Do you believe in Karma? You know, when your future is determined by your past? Karma is a religion.
This week’s sermon was about Jesus’ 6th miracle. It’s impossible for you to get the same impact from my blog post as I got from the sermon, but I’ll give you a simple version. I’ve got to give our pastor credit for giving us the full picture when he describes things from the Bible, which I love, by the way!
In our last sermon, we learned about the Pool of Bethesda where Jesus told the blind man to walk. That was his 3rd miracle. He also fed the 5000 and walked on water since then.
Now as Jesus was passing by, he saw a man who had been blind from birth.John 9:1
Jesus had been teaching in the temple courts where there would be the largest number of people to hear his message and religious leaders to hear his warning. Leaving on the last day he saw the blind man outside the temple. At this time, people often looked at physical deformity as a punishment from God for sins committed by the person or their ancestors.
His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”John 9: 2-5
If life were truly as this describes, Karma would be the rule of life as we know it, not the Grace that Jesus offers! I’m learning that instead of just reading and taking it for face value I need to dig a little deeper. The disciples were with Jesus, the Son of God, who could heal any sickness, make any miracle happen. But they were concerned about whose sin caused the malady.
Jesus is teaching them that we need to see every situation of suffering as an opportunity to help. He saw the blind man as a way to glorify God. A way for people to see God through us. A way to show grace instead of expecting karma.
Then Jesus does it again…he pokes the bear! He knew that this was the busiest place during the day that would allow many witnesses.
Having said this, he 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.” So the man went and washed and came home seeing.John 9: 6-7
Now when I read this, I picture Jesus spitting like I would spit, yeah, a small amount of saliva. But that wouldn’t be enough saliva for Jesus to do what he did next. He made mud out of the saliva and dirt. I won’t go into detail here, just imagine that it was a good amount of spit! Jesus mixed it and smeared it on the man’s eyes and sent him to the Pool of Siloam to wash his eyes.
There was no magic in the mud or in the pool. But the power came from Jesus himself. But there was a method to Jesus’ madness. The religious leaders taught that when God gave Moses the Written Torah, God also gave the Oral Torah to be passed from generation to generation us unwritten tradition. These were later collected and written down in the Mishnah. It’s full of rules of what can and cannot be done on the Sabbath – a day to avoid all forms of “work”.
Some examples found in this book:
- Attempting to heal someone with any remedy on the Sabbath is a sin, unless the situation is life or death. Chronic conditions can wait.
- Anointing with any kind of salve or healing ointment is prohibited.
- You could add water to your oatmeal…you just couldn’t mix it.
- Kneading dough or clay was a sin. That is work…and that is wrong.
No magical formula in the spit, the mud, or washing in the pool. But, Jesus was poking the bear. It was an attack on religion. Jesus knew that one of the central rituals was a processional parade, led by the high priest from the temple to a sacred pool. Guess which pool? The priest would gather water in an urn and offer it at the temple as a liquid offering to God. All of the religions at this time were doing that.
Jesus healed on the Sabbath…again! He made mud and had the man wash it off in a religious pool during the peak of a religious ceremony. Jesus intended to make his point in a public way. He wasn’t ignoring religious rules, he was blowing them up!
What does this mean for us?
- Our past does not equal our future.
- What holds us back is never stronger than what can move us forward in Christ.
- We get grace and not karma.
The point of he death of Christ is that Christ took on the sins of the world so that what we put out did not come back to us, and that our sinful nature does not reap the obvious death. That’s the point. It should keep us humbled…it’s not our own good works that get us through the gates of heaven…– Bono
So what does this all mean for us?
- Jesus blew up religion so that we could receive grace
- Jesus poked the bear
- So here’s mud in your eye
I know that there is nothing that I can do to earn the grace Jesus offered me. But I do what I can to help because that’s how I show others the love of God.