16th July 2012
Spit And Mud
“…He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. And He said to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’…. So he went and washed, and came back seeing.”
John 9:6-7 (NKJV)
Reading the gospels, it is obvious that Jesus did a lot of healing; also that he authorised his followers to minister healing to those in need (Luke 10:9; Mark 16:18). And yet I cannot see in the gospels any two healings done entirely the same way. In each occurrence of this gift from God, different actions are taken, different words are spoken, different connections drawn between the miracle and the message (John 9:3; Matthew 9:25; Luke 8:48).
This doesn’t mesh well with human expectations, now or ever. In ancient times, ritual told the story, and faithful repetition of that ritual told of the immutability of that story. In modern times, the sciences (including medical science) depend on careful experimentation and replicable findings. By the laws of nature, the same action repeated under similar conditions should produce comparable results; and if not, something has been done wrong…. Of course it seems to make sense to us that the actions of God should be similarly predictable.
Somewhere, at some point, there may have been a religious group who combined prayers for healing the sick with the external application of saliva. A church that held firmly as a matter of doctrine, that if this procedure was properly followed then healing must and would take place. A group that believed that if Jesus did this, then it is the formula for healing the sick!
Nobody would deny that cause and effect do operate within the arena of human decisions and events. However, if we assume a direct cause-effect relationship between what we do and what “results” (miraculous or otherwise) that we get from God, we tend to go down strange paths in our logic:
(a) God granted my requests before. Why am I unsuccessful in prayer this time? What have I done wrong? I must strive harder!
(b) If God gives me what I ask, then I really must have got it right religiously! If everyone started doing it my way they would all enjoy precisely the same blessings! You can harness God to get rich! Rich beyond your wildest dreams! (I saw this one on TV.)
My personal belief is that genuine miracles do happen today, and that the visible actions of God are consistent with his nature and purpose, but have never been uniform. This is not about being disorderly in exhibiting giftedness (I Corinthians 14:40), or erratic in church attendance (Hebrews 10:24-25); it’s about having one’s mind open for God to do new things (John 3:8).
Thank you, Jesus, for your deeds of compassion and power, teaching us about your supremacy over sin and suffering and over the lives of those who commit to you. Help our unbelief—whether rooted in over-anxiety, presumption, or doubt.
Study by Fiona Jones