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Jesse Lyman Hurlbut

The Man with Clay on His Face

John ix: 1 to 41.

dropcap image NE Sabbath-day, as Jesus and his disciples were walking in Jerusalem, they met a blind man begging. This man in all his life had never seen, for he had been born blind. The disciples said to Jesus, as they were passing him, "Master, whose fault was it that this man was born blind? Was it because he has sinned, or did his parents sin?"

For the Jews thought that when any evil came, it was caused by some one's sin. But Jesus said, "This man was born blind, not because of his parents' sin, nor because of his own; but so that God might show his power in him. We must do God's work while it is day; for the night is coming when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world."

When Jesus had said this he spat on the ground, and mixed up the spittle with earth, making a little lump of clay. This clay Jesus spread on the eyes of the blind man, and then he said to him, "Go and wash in the pool of Siloam."

The pool of Siloam was a large cistern or reservoir on the southeast of Jerusalem, outside the wall, where the valley of Gihon and the valley of the Kedrom come together. To go to this pool the blind man, with two great blotches of mud on his face, must walk through the streets of the city, out of the gate, and into the valley. He went, and felt his way down the steps into the pool of Siloam. There he washed, and then at once his lifelong blindness passed away, and he could see. When the man came back to the part of the city where he lived, his neighbors could scarcely believe that he was the same man. They said, "Is not this the man who used to sit on the street begging?"


The pool of Siloam as seen to-day.

"This must be the same man," said some; but others said, "No, it is some one who looks like him."

But the man said, "I am the very same man who was blind!"

"Why, how did this come to pass?" they asked him. "How were your eyes opened?"

"The man called Jesus," he answered, "mixed clay, and put it on my eyes, and said to me, 'Go to the pool of Siloam and wash,' and I went and washed, and then I could see."

"Where is this man?" they asked him.

"I do not know," said the man.

Some of the Pharisees, the men who made a show of always obeying the law, asked the man how he had been made to see. He said to them, as he had said before, "A man put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and my sight came to me."

Some of the Pharisees said, "The man who did this is not a man of God, because he does not keep the Sabbath. He makes clay, and puts it on men's eyes, working on the Sabbath-day. He is a sinner."

Others said, "How can a man who is a sinner do such wonderful works?" And thus the people were divided in what they thought of Jesus. They asked the man who had been blind, "What do you think of this man who has opened your eyes?"

"He is a prophet of God!" said the man.

But the leading Jews would not believe that this man had gained his sight until they had sent for his father and his mother. The Jews asked them, "Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How is it that he can now see?"

His parents were afraid to tell all they knew; for the Jews had agreed that if any man should say that Jesus was the Christ, the Saviour, he should be turned out of the synagogue, and not be allowed to worship any more with the people. So his parents said to the Jews, "We know that this is our son, and we know that he was born blind. But how he was made to see we do not know, or who has opened his eyes we do not know. He is of age; ask him, and let him speak for himself." Then again the rulers of the Jews called the man who had been blind; and they said to him, "Give God the praise for your sight. We know that this man who made clay on the Sabbath-day is a sinner."

"Whether that man is a sinner or not, I do not know," answered the man; "but one thing I do know, that once I was blind, and now I see." They said to him again, "What did this man do to you? How did he open your eyes?"

"I have told you already, and you would not listen," said the man. "Why do you wish to hear it again? Do you intend to believe in him and be his followers?"

This made them very angry, and they said to the man, "You are his follower; but we are followers of Moses. We know that God spoke to Moses; but as for this fellow, we do not even know from what place he comes!"

The man said, "Why, that is a very wonderful thing! You who are teachers of the people, do not know who this man is, or from what place he comes; and yet he has had power to open my eyes! We know that God does not hear sinners; but God hears only those who worship him and do his will. Never before has any one opened the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could not do such works as these!"

The rulers of the Jews, these Pharisees, then said to the man, "You were born in sin; and do you try to teach us?"

And they turned him out of the synagogue, and would not let him worship with them. Jesus heard of this; and when Jesus found him he said to him, "Do you believe on the Son of God?"

The man said, "And who is he, Lord, that I may believe on him?" "You have seen him," said Jesus, "and it is he who now talks with you!"

The man said, "Lord, I believe." And he fell down before Jesus and worshipped him.