When Jesus had said this, He spit on the ground, made some mud, and applied it to the man’s eyes. Then He told him, “Go, wash in the Pool of Siloam” (which means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came back seeing. (John 9:6-7)
I’ve been thinking of the blind man in this red letter passage. I picture this guy who’d been without sight his whole life, sitting there, minding his business, and all of a sudden, he hears this rabbi and his followers come up to him. Maybe he knows it’s a rabbi, maybe he doesn’t. But he hears the man spit. And then he feels a gentle touch, and the unexpected wet gritty feel of something being smeared on his eyelids. He hears a voice that tells him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam.”
It’s very significant to me that the blind man obeyed the voice. You know, a blind person hears more than the rest of us, because they’re not distracted by what they see. This blind man could only respond to the content of the words, and the tone of the voice. There wasn’t much to the words, so there had to be something in the tone that caused him to obey. From what we know about Jesus, I think the voice was gentle and warm. It was also firm and authoritative without being bossy or condescending. I think the blind man heard compassion, and good will. He heard confidence, that this was what absolutely he needed to do.
Do you remember when you first heard the voice of Jesus? Of course, you probably didn’t hear a physical voice. But I remember a time when I was 20, and I had just gotten baptized, and then engaged, and my fiancée and I were looking for a house to buy. We found one that was close to a church, and I felt a distinct calling to give myself to Jesus and the church in a bigger way. It was such a compelling wonderful feeling, to have that calling.
I think the blind man responded to a calling, even though he didn’t know who Jesus was at that point. It’s interesting, because Jesus usually healed someone based on their faith. But in this case, the blind man didn’t have faith. Later, Jesus went back to find him, and asked him. “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” The man replied, “Who is he?”
The blind man didn’t have faith. But he was willing and open. He could keep it simple. Here’s the crazy thing about what Jesus’s statement to him. It was just seven words long. I think I would have used many more words, explaining that God was working, giving context. Maybe there’s more that Jesus said, that isn’t recorded. But the book of John records many long speeches given by Jesus. That there isn’t a speech here, means he probably didn’t give one. He just told the man to go wash.
It reminds me very much of the story of Elisha when he told Naaman to cure his leprosy by going and washing in the Jordan River. (II Kings 5) Elisha probably could have just prayed, and the leprosy would be gone. But he wanted to see if Naaman was open and willing. He wanted to see if Naaman could keep it simple, set aside his pride, and just follow the instructions.
I wonder if we make it harder for people sometimes, by using many words. Maybe we need to be like Jesus in this, and just give them the Word, and see if they are going to obey.
Maybe we need to leave room for the calling.
Maybe they need to hear the tone of the calling. For the blind man it was the tone of voice. To the people we reach out to, it could be them seeing our life, how we care about them, and how firmly we believe.
What is Jesus very simply telling us to do today? To follow him? To make disciples? To love others as he loves us? To not worry?
How do we hear his calling? Do we close our eyes to everything around us, so we can focus on listening?
How will we respond? Are we open and willing?
Here’s one last application I want to make with this. I’ve been reading this great book called, “Men and Like Waffles — Women are Like Spaghetti.” The authors explain in the book how men are like waffles, because waffles have a series of boxes in them, and men like to deal with life one box at a time. Woman are like spaghetti, because, to them, everything is connected to something else, and it gets get long and complicated.
I sometimes think that my husband should be more like me. When I look at an issue, I look at every factor connected to it. I think that you need to consider every nuance before making a decision. And that’s certainly good.
But maybe there’s a reason that God made men to be more simple and direct in their decision making. Yes, they should consider the extenuating factors. But they can quickly decide what needs to be done, and do it.
So sisters, maybe there’s something we need to learn from men here! Sometimes Jesus wants us to be able to be simple and direct, to quickly decide what needs to be done, and just do it!
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and Christmas is just around the corner. I have several balls in the air. I am telling you, I tend to make every one of them very complicated! Even now, as I write this, my mind is on how this person is doing, and that thing that needs to be done!
“Go, wash in the pool of Saloam.” May Jesus’s words be a challenge to all of us to keep it simple.
Have a happy Thanksgiving, even if you are social distancing. Enjoy your blessings. Be present. Focus on the wonderful moments you have.
Sending love to you all.