The healing touch of the Lord will always require humility from us, and sometimes will send us in the opposite direction we were expecting.
Let’s just jump in, John 9:1-5. I’m going to read through it fairly rapidly. It’s in your handout. If you have your Bible or Bible app, you can follow along. We’ve reviewed these verses earlier. I’m not going to spend a lot of time with them because we took them apart and really sat with them, but I do want to read this as an opening. It says “as Jesus passed by, he saw a man blind from birth.” We don’t know his name, but he was blind from his birth. He had no idea what light was. Born in complete darkness. Jesus passed by, saw a man blind from birth. Jesus’ disciples were walking with Him. They noticed that Jesus was looking at the blind man. The way Jesus was looking at him was different. It’s like he peered at him, paused, and really looked into this man. The disciples could tell Jesus was thinking about him and so they asked a question. It was a theological question but really the question that they asked was a why question?
A question that a lot of times people will ask when bad things happen to other people. His disciples asked Him again, they’re working off their presupposition and worldview. “Rabbi, who sinned? Teacher, who sinned? How did he get like this? Why is he like this? Was it because of something he did or his parents? Maybe a family curse that got him in such a condition. He was born blind.” Jesus answered, “Look, it was not that this man sinned or his parents, but I tell you that the works of God might be displayed in him.”To answer your question, no. But I don’t even want to get into the theological aspect of this. What I want to do right now is do something in this man’s life. The work of God is about to happen here. Then Jesus turned to them and said, “We must work.” There’s an interesting statement He makes in verse four. “We must work the works of Him who sent me, while it is the day because the night is coming when no one can work.” Jesus is talking about His death. He’s saying on this side of eternity, there is a day. We all have one. We have a life. He called it our day. His life was nearing its end on this side and He knew that. He says, “But as long as I am in the world,” and I love that fifth verse. “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
Think about the juxtaposition. There’s a man completely born blind and in darkness. Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. Watch what I’m about to do.” It’s very interesting. The last couple of weeks we’ve talked about the work the Lord wants to do in us. We talked about not getting stuck in the whys of life. Why this? Why that? Getting bogged down there. We talked about the work that God wants to do through us. We spent a lot of time discussing what this idea of a day means. We all have a life. That life has an endpoint. We’ve been talking a lot about that in these opening pieces because it’s as Jesus said, “While you have an opportunity to honor me with this life, however long it is,” and we all have different lengths of day. We’ll have a different, the remains of our day. We don’t know what it is.
Some people don’t ever want to think about that. I don’t want to think about it. But the fact of the matter is, a generation comes and goes. Some day we will leave this world. This body of mine can not contain the spirit within it. In its present state, it will decay and ultimately will betray me. We are all passing, like the scripture says, like a tale that is told. But Jesus says, “What we do with our day, matters.” We are called to work the works of Him who sent us, in this day. A lot of our day is lived out very casually. We don’t think about it. I was thinking about that great quote from Mother Teresa, who it’s often referred to, where she says, “Not all of us can do great things,” but I love this. “But all of us can do small things with great love.” We all have that capacity, don’t we? You pile up enough small things with great love and you have a great life. That’s the thing God calls us to. To honor Him with that. Our big day, as Jesus called it, consists of many days in the calendar. All those days, every day can be boiled down to moments that we live our life out. Those moments are often connected to the choices that we make. Those choices are often choices we make, not even thinking about it, just like on autopilot. We live most of our days on autopilot, just stuff we do. We don’t really think about it in terms of the collective day that we live.
One thing is pretty clear, we have a capacity for choice. We get to choose how we’re going to live our day. That’s one of the great gifts that God gives a human being, is the ability to choose how we’re going to respond to life. I put a poem in there. There’s a reason I put it in there. It was just a poem that I had come across a few years back that for some reason really spoke to me. I said, “Hey, can we just stick it in there?” I want you to look at it. It’s talking about the power of choice and how we get to decide how we’re going to spend our day, not the literal 24-hour one, the life one. Look what it says. It is in your handout. It’s from Ella Wheeler Wilcox. She wrote this poem called Set of the Sails.
It says, “but to every mind, their openness away and way and away. A high soul climbs the highway, a low soul gropes the low, and in between, on the misty flats, the rest drift to and fro. Sometimes we just drift through life. But to every man there openeth a highway and a low, and every mind decideth the way his soul shall go. The choices are, one ship sells east, another west, by the self-same winds that blow. The wind’s the same, just the set of the sails, not the gales that tell the way we go. Same wind. But it all depends on how we set the sail. Like the winds of the sea are the ways of time as we journey along through life. ‘Tis the set of the soul that determines the goal and not the calm or the strife.” In other words, we cannot direct the wind in life, but we can adjust the sails.
There’s the same wind. I mean, stuff happens in life if you live long enough. Even if you haven’t been living a long time, stuff happens, hard stuff. Winds blow, winds turn, winds are unpredictable. I cannot predict. Jesus said, “You cannot even tell what tomorrow will bring.” One of the things He was trying to do is say, “Do not be anxious for things, don’t worry about stuff that’s going to happen tomorrow,” which we all do. He was saying, “Don’t get stuck there. You don’t borrow from tomorrow’s trouble. It hasn’t even happened yet. Don’t let your mind go there and get locked in.” He was talking about how we can get ourselves just stuck in places. We can do this all the time. He was talking about how to make sure that when you’re approaching life, you approach it from the standpoint of trust. This is a very wonderful thing when we do that. Jesus reminded us not to get stuck in the why’s and the back.
He was saying don’t be anxious. Don’t worry about things, to a people who honestly, compared to us, had so much less stress on them. It’s making a generalization, but they’re pretty much agricultural people without the sophistication of technology. A lot of their life was lived in rhythms and yet they still had worries and concerns. Jesus would say this clearly for us. ‘Man, this is the age of anxiety. We have so much technology.’ I read all the time. I read a lot about social conditions in the human race. Particularly in our nation and the effects of technology and modern culture. The effects it has on us and the anxieties that go along with it. How we have a proliferation of medication. People, a lot of times, are having really hard times, feeling tremendous amounts of low-grade stress, just living. I could spend a whole message just talking about that.
I don’t know how much fun it would be, but we could talk about it. The thing is, we get to choose a lot of our life. We live in this environment where things happen that aren’t good. Stuff’s always flying our way. Sometimes it really hits us hard. I’m talking about the fact that we don’t even know what’s going to happen in the world sometimes. We don’t know what’s going to happen in our life. A diagnosis out of nowhere, a shift in the environment at work. Something comes in that we weren’t expecting. A relational turn that we find devastating. That’s not even counting the stuff that happens on a daily basis that we can’t predict. We listen to the news or we check out our phones. We never know what’s going to show up there, some crazy thing happening.
That takes a toll. It does. What we’re reminded of here though, is that we can’t control things, but we can control our own hearts. We can choose how we set our sails. This is the point. We can choose if we’re going to trust Him with our lives in a shaky world. We can choose our attitudes. I can. We can choose if we’re going to cooperate with Him. How am I going to set my sail? This is our work. This is our art. This is our opportunity. This is our time on the stage of life. This is the ground. Our life is the ground He wants to meet us on, right where we are. He wants to meet us, all of us where we are.
Let’s jump back into verse 5. Watch how the man born blind has a choice to make. He has to decide how he’s going to set his sail. Jesus sees him in verse 5. He says, “As long as I am in this world, I am the light of the world.” Then it says having said these things, His disciples ask Him questions. How did he get this way? Jesus says, “No, I don’t want to actually talk about that right now, but you’re wrong, your assessment is incorrect, but it’s not my point. I have something else. There’s something else going on here. I’m going to heal this man.”
Jesus got down, and he started spitting on the ground, on the dirt. The scripture says as he’s doing that, he has some mud. I imagine he pulls it up and he starts making mud with it, which is probably catching everybody off guard. I thought we were having a discussion here and you’re spitting on the ground and making mud. As he’s doing it, obviously the man born blind, he’s over there. He’s been listening to the whole conversation about him. The next thing he knows, Jesus is taking this mud, who knows how long he took to make it, but I imagine it was very deliberate. Then Jesus does something that all of them could not have anticipated. He takes it, and says, “Come here.” He starts to pack it on the man’s eyes. It says here that having said these things, he spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with mud.
Jesus said to him, “Go and wash in the Pool of Siloam,” which means sent. Jesus anoints his eyes and he says, “Now I need you to do something. I need you to go. Do not take the mud off of your eyes. Let it be there. I need you to get up and find your way to the Pool of Siloam. Go through the streets of Jerusalem to the pool. I need you to wash there.” The implication is quite clear and you will see. It’s interesting because some of us have been to Israel. I have a few times now. You can go to Jerusalem and see the Pool of Siloam. It’s there; it was a real place. P Siloam means sent. I’ll explain why. It’s fascinating, too. The name of the pool he’s sent to is sent. I’m sending you to ‘sent.’ It’s interesting. The one who was sent for us to open our eyes is sending him to a pool called sent to open his.
The pool of Siloam was a product. It was actually the last part of what was at the time an archeological minor wonder of the ancient world. It was the place where the water went from outside the city. It was around 700 years before the time of Jesus when a king of Israel, named Hezekiah, was concerned that the city of Jerusalem was going to be overtaken by an enemy that he knew was coming. A great general by the name of Sennacherib who was leading the Assyrian army was about to lay siege on the city of Jerusalem, the ancient city of David, which we can still see pieces of now. I don’t expect everybody to have a sense of the geography of it. But if you go to Jerusalem today, you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about. There’s the Mount of Olives, which is where Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane. The Mount of Olives looks down on the city of Jerusalem. It’s not a high mountain, it’s a lower one. In between the Mount of Olives and the city of Jerusalem is what is known as the Kidron Valley. It’s not big either. You’d be surprised at the proportions. It’s much smaller than it seems. In the Kidron Valley is a spring. It was the main water source, called the Spring of Gihon. It was where the water came into the city.
The problem is, you have to tote the water from the spring up into the city. Hezekiah knows if the city comes under attack, the water supply could be cut off. That’s what happens. Invaders have done it before. The king comes up with a plan. He says, “Before they get here, we’re going to cut a tunnel through solid rock from the spring of Gihon into the city. We’re going to cause the water to flow into the city. Then we’re going to cover up the spring. No one would even know it was there, but our water is coming in from a place that they can’t cut off.” You can go there today. It’s called Hezekiah’s Tunnel. It’s about six feet tall. It can get as thin as two feet wide. So some of us have to walk sideways to get through there.
Where the water comes from has to go through Hezekiah’s Tunnel or the Siloam Tunnel. It empties into what would have been then a large pool, the Pool of Siloam. That’s where Jesus sends the blind man. I look at this and think, “Wow, that must be something else.” It got me thinking as I was looking at it. I was thinking, “Oh, there’s so much stuff here for you and me.” I want us to think about it because when it comes to healing and breakthroughs in our life with the Lord, one of the things we need to be aware of is it’s going to always be, number one, connected to humility. That sounds so basic. But our willingness to respond to what the Lord is requiring us to do is humbling. I was reflecting on the spit. The soil, the saliva, and the sand, the spittle mixed with the dirt that formed the clay that the master laid upon his eyes.
It was humbling. He had to let Jesus do it. Again, we read the passage, we’re giving broad strokes. He’s healed. He puts dirt and mud on his eye. Go to the Pool of Siloam, big, broad strokes. He comes back and he’s healed. When you think about what actually happened at that moment, we’re invited to color in between the broad strokes. We do it with humility. There’s no problem with that. Imagination is part of a gift God gave us. So I’m thinking about it. I’m thinking, “okay, he had to be open to the Lord touching his eyes.” I’m imagining him there. He can’t see anything. Next thing, Jesus is there. All of a sudden, the blind man heard this conversation. Jesus didn’t say what He was about to do. All of a sudden he’s feeling this hand on his arm. I can imagine, what are you doing? Stop. What are you doing?
I hear Jesus. “You need to let me do this. Let me do this.” He has a choice to make. He has to choose to let Him. I imagine people looking and laughing while it’s all going on. Look at that, mud on the blind guy’s eye. He’d been there, that was his post, that’s where he begged. If the blind man says, “No, no.” Guess what? Jesus doesn’t say, “Get your hand off. I’m going to anoint you with mud no matter what.” It’s not like He’s going to force the mud on his eye. I’m going to push it on you. He has to choose to let the Lord. Let me do this. Let me do this. You can’t take it off. It’s going to dry. I need you to do something else. I need you to get up and walk with it. I need you to go and walk to the Pool of Siloam. That’s a long way. I’m supposed to keep my eyes closed the whole time with the mud on it? How am I going to? And yes, and the only place that you can wash is the Pool of Siloam. Don’t wash anywhere else. Don’t take the mud off until you get there. If you do what I’m telling you to do, and you do as I ask, if you do this, your eyes will open.
There are times where healing and breakthrough is going to require us to cooperate with a process that is different than what we envisioned or desire. This was very valuable for me as I engaged in this. A couple of weeks ago we talked about getting stuck in the why. It is what the process is. Sometimes the why that we struggle with is the why of the process. The way He wants to bring healing to us, again, why does it? I’m imagining if I’m there, I’m thinking, okay why are you doing this? Why are you making me put mud on my eyes and why are you making me walk through the streets? Why do I have to go? Why can’t I just get it? Don’t toy with me. If you’re going to heal me, just heal me. I can see it. If you’re going to heal me, just heal me. I get that. I can imagine him saying, “I don’t know.” Maybe he’s got a friend there. He says, “You know what? You should just do what he says.” Some healings and breakthroughs that He longs to give us don’t happen all at once. It’s a process. Some healings and breakthroughs that the Lord brings into our lives with our cooperation are more incremental than they are instantaneous. They happen along the way. It’s where a slow, unsteady faith walk through the streets of Jerusalem is required. Use the analogy in your mind. Our healing and deliverance is sometimes a slower process.
I’ll flip this over and push it a little bit further. The third idea is that there are going to be times where it’s going to involve a difficult walk in a direction we would not have chosen to go. It’s like, Lord, why do I have to do this? Why couldn’t I just… Why are you making me? If you can heal, can you heal, Lord? I imagine the disciples saying, “Lord, you can heal anyone, we’ve seen you heal people. Why are you making them do that? You have never done this before. Why are you making him? Why are you making mud with your own spit? What are you doing?” But no one said anything.
Why? Why this way? This person, you didn’t do it that way. Why can’t I get healed? First, if you are going to heal me, why can’t you just do it right now? Or if you’re going to heal me, can I just get healed the way that person got healed? No, you have to go the way that I’m asking. I get that sometimes. Sometimes it’s not the way we would choose. Can you hear me when I say this? Sometimes the way the Lord requires us to go through the streets of Jerusalem with mud on our eyes to a pool when any water could do. Sometimes the way that He has us to go is actually the opposite way of what I would have wanted to do. What I really want to do is the opposite of what you’re telling me right now.
I was thinking about Jesus, because I imagine the blind man saying, “I really don’t want to do this.” The one who was asking him to take a walk that he didn’t want to take, to open his eyes was one who Himself would take a walk that he didn’t want to take that would open our eyes. I’ll tell you this. Jesus knew the end of His day was near. He did not want the cross. You say, “Oh yeah, He was the son of God.” Do you know how we know He didn’t want the cross? Because He said it in the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives I described, a few months removed from this moment. He gets there and says, “Father, if it is possible, take this cup from me.” He knows what’s coming. He could see it. He could see it in His mind. I can see it as clear as day. He can see what’s happened. He knows where it’s going. His enemies circling, His own turning. It’s all going down. He knows where it’s going. It’s going to end up with Him splayed out, hammered onto a Roman cross. It’s going to be His enemies and critics laughing at Him with scorn. He can see it. He’s going to be bleeding, torn up, and hammered. It’s awful. Naked essentially. All His people are gone. It’s there. He can see it.
This is the Father’s way. He says, “If it is possible, take the cup from me. That’s the way, I want to go this way, not that way. But nevertheless, not my will be done.” Do you know what Jesus did? He went the opposite way into the cross. I look at that and I say, “Lord, the same way that you sent him. You sent this man on a little journey that he didn’t want” Maybe it wouldn’t have been the way he would have chosen. Don’t argue. Let’s be careful about fighting God over the way that He heals things in our lives. Walk with the way. Well, so what about that? It’s not about that. It’s about ‘what is He doing with us?’ We’re all unique. This is the way for you to be healed, my friend. Go with me, walk with me, do it. You shall seek Jesus.
I was thinking about Jesus too. Somehow, I kept thinking about the spit that He used. The saliva that He used to make the mud. I was thinking, “Wow, what a juxtaposition to what happens on the cross.” Some people think the reason Jesus made the mud out of His very being and mixing it with the dirt is like a creation moment. When it says in Genesis, God made a human soul out of the dust. Whether or not that’s true, one thing is certain. When Jesus is hanging on the cross, His mouth is so dry. The sun’s beating on Him. He is dehydrated. What is one of the things He says? I thirst. This is one of the sayings on the cross, which is the collective human cry by the way. We thirst. Human beings thirst for more. It’s the human cry. I thirst, though, was a real cry for Him.
What kind of love is that, that kind of grace and that kind of love? Amazing Grace, how sweet, that saved a wretch like me, a lost one like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found, was what? Blind, but now I see. There it is. He who sends him to see is the one who was sent to make us see. I am the light of the world. Do you see how layered this is? It’s all over the place, it’s layered in. Last thing and then we’ll leave it here. This is my final thought, but I believe it’s important. There’s a time and a season when the power of the Lord is uniquely present to heal. Not all time is the same. Not all-time in the day is the same. There are times where the power of the Lord is present to heal in our lives in ways that are different from others. Jesus said to this man, not, “Hey, why don’t you go think about it. Come back tomorrow. If you feel like you want to do it, then give it a shot and we can see what happens.” No, no. Let me do this. I need you to go to the Pool of Siloam and wash there, now. If you do this now, you will be healed. Now is the time. You need to go now. There are times where the Lord is saying, “This is about you responding to me in this now season of your life. Now.”
The Word of the Lord is coming to you now. It’s real. It’s present. It’s there. Now. Your healing, your breakthrough requires you to move now. There are some of us this Easter season, the Lord is going to be calling us. Some of us are right on the edge of making a commitment to Him. The Lord is going to say, you need to do this now. Now, while my presence is coming towards you, you can feel it. You know it, open your heart. Commit. For some of us, He’s going to say, “Commit to be my follower now, now.” Others of us, it’s like we’re walking through the streets of Jerusalem. It was just what for me is a metaphor of things we find ourselves in, in life. We’re trying to trust God. I’m trying to trust you on this Lord. I know you told me to do this, but this is really hard right now. Part of me thinks it doesn’t work. I want to just give up on this. What should I do? Right there, if you hear the Lord saying, “Look, do not quit on the word that I’ve given you, don’t do that. Stay with it.” Slowly by faith, pulling back and forth. Yeah, but you need to trust me because I have a breakthrough coming.
There’s something I want you to see. When the Lord is giving us a word, it’s in the now. Don’t assume it’s always going to be there the same way. If you feel something moving in your heart and your spirit, respond. Respond. God, are you calling me to throw my heart into this better? Are you calling me to dig into community better? Are you calling me to do something that I’ve been holding back that I’ve been wrestling around with? Are you calling me to respond to that? Is there something you’re asking me to do or to be or to pursue or to get connected into? What are you asking me, Lord? What is the blessing of responding to you now? Not tomorrow, not a month from now, not next year, not a couple of years down the road when I’m more prepared to offer the better me to Jesus.
Let me say, I’ve had a couple of times where I’ve talked to friends over the years, and it just happens every now and then. I’m going to leave it here. This is my final thought. I might be at a coffee shop or something and they’ll find out I’m a pastor, which is the death blow of all conversations at that point. “Oh, you are?” It’s either confession time or we’re not talking real anymore. One of the two, most of the time, that’s the generalization. In this case, someone said to me, it’s happened more than a few times. “I used to go to church, I was raised to believe, but I’m doing some stuff right now. Later on, when I get my act together, get my life straightened out, I think I’m going to come to church.” I said, “Look, we don’t get ourselves good enough to come to Jesus. We get better by coming to Him. We come as we are with all of our flaws, messes, contradictions, and struggles, all of our blind spots. We come to Him and He starts to work in our lives. We don’t come because we’re qualified. We come because we’re open. Then He begins to do things. It’s not about ever being good enough. That’s the exact opposite thing.” Come on.
We’re going to pray. We’re going to have our giving time. I know a lot of us give in different ways now. A lot of you are giving more on our apps, but we’re just going to go have our time of giving. Then there’ll be a quick summary, a coming-up video, and we’ll close out with a final song that ties so closely into this idea of moving with the Lord when He’s calling us to go against the grain of our will, called The Opposite Way. Let’s pray.
Lord, I ask you to bless this time that we’ve shared. I ask this word would come alive and live in ways that we couldn’t have even envisioned. Bring dimensions of seeing that weren’t there before. Keep working in all of our lives, teach us your ways. I just ask for you to bless these closing minutes, be honored in them, and just let that word resonate. If there’s something in our heart that we’re being called to respond to now, help us not delay. Help us to do something to act on that impression that we’re getting. Again, whether it’s jumping into something, whether it’s beginning to re-engage something, I don’t know. Whether it’s choosing to follow you in a more committed way, whatever it is, open up our hearts to you for the first time, whatever it is, Lord, I ask that you help us to do this. Give us courage and conviction. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.