THE SIGN OF WASHING IN THE POOL OF SILOAM
According to the Bible, the Lord has done everything for our salvation. However, His work requires our cooperation. At least, it requires our belief. If we do not believe, then whatever the Lord has done cannot be applied to us. We need to cooperate with the Lord’s work by believing and being baptized. To believe is an inward obedience to the Lord’s salvation, and to be baptized is an outward obedience to the Lord’s word. The sign of washing in the pool of Siloam signifies the washing of baptism in obedience to the Lord (9:7, 11).
When I was young, I realized that it was very important to believe in the Lord, but I did not have much appreciation for baptism. I could not see the meaning of putting someone into water, and I did not regard this as necessary. Certain Christian groups do not believe in water baptism, for they consider baptism purely a spiritual matter. Jessie Penn-Lewis emphasized the subjective death of Christ, and she insisted that baptism in water was not necessary.
We may say that being baptized can be compared to washing in the pool of Siloam. The Lord Jesus clearly commanded the blind man to go and wash in that pool. Suppose the blind man had argued with the Lord and said, “Lord, You have put clay on my eyes. Why do You now tell me to wash in the pool of Siloam? Why must I do this in order to receive my sight?” If the blind man had argued with the Lord in this way, he would not have received his sight, because he would not have cooperated with the Lord by obeying His word. However, he did obey the Lord’s word, and “he went and washed and came seeing” (v. 7b).
Clay signifies the man created by God. Our created man has become the old man, and the old man has been crucified with Christ. In baptism we wash away this old man.
As those who have believed in the Lord Jesus and who have entered into an organic union with Him, daily we need to practice the washing away of our old man. On the one hand, we can declare that because we have believed in the Lord Jesus, we have a divine view and can see spiritual things. But on the other hand, we must admit that we have not always been obedient to practice the washing away of our old man. As a result, we may still have clay on our eyes. This is the reason many Christians do not have a clear view of spiritual things and do not have proper light.
Sometimes we have been asked how we are able to receive so much light from the Word of God. Certain ones have said, “We read the same Bible you do, but you have light and we don’t. What is the reason for this?” The reason is that the clay has been washed away from our eyes. As long as the clay of the natural man remains on a believer’s eyes, he will be blind to spiritual things. All the clay needs to be washed away. Therefore, we should not hold on to the old man with his old culture, ethical concepts, and religion.
Even though you have believed in the Lord Jesus and have entered into an organic union with Him, you may still have the clay of the old man on your eyes. Therefore, you need to obey the Lord, go to the pool of Siloam, and wash away your old man. We all need to wash away the old man day by day.
I can testify that as I was preparing to give this message, I prayed, “Lord Jesus, deliver me from the old man, and infuse me with Your feeling, thought, word, and expression.” On the negative side, I realize that I need the washing away of the old man; on the positive side, I need to be infused with the Lord. This is the way to receive divine light.
We should practice the daily washing away of the old man. This is our obedience in cooperation with the Lord’s revelation. He is everything to us in a practical way, not in a theoretical way. He is the light of the world, and He is the life-giving Spirit. He is ready to mingle Himself with us. We have believed into Him, and we are organically one with Him. However, we may still keep our old man. This means that we do not obey His word to go to the pool of Siloam and wash.
The word “Siloam” means sent, as is pointed out in 9:7. The word “sent” in this verse has the sense of an envoy being sent with a special commission. This indicates that when the Lord told the blind man to go to the pool of Siloam and wash, He was sending him on a mission. He was sending him to carry out a particular work for a specific purpose. Hence, this sending is crucial. If the blind man had not been willing to be sent, he would have been in even greater darkness.
THE SIGN OF THE SABBATH DAY
As a sign, the Sabbath day (9:14) signifies rest, including release and satisfaction. When the blind man was without sight, he did not have this rest on the Sabbath. But after the Lord worked on him, he had such a rest in receiving his sight. Yet the religious people cared for their regulations instead of this rest. The Lord’s salvation of the blind man became a stumbling to them and was condemned by them (9:16).
THE PERSECUTION OF RELIGION
In chapter nine of the Gospel of John we can see the persecution of the Lord by religion. This matter is emphasized by John in his writings. John shows us that the Hebrew religion, not a pagan religion, persecuted the Lord Jesus. This religion with its forms, rituals, ordinances, and practices opposed Christ as the living reality. For example, Christ is the real temple, and all the forms, rituals, ordinances, and practices are pictures of Christ as the living reality. But the religious people rejected this living Person, the One who is the unique reality, and held to their religion. John, therefore, points out that these religious things oppose the living Person of Christ, who is the Triune God incarnated and who has become the life-giving Spirit. Today this One is working within us, upon us, and among us. But just as religion opposed Him in ancient times, so religion opposes those who follow the Lord today. As long as something has become a religion, it stands in opposition to the living Christ.
According to John 9, the religious ones slandered the Lord. They said, “This man is not from God, because he does not keep the Sabbath” (9:16). They also accused the Lord of being a sinner (v. 24). Furthermore, the religionists said to the man who had been blind, “You were wholly born in sins, and are you teaching us? And they cast him out” (v. 34). Anyone who was cast out of the synagogue lost his means of earning a living, for anyone who had been ostracized from the Jewish community had no way to get a living for himself. Such was the situation of the man who had been born blind. As we shall see, his being cast out of the synagogue was actually his coming out of the fold. Christ as the light of the world became the door for him to come out of the old, religious fold and to follow Him as the living reality.
(The Fulfillment of the Tabernacle and the Offerings in the Writings of John, Chapter 26, by Witness Lee)