Cleansed to be Sent

‘As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no-one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world’ ~ John 9:4

Jesus uttered these words when He and His disciples encountered a man born blind. When the disciples asked, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ (John 9:2), He turned their attention from their old belief that every misfortune is because of sin. Jesus replies, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life’ (v3), and adds that while it is day, we must do the work of God. In other words, Jesus turned their focus from the consequences of sin based on human works, to the consequences of His works in order for mankind to be fit to do the work of God. And so, as long as Jesus is in the world, He is the light of the world. Similarly, as long as Jesus is in a person, He is the light that shines in and through them so that they can do His work- for no one can work in darkness.

Jesus then heals the blind man by spitting ‘on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes’ (v7). It is interesting that Jesus uses mud, something dirty to apply on the blind man’s eyes. He could have just used his saliva or spoken a word, and the man would be healed. Instead, He mixes His saliva with dirt in order to demonstrate to His disciples that our sin (mud), makes us blind and so renders us inactive. But when our mud (sin) is mixed with His saliva (a measure of the Spirit), we start off our healing and commission. For then, Jesus tells the blind man, ‘Go, wash in the Pool of Siloam (this word means Sent)’ (v7). The mud on the man’s eyes required his participation to be healed, in the same way our sin and weariness prompts us to take a step towards Jesus in the first place. He even urges, ‘Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest’ (Matthew 11:28).

By giving the man an initial measure of His Spirit (saliva), Jesus sends the man to the Pool of Siloam, to a deeper and unending realm of the Spirit. The name of the Pool of Siloam means Sent, because we are not only healed and saved when we come Jesus, but are also sent by Him. In fact, the last words Jesus said to His disciples were, ‘But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth’ (Acts 1:8). So, when the man went and washed in the pool of the Spirit, he not only ‘came home seeing’ (John 9:7), but also became a witness. When his neighbours asks him about the healing, he testifies that a man named Jesus healed him. He is then taken to the Pharisees for further investigation, because the healing of a man born blind was an unheard of case. The man ends up witnessing to them all what Jesus was trying to tell the Pharisees all along. Although the man had no deep knowledge of Jesus, his encounter with Him gave him the words to say. The man ends up witnessing to the unbelieving Pharisees about Jesus saying, ‘Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will. Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing’ (v30-33).

Unbeknownst to him, the man was echoing Jesus who had earlier asked the Pharisees, ‘Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling you the truth, why don’t you believe me? He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason that you do not hear is that you do not belong to God’ (8:v46-47). The former blind man spoke like Jesus, because he had received the same Spirit as that of Jesus. Even though he had never known Jesus before, when he encountered Him, the Spirit taught Him something about Jesus, giving him the ability to be a witness. In fact, it is after the man’s witness, that Jesus appears to him and reveals Himself clearly to him, when his eyes were opened. The Pharisees, however, still denied the divine healing, prompting Jesus to rebuke them, ‘If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin: but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains’ (9:v41). He renders them blind because of their sin. To put it plainly, all those who do not acknowledge their sinfulness, condemn themselves and are guilty, for they find no basis to come to Jesus for healing, cleansing, saving, and sending.

When Jesus washed His disciple’s feet, many interpret it as a way of Him showing humility. Yet, Jesus unveils to His disciples a critical truth. When Peter refuses for Jesus to wash his feet, He tells him, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no part with me’ (13:v8). Peter realizing that the activity held a deeper spiritual connotation responds, ‘Then, Lord, not just my feet but my hands and my head as well’ (v9), to which Jesus answers, ‘A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean’ (v10). In washing only their feet, Jesus was sending them because He had already cleansed them- for they had believed in His Word, in Him. That is why He says, ‘You are already clean because of the word spoken to you’ (15:v3). So in washing their feet, Jesus was sending them out to spread the Gospel. However, they did not quite get that for Jesus asks, ‘Do you understand what I have done for you?’ (13:v12).

Jesus further clarifies to them, ‘You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord’, and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than the master, nor he that is sent greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them’ (v13-17). Jesus was not merely advocating for a physical washing of each other’s feet as an expression of humility, rather He washed their feet to send them out to spread the Gospel. He commissions them saying, ‘As the Father has sent me, even so I send you’ (20:v21). In essence, Believers should speak the same words Jesus proclaimed and do the same works He did by the guidance of His Spirit. Since He opened our eyes and cleansed us, we now ought to Go! For ‘How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news’ (Isaiah 52:7). So, when we go and proclaim the Gospel to others, we are washing their feet because we are getting them saved, and in turn they get sent. Anyone born-again is sent to be a witness because they have the Witness, the Holy Spirit, that commissions. For, ‘how can they preach unless they are sent?’ (Romans 10:15), and how can they be sent unless they are cleansed? Are you cleansed?

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