An Inconvenience Truth
John 9:6-7 (6) When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, (7) And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing. The ninth chapter of John is a beautiful (and somewhat humorous) account of a great miracle of healing which made a blind man's eyes to see and his mouth to contend for the truth. Christ was anointed with the Spirit of the Lord for, among other things, “...the recovering of sight to the blind...” (LUK 4:18). Recover means “...to regain possession of (something lost or taken away).” But here was an even more splendid miracle since this man did not regain what he had lost, he was given that which he never had, for he “...was blind from his birth” (JOH 9:1) and “Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind” (JOH 9:32). What Christ did for this man's eyes in a natural sense is no less miraculous in a spiritual sense when Christ by His grace, His mercy and then His gospel takes the vail off the heart of sinners whose minds are blinded to His truth (2CO 3:14-16). And the response of such should be every bit as engaging as was this man's: once blind but now seeing, and thenceforth earnestly contending for the faith (JUDE 1:3). Saul of Tarsus on one day lost scaly blindness from his natural eyes, Pharisaic blindness from his spiritual eyes, was washed according to Christ's command “And straightway he preached Christ...” (ACT 9:17-20; ACT 22:11-16). But there is something else in today's text that warrants our attention. Whereas Christ could have healed this poor fellow of his blindness on the spot by His mere word (c/w MAT 8:8), He instead exacerbated the man's condition by smearing mud on his eyes and then required him to blindly find his way to the pool of Siloam to wash! And here the carnal-minded sceptic might ask, “What kind of compassion is this? Why did Jesus not just deliver the poor fellow right then and there as any good humanitarian would have done?” This latter question carries with it a beam of dark light: the primary definition of humanitarian is “One who affirms the humanity (but denies the divinity) of Christ” (O.E.D.). Those who are big on “service to mankind” but think that good done to one's fellow man is measured by natural philanthropic instincts may be true humanitarians indeed, acknowledging Christ as a historic figure of note but denying his divinity since he didn't conduct himself according to their vision of what God would do if manifest in the flesh. For the record, Humanitarian Award ceremonies might well be called “church services,” the kind of church that Bible believers cannot join, the kind of church that makes the second commandment (love of neighbor) greater than the first commandment (love of God), the kind of church that would crucify Christ. Christ was sometimes wont to exercise people's resolve as a test of their faith in ways which seem uncharitable to the carnal mind. Instead of running to blind Bartimaeus when he called out to Jesus for mercy, “...Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called...” (MAR 10:49). Instead of predicting the faith of the friends of the paralytic man and dropping everything to rush to that man's aid, He let them show Him their faith by overcoming considerable obstacles to get their friend to Jesus (MAR 2:1-5). When a woman with an eighteen-year infirmity of such magnitude that she could not lift herself up needed healing, Christ “...called her to him...” (LUK 13:11-12); He did not move towards her. This is the true Christ: not the one the world loves who does things according to its own standards of propriety; He is the One Who in His divinity years before chided man, “...thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself...” (PSA 50:21), and “...my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways...” (ISA 55:8). Corrupt and self-centered is the heart that will only have God and His benefits on that heart's own terms. He will take issue with the God Who does not instantly transport him from Egypt to the promised land but instead makes him escape Pharaoh's armies by the skin of his teeth and trudge through the wilderness of Sin for a season (EXO 16:1), Who then expects him to battle the giants of Canaan (DEU 1:22-32) instead of conveniently wiping them all out with His mighty hand, and Who then proves his heart by making him wander in the wilderness (DEU 8:2-3). When Naaman was to be healed of his leprosy by the famed God of Israel, he initially chafed at the denial of a personal audience with Elisha and the absence of a grand show of healing power (2KI 5:9-12). And after all, had he not already inconvenienced himself by coming all the way from Syria for this God's sake?! But upon due consideration, Naaman humbled himself and washed/dipped “...himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean” (2KI 5:13-14). By the time he had submitted his heart to obedience, there was not even a mention of “Why seven times?” Those who would have Christ and His benefits must be prepared to jump hurdles, bear burdens, forsake all. God is to believers “...a rewarder of them that DILIGENTLY SEEK HIM” (HEB 11:6). Those who would enjoy the fruits of eternal life must “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life...” (1TI 6:12); the benefits of His field are to those who sow in tears in spite of the wind and the clouds (ECC 11:4) and THEN reap in joy (PSA 126:5). On the other hand, “The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing” (PRO 20:4); Christian virtue and reward elude those who demand an “easy access” Christ without obstacles. But for every true house of God in distant Jerusalem where worship is accepted, the devil will provide two nearby idol houses in Dan and Bethel where worship is corrupted (1KI 12:25-30). And the true Christ will actually encourage those who will not come to Him on His terms, “Come to Bethel, and transgress...” (AMO 4:4), “for religion is easy at Bethel, and I will judge you for it” (the essence of His appeal). Wouldn't it be nice of Jesus if He just ran to relieve us of our every burden? But instead Christ calls burdened believers unto Himself, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (MAT 11:28). True faith feels its blind way to the pool of Siloam without griping about the hassle and, receiving the benefit, worships the One Who gave it (JOH 9:35-38).