My husband's sermon yesterday was about the blind man that Jesus healed as recorded in John 9: 1-41.
It is such a tribute to the creation by God of the earth. Jesus spit into some dirt and made mud that he then smeared over the eyes of the blind man before telling him to go and wash in the waters of Siloam, creating sight where there had been none since the birth of this man.
As is so typical of God, the restoration of the man's sight was done in a way that would be completely atypical of our human ways of doing such a thing. Can you imagine: here is a man who had been blind his entire life and Jesus offers to heal him by sticking mud into his eyes?? Who would do that? I don't know if that was some sort of common healing practice in that culture, it sounds completely bizarre to us. Jesus did not come to the man as a recognized healer of physical ills and so they thought he had some kind of ego problem when he assured the man that if he obeyed His commands his sight would be healed. Jesus to them at that point was simply another person born into sin like the rest of us, nobody special, so how dare He trumpet His own horn about healing someone who had been blind since birth?
One thing I do credit the authorities for doing and that is checking with the man's parents to be sure of their facts regarding the man's sightless status. They wanted to be sure they were looking at the same man they had known for his lifetime. They wanted information from his family about who this Jesus fellow was. That is only wisdom when we seem to be seeing something that is too wild to be believed. His parents though had a typical human response when faced with interrogation that could result in their being in trouble in the community: "We don't know who this Jesus guy is either. Our son is an adult in his own right. Ask HIM!!" haha
The healed man had obeyed Jesus before he could even see Him. The offer of sight after a lifetime of blindness was too good a deal to refuse. I love the simplicity of his answers when he was grilled by the authorities about who it was that had healed him and how He had accomplished it. His response was, "Whether this Jesus be a sinner or not, one thing I know: before I was blind and now I can see."
Alas, when they realized the man truly had been healed by Jesus they were upset about it, confused and angry and they drove the man out of town in case he was going to become some kind of heretic and become a disciple of Jesus, while they didn't yet recognize Jesus' spiritual authority.
And isn't that just like us: when something happens we don't understand or don't want to understand; when God does things that initially look strange to us or he uses people we don't think are qualified to be used in ministry, we balk. We refuse to believe this event or this person could end up being God's answer to our problems. We react in anger or confusion or bitterness instead of continuing to pray and wait to see just how God may be involved in the answers to our prayers or in our life's circumstances.
My husband asked us how we feel when we see something we don't want to believe? Most of us had to say we often remain skeptical about things that don't seem possible or probable to us, no matter what the visual evidence. He asked us if we ever experienced answers to prayer through people we would deem least likely to be bringing us the answers. He asked if we had ever experienced answers to prayer that seemed initially to be moving in the exact opposite direction of what the answer eventually turned out to be.
After reading this story again and listening to my husband's questions and sermon, I decided I have to be more open again to God doing the unusual or the risky or the downright frightening as I go about my life. When the prophet Samuel was led to choose David the shepherd boy to be King of Israel, overlooking his many older and far more qualified brothers, the Lord said through him: "...for the Lord sees not as a man sees, for man looks on the outward appearance but the Lord looks on the heart."
(I Samuel 16:7)
I am sure that Jesus knew the heart of that blind man, that he would be grateful for his healing and that he would whole heartedly become a disciple of Jesus. He was not disappointed. The man knew Jesus was someone special and instead of questioning him about His apparently rather odd method of healing his vision, he simply accepted what Jesus had done for him and became His follower.
Days like today I realize I need to regain that simplicity in my own faith. When I was a new Christian I didn't question everything to the depths I do now. Of course some of my initial naivety had to change as I matured as an adult and as a person of faith, but I have to guard against taking up too large a protective shield of skepticism when some of the things I see going on and that happen to me spiritually bring answers to prayer and direction to my life.
In my own life the Lord has often used rather unorthodox methods to lead me and to get my attention focused on Himself. Maybe it is time for some more of that!