Friday, March 31, 2017

Dirt, Spit, and Water

Our world is a dark one. We walk this life in the darkness of the valleys, not on the bliss of the mountain tops, even though we walk faithfully with God. Things happen in our life that we cannot explain: a spouse dies, a child is suddenly taken ill, you receive a frightening report from the doctor. We live in this fallen world surrounded by disease, darkness, and death. But where does spiritual darkness come from? Darkness comes from sin. The apostle Paul teaches that through one man, Adam, sin entered into the world. In Romans 6 we learn that the wages of sin is death: sin leads to death. From sin and death spring spiritual darkness, disease, and sorrow.

How do we overcome death, darkness, and disease? Jesus overcomes it for us for only he is the "Light of the World." When Jesus shines his light into our spiritual darkness, the darkness must flee. Everything that accompanies darkness (sin, disease, and death) is snuffed out. We see one example of Jesus shining his light into the darkness of a blind man in the Gospel of John, chapter nine.
"I am the light of the world.” Having said these things, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man's eyes with the mud and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing (John 9:5-7).
This is such a fascinating way to heal a man. Sometimes, Jesus heals people with a command, other times he invites them to stand up and walk. However, this time, Jesus uses tangible means of mud, spit, and water to bring healing. What can we learn from this?

First, God can make anything holy. Jesus takes dirt, which if you remember from Genesis 3, bears a curse:
Cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you (Gen 3:17b-18).
The dirt Jesus uses to heal this man bears a curse; however, Jesus sanctifies the dirt by applying himself to it. Jesus makes "holy dirt," if you will, and this is the means whereby he makes the blind man whole. Jesus makes us whole as well, not through dirt and spit, but through water, bread, and wine. Baptism and Holy Communion carry promises and blessings because Jesus himself is present in those things through his Holy Spirit. Baptism isn’t just water, but water sanctified by the presence of the Holy Spirit. Holy Communion isn’t a break in the liturgy so we can snack on bread and wine; rather, it is a meal ordained of God for the nourishment of our souls, and our souls receive that nourishment from the power of the Holy Spirit.

God’s ordained means of grace are his Word and his Sacraments. We are made holy by attending to the faithful preaching of his Word and attending to the regular celebration of the sacraments. When we allow God’s graces to work in us by faith, we become more like Jesus.

Second, we learn that God meets us through our bodies. Jesus physically touched this man's face and eyes — he meets this man through his body. We meet God every Lord’s day in our bodies, for we are embodied spirits. Our faith, though it is certainly intellectual, is also a physical and tangible faith. Thus, we should not despise the physical ways God meets with us, that is, through our senses. Our faith is a sensory faith, meaning God meets us in our senses, for God created our 5 senses. In worship we hear the gospel in the preaching of the scriptures; we smell the gospel in the incense, which recalls our prayers rising into heaven; approaching the altar, we taste the gospel through simple means of bread and wine; we feel the presence of God in the way we posture our bodies; finally, we see the gospel in the colored vestments and paraments of the church. God created our senses and he meets with us through our senses. We do not come to church for the mere intellectual exercise of gaining new information (though I certainly hope we learn something new in the sermons). Rather, we worship God through our bodies.

Third, Jesus conquers death, darkness, and disease. Sickness is a picture of death. When I get sick, I’m reminded that I’m not invincible, I’m reminded that I’m a feeble creature living in a fallen body. I’m reminded that the wages of sin is death. But Jesus redeems us through his body by dying on a cross. In his resurrection he defeats death once and for all! When we are healed we experience the resurrection of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is restoring us to a pre-fallen, Garden of Eden state.

Just as Jesus comes to shine light into darkness for this man in John 9, Jesus still shines his light into our darkness. Throughout the gospels, Jesus never turns anyone away who asks him for a healing. This is still the case. Jesus wants to make us whole — Jesus wants to heal us. Many will be healed in this life, some will have to wait for their healing in the resurrection. Regardless, God is in the business of healing the broken-hearted and binding up our wounds by shining his holy light into our spiritual darkness.

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