I have been digging in to Leviticus and the Gospel of John lately and I have to say that although we think John an “easy” Gospel to read and understand, the more Scripture you know the farther John’s Gospel spirals into the depths of biblical connections. I wonder if it would be fair to say that John is the most biblical writer in the Bible. You might not think it is fair, because Paul is such a theological giant in Scripture, or who ever it was that wrote Hebrews might be on your mind, but have you read Revelation lately? John has one-up on Paul for biblical literacy, in my opinion.
Anyway, back to the original rabbit trail. Leviticus is bloody awesome, and I mean that as a Brit would. In the eighth chapter we read that Moses is to anoint the tabernacle, its utensils, and Aaron because they will all be set aside for holy use to the Lord (8:10-13, see also Exodus 30:22-33). The act of anointing is very significant in the Scriptures and as Allen Ross notes in his work on Leviticus,
“When a priest was anointed, it indicated to the people that he was recognized by the LORD of the temple and should be treated with the special consideration and welcome customary for people to bestow on such persons and things they sought to honor and exalt. God was in a way welcoming the priest into his house…and showering honor and affection upon him as someone welcomed into the divine presence. The one anointed was identified with God’s dwelling by having been made fit for his presence. This ancient custom also symbolized God’s often choosing this occasion as the time to manifest the giving of his Spirit to the one being anointed” Holiness to the LORD: A Guide to the Exposition of the Book of Leviticus, 211.
So, this was in my mind as I finished my Leviticus chunk for the day and I shifted gears (so I thought) to the Gospel of John, where I read this, “The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes…” (John 9:11). This is a familiar story. There was a man who was born blind and Jesus restores his sight by packing mud, made with Jesus’s spittle, into his eyes (seems counterproductive, but who am I, O man?!). The Pharisees are indignant as all get out and want to hurt someone, but the once-blind man is rather sardonic and puts them in their place (John 9). So, then the teeth in the cogs began to clink. Anoint with oil…anoint with mud. Are these verbs the same words underneath the English? So, I got out the Greek and looked at John 9:11, then I got out the Hebrew and looked at Leviticus 8:10, then I looked at the Septuagint (the Greek Old Testament) of Leviticus 8:10, and sure ’nuff chrio shows up in both places.
So, lets take what Ross says above about anointing and apply it to the blind man in John and see how that biblical theology smacks. An anointed person was to be recognized and treated with special consideration, which is something the Pharisees so clearly did not do with the blind man. In fact, the reviled him (9:28) and cast him out of the temple (9:34). This most probably has something to do with the Pharisees being of their father, the devil (John 8:43-45) Anointing was also a way that God showed He was welcoming a person into His fold, and Jesus after anointing the blind man with mud welcomed him and received his worship (John 9:35-38). The one anointed was also made fit to be in God’s presence, just as the blemish of eye fog was removed from the blind man. And finally, Ross adds that anointing was symbolic of God choosing a certain occasion to manifest the giving of the Holy Spirit, which calls to mind the disciples question of Jesus and His response, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him” (John 9:2-3). God appointed this blind man to be used for His own glory at this specific time, sounds like Paul was on to something (Romans 9:19-24). This, my friends, is a theological fruitcake and it tastes good.
So, when you get spit-mud packed in your eyes, remember that it may be a good thing, it may be grace to you…for His glory.