John 9:6-7, "When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing."
This morning, we contemplate the wisdom and choice of God to do certain things in certain ways. When considering all that God does, He always does things according to His good will and pleasure, but we do not always honour His good will and pleasure as we should. For example, many today cry that God perhaps "should" do things like the Bible records (such as the Red Sea parting, etc.) so that people today would believe more in Him. What is painfully obvious from Scripture is that no matter how majestic the Lord's working is on different occasions, people are still quite prone and victim to doubt and disbelieve the Lord, His promises, and His pleasure. Those that saw the Red Sea part quickly fell into unbelief. We today see His awesome working in our lives at different times, yet we also fall victim shortly thereafter to unbelief. However, no matter how the Lord chooses to work and move in a particular situation, we should honour and extol what He does at all times.
In our verses above, we read of an interesting circumstance in the ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ. He encounters a man that is blind from his birth, and He is pleased to heal this man from his blindness. While Christ chose many times to have compassion on people and heal them from many different afflictions and sicknesses, His manner of healing them is not always the same. Sometimes, the healing comes from speaking a word, sometimes from giving a command, and sometimes from just speaking from a distant location (not even in the proximity of the sick person). However the Lord chooses to move and have compassion on people, His pleasure is to perform that thing in that way. In our story, the blind man is healed by Christ after Christ anoints his eyes with clay that is made from Christ's spittle.
Consider this scene for a moment. Here is One with all power that can simply speak a word and command something to come to pass. (Psalm 33:7) Here is One that can have the simplest command of thought to accomplish His will. Yet, on this occasion, He chooses to make clay from spit and daub it on this man's face around his eyes. Quite often today, people marvel and remark that a Holy and Wise God would use simple men to preach the gospel to enlighten the eyes of His children. Why would He do such a thing? Why would not the One with all might simply pour in the knowledge at the moment of regeneration? That is a question often asked of me, and I would imagine many minister's experiences are similar. The simple answer is that it pleased Him not to do so. (I Corinthians 1:22)
What are we to learn of Christ's actions towards this blind man when He could have healed Him in any number of different – and perhaps simpler – ways? The first thing we must ask when considering this account is what it pictures or typifies. Indeed, this account is literal and happened just as it is recorded on the page. However, what picture are we given on this occasion? It is our belief and suggestion that this scene of a blind man with clay in his face washing in the pool of Siloam typifies baptism as we experience it when joining ourselves to the New Testament church.
By nature, man is of the earth, earthy. (I Corinthians 15:47) When God created the first man Adam, He did so by taking the very dust of the earth to fashion into a body. That same dust from whence the man first came is the very same dust to which his body will go whenever this life is over. (Ecclesiastes 12:7) That, dear friends, is not much – if anything – to glory about. Being fashioned of the very common and nearly worthless dust is not very special. On top of that, our dust is corrupted by the old stench of sin and death. The corruption that inhabits these bodies reeks of sores from our own depravity. What this blind man had in front of his eyes was the very same substance that his body is by nature.
Baptism, as the Bible teaches it, does not wash away one ounce of filthiness before God. (I Peter 3:21) What baptism does do is answer that conscience that cries out, "What must I do?" when first posed with the knowledge of our own corruption contrasted against the holiness and sacrifice of our God for us. After we hear about the majestic grace and mercy of Christ despite our own depravity and worthlessness, we feel convicted and convinced that we must show gratitude to Him in return. The answer is to be baptized in the picture of His noble sacrifice for us.
Since that does not wash away one sin in the sight of God, does that mean that it washes nothing away? No dear friends, it washes a great many things away, but they are washed away symbolically in our eyes: not God's. When Paul experienced baptism at the hands of Ananias, there were many things that needed to be washed away from Paul's sight. (Acts 22:16) They were the sins that he finally saw for their guilt and blackness. Before his regeneration and eventual conversion, he felt no guilt for any of his actions. By nature, we are the same. We feel no condemnation for anything that we do, for we have not the capacity to feel the guilt that only spiritual eyesight can discern. (I Corinthians 2:14)
When Paul went into the baptismal waters, his sins – such as the stoning of Stephen – were washed away from his sight. His very sins that plagued his mind during those three days and nights of blindness were alleviated by the baptismal waters. This did absolutely nothing to absolve any of his misdeeds before God – Christ's work alone accomplishes that – but many things were absolved in his own mind going forward in his life. Just as the blind man had to have some clay (this old flesh) washed away to see, so do we have to have some of this old self washed away to serve God more acceptably in this life. We do not leave our eternal condemnation in the water, but we do leave personal guilt and condemnation in the water when we submit to His command to repent and be baptized in His name. (Acts 2:38)
Now, today many minimize the importance of baptism. Some are even heard to herald statements that say, "Well, so-and-so is an Old Baptist or one of us, but he/she has never been baptized." Friends, such thoughts and statements minimize the great importance and benefit of baptism. If it was not that important, rest assured that Christ would have never submitted to it nor commanded us to submit to it as well. As we say so often about washing the saint's feet, "If Christ could do it, then what should hinder us from doing it?" But, let us look at the blind man's case for a minute as it pertains to baptism. Specifically, let us look at his case from the anointing of Christ until his washing in Siloam.
Some will ask, "If someone has never been baptized, can they still have fellowship with Christ?" Certainly. "If someone has never been baptized, can they still enjoy preaching and worship services?" Absolutely. "Then what are they truly missing?" The answer to this last question is answered by the blind man's obedience to Christ' command. Consider that before his washing, he had experienced the sweet touch of Christ's gentle hand. As those holy hands anointed his eyes with clay, he felt what Christ felt like. As Christ utters that sweet command to him, he hears the gentle voice of the Dear Redeemer. But friends, how well could he see his Lord? How clearly could he describe this Great One? There are God's children that have felt the sweet caress of Christ's hand in their bower of prayer, and heard the still, small voice whispering peace to their heart and soul. But friends, to see Him high and lifted up, we have to wash some of this old self away in the pool of Siloam.
One might then say, "But don't they see Him through preaching?" Indeed they may. However, how much will He allow or permit us to see when still willfully blinded by our old clay? When we refuse the simplest of commands to submit and be baptized, how much will He honour us with clear sight of His majesty? I have made the challenge from coast to coast for someone to be baptized and tell me that it made no difference on how well they perceived Christ. So far, none have come forward. While I cherish those quiet and peaceful moments with His voice in my heart and hand at my cheek, I cherish and highly prize those times when His face is seen by faith. That sight was never more clearly aligned than it was after I submitted to His example and followed his lead to be baptized into His church. May we therefore wash in the pool of Siloam that we may come forth seeing Him better than ever before.