Why Did Jesus SPIT in a Blind Man’s Eyes?! #211
Hello friends, and happy Lord’s day to you! Join us, if you will, at VBC Salinas on Facebook this morning at 11AM for a time of worship and a message on the fullness of the Holy Spirit – an area that I think we Baptists are missing something (someone!) in a massive way.
Today’s question is an odd one, but we have a great answer to it. I can say that confidently, because I didn’t write the answer, for today, I am leaning more heavily on brother Charles Spurgeon – friend of the podcast – than usual. Tonight at about 11pm, our cute little dog Cooper had to be rushed (will, we actually went the speed limit) to the doggy emergency room, where we stayed for two hours while Cooper had to be induced to barf up the grapes that he ate. Doggies cannot eat grapes or raisins, my friends – file that one away in your memory. Anyway, Cooper seems ok now, but we got home very late, and the hour is very late as I type this, so I had to give Mr. Spurgeon a ring, and ask him if he could help us. As a good British gentlemen, he was happy to oblige, and he’s going to teach us a very important message, and I believe it will be a great delight to your soul to hear it and learn from it. Our Bible readings today include Judges 9 – a most strange passage in which 70 brothers are mercilessly slaughtered by the 71st brother – as well as Jeremiah 22, Acts 13 and Mark 8, which is our focus passage…a passage in which Jesus literally and genuinely spits in the eyes of a blind man. Let’s read the passage now.
What a strange thing for Jesus to do. Why would he do such a thing, Mr. Spurgeon?
We must not attempt to dictate to God with regard to his answers to our prayers. Let us learn that lesson from the incident before us: “They bring a blind man unto him, and besought him”—“to open his eyes”? No; that would have been a very proper prayer, but they “besought him to touch him.” But Christ did not do his work according to their request: “He took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought.” Now, with regard to our prayers, we may bring our children, and friends, and neighbours, to Christ, and we may ask that they may be saved; but we must not dictate to Christ the methods by which salvation is to come to them, for it is very usual with him not to follow those means which we would prescribe to him. That plan of touching the sick person was a very common one with Christ, and therefore the people began to expect that he must always heal by a touch. Naaman thought that the prophet Elisha would come out to him, “and stand, and call on the name of the Lord his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper.” But he was mistaken, as were those folk at Bethsaida. It was a sort of understanding among them that Christ’s touch was the usual method by which his cures were wrought, so they besought him to touch their blind friend; but he would not give any support to that notion. If they thought that he wrought his miracles by putting his hands upon the sick, then he would not put his hands upon them; he would let them see that he was not bound to any particular method. If he had allowed them to cherish such an idea, probably their next step in error would have been that they would have said that it was an enchantment, a kind of performance, by certain passes and touches, as by a wizard or conjurer, through which Christ went in order to heal the sick.
Superstition can be very easily made to grow; and you and I, mark you, may think ourselves perfectly free from superstition, yet, all the while, it may only have taken some other form from that in which it appears in other people. For instance, if the Lord is pleased to bless a certain preacher to the conversion of souls, you may settle it in your mind that, if you get your children to hear him, they will assuredly be saved. Yet it may not be the case, for the Lord has a thousand ways of saving souls, and he is not tied to any one man as his agent or instrument. It may get to be a kind of superstitious notion that, in some one person alone, the power of converting others may rest. Or it may be that you say to yourself, “I was converted by reading such-and-such a book; if I get my boy to read that book, it will convert him, too.” Yet it may have no influence whatever upon him; for the grace of God is not tied to any book, nor to any way of working that you choose to prescribe. I should not wonder, my dear friends, if some of you have tried to tie the Lord down to your way of working. For instance, in your class in the Sunday-school, it was the reading of a certain chapter in the Bible that brought one of your scholars to Christ; so, in order to bring the rest of them to the Saviour, you get them to read that chapter. That may be all right, for the Lord can bless it to them if he pleases; but, at the same time, you must remember that he is a Sovereign, and that, therefore, he will probably use other means in other cases. You preached, dear friend, in the street, or in the chapel, and God blessed that sermon; so you have made up your mind that you will preach it a second time. I recommend you not to do so, for very likely it will hang fire if you do. If you begin to confide in the sermon, God will not bless it. I think it is often well to do with a good sermon as David did with Goliath’s sword; he said that there was none like it, yet he did not keep it by him for constant use, but he laid it up before the Lord; then it was ready for the special occasion when it was required. When God has blessed any sermon that I have preached, I do not make it a rule to preach it again, lest I might be led to put my trust in that sermon, or to have some confidence in the way in which I set forth the truth, rather than in the truth itself; though I never hesitate to preach the same sermon again and again if I feel that the Spirit leads me to do so. We must not, in our prayers, tie the Lord down to any particular means; for he can use what means he pleases, and he will do so whatever we may say. We may ask him to open the blind man’s eyes, but it is not our place to beseech him to touch the blind man in order to effect his cure.
Notice, also, that Christ did not answer the prayer of these people in the place where they presented it. They brought the blind man to him, and they evidently expected the Lord Jesus Christ to open his eyes there; but Jesus did not do so. “He took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town,” right away from the place where the people wanted to have the miracle performed. The Saviour acted as though he could not do anything in the matter until he was out of the town, and he would not speak a word to him till he got him quite away by himself. Well, now, it is very easy, in our prayers, to fix upon a certain place as the one where God will give his blessing, and to think, “The friend I am praying for must be converted in the Tabernacle, or must be converted in the little meeting that I hold in my house, or must be brought to Jesus Christ in the church where I attend, or in the chapel where I worship.” But our Lord may, perhaps, never convert that young man in any one of the places you have mentioned; he may meet with him behind the counter, or on board ship, or walking by the way, or on a sick-bed. Do not be disappointed, therefore, when your place does not prove to be God’s place. Take your friend to the house of God, for Christ’s miracles on a Sabbath-day and in the synagogue, are frequent; but do not try to tie him down to the synagogue, for he must be left at liberty to work his miracles in his own way.
C. H. Spurgeon, “The Free-Agency of Christ,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 48 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1902), 15–16.