I've started on a new quest. Many years ago I was visiting an art museum and came upon a huge painting with a Biblical theme. I do not now remember the actual painting but I can still feel how awestruck I was by the rich color and detail. I lost track of time standing before it. Over the years I have looked for a book that would be a collection of paintings like that, Biblical events and characters painted by the great masters. I never found one until last month. Friends introduced me to the Musuem of Art in Saint Louis andin that gift shop I found a series of books that come very close. So as I read and study our Bible Lessons each week I am also researching works of art that go with the stories. I print them out or buy the print to include in a binder. This morning I was looking for a picture of Jesus anointing the eyes of the blind man and then telling him to go wash in the Pool of Siloam. One of the images I found caught my fancy as it showed Jesus and the man in the center, the disciples (who had questioned who had sinned, this man or his parents) off to one side, and the man washing the clay away in a fountain. Then I looked a little farther and found another picture that thrilled me. It is byJames Tissot and it shows the man beside the Pool of Siloam in the act of washing away the clay.
What is so powerful about this one is the flight of stairs leading down to the Pool. Imagine what courage it took for that blinded man to make his way down them to the wate, for he appears to have made his way there on his own. There he is, kneeling beside the Pool, with his hand to his eyes. You can just glimpse his reflection in the ripples. And the viewer gets a sense of what a wonder it will be when this man, who has never been able to see, gets this first look at the world and sees his own reflection, whole and free. There are women on the other side of the Pool and it looks like they might be washing clothing or linens. From the account given in the Gospel of John it seems this man was familiar to the inhabitants of the area. These women were about to witness his healing.
Why did Jesus spit on the ground and make clay? He certainly did not need to do that for the healing as he had healed others of blindness with his word only. But then, those others had asked for the healing. This man had been brought to Jesus attention by his students who wondered about his punishment. Jesus knew only his innocence. This was not the man of Genesis Two, made when God supposedly made man of clay. This was the image and likeness of God described in Genesis One where we are all the children of one Father. The clay might have been a help to the man's faith. Once it is done, he commands him to go and wash it off. That was more than a test of obedience. John saw some significance to that particular Pool, which means Sent. Jesus has just told them he had been sent by God to do the works of God. The man, unlike Naaman, does not dispute the choice of water, he at once goes there. When he returns to thank him, Jesus has moved on, so the man goes home.
There is more to the story but today I will hold that picture of the man kneeling beside the Pool very close to my heart and rejoice in the power of God, the power of good, to bring healing. I will strive not to ask the wrong questions when faced with a challenge, but to look for and listen to the Christ. When my angel message comes, I will 'follow and rejoice', expecting the healing. Grateful in advance. Understanding God's love is the difference between physical and moral blindness and clear vision and reflection. I want to see my reflection too.