This is part final part to a two-part post about healing and sanctification. Read the first part to this post here.
Often times, what holds us back from healing is fear of what’s next. In many ways, living out of our fullness, being responsible for who God created us to be, is harder than just living the way we were before. Being a radical Christian isn’t easy. It might be easier to be a “normal” person, and so a good question for us is the one that Jesus asks in the next chapter: “Do you really want to be healed?”
Jesus pierces through the things that are getting in the way of this man’s complete and whole redemption and goes for something bigger. Jesus does the same for us, and just like the invalid, we are active participants. At the end of the day, it’s us who is picking up the mat that is enabling us to continue to be sick. We have the power to carry and defeat that which oppresses us. That’s the key here.
What are the excuses that the invalid man here is making for himself? What excuses are we making for ourselves? What’s getting in the way of his healing and our healing? How can he get beyond it? How can we?
Jesus wants to know if the man here actually wants to get healed! The pool isn’t going to heal him – his angels aren’t stirring up the water and healing people. It’s a lie. Our lies, or our false perceptions of reality, inhibit us from getting healed. The time is not now, for our healing, we might say – it’ll come when I finish grad school, when I buy a house, when I get married, when I get the job I want. We defer, we come up with reasons to wait, we tell ourselves we can’t get into the pool that’ll heal us. And we really believe that.
We sometimes get comfortable with ourselves, our problems, and the areas of our lives where we need to get healed. Our wounds are well-known to us and we let them become scars and we can’t seem to kick them because of many factors. We might think that we are going to keep failing, so we might as well quit trying to do something. This is the core of our tendency to cling to who we are. We don’t want to self-improve because we are afraid of failing. Our illness has become intertwined with our identity. Sometimes we think we might lose it altogether if we change. Sometimes our friends make us feel that way.
Jesus can even heal us from lifelong illnesses though—ones that with which we were born. Ones that we might blame ourselves. One more scene.
The disciples are operating, probably out of a contemporary intellectual understanding (which is not different than what we’re used to operating out of either). They really believe something backwards has happened and this is why the man has been punished by God. But the truth is, it’s not about who has sinned and who has not sinned. It’s about God’s glory. Just like our lack of sin and our holy life is about God’s glory.
He heals the blind man who isn’t as aloof as his disciples. He doesn’t ask any questions. He is actually blind and so he doesn’t get caught up in seeing everything in a certain way or in a certain worldview. He actually can’t even afford to ask many questions at all. He knows that he can’t save himself. He may or may not have skepticism, just like the disciples did, but he longed from something greater – the chance to see clearly. He longed to see the work of God in his life.
Jesus sends the healed blind man off so that he can interact and love the people that he knows. He asks him to be on mission. That’s the work of God that Jesus talking about. If you must know why the blind man is blind is because of this. That’s the reason. So that he can be healed and people can feel and embrace the abundant and transformative love of God in community.
How does Jesus heal the man? With spit, with saliva.
That can be gross, but it’s not always gross. I mean, kissing, is an especially affectionate thing. Sometimes, if it’s romantic, some saliva is exchanged. So be it. We don’t kiss strangers, generally speaking. We don’t share ice cream cones with random strangers – we might with our lovers. Sometimes we’re cool sharing drinks, but we usually need to know someone. You ever see a parent lick their finger and try to get some stuff off of their kid’s face? Lots of sharing of fluids. Lots of intimacy reserved for special relationships – it’s creepy and unusual if we do it to strangers. Especially strangers that can’t see.
Jesus breaks through this skepticism by probably getting ‘too close.’ He does this in Mark 7, too, when he puts his fingers in someone’s ears and spits in his mouth to heal a deaf and mute man. In Mark 8 he spits in another man’s eyes to heal his blindness.
He gets really intimate and showing us there’s nothing to be afraid of. We can actively confront what needs to be healed, because God knows what’s happening and he knows us deeply. Jesus wants to be closer to us. Grossly close. God’s glory isn’t just revealed through works of healing but through radical community and intimacy. Jesus touches us and crosses boundaries in places that aren’t normally crossed. He crosses boundaries and heals us in fashions that most people would simply find bizarre or weird. He gets close, showing us he loves us, right in the mix.
This man is blind for life. Blind to who God really made him to be. And the people around him get transformed further because he was. They can’t even recognize him. He’s not just able to see; he’s changed completely. He’s become a different person. He’s become sacred, purified, and whole. His nature has changed.
I hope you can believe that Jesus can really change us fundamentally. That he loves us deeply and thoroughly and he actually can heal us. Have the faith, get up and do what Jesus calls you to do, and let Jesus get close to you. You’ll change, probably even being recognition.