Seeing God At Work

We only have to look at the recent examples of Ebola survivors Dr. Kent Brantley and Nancy Writebol to see God at work. Yes, there is a lot of devastation, destruction and cause for dismay infecting our 21st century worldview. But we can take comfort in the assurance that God remains as true and faithful today as He has always been.

The passage found in Chapter 9 of the New Testament’s Gospel According to John has grown to become one of my favorites. It really came to life for me when my wife Terri and I, along with a group from our church, had the opportunity to visit Israel back in the late spring of 2012. On one of our first full days staying in Jerusalem, we walked through Hezekiah’s tunnel—an underground conduit redirecting water from the Gihon spring to supply Jerusalem, built around 701 B.C., by King Hezekiah when the city was under siege by the Assyrian ruler Sennacherib—-and then made our way down a path only recently discovered in 2004 leading into an area known as the King’s Garden and housing the Pool of Siloam. We stood there as our group read the passage concerning Jesus healing a blind man out loud. Hearing our voices retell the story made it come to life. It was as if we were there when it happened.

THE HISTORY
The Gospel of John was inspired by God and written by John of Zebedee, one of the 12 disciples and part of Jesus’ inner circle. The Gospels bear witness to the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. The Gospel of John is thought to have been written between 85 and 95 A.D., while John was ministering in Ephesus, probably as pastor of the church there.

THE THEME
Jesus is the promised Messiah, the Son of God, and by believing in Him, we can have eternal life.

THE SCENE
Jesus is in Jerusalem. In the previous chapter, he just staked his claim that he was indeed the Son of God, the I AM that had revealed himself to Moses centuries ago. By claiming to be the Son of God, Jesus had angered the Jews and they began stoning him, so he left the Temple of Jerusalem. The encounter with the man born blind occurs as Jesus is leaving the Temple. The time is sometime between mid-September and mid-December.

John 9:1-7 (ESV)
As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.

Jesus heals the Broken.

Jesus healing a blind man was not unusual, in and of itself. He had healed many people before this point in his life and ministry, several of whom had been blind. However, because he was born blind, this man was different than previous blind men that we read about Jesus healing. He was helpless to remedy his own condition, much like we are unable to cure our own spiritual blindness we are born with.

The disciples ask the question: “Who sinned?” The disciples question reflects the popular Jewish opinion of their day that every bad effect had an identifiable sinful cause. Their belief was that prosperity-a person’s health and wealth-was a sign of a person’s righteousness and faithful walk with the Lord. Conversely, Jews, and many others of that time, believed that suffering was a reflection of person’s unrighteousness actions—or sin.

While sin does lie behind all suffering and evil in the world, for us to make the connection between sin and suffering is by no means a simple task for us to perform given our limited and tainted perspective. To put it another way: sin always leads to suffering but all suffering isn’t necessarily due to sin. As Christians, we should know that to be true. Following Christ isn’t easy. It’s downright difficult at times, just as Jesus warned us it would be. However, it is well worth it.

We see the disciples conclude that either the parents sinned or that somehow the blind beggar had sinned before birth. They saw the man as the subject for theological debate; Jesus saw the man as an object of mercy. Often times, it’s easier for us to talk about a situation intellectually rather than ministering to the need a person has in their life.

The answer Jesus gave them was neither. Instead, Jesus says that God permitted it so that He might display His work in this man’s life. It is simply wrong to think that every instance of suffering springs immediately from a particular act of sin. Equally, it is wrong to believe that God permits every instance of suffering because He intends to relieve it miraculously. At the end of the day, only God truly knows why some of us are born facing special circumstances and only God is able to turn something that may seem liking a losing battle to us into something good that ultimately will bring glory to His name. What the disciples saw as a sign of God’s displeasure, Jesus saw as an opportunity to provide God’s grace.

God rejoices in doing Good.

As Christ-followers, you and I are called to do Good. Why? It pleases God to do Good and it pleases Him even more when we do good. God rejoices in doing Good. Want to please God? Then do Good. In our world today, we focus a lot on being right versus being wrong. We need see things from a more eternal perspective of doing Good vs. doing Evil. The Bible encourage us to do Good. While God cares that we think and speak rightly about Him and His Word, He is also greatly concerned with us doing Good, rather than doing Evil.

While Jesus was on Earth ministering to the world—fully God, fully man—not 50% God, not 50% man—-but 100% God and 100% man—his light shone brightly and illuminated the world. The healing of the blind man illustrates Jesus ultimately defeating darkness while it is still day.

The day is drawing near that we will be engulfed by a season of spiritual darkness. Before that day comes, you will have to choose sides. Will you stand with the Light or will you fight alongside the forces of Darkness? Will you be on the side of Good or will you be on the side of Evil?

The Holy Spirit works to make us whole.

Imagine the faith that it took for the blind man to trust Jesus. He had never even seen another individual before. He sat there, with his eyes closed by blindness, hearing Jesus spitting on the ground. Surely, he must have wondered what Jesus was up to. Jesus mixes his spit with clay, applying the moist clay to the blind man’s eyes. The man could sense Jesus working for him. Here was someone who was willing to address his physical condition. Yet, all the while, Jesus was addressing the man’s spiritual condition.

As I mentioned earlier, we see Jesus heal people before this, using different means and methods to carry out the healing. Jesus healed a deaf man and a blind man by applying his salvia directly to them. We also have seen Jesus heal the woman who simply touched his robe. The methods Jesus uses to heal people varies. In God’s economy, it’s less about the method and more about the man doing the healing. The mud and water didn’t contain supernatural ingredients. The water in Pool of Siloam wasn’t magical. These things in and of themselves did not have power. The power was in the Healer.

The clay ointment and the pool, paint a good picture of the work that the Holy Spirit does in us today. The Holy Spirit works in our lives daily overcoming our shortcomings, working on them until they wash away. The Holy Spirit in us cleanses us, making us new creations in Christ Jesus, as we spend eternity worshipping God, the Father. Yes, indeed, the Holy Spirit works to make us whole.

Summary

Our faith is evidenced by our faithful obedience to the Lord. When we are faithful to obey, we demonstrate that we believe. In the same way, when we do Good, we show the world what we believe and glorify Him in whom we believe. Our desire to do Good comes from faith in God.

Jesus, the Christ, heals the broken. God, the Father, rejoices in doing Good. The Holy Spirit works to make us whole. Jesus is the promised Messiah, the Son of God, and by believing in Him, we can have eternal life.

Jesus taught his disciples to do Good and then told them to go out and do likewise. My encouragement to you, is to do the same. Go out and do Good today.

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