Friday, September 16, 2011

Pool of Mercy

Imagine you’re holding your newborn son. Perfect in every way. No treasure rivals a healthy child, but a few weeks later, an uneasy feeling invades. Your son turns his head toward sounds, but his eyes don’t focus on anything—not even your face.

To the parents and blind son of John 9, blindness became as familiar as daily bread. The son never saw a minnow or the faint yellow of fresh butter. The parents never witnessed his wonder at seeing a puppy or a lightning bolt.

By adulthood, darkness underwrote his world. He had no comprehension of light besides descriptive words. Around Jerusalem, the tentative man who had to feel his way around town was well known. Locals could tell any newcomer, “Oh, he’s been around for years -- blind since birth.”

One day, Jesus and his disciples passed near him. Jesus noticed the man and his disciples asked, “Who sinned, this man or his parents?”

            Perhaps the sightless man overheard Jesus’ answer. “Neither . . . this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life” (9:3). Jesus continued, “Night is coming, when no man can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (9:4-5).

            Jesus started the ball rolling, with mud balls, so that God would be displayed in the blind man’s life. Instead of immediate creation of sight, Jesus mixed a Sabbath-mud-and-saliva placebo, and smeared it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the pool of Siloam.”    

            Wherever the blind man was in Jerusalem, he obediently groped his way toward the pool. Did he encounter curious locals? Did hecklers ridicule his mud pack? Did brats jeer his stumbling walk or try to trip him? Did citizens pity him, thinking that both his mind and sight were now gone? Whatever he encountered, he pushed on to the pool of mercy.

            When he reached the water, did he kneel and dip his hands in the water? Or with abandon splash into the pool, dipping his head beneath the surface? Did he rise, flinging locks, shaking off droplets, wiping watery dirt from his face and eyes?

            With the soil of the earth washed away, his eyes opened. God met him there. Sweet sight. A spectrum of color. Adrenalin rush. Words and objects connected. For the first time, he had a live picture-dictionary of his vocabulary. 

            On that Sabbath, the blind man saw a mural—his parent’s faces, shimmering water, scowls from religious zealots, the synagogue. Yes, ugliness also treaded the boundaries of this healing. The Sabbath-Nazis aligned Jesus with sinners. Their anger stemmed from his claims to the title of Messiah and his so-called Sabbath offences.

            In the first slew of questions from the religious leaders, the healed man couldn’t identify Jesus. He’d never seen him. After more questions later that day, still without a face-to-face meeting, the man declared Jesus was a prophet.

Then he met Jesus. The sweetest Sabbath sighting of all.

Afterwards, cranky religious leaders asked further arbitrary questions of the healed man. He confirmed Jesus’ deity with his notable evidence-reply, “I was blind but now I see!”

The assignment given to Jesus remains our spiritual calling today: “To open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness” (Isaiah 42:6-7).

This Sunday is “National Back to Church Sunday.” A survey showed that most people would go with a friend to church if they were invited. And on Sunday evening at Buddy Moorehead Stadium the “Go Tell” revival, sponsored by over 30 area churches will kick off with multiple national speakers. Do you have at least one friend that might go with you to church or to the community revival? It’s a small thing to do, but when you invite them, you’re opening a door to light and God’s pool of mercy.   

Index card verse for week 37: “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow” (1 Corinthians 3:7).

            Contact Cathy

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