If we have experienced God touching our lives in a way that we could not explain in another way, how have we reacted? For some this may have been a dramatic healing where medical services were not involved. Other’s report a vision and this seems to particularly occur in the Islamic world. I cannot know your experience although I have listened to many personal accounts of various sorts. For a lot of people, they will not have personally experienced that form of God’s touch in their lives. They may have experienced God through a combination of other people ministering to them, from learning and reflection, from experience of life’s events and opportunities arising. Frequently God’s involvement in our lives takes us by surprise and may be initiated simply by what someone says to us unbidden.
The blind man in Chapter 9 probably started his day the same as all his others, preparing his begging bowl and finding his usual place at the road side. He may have heard rumours of Jesus but in this case, there is no record of him calling out. But his presence prompted a question from Jesus’ disciples that has often been asked and is still prevalent in common conversation. Many people casually attribute misfortune to previous sin by saying things like, ‘I must have been very bad some time before’. Somehow the disciples had gathered the man was born blind and asked Jesus if that was due to the man’s sin or his parents, falsely believing that God punishes people in this punitive way.
Jesus’ response was that the man had always been in God’s mind to be a sign. In his case not just a sign for him but for all. God was going to use him to testify to who Jesus was and what his mission in the world was. He was a living metaphor. John 9.3 The bigger picture would have not have been part of the man’s thinking even though it was in Jesus’ mind. We will return to the metaphor and sign on a later day, today we are thinking from the man’s perspective.
The next thing the man knew, Jesus was applying mud to his eyes made from saliva and earth. There was nothing supernatural about either, it was symbolic. Still blind he heard Jesus say go and wash in the Pool of Siloam. Jesus was using a play on words here, Siloam means sent and the man was being sent but Jesus was also sent by God the Father. At this point what the man did is crucial. He was obedient and went. He acted in faith, believing Jesus. He was the living definition of faith. Archaeologists identified this pool in 2004. The aqueduct leading to the pool was part of the major water system King Hezekiah developed in 2 Kings 20.20. (NIV Study Bible 2011)
He then had a journey home the like of which he would never have had before. I wonder how he found his way or whether he was accompanied by astonished people seeing everything for the first time. He must have been bubbling over with joy and thrilled by Jesus. He was first of all confronted by astonished neighbours scarcely believing he was the same man they knew as blind. John 9.8-10 He responded simply and honestly and gave a straight forward account. He is an excellent example of how we should speak about our experiences of God in our lives. John 9.11-12
We then see his faith develop and his resolve strengthen as he is subject to firstly questioning, then abuse and finally expulsion from the temple. His responses showed physical sight had been followed by a depth of spiritual sight that was beyond the Jewish leaders. I am reminded of Paul’s words to the Corinthians, ‘Brothers and sisters, consider who you were when God called you to salvation. Not many of you were wise scholars by human standards, nor were many of you in positions of power. Not many of you were considered the elite when you answered God’s call.’ 1 Corinthians 1.26 This unnamed man is an amazing example to us all.
Have you given thanks for the first time you encountered Jesus?
Do you ask God for the strength of mind to openly, boldly tell your story?
Do you pray that God will reveal himself to people you know, opening blind eyes?
Light a Candle in the Darkness – Garth Hewitt