Double Trouble

Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath. (John 9:14)

Let’s start with the mud. No excuse for it. He could have fixed the blind guy with just spit or with a mere flourish of his hands. He’d done it both ways before. But this time he spits on dirt, rolls himself a couple of mud balls, and plasters the poor guys defunct eyes with them. Then he makes the blind guy find his own way to the Pool of Siloam. The blind guy not only has to stumble his sightless way by himself but has to do it with a couple of blobs of sludge crammed in his eye sockets to boot. I know the trick worked nicely, but would it have been too much for Jesus to at least have called the guy a cab?

But the mud thing brings up another interesting question. Given that Jesus could have re-eyed the man sans mire, why do it? Why submit the poor guy to additional humiliation? When he spit in the other blind guy’s eyes, he was employing a universal gesture of contempt. An uninformed bystander would have concluded that Jesus had nothing but scorn and loathing for that visionless scumbag. But in this new case, it’s as though a simple hack and hurl isn’t low enough. This time Jesus is going to literally debase the man by adding insult to injury. Take this, fella. Now go clean yourself up. What choice did the blind guy have? He feels his way to the pool where he trades his indignity for mud-free 20-20 vision. Good God, man.

Except the whole thing takes place on the Sabbath. Oh, yeah. Like Jesus spaced that out. Our dude is going for a double-scoop in-your-face act of religio-cultural rebellion. See, back then there are blue laws, baby. Big time freeze your ass off blue laws. Frost bite blue laws. When the sabbath rolls around you assume the position or assume the worst. That means no work, no play, no fun, no nothing other than checking in at the local synagogue for your weekly upload, uplift, and upbraiding. They had the whole system down like a science. Breaking the Sabbath was like breaking the law of gravity. Try it and you fall down and go boom. Not a good idea.

So Jesus does it precisely because it’s a bad idea. He’s going to make a couple of points. 1) the Pharisees are constipated jerks who don’t know jack, and 2) he can do whatever the hell he wants to anywhere he wants to anytime he wants to. This, of course, has the intended effect. The Pharisees go nuts. They jump all over the formerly blind guy who adds a little jalapeño of his own into the mix. Jesus conveniently hides off-stage for a while, letting his patient take the heat. Later he’ll find the guy and apologize for everything. (Well, if I’d written the story that’s what he would have done.) Jesus doesn’t apologize for anything. Ever. And the Pharisees can run with that to the freaking bank.

As I see it, you’re going to be humiliated one way or another, now or later. Guaranteed. The question is how you’re going to come out the other end.

Here’s mud in your eye.

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