Pool of Siloam: a Divine Moment

John 9:1-7  Photo: Recently discovered steps around the genuine Pool of Siloam

“Why are some people born blind?” This is the way most people would ask the question today. But the disciples asked it differently; “Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Associating sin with medical disorders was common in Bible days. Jesus’ reply is informative; “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” Like the disciples, many Christians today are quick to generalize saying ‘all sickness is due to sin’ or ‘sickness has nothing to do with sin,’ but Jesus evaluated each case separately claiming sin was the cause in some situations (Jn 5.14) but not others. He relied on his Father to inform him case by case.
Jesus’ claim that it was “So the work of God might be displayed in him” is very similar to his comments elsewhere. When he was questioned about healing the cripple at the Pool of Bethesda (see here) he said “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working … the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing” (John 5. 17-19). It seems that Jesus was fully focused at all times on what he saw his Father doing and was less interested in general debates about the causes of medical conditions.
Verse one tells us how Jesus and his disciples got into this conversation. It says “As he (Jesus) went along, he saw a man blind from birth.” Jesus was the first to notice the man and was drawn to him; then the disciples asked the question. Clearly the Father singled the man out for a miracle and that is why Jesus called it “The work of God.” It was the same at the Pool of Bethesda where Jesus’ attention was drawn to one cripple among many, and he healed just that one. Jesus was always watching out for who the Father was touching. We should be too. Instead of generalizing and assuming that God wants all people healed right now, we should be looking out for who God is touching. That’s where the power is. It’s what Jesus called “The work of the Father” and what John Wimber called “Doing the stuff.”
Moving on; we see Jesus put mud in the blind man’s eyes and then said “Go, wash in the Pool of Siloam.” The act of putting mud in the man’s eyes and the instruction to wash in the pool would not have sounded as strange to the blind man as it does to us today. Jews believed that healing was about being cleansed. As mentioned above, they connected sin with sickness and ‘infirmities.’ Washing away dirt from the eyes would only have enhanced this idea. But Jesus never repeated this method which is a good indication that he was just following the instructions of his Father.
So here Jesus enforces the idea of cleansing even though the man’s condition was not due to personal sin. This sits well with what Christians understand about the gospel and the coming of God’s Kingdom. Mankind is sinful as a whole and even the most righteous person needs cleansing. When God’s Kingdom is fully manifested there will be a new heaven and a new earth with no more sickness, pain or death (Rev 21). The way individuals enter God’s Kingdom is through the cleansing of the cross, and water baptism demonstrates that cleansing. The blind man was cleansed and healed in anticipation of the coming Kingdom.
Both the Jews and the early Christians believed in a God who cleanses and heals, and both believed that the cleansing and healing was dished out to individuals as God determined. The lame and blind Jews at the Pool of Bethesda (John 5) believed in a healing God, that’s why they were there. They waited for an angel to stir the water believing that the first one in would be healed (see the foot note in the NIV Bible). The general idea was that of a healing God who determined when each person got healed. So when Jesus said “Go, wash in the Pool of Siloam,” the blind man would have seen it as his moment. God had spoken.
Some have taught that healing is dependent on our faith rather than God’s decision; that God has already given us healing and we just need to believe it enough to receive it. Verses like Mark 11.22-24 have been used to support this: “If anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Here the context is often missed, and it really is important. Jesus has just cursed a fig tree and Peter is amazed how quickly it dried up. That’s when Jesus said something could even be done to a mountain. Now if cursing fig trees and moving mountains were based on human decisions instead of God’s then we could have the farcical situation where Jesus wanted a tree cursed and Peter wanted it healed or where Jesus wanted a mountain moved and Peter wanted it to stay put. So whose will would be done? Whose faith would win? Some might say that Jesus would win because he is God. Well that’s the point; man does not decide; God does! We can’t curse a fig tree or move a mountain or heal anyone unless the Father is doing it. Like Jesus we need to know what the Father is doing, and do only what He is doing! If he isn’t healing someone we can’t heal them no matter how much faith we have. We need to know the Father’s specific will for each situation. The same applies to prayer. John said “If we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him” (1 John 5.14-15). The implication is that God only listens when we ask according to his will. And I am talking about his specific will for specific situations. When Jesus said “Go, wash,” the blind man had God’s specific and personal word for his situation as opposed to God’s general and written word that is for all people. God’s general and written word reveals a God who heals, but God’s specific and prophetic word shows who he is healing right now. When we hear God’s specific word and realize we have been singled out like the blind man, it creates faith in us. And when we act on that faith we are healed as this blind man was. God’s specific and prophetic word is essential; it’s often the missing key.
Like Jesus, we are called to do the works of the Father. When we are doing just what the Father is doing we will see His power; we will see His Kingdom come.

Illustrations: Jordan Baptisms (3 photos), Wimber-Healing in South Africa, The Letterbox Healing.

Word to Vineyard Mombasa: Goat on the Siloam Street – Temptations that block healing

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