So the Works of God Might Be Displayed

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John 9 takes us to a day in the life of Jesus’ earthly ministry. The Bible says that as He went along, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

Jesus replied, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” Then Jesus spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam.” So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.

So basically, when the disciples asked Jesus if the man’s blindness had a spiritual cause, Jesus responded by saying yes. This guy was blind his entire life so Jesus could show God’s glory and power through a miraculous healing.

Wow. Does that seem a bit unfair? How could a perfectly loving God allow a man to live his entire life as a blind beggar, just so one day He could demonstrate His glory through healing? At times like these, I realize my definition of “fair” might not be in line with God’s. He isn’t as focused on my convenience and comfort as I am. His thoughts, purposes, and end game are much higher than mine.

The reality is that God can use all things—even painful, difficult things—to bring glory to Himself. And Jesus is not embarrassed to admit it, because it is not wrong.

But I want to point out something else from this passage. A tiny little tidbit we may have missed: Jesus spit in the dirt, made mud with the saliva, and smeared it on this poor blind man’s face! As if he didn’t already have enough to deal with. It wasn’t like rubbing muddy spit on someone’s eyes was a commonplace activity in Jesus’ day. It was just as awkward, messy, weird and gross then as it would be today.

And then Jesus instructs the blind man, who has no wheelchair, by the way, to find his way through town to the Siloam Pool. It’s one thing to smear muddy spit on someone’s face—but asking that person to fumble his way through town that way—isn’t that just adding insult to injury?

If you saw a neighborhood kid smear muddy spit on your child’s face then command them to walk through town to the public pool to wash it off, wouldn’t you consider that bullying?

I’m sorry if this makes you uncomfortable. I don’t mean to criticize Jesus, but let’s be honest. This whole scene appears to be completely weird and a tad bit unnecessary because Jesus was perfectly capable of healing people by whatever means He wished. He demonstrated His power on countless occasions and we can all think of times when Jesus would just speak and someone would be healed. And sometimes he didn’t even say or do anything at all–it would just happen! (Mark 5:21-43)

But Jesus wanted the blind man to participate in his healing. He wanted his faith (pisteuo) to be demonstrated through action.

Faith proceeds the miracle. Every time.

  • God asked Noah to begin building the ark 120 years before the rains came.

  • God called Abraham to march his only son up on a mountain beforeproviding a ram for sacrifice.

  • Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt before he knew how God would deliver and provide for them.

  • Joshua and the army marched around the city for seven days before He caused the walls to fall.

“And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.” (Hebrews 11:32-34).

God gives us opportunities to put our trust in Him and when we do, we realize that He is faithful, trustworthy, good, powerful, and loving. But more often than not, we immediately wipe the mud from our eyes and complain, “What? Are you crazy? I’m not walking through town with your muddy spit on my face!”

We felt convicted to schedule Amy’s first surgery before we the insurance company had come through and had the money in-hand. We believed God wanted Amy to be healed this way, and we trusted that He wasn’t panicked by our insurance company’s denial letters.

And now … we believe the Lord is calling us to schedule the next two surgeries.

Is the additional $14,000 commitment scary? Yes of course. Faith is always scary (faith isn’t faith until it’s all you’re holding on to). We don’t know how the Lord will provide, but at least we know that He is giving us an opportunity to trust Him with our lives. He has proven Himself faithful over and over and over again and we have no reason to believe He will stop being faithful now.

Amy’s next surgeries are scheduled for September 25th and 30th so we will be in Atlanta from September 24-October 4. Thank you for your continued prayers for healing and provision. It is our deepest desire that net result of all of this is that “the works of God might be displayed in Amy.”

Rick Mumford