Here’s Mud in Your Eye
As an intellectual, it is so easy to get caught up in my own head. I read, I study things, and quite often I think I have a good handle on the material. Usually that’s true, but I’ve also learned enough to know that I can still be surprised by another person’s insight. It happened most recently in church this week, as my pastor brought up the story of the blind man in John 9. As will happen with the Bible, the story rang with a note I had never heard before. It was one I quite needed to hear.
The story tells of how Jesus rubbed mud in a blind man’s eye so that “the work of God might be displayed in his life” (John 9:3). Now, when I’ve read this story in the past, I always focused on the mud. It’s such a strange thing to do, and certainly not something Jesus had to do in order to heal someone. There are plenty of instances where words alone are enough to do the job (John 18:42, for one). Why, then, does Jesus choose this method? I mean He mixes the dirt with his own spit for crying out loud! Stop and think about that for a second. Do you have any friends or family who you are so comfortable with that you would let them rub their saliva in your eye? I might have one or two, but it would be weird. Jesus, though, doesn’t do anything just to be weird, and I think I finally figured out why He goes through all this rigmarole.
In the end, I think the mud thing has to do with the man’s ability (or inability, depending on your point of view) to tell his story. You see (*rimshot*), by the time this guy has gone and washed in the nearby pool, Jesus is gone. Can you imagine? You’ve been blind your whole life, then suddenly you enter an entirely new world, and there’s no one to thank. When people start to ask him about what happened, all he can say is “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it in my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam [the pool] and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see” (John 9: 11). When the crowd asks where Jesus went, all the formerly blind man can say is “I don’t know” (18:12).
It’s such a simple story that he has to tell. There is no grand descent into darkness, no addiction that he has to be rescued from. It is a quiet story and, arguably, one of the least dramatic miracles Jesus performs. When the Pharisees grill him, the man has little more to say than ‘That’s what happened. I don’t really understand it, but now I can see, and I know Jesus is responsible.’ That inability to explain, the man’s lack of a dramatic narrative, is tremendously comforting to me. Listening to and reading the story again this weekend, I came to see myself in this slightly hapless beggar.
My journey to faith, like the blind man’s, is not sensational. I didn’t have to overcome drugs or death to meet Jesus and accept Him. Rather, I was just meandering along, having already known something about the man, when He found me. There is a huge difference in my heart and in my life because of Him, but I am hard pressed to tell you quite how that worked out. Oh, there has been tough stuff in my life, in the same way that I’m sure being a blind beggar in 1st century Palestine was no picnic. But I’ve not been a demon-possessed man living in a graveyard either (Luke 8: 27). Telling my story of healing won’t bring tears to anyone’s eyes, and will probably sound a lot like the guy from the pool: “Whether [Jesus] is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”
That’s pretty much where I am. For all my studying, I still struggle to answer a lot of questions about God and Jesus. Indeed, it’s not in my makeup to do a lot of talking at all, much less witness to people. What I learned this weekend, though, is that it doesn’t really matter. God has given me a simple story, and it’s the only one he wants me to tell, because it’s the only one that’s mine. Perhaps it’s a story that others need to hear too. Perhaps there are people, not unlike me, who need to know that the quietly lost are just as important to God as the desperately lost.
Interested in the sermon I mention? Click here, then click “Show Details” under Life on Mission. You can also go to iTunes, search for “Mountain Christian Church” and find the podcast named “Share” from 11/9/14