We are pleased to have a guest writer sharing his heart from God’s Word today. Ken Marino and his family were a part of Calvary Temple for 19 years. The Lord brought them out of Calvary Temple and into freedom in 2007. Ken has authored a devotional on the book of James entitled “The Physician & the Pharmacy,” which we enjoyed. We are grateful for his thoughtful and encouraging words to the former members of CT.
Leaving a church can be an emotionally charged life altering event. Letting go of the familiarity of long time relationships and church culture increases our angst about the uncertainty of what lies ahead. When it comes to Calvary Temple, leaving the group is exponentially more stressful and traumatic. Departure here means burned bridges and scorched earth behind. Despite all that, rock-solid hope awaits you in John chapter 9. Let the blind man at the pool of Siloam encourage your trembling heart in the inexpressible priceless exchange in store for you.
“When He had said this, He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and applied the clay to his eyes, and said to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam'” (John 9:6-7 NASB)
Jesus does something very unusual–spitting on the ground to make a clay eye salve. Why did Jesus do this? John lets us know that Jesus’ miracles were signs (see John 1:11). Signs direct us beyond the miracle to the spiritual reality about God behind it.
Clay as it’s used in Scripture has two main ideas. One is the soft, pliable material for the potter (usually God). The other is its brittleness and weakness (Dan 2:41-42; Job 13:12). This clay was composed of spit, an act of contempt to bring shame (Num 12:14, Deut 25:9, Job 17:6). Our Lord’s prophecy, “They will mock Him and spit on Him,” was fulfilled by the mockery of the Roman soldiers: “They kept beating His head with a reed, and spitting on Him, and kneeling and bowing before Him” (Mark 10:34, 15:19).
The blind man was about to discover that eyesight comes at a heavy personal cost. He was going to learn that through weakness, shame and humiliation that the works of God would be displayed in him (John 9:3). All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. It’s a persecution that, as the Book of Acts attests to, is more often than not at the hands of religious leaders.
Be encouraged that through weakness (clay) and shame (spit) we gain increasing revelation of Jesus Christ. Watch how this man’s comprehension of Christ grows as the opposition mounts. “So they were saying to him, ‘How then were your eyes opened?’ He answered, ‘The man who is called Jesus made clay…'” (verses 10-11). At the beginning, all this man knows is His name–Jesus. After the first grilling of the Pharisees, his answer progresses in understanding: “He is a prophet” (verse 17). By the end, this fellow’s spiritual eyes are wide open: “We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him…. If this man were not from God, He could do nothing” (verses 31-33). Even though we keenly feel our weakness (clay) amidst the verbal contempt (spit) of the religious leaders, Jesus is sending us on to our pool of Siloam where He opens our eyes to see who He is!
What treatment can you expect from Pharisee type leaders if Jesus has opened your spiritual eyes? Pharisees are quick to judge you as a sinner for breaking their rules. They are self-proclaimed champions of Sabbath keeping. But they blindly accused the Creator and Lord of the Sabbath as being a law breaker of it! “Therefore some of the Pharisees were saying, ‘This man [Jesus] is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath…we know that this man is a sinner.'” (verses 16, 24). As they judged Jesus, so they wrongly judged His disciple: “You were born entirely in sins” (verse 34).
The Pharisees love to rule by fear. In addition to their police-like attentiveness to rule breaking, they motivate compliance by severe penalties. “His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone confessed Him to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue” (verse 22). “You’d better obey us or we’ll kick you out!” Don’t fear excommunication; the best is yet to come! Watch what the blind man loses compared to what he gains in the end.
“They reviled him” (verse 28). Pharisaical leaders are trained experts in public vilification. Be prepared for this heaping abuse on you from Calvary Temple. And the more influence you have there, the greater the reviling to discredit you to the group. All this railing is achieved by adorning it with spiritually high-sounding words. “Give glory to God” (verse 24). “We are disciples of Moses” (verse 28).
While presenting their biblically based arguments to the congregation, they boldly assert themselves as expert sin identifiers. “You were born entirely in sins.” Pharisaical leaders will brand you a sinner, even though Jesus says the opposite. “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him” (verse 3).
What really rankles a Pharisee, though, is a nobody teaching them. “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us! (verse 34, NIV)” Here a blind beggar , a bottom rung untouchable, speaks the truth of God’s word. Pride in their religious training, degrees, experience, and elevation in the people’s eyes deafened them to listen to anyone they deemed beneath them.
Now for the good news! Was all that maligning of reputation and being expelled from the community worth it all?
“Jesus heard that they had put him out, and finding him, He said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ He answered, ‘Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?’ Jesus said to him, ‘You have both seen Him, and He is the one who is talking with you.’ And he said, ‘Lord, I believe.’ And he worshiped Him” (verses 35-38). The religious authorities may expel you, but that’s when Jesus seeks you out and finds you. How tender. How comforting. Christ gives further revelation of Himself to the outcast. This ex-synagogue member receives greater Christ-centered faith and enters into a new realm of worship. Don’t fear Pharisaical leadership. The fear of man brings a snare. Jesus is waiting outside the “synagogue” to welcome you to Himself. You may lose your reputation and your community, but you have Him.
“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil 3:8 ESV).