In John 9, there is a man who was born blind. The disciples discussed his case in a scholarly fashion, but they didn’t ask about healing. After all, he was BORN blind. The text doesn’t say, but perhaps he didn’t even have normal eyes–it was a birth defect, after all. Later in the chapter, his neighbors questioned whether this was the same man, so he apparently looked quite different to them. This was an impossible handicap, one that no one ever expected to be changed.
The disciples were simply curious about the cause of the problem—neither they nor the man himself asked anything more. But Jesus could see beyond this hopeless case. He saw a man who needed wholeness, and He saw a way to show the glory of God. In this case, he couldn’t restore sight, because it had never been there, but he could create sight where none had existed before, because He is the light of the world.
The Light could enter the utter darkness of this man’s eyes.
After this man was given his sight, the Pharisees became very interested, of course. They especially wanted to know how it happened. Being told that Jesus made mud, they seized on that. He had made mud on the Sabbath—he couldn’t possibly be from God. The laws that men had established to uphold the Sabbath had been broken, so this man was a lawbreaker. They questioned the man repeatedly about the exact method that Jesus used. They didn’t care that He had accomplished something unheard of—unthought of—by giving sight to one who had never seen…the Pharisees were far more concerned about the method used. The man Jesus had made mud.
This is the only time that Scripture records Jesus making mud. A few other times, Jesus used His saliva to heal both the blind and the deaf/mute. Sometimes, though, He only touched them. Once, he restored a man’s sight in two steps—first very vague and limited vision, and a bit later, he could see perfectly. In fact, if you look at all the healings of Jesus, it is amazing how many different methods He used. Many times He simply spoke the word—Be healed. Sometimes He asked, “Do you believe?” or “Do you want to be healed?” but this man who was born blind never asked for healing at all. Several times Jesus healed a person from afar, without ever seeing them—the centurion’s servant, the nobleman’s son; many times he simply touched them—Peter’s mother-in-law, the high priest’s servant. A number of people were healed simply by touching His clothes, seemingly with no effort on His part at all. But this day, He took some time. He spit on the dirt, made the mud, and put it on the man’s eyes. He also told this man to wash in the pool of Siloam and when he had done that, he regained his sight. But there was another man at another pool who was simply told to get up and walk. There was no need for the washing in that case. The variety of ways that Jesus healed is really quite surprising.
And the Pharisees wanted to know how. They knew who, or thought they did. An interloper, an intruder, an intractable imposter was swaying the mind of the people, and He needed to be stopped. The only question was how. They fixated on the method and completely disdained the Man.
Do we tend to focus more on the method than we do on the Man? Are we looking for a formula—the foolproof way to achieve healing or happiness or wholeness—rather than simply trusting in the Man? I believe that Jesus’ use of so many different methods of healing was a reminder to us that there is no formula. He works in so many different ways, and just as He created each human being unique, He also has a unique plan for each of us. His shaping, His healing for me will look different than what He has planned for you. God gives each of us our own challenges, and the way we walk them out will be different than any other person’s way. The formula is not a process.
The Formula is a Person.
Give up trying to find the bullet points—the six steps to wholeness, the perfect plan for healing, the one-size-fits-all cure for your pain. Jesus had a slightly different agenda for each person He encountered, and He has a personal and individual plan for you. The only way to discover it is to follow Him, to pay attention, do what He says, and trust that His way for you is perfect. It probably won’t look like anyone else’s path. It may not look like you expect. It may not even be what you think you want, but it is the perfect route, the one God has prepared in advance, for your feet to walk.
Jesus is your Way to Wholeness.