A Handful Of Mud
Jesus and His disciples are out and about, and while they are walking they see a man who has been blind all his life, as you can read in John 9:1
As He (Jesus) went along He saw a man blind from birth.
To Jesus’ disciples, the fact that this man is blind and has always been must be because of a sinful condition of either this man himself, or of his parents, as you can read in John 9:2
His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
According to them, that is the only logical explanation for this man’s situation. Blindness to them is a curse, and this man is under a curse because of someone’s sin. They may well have remembered the words in Exodus 20:5b
….. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me.
The question is: Will Jesus as a good Jew agree with them? Let’s listen to Jesus' answer in John 9:3-5
“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. As long as it is day, we must do the work 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.”
Jesus’ answer is not what His disciples expect to hear. However, Jesus helps His disciples to see beyond their narrow understanding. He wants them to understand that the purpose of this man’s blindness is not to show up anyone’s sinfulness, but rather to demonstrate the power of God in this man’s life. And so Jesus goes to work, as you can read in John 9:6-7
Having said this, He spat 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.
Why does Jesus spit on the ground, make mud with his saliva, and then put the mixture on the man’s eyes? Because, according to Jewish Tradition, the saliva of the first born son contained healing power. However, none of us, whether or not you are a first born son, should make a practice of it thinking that is the proper formula to heal someone’s blindness, for that is not the case.
Please remember as well, that the man is not yet healed at the time that Jesus puts mud on his eyes. It is only after he has obeyed Jesus fully, and has gone to the Pool of Siloam to wash his eyes, that he is healed. This shows us that it is important to obey Jesus fully in order to receive what God has promised us. You can see that principle taught in I Samuel 15:22
But Samuel replied: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.”
No doubt, you will expect all those who learn that this man is no longer blind to be very happy for him. Let’s read John 9:8-12 to find out if that is so
His neighbours and those who had formerly seen him begging, asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” Some claimed that he was. Others said, “No, he only looks like him.” But he himself insisted, “I am the man.” “How then were your eyes opened?” they demanded. He replied, “The Man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.” “Where is this Man?” they asked him. “I don’tknow” he said.
His neighbours are somewhat puzzled by what has happened to this man, and rather than rejoicing with him over the miracle that has taken place, they seem suspicious of his healing, and suspicious of the Person responsible for the miracle. Not knowing what to believe, the neighbours decide to take him to the Pharisees, the religious leaders of their day. Surely they will know what to do with this man’s claim, that he has been miraculously healed, as you can read in John 9:13-17
They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath. Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed and now I see.” Some of the Pharisees said, “This Man is not from God, for He does not keep the Sabbath.” But others asked, “How can a sinner do such miraculous signs?” So they were divided. Finally, they turned again to the blind man. “What have you to say about Him? It was your eyes He opened.” The man replied, “He is a Prophet.”
Unfortunately, the religious leaders are not much help either. Their stumbling block is the fact that the healing has taken place on the Sabbath. Jesus seems to have a habit of healing people on a Sabbath, as you can read in Luke 6:6-11
On another Sabbath He went into the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was shriveled. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus so they watched Him closely to see if He would heal on the Sabbath. But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shriveled hand. “Get up and stand in front of everyone.” So he got up and stood there. Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath; to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?’ He looked round at them all, and then said to the man,” Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was completely restored. But they were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus.
And Luke 13:10-13
On a Sabbath day Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, He called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity. Then He put His hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God. Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”
And Luke 14:1-4
One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, He was being carefully watched. There in front of Him was a man suffering from dropsy.
Jesus asked the Pharisees and the experts in the law, “It is lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, He healed him and sent him away.
Matthew gives us some insight into why Jesus is performing miracles on the Sabbath, when he writes in Matthew 12:8
For the Son of Man (Jesus) is Lord of the Sabbath.
Jesus, as the Lord of the Sabbath, is not bound by the religious rules of men, even if these men are the religious leaders of His day. And, these men are so bound up by their religious rules and regulations, that they are not able to recognise that this miracle has been performed by a Man sent by God. This whole event leaves these religious leaders totally confused. In their confusion, they again turn to the previously blind man, and ask Him for his opinion about the One who has healed him. The man declares that He must be a Prophet. The religious leaders are clearly blind to the truth about Jesus, even though they are supposed to know, and are supposed to be the ones to help the blind man understand who has healed him. Instead, it is the blind man who gives them further insight into Jesus. Not having the knowledge of Scripture, he is already at a place of understanding where he recognises Jesus as a Prophet. Jesus is indeed a Prophet, but He is so much more, as this man will soon find out. Not being satisfied with the man’s answer, the religious leaders speak to him once again, as you can read in John 9:24-34
A second time they summoned the man who had been born blind. “Give glory to God,” they said. “We know this Man is a sinner.” He replied, “Whether He is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know, I was blind but now I see.” Then they asked him, “What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?” He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become His disciples too?” Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this Fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this Fellow, we don’t even know where He comes from.” The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where He comes from, yet He opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does His will. Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing.” To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us.” And they threw him out.
These religious leaders want the previously blind man to agree with them that Jesus is a sinner, because He has not followed their rules with regard the Sabbath. Their hearts are so hardened that they cannot receive the simple testimony of the man that once he was blind but now he can see, because of what Jesus has done for him. However, their questioning has the opposite effect, for it awakens in him a strong faith in the Person who has healed him, because he knows that this Man cannot be a sinner, no matter what these religious leaders claim. As for these religious leaders, in their pride, they are unwilling to humbly accept the truth who Jesus is and where He has come from. Consequently, they throw the man out of the synagogue. The blind man has received his sight, but it has cost him dearly, for he can now no longer worship in the synagogue because of his testimony about Jesus. However, Jesus, when He learns what has happened to the man, goes to look for him, as you can read in John 9:35-38
Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when He found him, He said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” “Who is He, Sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in Him.” Jesus said, “You have now seen Him; in fact He is the One speaking with you.” Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshipped Him.”
Jesus, knowing that the man is in need of His support, goes out of His way to find him, so that He can minister to him. And the man, already realising that Jesus is a Prophet, now understands that Jesus is not merely a Prophet, but is in fact the Son of Man, who has come to die for the sins of all mankind, including his sins. He believes and worships Him, the King of kings and the Lord of lords.
This man was not only physically blind but spiritually blind, and Jesus takes the time to open not just his physical eyes but, more importantly, to open his spiritual eyes.
That shows us that this man matters very much to God, even though he is barely known by his neighbours, and is certainly not known by the religious leaders. This, despite the fact that they are supposed to take care of his spiritual well being. Likewise, you matter to God, even though you may not be known to those who are in authority over you, and who are supposed to take care of you. So, take heart, for God knows you and knows your needs. And just as He opened the spiritual eyes of this man, so He wants to open your spiritual eyes. Moreover, just as this man got to know Jesus more and more, so you can get to know Jesus more and more, as you spend time reading God’s Word and praying. You may not be able to be physically in the presence of Jesus as this man was, but you can be in the presence of Jesus because, once your spiritual eyes have been opened and you have become a child of God, the Spirit of God will help you understand God’s Word as you read it, and He will help you to pray, as you can read in Romans 8:26
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.
Studying God’s Word and praying to God will help you to know God as your heavenly Father. Isn’t that wonderful? And He will show you the things that He has for you to do, since He has a plan and a purpose for you to be and to do all that He has prepared for you to do, as you can read in Ephesians 2:10
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us.