April 29, 2019

The Healing of the Blind Man at the Pool of Siloam

The account of the blind man who is healed by Jesus at the Pool of Siloam is a beautiful story that can teach us of the power of the Savior to likewise give us light and healing in our own daily struggles.

According to the Gospel of John, we are told that the blind man was healed following the Feast of Tabernacles or Sukkot (see John 7:2). The Feast of Tabernacles was the third of the three major Jewish Feasts: Passover, Feast of Weeks or Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23). Each feast was designed by the Lord to help teach and remind the people of the redemption of ancient Israel from bondage.

Tabernacles or Sukkot was celebrated for seven days from the 15th through the 21st of the seventh month (see Deuteronomy 16:13). During the Feast, Jews built small booths, or in Hebrew sukkot, and lived in them for seven days. Families slept and ate in the temporary booths made of branches to commemorate the Israelites wandering in the wilderness for forty years (Leviticus 23:42-43). [1]

In addition, each morning of the seven days a procession of priests came from the Temple to the Pool of Siloam. With a golden pitcher, a priest drew water from the large pool. This water came from the Gihon spring and ran through Hezekiah’s tunnel, a tunnel hand bored through rock for almost 1,800 feet. The water was considered “living water” because it came from a spring. Living water was used for ritual purposes. The priests then took the pitcher of “living water” from the Pool of Siloam and climbed the hundreds of steps that went up to the beautiful Temple Mount. As they arrived at the court of the priests, they circled the altar once and then the priest poured the water out onto the altar of sacrifice. They did this each morning for the first six days. On the seventh day, called the “great day of the feast” the same ritual took place, except the priests circled the altar seven times instead of only once. [2]

With most of Israel being extremely dry, the rainy season after the Feast of Tabernacles was critical for the coming year of planting and harvest. Though developed hundreds of years after Moses received the Law, this ceremony at the temple symbolized the people’s need for the blessing of rain from God. In addition, on the first of the seven days the people would gather in the large Court of the Women and at dusk light four huge lamp stands located in the court. Later Jewish writings described the light as being so bright it illuminated much of the city. [3]

Jesus being fully aware of the events that were taking place specifically used the various rituals of Sukkot to teach of His Messiahship. According to the Gospel of John, we are told that midway through the festival Jesus began to teach the people in the temple (see John 7:14). Then on the “last day, that great day of the feast” Jesus stood and cried “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:37-38). The people were shocked! Here, only a few yards away, they had just witnessed the significant ritual of the pouring out of the water. By Jesus proclaiming that he was the ultimate source for “living water,” He was giving a clear and direct declaration of His divinity.

We are then told that Jesus left the city and returned on the following day, again to teach in the temple (see John 8:2). Standing in the same court where only seven nights previous the people had lit the four huge lamp stands, Jesus then proclaims “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12). So significant were the words of Jesus during this feast alone that we are told that the Jewish leaders either desired to or even tried to kill Jesus three separate times (John 7:30, 44; 8:59).

After having testified of His Messiahship, Jesus then left the temple and found a blind man. As the disciples gathered around this man, they asked the Lord why he was blind. Jesus simply answered “that the works of God should be made manifest in him” (John 9:3). He then spit on the ground, and making a small amount of mud, anointed the eyes of the man and told him to wash in the Pool of Siloam, the exact same pool where the priests had drawn water for seven days. In simple, yet profound faith, the blind man then found his way to the pool and washed, after which he was healed and received his sight! The remarkable part of the story in many ways is not the actual healing of the man, but of his fervent faith and devotion to Jesus—a man he had never seen before. When later he was brought before the council questioning how he was healed, the once blind man gave powerful witness to the divinity of the Savior. As the trial continued the man even challenged the Jewish leaders “will ye also be his disciples?” (John 9:27). So enraged were the leaders that they cast him out of their presence.

When Jesus heard that the man had been cast out, the Savior found him and asked “Dost thou believe on the Son of God? He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee.” Having never seen Jesus before, but having heard his voice and having felt of His power and love the now healed man fell at Jesus’ feet and proclaimed “Lord, I believe!” (John 9:35-37).

Each of us, like the blind man, have had moments of darkness and despair. We too have not personally seen the Lord, but have only heard or read of His powerful words of healing. As we seek Jesus, by sincerely repenting and being washed of our sins, we too can be given the true light of the world, even the light of Christ that will illuminate our paths. As we find ourselves in darkness and feel cast out, rejected by those around us, we can know that the Savior will embrace us, welcoming us back into His eternal presence!

[1] The Temple, Its Ministry and Services, Alfred Edersheim, pp. 216-217
[2] The Gospel According to John I-XII, Raymond E. Brown, pp. 326-329; Edersheim, pp. 220-222
[3] John and the Feast of Tabernacles, Bruce K. Satterfield pp. 249-259; Edersheim, pp. 224-225; Brown, pp. 343-344