The surprising cost of a miracle

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This post ran in the Aug. 20, 2016 issue of the Macon Telegraph.

Call it the most offensive miracle in history.

If there had been video of what Jesus did to a blind guy on social media, it would have ignited a firestorm of protests. In terms of public relations, it was a recipe for disaster. In terms of common courtesy, it was flat-out rude.

And yet there was Jesus, embarrassing a man with a physical disability.

The disciples started it, actually. When Jesus and his followers happened upon a blind beggar, they turned him into a theological discussion.

“Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?” (John 9:2, NLT)

Can you imagine being in the blind man’s sandals? “Hey guys! I’m blind … not deaf! Can you show a little sensitivity here?”

At that moment, Jesus did something shocking.

He scooped up some Jerusalem dirt, spat in it, made a little mud and put it on the blind man’s eyes!

Don’t think of it as “holy spittle from the mouth of the Savior.” Just go with “spit.” Close your eyes and listen to the sound of a throat clearing. Hear the slap of a loogie hitting the hand. Then imagine a grotesquely wet mixture being applied to your face.

The beggar didn’t ask for any of this. He didn’t deserve it. He was disabled, for Pete’s sake. He was a person of pity. He was alive because strangers had made a habit of being kind to him. Perhaps strangers had ignored him, but surely none had rubbed mud on his face!

The rabbi with mud on his hands leaned down and said, “Go wash in the Pool of Siloam.”

Jesus had just left the Temple when all of this happened. Perhaps he had reached the massive steps that led up to the Temple Mount on the south side of the complex. It was a common place for people to gather. It was a great place to set up shop as a beggar.

The pool of Siloam was about one third of a mile away.

To obey the rabbi, this mud-marked blind man would have to go against the flow of traffic until he reached the pool of ritual bathing some 15 minutes later.

Surely he felt the stares. Surely he felt foolish. Surely he questioned his own sanity all the way down the hill.

Surely there were those who wondered why Jesus would be so … so … mean.

It’s amazing to me that the blind man ever made it to the pool. It’s amazing he didn’t protest angrily and demand that the stranger be punished. It’s amazing he didn’t get help from kind-hearted people nearby to clean off his face immediately.

Of course, had those things happened, the blind man would have still been blind at the end of the day. He would have missed the miracle!

Instead, he gave it a shot. He walked in darkness to the pool. He felt the mud dry and crack on his long walk.

You probably know what happened next. When he washed away the last of the dirt, the blindness was washed away, too! A lifetime of darkness gave way to the sparkle of Siloam’s waters. His sight took in the water, the hills of the city and the stares of confused onlookers.

Then he headed back up the hill. Did he dance? Did he shout? Did he scream for joy? Did he gasp at the impact of green leaves, a blue sky or a red scarf?

Those of us with sight can probably never comprehend the joy of this miracle. It was the greatest day of this man’s life, bar none. It was the story he would tell for the rest of his life. It was worth more than any abuse he’d ever take beyond this day, and yes, there was abuse coming.

Don’t ever forget that it had all started with an unthinkable mixture of dirt, spit and humiliation.

This begs a question.

Would you be willing to be embarrassed if that was the only road that led to your miracle?

Read the Bible and search for this pattern.

The potential for embarrassment always precedes greatness. Feel led to take a leap of faith? Landing on your face is a real possibility. Will you leap anyway? Ready to follow God anywhere? What if God asks you to look foolish for a season? Will you still follow? Can you handle the stares, the whispers or the criticism?

The same God who called Abraham, Moses and Esther to move into unknown futures still makes the same demands of the faithful today. And if Jesus was willing to ask a blind man to look like a clown for a few minutes as a test of faith, he very well might ask you to face ridicule, too.

Andy Cook is the founder of Experience Israel Now and a resident of Peach County.