I recently returned from a trip to Israel. It was my first. I have been a pastor for over 25 years now but I had never been to the Holy Land. Everything I had preached and taught in my career lived somewhat in the abstract because I was teaching about events that happened in a time and a galaxy far far away.
That all changed a couple of weeks ago. A few weeks ago my feet walked where the Lord of everything walked, my eyes gazed at the same hills as Him and I laid my head down at night in the same land as my Savior.
It was overwhelming. I will never forget it. It changed me.
When I was preparing for the trip I was very excited to see the places where Jesus was crucified and rose from the dead, to see the places that held the moments that are the foundation of my faith, my life.
Christ died HERE, and He rose again HERE. In these spots! How can it not be amazing?
Yet it wasn't. Why? Because those places have been covered over by gaudy, ornate, dark churches which don't feel like Jesus at all. In fact it was in those places that He felt far away, covered over by tradition and architecture. Those places where beautiful (in a way), just disappointing. Just so not Jesus. Do you understand?
Where I saw Him, felt Him and was moved by Him were in the small places, the intimate places, the humble places and sites we visited. One of those was the Pool of Siloam.
The Gospel of John says in chapter nine:
As he(Jesus) went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
6 After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. 7 “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.
The Pool of Siloam was found in 2004. It had been buried by time and a sewage pipe (Not kidding). Only about a third of it has been excavated to this day. It is not fancy, it is visited by a few not millions. Nobody makes pilgrimages to this site.
It was in small places like this where I saw Him. I saw the person I know. The person I love.
So I sat on the steps where 2000 years ago a man who had an encounter with Jesus had his life changed forever. We share that in common. A man from Nazareth opened both our eyes, one with mud and love the other with grace and truth. Blind but now we see!
So I sat by the pool and gave thanks for the One who brings sight to the blind in forgotten places like this for people like me.