Tuesday 16th May 2023


Two huge questions were raised during this healing event.  1. Are those people who are chronically sick or disabled actually being punished for sins committed by themselves or their parents?  2. Was healing permitted on the Sabbath day?  Jesus quickly answers the first question by decoupling the connection between sin and sickness, declaring simply that the healing of sickness was an opening for the glory of God to shine out.  In this case, Jesus himself would illuminate God’s presence amongst them all. 

The glory of God began with some saliva, some dust turned to mud, and the ceremonial washing of this in the Pool of Siloam.  By the power of God, an instant miracle took place and the congenitally blind man returned home seeing normally for the very first time.  And how wonderful that the first person he saw was the Son of God himself!

Your opinion of whether a miracle has occurred will depend on your prejudices!  If you don’t believe that miracles can occur, then you will never be convinced that a particular one has happened right in front of your nose.  Later on, you will declare that miracles do not occur because you have never witnessed one.  And so you are caught forever in that loop of denial.  It might even cost you your eternal life!

A similar situation occurred when the Pharisees discovered that, on the Sabbath, Jesus ‘allegedly’ given sight to this blind man.  Their line of reasoning went like this:

  1. Healing someone is ‘doing work’ – as the Law of Moses is concerned
  2. Anyone doing work on the Sabbath is a sinner and therefore certainly not the Messiah
  3. God does not listen to sinners, nor does he enable them to do miracles
  4. Therefore a miracle had not occurred that day – either the man couldn’t see now, or he had always been able to see anyway.

Others in the crowd, including the man who had been healed, reasoned as follows:

  1. An amazing healing miracle has occurred here: a man blind from birth can now see perfectly
  2. The person who performed this miracle was clearly someone who God listened to
  3. Therefore he couldn’t have been a sinner (and the Pharisees had to agree on this)
  4. Therefore it must be permissible to heal and to do miracles on the Sabbath!

Your whole view of what went on that day was coloured by your initial line of reasoning; and certainly the second set is much more logical than the first set.  The Pharisees were absolutely desperate to deny the miracle – otherwise they would be forced to concede the healed man’s final point.  What rubbed salt into the wound was that the uneducated man threw their own reasoning (v31) back into their faces and they knew that they couldn’t deny the logic.  They became angry and lashed out in revenge: “You were steeped in sin at birth…”, which was their usual starting explanation of why people were sick or deformed in the first place!  (That, incidentally, is why Jesus’ disciples asked him that same question earlier in the chapter – v2.)

So they threw the man out of the synagogue – and would have done likewise to his parents if they hadn’t been so cowardly.  Such excommunication was also the end of one’s social and community life since no-one would ever speak to you again.  But the man finds someone much better to fellowship with: Jesus himself and, on learning that He was the miracle-worker, worships Jesus from that day onwards.

RUTH 1, 2, 3 and 4

The Book of Ruth should maybe have the title: “Ruth of Moab and Boaz of Bethlehem”, since Boaz is as vital a character as Ruth is.  The story starts so sadly: a close male relative of Boaz marries, has two sons, and they emigrate to Moab, where the sons marry Moabite women.  Then all the males in the family die, one after the other, and Naomi, the wife is left to look after Ruth and Orpah in Moab.

Ruth, having pledged her life to Naomi, returns with her to Bethlehem and there is a desperate need for food.  In those days, in the absence of state funding for the poor, the only option was to ‘glean’ for barley and wheat scraps from the fields of those where harvesting was taking place.  The poor were permitted to pick up anything left behind by the harvesters, but not to actually touch the standing grain.  So Ruth sets out to spend many exhausting days picking up small scraps of barley, in the hope that she and Naomi would have sufficient to just about avoid starvation.

By God’s grace, she arrives as Boaz’s land and works behind his harvesters.  Boaz arrives and sees her.  Being a generous and compassionate man – and being a single man – he goes beyond what is expected of him to make Ruth’s task much easier and much more fruitful.  Her mother-in-law is very surprised to see her laden with food and grain upon her return home and realizes that this was no average day’s gleaning!  Excitedly she learns that Boaz, a close kinsman-redeemer, owns that land, and she realizes that this is hers and Ruth’s chance to achieve social and financial security.  Kinsmen-redeemers were close relatives who were officially appointed to care for the needs of widows and orphans in families; also, as stated in Deuteronomy 25:5-6, they were expected to marry the childless widows and to have children with them in order to continue the original family lines.

Ruth chapter 3 is clearly a marriage-proposal ritual that was well understood by both parties.  Boaz considered himself very blessed to be singled out for marriage by Ruth (who was much younger than him) and he promised to perform all the necessary legal transactions – at the city gate where all this business traditionally occurred – for a land transfer and marriage to occur.  (See chapter 4.)  Another citizen, who was an even closer kinsman-redeemer, declined to exercise his options in this regard (to the delight of Boaz) and so Boaz married Ruth and purchased the land from Naomi, giving her financial security for life.  And then, a child was born to them, named Obed.  It all ends happily ever after!

This book of the bible is much more than just a love-story starring a generous, gracious man and a beautiful, faithful woman.  The focus on the ‘kinsman-redeemer’ is a foreshadowing of the redemption that comes to us from Jesus Christ.  Isaiah 41:13-16 says:

 “For I am the Lord your Godwho takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.  14 Do not be afraid, you worm Jacob, little Israel, do not fear, for I myself will help you,” declares the Lord, your redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.  15 “See, I will make you into a threshing sledge, new and sharp, with many teeth.  You will thresh the mountains and crush them and reduce the hills to chaff.  16 You will winnow them, the wind will pick them up, and a gale will blow them away.  But you will rejoice in the Lord and glory in the Holy One of Israel”. 

We all need redemption, and we all find it in Jesus Christ, who is able to restore us in every way, as we yield each and every part of our lives to him.  Just as Ruth’s request of Boaz was not presumption, but faith; by faith and calling upon the Lord, we too obtain an eternal redemption-relationship with him.

Boaz was the father of Obed, the father of Jesse, the father of King David.  Without his intervention, the greatest king that Israel ever had would not have been born.  Furthermore, the greatest descendant of King David was, of course, Jesus himself (on his mother’s side).  We must realize that the small acts of kindness and mercy that we make in our routine daily lives can have momentous unseen consequences that are of eternal importance.  Boaz had not even read the Book of Ruth – you could argue that he was more the author than the reader – and yet his actions led directly to the Saviour of the World being born.  Let’s take encouragement from what God can do through each one of us!

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