Healing... but not as we've known it
by Lynette Woods
"As He passed along, He noticed a man blind from his birth. His disciples asked Him, Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind? Jesus answered, It was not that this man or his parents sinned, but he was born blind in order that the workings of God should be manifested (displayed and illustrated) in him. We must work the works of Him Who sent Me and be busy with His business while it is daylight; night is coming on, when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the world's Light." (John 9:1-5)
God's work often begins in darkness, in blindness. In Jewish culture the beginning of a new day starts at nightfall, so the Sabbath begins at sundown on Friday and the darkness is what signifies the beginning of the new day. In our western culture we think of the new day being when the sun is rising, but really each new day begins with night; true sight begins with blindness; true hearing begins with being deaf; true speaking begins with being dumb; true Life begins with death; true healing begins with sickness...
Whether we realize it or not, all of us are born sick, born blind, deaf and dumb and need a healing touch from God in order to be whole. What is the deadly disease we need to be healed from? It is the element of SIN which has a big "I" at the center of it. This disease permeates everything about us and the only remedy is for this "I" to be placed into Christ and laid to rest; to receive His Life in place of my own.
We, in our world where everything here and now is of utmost importance, view healings of the body and other visible miracles as great signs and wonders. But I've been increasingly impressed with how the unseen spiritual miracles may be of more value to God because they deal not with the temporal, but with the eternal. To us who live in this world, physical bodily resurrection and healing is a really big thing. But how much more of a miracle is spiritual resurrection from spiritual death and spiritual healing from the disease of Sin and Self! The miracle of Christ in us is truly a great sign and wonder but one which may be unrecognised and unappreciated by most people. I am not saying that healing of the body is not important or needed, I am saying let's look beyond the obvious to what is not so easily seen: that we all need healing in a far deeper and eternal way than just in our bodies in the here and now.
This man in John 9 was born blind and so are we, so that the work of God in Christ can be displayed through us. We cannot see spiritual truth no matter how hard we look, we cannot see until God heals our blindness and opens our eyes. THEN we see, THEN spiritual truth is obvious! But true sight begins with blindness. We do not know what seeing is when we have never seen, because we are born blind. It is only when our eyes are opened that we know through experience what sight is.
What Jesus used to open the man's eyes was mud; a combination of the earth (which we are made from - Gen. 2:7; 3:19) and His own saliva, from His mouth, that which is used to digest food... To most people, using mud, or even just spit, would be offensive. Often God will use what we would view as offensive in order to bring healing and life and truth to us.
The mud is symbolic of what He uses to bring sight. We are made of earth, He will use us, His children, to bring healing and sight to people, we are dirt, nothing special, just ordinary earthy dirt but He mixes us with the pure, the transparent, the heavenly words from His mouth... words that help people digest Him (Bread, Water, Meat, Fruit) and words that enable people to then see Him. The dirt and spit become one; it has changed from being two things to one thing: mud. Not highly valued on this earth perhaps, but God can use anything and anyone He chooses! It does not mean what He uses is special, but that HE is special and not limited by us and our foibles, fears and weaknesses. The dirt had changed, for all intents and purposes, from being something earthly to something heavenly, even though with our physical eyes it might look no different! (This gives new meaning to the figures of speech of having mud in your eyes and your name being dirt in other's eyes!) And He applies this strange ointment, this combination of Him and us, to people's spiritual eyes in order that they might see Him...
What is the result? The man was sent to wash the mud off in the pool (actually a fountain) of Siloam which means "Sent", apostello... So, we too are sent, so that many more spiritual eyes will be opened to see and know Him even if He does have to use something as "offensive" as dirt and spit and a good wash, and even if many of these miracles are not visible to the physical eye!
So the first result for this man was sight. The second result was that he had changed and others noticed it and questioned him, and he told them what had happened; the workings of God were being displayed and illustrated through him. Thirdly, in spite of the illustration and the undeniable fact of his sight, the religious would not accept it and interrogated him over it. They said "This Man [Jesus] is not from God, because He does not observe the Sabbath." They could not see beyond the Law of Moses to the Man who embodied the Law; they stumbled over the Rock.
We still see this happen today. It is so easy for us to be blinded by our own religious rules and beliefs; many of which may have become simply traditions of man. "What Would Jesus Do?" Even He Himself did not always know! He was being led by the Spirit of God! Even His disciples could not guess what Jesus would do as He so often did the opposite of what they would expect, and still does. To live according to what WE think Jesus would do, is to be governed and directed by our own flesh. Rather than living by what WE think Jesus would do, we can live as Jesus did: being led by the Holy Spirit of God. When God does something unexpected which does not agree with OUR way of seeing and thinking, we can easily become offended and fight against God.
Being "religious" is blinding because it causes people to think they do know and think they do see and this results in self-righteousness and pride. Pride always blinds, "having the power of seeing, they do not see; and having the power of hearing, they do not hear, nor do they grasp and understand. In them indeed is the process of fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah, which says: You shall indeed hear and hear but never grasp and understand; and you shall indeed look and look but never see and perceive. For this nation's heart has grown gross (fat and dull), and their ears heavy and difficult of hearing, and their eyes they have tightly closed, lest they see and perceive with their eyes, and hear and comprehend the sense with their ears, and grasp and understand with their heart, and turn and I should heal them." (Matthew 13:13-15). We have to die to our own opinions and ideas, turn from our stuck-in-the-mud views, lay down our lives, and know that we know nothing and only see in part...
The religious were not asking questions so that they could accept and understand what Jesus had done, they were asking questions in order to challenge and reject what He had done. They were not open to God, they were not adjustable or teachable: "They said to him, What did He [actually] do to you? How did He open your eyes? He answered, I already told you and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Can it be that you wish to become His disciples also? And they stormed at him and retorted, You are His disciple yourself, but we are the disciples of Moses. We know for certain that God spoke with Moses, but as for this Fellow, we know nothing about where He hails from. The man replied, Well, this is astonishing! Here a Man has opened my eyes, and yet you do not know where He comes from. That is amazing! We know that God does not listen to sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing and a worshiper of Him and does His will, He listens to him. Since the beginning of time it has never been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. If this Man were not from God, He would not be able to do anything like this. They retorted, You were wholly born in sin; and do you presume to teach us? So they threw him clear outside the synagogue."
The fourth result was that the man was an outcast of the religious community. Through no fault of his own, he had broken their rules. He no longer belonged there, Jesus had made him an outcast by giving him sight. Their rejection was because of Jesus and what He had done but they took it out on the man they could see. And the cost of being rejected, misunderstood and alienated was offset by what he had received: a personal touch from Christ enabling him to see! His sight was of infinite value! He couldn't deny the fact that he had been blind, but now could see and there was no going back; he couldn't un-see. That sight brought separation. Jesus addressed this by saying to him: "I came into this world for judgment as a Separator, to make the sightless see and to make those who see become blind. Some Pharisees who were near, hearing this remark, said to Him, Are we also blind? Jesus said to them, If you were blind, you would have no sin; but because you now claim to have sight, your sin remains. If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but because you insist, We do see clearly, you are unable to escape your guilt." (John 9:39-41)
This conflict of what we see versus what we do not see is something which the believers in Acts also had to deal with and which we still have to deal with today. Peter in Acts 10:9-20 was offended and shocked by what God showed him and asked of him; but the Son had come and things which previously had been hidden, could now be seen in the full Light of day. Would he cling to the known and acceptable external forms which had been so important to him and his people? Or would he allow the Light to dawn and bring new understanding internally, even if it meant the external must become as nothing?
Remembering that in their culture the new day begins with night; the night time of shadows and types of the old covenant had passed and given way to the dawn of Christ, our Light and Sun by which we can now see in Spirit and in truth. "We must work the works of Him Who sent Me and be busy with His business while it is daylight; night is coming on, when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the world's Light." He is still in this world in us as the Light of the world. If the night which is coming refers to the end of this world as we know it and the start of a new day, then it is only the eternal works of Him which will endure; all that is temporal and of the flesh will cease to be and only what is of God will remain. Do we, like Peter, still cling to the external and visible rather than seeing and believing the internal and invisible? Do we, like Peter, have the audacity to say to God, "No, by no means, Lord"? "What God has cleansed and pronounced clean, do not you defile and profane by calling common or unclean."
This blind man that Jesus healed, did not even ask for healing. "As He passed along, He noticed a man blind from his birth." Jesus noticed, Jesus healed. It was a gift of Grace! Some might argue that Jesus healed this man physically rather than spiritually. But later in the chapter we read: "Jesus... meeting him... said, Do you believe in the Son of God? He answered, Who is He, Sir? Tell me, that I may believe in Him. Jesus said to him, You have seen Him; [in fact] He is talking to you right now. He called out, Lord, I believe! [I rely on, I trust, I cleave to You!] And he worshiped Him." (9:35-38). Even though his physical eyes could see, the man also needed to see and know Who Jesus was spiritually! It was not a case of either the physical or the spiritual but both. It is far more important to see spiritually than to see physically, and we know how important and precious our physical eyesight is to us.
It is not that physical healing is not important because it is; but, perhaps because it affects us personally and obviously, we seem to focus on physical healing almost to the exclusion of spiritual healing. Of course one will often lead to the other, when we are healed internally, it has to affect us externally also. When we can see, it changes our view of what is important, it changes our priorities completely and utterly.
Opened eyes and seeing things from God's perspective is such a precious gift of Grace to us. We are born blind so that the work of God in opening our eyes can be seen! May He heal not only our eyes and cause us to see Him, but also cause our deaf ears to hear Him and our dumb mouths to speak as Him, that He might have a Body full of Life here on this earth through whom He is seen and heard and known!
"But blessed are your eyes because they do see, and your ears because they do hear. Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous men yearned to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it." (Matthew 13:16,17)