Let him who is convinced that his views are true and right express them . . . at every opportunity . . . without considering how much support or how much opposition he will encounter. Only falsehood is in need of many supporters in order to win the day; falsehood must have the authority of numbers to make up for what it lacks in justification. Truth, by contrast, will always prevail, even if it takes time. Noble, courageous and pure, expressed with all the fiery zeal and conviction and with all clarity of sure awareness, stated again and again at every opportunity, truth will ultimately gain respect and admiration even of those who do not accept it. The only truth that can be lost beyond recall is that truth whose adherents no longer have the courage to speak up candidly on its behalf. Truth has never gone down in defeat as the result of opposition, it has done so only when its friends are too weak to defend it. - R' S.R. Hirsch

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Who is Your Father?

Why Did Jesus Use Spit to Heal People?

The Gospel of John records that while in Jerusalem, Y’shua spat onto the ground, creating mud, and then applied this mixture to the eyes of a blind man.   In Mark, we read of another blind man who was brought to Y’shua in Bethsaida, and Y’shua simply spat upon his eyes to heal him.

Mark also records that Y’shua inserted his spit moistened fingers into the ears of a deaf man and touched his tongue with saliva also.   When you think about it, a miracle worker gains attention simply by performing a miracle. When men who have been born blind, deaf or dumb since birth start to see, hear or talk... it needs no great fanfare or embellishment. Why then did Y’shua do this?

Moreover, when a society such as second temple period Israel understood and avoided issues of ritual impurity, you might think that for someone to heal a person using his own saliva would raise more than a few eyebrows.

Question:

Couldn’t Y’shua have simply spoken or reached out His hand to bring about the healing of these three men? If so, why did He choose this method? Was there a hidden message in what Y’shua did?


Answer:

Y’shua chose to use spit in order to send a powerful message about His parentage and His
position as sole legitimate heir to His Father’s inheritance.  It was conceivable in biblical times for a man to have several sons by different wives. Abraham sent away his wives and sons from Isaac so that there would be a clear demonstration of who was his heir.

Occasionally one son would contest the claims of another as to who was the genuine heir. One reason for disputing the claim would be illegitimacy (whether the son was conceived within wedlock or not.) The writer of Hebrews speaks of how we know that we are truly a child of G-d because we are disciplined by Him. An illegitimate son is not corrected in this way. 

Jewish tradition taught that in matters of dispute with regard to inheritance, G-d had a test which would supernaturally reveal who the legitimate son was; heir to the leadership birthright and family property inheritance.  The people of the second temple period were well aware of a tradition of the Sages which proclaimed that the saliva of a legitimate, first born heir would have healing properties against injury or disease.

Once the disputed son's saliva anointed the affected member, healing was expected to miraculously take place if he was legitimate.  

There were some in the second temple period who believed in and followed Y'shua, but there were also those who did not. Foremost among their concerns were questions about His parentage.
After all, Yosef, Miriam and Y’shua had freely acknowledged that Yosef was not Y’shua’s father... and also that Miriam had never been married before she married Yosef. Yet, Y'shua clearly had been conceived and born... and someone had to be the father, but who?

Sadly, in today's society these facts would hardly raise an eyebrow. However, in that day it had all the makings of a horrible scandal with real lifelong ramifications. However, Y'shua also claimed that He had no earthly father... none whatsoever. He claimed to have come from the Heavenly Father, G-d. If He had been a sinner or the product of sin, He could hardly be expected to be able to heal anyone, as G-d was the Source of all healing.

This is the context of John 8 and 9. A much larger lesson is at work here than simply a series of disjointed teachings and healings. In chapter 8, Y'shua had spoken extensively about His origins, and when He spoke of His Father, the answer from his audience was, "Who is your father?" It was no accident that just after this exchange, in the same hour, He was asked the question, "Who sinned - this man or his parents [to bring about his blindness]?"

It was also believed by some that an illegitimate child would be chronically ill or have birth defects. He verbally answered the question of the origin of the blindness, but then demonstrated something which spoke convincingly about His own origins, His legitimacy and His right of inheritance.  Y’shua chose to demonstrate that His saliva contained healing properties, presenting a “catch-22” to those who were His critics. According to the Sages, anyone whose saliva could heal in this way demonstrated by a supernatural revelation of G-d that He was the legitimate first born heir of His Father.

How could His earthly lack of a father, yet the clear demonstration of legitimate inheritance from Above be reconciled?  They could only be reconciled if His statements about His origins were true. The only true Heir of the Father, legitimate and unsullied, the Source of healing and restoration.

The conclusion of the story is both happy and sad.  As with much of mankind, few choose to believe; most will not. The blind man believed, but the doubt expressed by others says they could not reconcile the conflict. "We know that G-d spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence he is." His origins were still unresolved in their minds. His claim of legitimate inheritance, validated supernaturally by the Father, could not be reconciled with other things their ears had heard and their eyes had seen.   Proclaiming their ability to see clearly, they remained blinded to His person, His nature and His purpose.  

3 comments:

  1. I've always thought there had to be a reason for these little details (like the spit) that was more satisfactory than the speculations I've heard. The one that comes from within evangelicism is that as God made Adam from the dust of the earth, so the Lord Jesus made this man new eyes. Cute idea, but it didn't "feel" right.

    Still, it is these little seemingly-irrelevant details that, for me, make the New Testament narrative even more compelling and authentic. A fraud simply doesn't think to include such things.

    Care to take a shot at why the Lord "bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground" in the disputed portion of John 8? I've always wondered about that too.

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  2. I am glad this proved helpful to you.

    "Care to take a shot at why the Lord "bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground" in the disputed portion of John 8? I've always wondered about that too."

    As long you understand it's a shot. I am familiar with two views that are relatively plausible:

    1. Y'shua's actions (writing in the dirt with his finger) are alluded to by the prophet Jeremiah:

    A glorious throne, exalted from the beginning,
    is the place of our sanctuary.
    Lord, you are the hope of Israel;
    all who forsake you will be put to shame.

    Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust
    because they have forsaken the L-rd,
    the spring of living water.

    (cf. Jeremiah 17)

    2. It can be argued that in the Greek text, the emphasis is not so much on what he was writing in the dirt (for we will never really know) but John is emphasizing the instrument with which He writes: His finger.

    Remember, this is concoction meant to trap Y'shua in the hopes of discrediting Him as One Who is not competent to judge in matters of Torah. If they cn demonstrate His incompetence, they can dismiss Him and His claims to Messiahship.

    So, what does Y'shua do? He bends down and begins writing in the dirt with His finger. What do we read in the Torah about commandments brought down by Moshe from Sinai, one of which is 'Do not commit adultery.'?

    When the L-rd finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the covenant law, the tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of G-d. (cf. Exodus 31)

    A couple of ideas for you to consider.

    ReplyDelete
  3. That just got fired off to a few friends. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete