Wednesday, July 13, 2011

What's Up with All the Water?

Reading: John 9   
Ever wonder why Jesus spit on the ground and put mud in a man's eye to heal him? I think there is an explanation pointed to in the pool of water that Jesus sent Him to for washing.
Water seems to be everywhere in John's Gospel. The first scene is John baptizing with water (1:26). Jesus' first miracle is a vast amount of water being turned into wine (John 2:6-10). Jesus tells Nicodemus that in order to enter the Kingdom of God (the Messianic Kingdom) he must be born of water and the Spirit (John 3:5). John 4 centers around a well of water, and Jesus offering Living Water to those who ask of Him (John 4:10, 14). And even the follow up story about the royal official whose son lay sick, though it has nothing to do with water, is prefaced by mentioning it occurred where Jesus turned water into wine (John 4:46).
Then, Jesus goes to Jerusalem, to a pool of water (Bethesda), where a man had no one to help him get into the water when it was stirred. Jesus heals him without a man to help him into the water, and without the water (John 5:2-9). Jesus was all the man needed to walk. He is the Water—the whole pool and the One who brings us into the pool!
Am I making much to do about nothing? In John 6:19 we find Jesus walking on water, in John 7:37-39, He invites all who are thirsty to come to Him and drink, to believe in Him and partake of the streams of Living Water that flow from within Him. (We partake of this water by the Spirit Whom He sent.) While John 8 doesn't mention water, it certainly sets up John 9 by setting up the discussion on where Jesus came from, and even making statements like, “Before Abraham was, I am.” (John 8:58) Jesus continues his declaration that He is “sent by the Father,” (John 8:16, 18, 26, 29, 42) a theme which has dominated since the fifth chapter.
So in John 9, we arrive at the story of the man born blind. There is the initial discussion over whether the cause of this blindness was his own or his parents' sin. Jesus denied either as the cause but indicated that the purpose was for Him to do the work of God in his life, “the work of the Him who sent me (John 9:3-4). There is that “sent me” theme again. Then Jesus takes some water from his mouth and puts it on the ground (he spits on the ground!), and told the guy to go wash in a whole pool full of water, the Pool of Siloam (John 9:6-7). The man does so, and “came home seeing.”
Right in the middle of that is a seeming throw-away-clause, “this word means Sent”. I would suggest that there is nothing throw-away about that clause. Jesus being sent has been a constant theme in John, and while there are two words used for “sent” in the Greek text in John, they are used interchangeably and at times in parallel. It is no mere coincidence that Jesus tells this man to wash in this particular pool, and John is not merely adding color to an otherwise black and white picture here, he is interpreting the sign.
This phrase is a clue to the reader or hearer, that they should pay attention to the meaning of the name of the pool! Siloam would not have immediately stood out as meaning “sent” to the average hearer. (Most of us don't think about the etymology of words we commonly use. I don't think about the meaning of checkers when I pull through to get a burger at Checkers.) John is explaining the sign. Jesus being sent from the Father is one of the primary themes of John’s Gospel. What does it mean to be sent? Follow the water.
Where did the pool of Siloam come from? In 2 Kings 18 & 2 Chronicles 32 we read of a time when Hezekiah was under threat of imminent attack from the Assyrians. Jerusalem was a well defensed city: it was on a high hill, or mountain, and had great walls. The only problem? The only water source was outside the city. So if an army laid siege to them, it was just a matter of time until the city ran out of water. So Hezekiah, being humble and therefore possessing wisdom, accomplished an amazing feat.
It was Hezekiah who blocked the upper outlet of the Gihon spring and channeled the water down to the west side of the City of David. He succeeded in everything he undertook. (2 Chronicles 32:30)
Hezekiah covered the spring Gihon, creating an underground aqueduct, cutting right through stone, to carry the water about 6 football fields in length to a man-made pool inside the city: the Pool of Siloam. This would look like any other spring in that you wouldn't be able to tell the water was from outside the city. However, it was actually a spring that was sent from another spring. You couldn’t see the first spring, it was covered; and one might not realize that it came from the other. The water was the same! One you could see; one you could not.
Jesus is the Living Water (John 4:10), indeed streams of Living water flow from within Him (John 7:338-39), because it is the same life that is in the Father. No one has seen the Father, but the One and Only Son of the Father has made Him known (John 1:18; 6:46). How so? Same water, same life giving Spirit, same essence, but now, having become flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14), we can see this one. He is sent. That is why, just like God took mud in the garden and gave it life, Jesus could take mud and give a man born blind sight. And that is why by washing our feet He can cleanse us entirely, and why from His side flowed blood and water... a stream of living water from His life poured out for us (John 13:5-10; 19:34).
Love the Gospel, Live the Gospel, Advance the Gospel,

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