Jesus asks of us? What are some of the sources of temporary relief from the pain we go to? What is the problem with these shortcuts?
v What did Maribel believe was true about herself and her life? Have you ever experienced times when you felt the same?
Do you believe God can use your past to glorify Himself? If not, what keeps you from believing? If so, how are you allowing Him to use it?
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