I’m guessing that he never pictured that day, the way it turned out. He had taken up his normal place, along the wall in a high traffic area of town. His staff at his side, his blanket underneath him, and his cup in his hand. He was doing today what he always did, or at least as long as most people could remember, he begs for alms. Blind since birth, he was never going to get rich, but somehow his needs were met.
He was viewed with suspicion by most of the people that passed by him. There had to be a story here, a story of some great sin that would have caused God to make this poor fellow blind at birth. But what was the story.
On this day, as he minded his own business, a discussion broke out. They were talking about him. It was not the first time he had been the center of a conversation, and this day would provide for many opportunities to be the center of a conversation. As he listened to the conversation he could tell the voices were getting closer. “Rabbi” the man heard, “who sinned, was it this man or was it his parents that caused him to be born blind.”
He waited to hear the answer to this one. He had heard a hundred answers to that question in the past. He was not expecting anything but the same old answers he had heard before. “Neither” said the Rabbi. Wait! That was a new answer. It was almost a fifty-fifty split as he recalls the many time he heard that question, but he did not ever remember an answer like this one.
“Neither this man nor his parents sinned.” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” By now the group had stopped right in front of him. Jesus seemed to be looking away from the man, probably at the person who had asked the question in the first place. “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.”
What odd words to say around a blind man. I wonder if they knew how they sounded to him. “Night is coming when no one can work.” Day and night were all the same to him. If it wasn’t for the traffic and the warmth of the sun on his face, he would not be able to tell one from another. This man said that he was “the light of the world.” This too sounds strange to a blind man.
Then he hear someone spit. That was an all too familiar sound. He had been spit at and ridiculed many times. He smiled to himself as he realized, they had missed him this time. They must have just spit on the ground near him. Suddenly there were hands on his face and his shoulder. He struggled in surprise and was held firmly, but not harshly, as someone wiped mud on his left eye and then on his right. The voice, which sounded like the Rabbi Jesus who had been talking, said to him. “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam.”
Isn’t it strange this mud-pie-on-the-eyes rabbi “sent” him to go wash in a pool who’s very name meant “sent.” He struggled to get up when strong firm hands helped him stand and gave him his trusty staff. He walked away toward the pool, relieved that mud and spit on the eyes was all that had happened and confused by why the rabbi would want him to go wash. This was a ceremony he was not used to. He could not even remember the last time a rabbi talked to him.
When he arrived at the pool, he found an open area to kneel down and carefully lift some water to his eyes and wash away the mud. He rinsed several time and as he did he felt something different. There was a pain in his eye, but, oddly enough, not from the mud or the water. This pain was different. There was something happening. Light, great light, came pounding into nerve endings that had never registered anything before. It was a harsh light, but as he slowly opened his eyes he discovered that this mud and spit had been removed, and in its place where once there was darkness, there was light.
He went home, still using his staff oddly to tap and find those familiar stones and holes he had used to navigate these streets for so many years. As he went, he looked upon stuff he had only imagined before: people, trees, buildings, goods in the market and the sun. The wonderful sun he had felt on so many days in the past was not causing discomfort to his eyes when he looked at it.
Eventually, full of excitement he could not contain, he made it home. Those familiar voices now had faces and form to them. His neighbors, and others from the community saw him walking. His head was held high now taking in all the sights all around him. These familiar voices were talking about him. Once again he was the center of conversation. “Isn’t he that same man who used to sit and beg at the gate?” But before he could answer, a second voice chimed in “No, he only look like him.” But he was almost unable to control himself as he insisted to them. “I am the man”.
I don’t think there was any stopping the man after that. Anybody or anything that would sit still long enough to listen would hear the story. A day when mud and spit were combined with the presence and power of Christ to make something wonderful.
Paul in his letter to the Roman Christians many years later would tell the same mud & spit + Jesus = Witness account in this way, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
What’s Your Story – How has Jesus taken your days of mud and spit and used them to display his glory? Have you share those stories with others?
The Witness of the man born blind doesn’t end here….
To read his whole story Check out John Chapter 9