I was a very clean kid growing up. I don’t mean that my room was always straight and my clothes freshly ironed, my wife will still tell you that I’m horrible at that. No, what I mean is that I wasn’t the “down and dirty” type of kids who dug in the ground for bugs or made mud pies. I wouldn’t touch a worm to bait a fishing hook, let alone touch the slimy fish. I liked going to the beach but I hated how you found sand everywhere for the next 2 weeks. Even now as an adult, when my kids have messy hands and they go to give me a hug, I cringe. I don’t like mess.
Even if you were more of a messy kid than me, there is something that we all like about order, neatness, and perfect. Think how good you feel when you go shopping for new school clothes and you have all these new outfits hanging up in your closet. Or how nice it feels when you finish all your homework, put the books away, and you can just chill out for the rest of the day. Mess is equivalent to stress and imperfection, something we want to rid our lives us.
But in the Bible story I want to share with you today, Jesus asks us not to look at the mess, but instead to look at Him. That may sound easy, right? Jesus is clean and perfect. Who wouldn’t want to pursue him instead of the mess that is in our own lives? Yet we struggle with sin and it is often the first thing our mind goes to. In John 9, Jesus and his friends see a man who was born blind and the disciples immediate thought is that either this man must have committed a great sin and God is punishing him, or his parents did and this is there punishment. There gut instinct is to look at the mess in this man’s life, in this case, his blindness, and put shame and guilt on him or his family.
Let me ask you this, where is there mess in your life? Where do you find yourself putting shame and guilt? Maybe you feel embarrassed because you just don’t ever have the right thing to say. You’re a little awkward and feel like you never say the right thing or have the correct answers. When you enter a group of people, be in school or a sport, you immediately feel like the outcast, like you have a big mess on your face that won.
Or maybe your shame is in the fact that you do fit in and there are so many expectations for you. You are expected by your parents to do well in school. You are expected by your coach to score the goal. You are expected by your friends to dress and act a certain way. And these expectations aren’t all bad, but you will screw up. You will make a mistake. Things will, at some point, get messy.
And yet, back to the story, when Jesus’ disciples as why this man is blind, Jesus’ answer is not that the man is being punished, but that God is going to use Him to do something amazing. Jesus takes the focus off our mess and puts it on Him and what He is doing. While regular people look at us and immediately start picking out flaws and spitting judgment, Jesus looks at us and sees a friend, someone He can partner with. The mess, the guilt, the shame that we feel is not a deterrent to Him.
Now we know what’s going to happen. There is someone here that needs healing so Jesus is going to do what he does best: heal.
John 9: 6-7 - After saying this, [Jesus] spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,”he told him,“wash in the Pool of Siloam”(this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.
Obviously, Jesus could have just waved His hands and “poof” the man would have been healed, but when Jesus does this, there is a deeper meaning. First there is the mud, Why mud? We have to back to the very beginning. Remember when God first made man?
Genesis 2:7 - Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
Jesus rubbing mud on this man is very much like when God made man out of the dust of the earth. Why does Jesus do this? Because He is re-making this man. See, at the beginning of time, God did not need us humans, but He chose to make us from the dust of the earth. Then when we sinned, He chose to save us. Now, there is this man who has sin in his life, who has physical deformities and imperfections, and Jesus chooses to save Him. God is not afraid to jump into the mess with us and remake us.
Some of you believe that your life is a mess and because of that no one could ever like you. Or maybe you believe that sure, one day you’ll get married, have a job, have friends and a house, but you’ll always be burdened by your sins and flaws. No one could completely look past that. But Jesus does. He acknowledges this man’s faults, he recognizes that he is blind, but Jesus doesn’t just pass Him by. He prepares to make this man anew, to use Him for God’s glory.
Ok so the mud is a representation of us being remade, but did we need the spit? Isn’t spit gross? Isn’t being spit upon an insult? The Old Testament acknowledges that spit is unclean and insulting. So what is Jesus doing? Here’s the thing: Bodily fluids had a high value back in those days. Your spit, your blood, and whatever else comes out of your body, where all pieces of your life. And our life is messy. Our life is dirty.
But Jesus comes and uses his bodily fluids, uses his life, the thing that for us is so gross, to say, “No, my life gives healing.” He mixes the spit with the mud and I can almost hear the echo of Jesus saying, “apart from me, you can do nothing.” And it’s true! Apart from Jesus, our shame stays intact because we do screw up and there is no way for us to stop it. Apart from Jesus, our faults and errors are magnified and we continue to lie, to steal, to judge others for the very things we do. But with Jesus, with his spit on this man’s eyes, with his blood on the cross, we are made new. We are remade, we are reborn, into new creations that don’t have to worry about shame because Jesus was shamed on the cross. We don’t consider sin a thing to trifle with because that debt has been paid in full. We no longer have to look at ourselves and see the sins of past, present, and future (like the disciples did when they looked at the blind man), but instead we can see that hand of God at work and glory being brought to Him, as our savior Jesus did that day.
Life is messy. Have you ever been walking in a parking lot and seen a coin that was so tarnished and corroded that you could barely see that face on it? They are covered in brown and green. They are ugly. Yet, despite how gross I tell her it is, no matter how much I try to explain to my daughter that these coins are worth barely anything, she still picks them up. She sees value in them. She sees past the grime and dirt. The reason these coins are messy is because they have been worn and used, just like us. You have sinned and you will sin again most likely. But God still sees value in you. He looks past the mess and says, “I am going to save you and remake you.” I don’t know what you’re struggling with today. I don’t know what particular fault is weighing heavy on your heart as I am talking. But God does and yet, He doesn’t shy away from the dirt, but comes and joins us, wiping it away and giving us new life.