After saying this, he 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” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing. John 9:6-7
No apologies – this is weird to me.
Doesn’t this seem crazy to you? Jesus wiping spit and mud in people’s eyes to heal them? The whole scene just strikes as entirely too unnecessary.
To explain, allow me a tangent:
I was often asked to identify my favorite comic book hero as a boy, or dream about what super power I would desire most. My four brothers and I would make up our own and pretend, with our mother’s kitchen towels tied about our necks for capes, to fight off hordes of bad guys and save beautiful women (who would want to make out with us for our chivalry, of course.) Many times, I chose powers of an electrical nature. I was “Tron,” and with every fistful of justice dispensed, my enemies also got the jolt of a lifetime!
But please note: never once did the amazing “Mud-Man-Healer” grace the pages of my imaginary comic book. The mighty “Spit-Wad Warrior” wasn’t exactly my idea of a cool superhero.
And as I reflect back on this time, I realize I didn’t always choose the power that I believed to be the greatest of all: the power to create by merely speaking, of course!
But can you blame me? This doesn’t exactly strike fear into hearts, and it much less harvests cool points with brothers. Imagine as they twirl and kick ferociously at our enemies, me saying, “Your weapons disappear..” This just isn’t cool! It just doesn’t satisfy that certain need to make knuckle-to-face contact! Or as I become surrounded by sixteen vile, muscular bad dudes in serious need of a beat-down, to utter, “You no longer exist!”
But this is God’s MO, isn’t it? God only speaks, and the universe comes into being, His spoken dreams become our entire existence.
We find this power of speech in Jesus when a centurion approaches and asks Him to heal his daughter, only he doesn’t need Jesus to come with him! He insists that all Jesus needs to do is speak the words, and it will be done. So, Jesus simply speaks and the man’s daughter is made well.
So, it seems pretty clear that Jesus, son of God, doesn’t need to touch someone to heal them. And our loogie-a-la-mud story from John 9 doesn’t seem like the greatest recipe for healing anyway, does it? Picture this practice in one of our hospitals, “See what we’re gonna do here is, line you up …and then we’re gonna wipe spit and dirt in your eyes!”
What’s so startling about Jesus is that He’s always touching people. Not only does He seem to go out of his way to touch others, but always in these strange, germy ways, un-squeamishly pressing into our humanity. One of the things I love about God is that He isn’t willing to be solely known from afar by His spoken word, but by His eagerness to touch us and be touched by us. God, it seems, is actually quite sensuous!
God, who could merely speak and change our story, decides instead to be robed in flesh, embracing our humanity permanently, (not just figuratively) and joins our story!
Touch is powerful! Perhaps you know this well. You’ve likely been touched by someone you loved deeply and felt its power, a shot of electricity, adrenaline rushing through your body. But my point isn’t to amplify touch in and of itself, because so much power rests not in the act of being touched, but in who it is that has touched you. Who touched this man with his own spit and dirty hands meant all the difference in the world.
There are some places in our being where even we ourselves feel we cannot reach. When words fail and cannot find their way deep enough to the wounds we carry, the scars so deeply buried in aching and longing for love, to be known and understood. Can anyone touch those hidden and guarded wells within? Perhaps. Perhaps someone who will go quietly, and reach, pushing in without fear or turning, and touch us.
I want you to know, you have never been untouchable to Him. You couldn’t possibly be too dirty or too much for Him, and you have never needed to quake in fear, and hide from His sight. He has always, and will always, love you to the fullest. Not just with words that sometimes fall from our lips and die, though His never do, but with hands that touched clay and crackled human flesh that you and I are.
This is really my point — It says something about a God who is willing to embrace you and me! A God willing to handle our humanness, our salty, sweaty smelly-ness. It says something beautiful about a God who became all of these things simply to touch you, and simply because He wants to.
Because somehow in touching us, He makes us whole in the so many ways we’ve become broken. Somehow in being broken for us, His wounds become our source of healing. Somehow God saves us not by becoming our invincible, unstoppable superhero, but by becoming pierce-ably human.