“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.” –Romeo and Juliet
by William Shakespeare
I understand what Juliet was trying to say, but in the Bible, names are powerful symbols intended to communicate meaning and truth.
In John 9, Jesus uses the name of the pool of Siloam to teach a lesson about his own identity, and he uses a man’s blindness to help us see. Sometimes, it pays to dig a little deeper when you’re reading the Scriptures because, otherwise, you’ll miss some riches God has provided for you.
What’s in a name?
Shiloh (Genesis 49:10), Shiloah (Isaiah 8:6), and Siloam (John 9:7) are all references to the Messiah. Much like English words morph in spelling over time, so too, did Hebrew words change. Shiloh is the name Jacob used for the Messiah who would come from the tribe of Judah. (“Until Shiloh comes…”) Shiloah was a reference by Isaiah to the Messiah, a spring of “gently flowing waters”, rejected by the people; Shiloah is an earlier name for the pool of Siloam which was filled peacefully by water that rose from an underground conduit. John tells us that Siloam means “Sent”, and it’s easy to see the pool as a symbol of the peaceful Messiah who was sent to us.
Jesus told the blind man, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam”. In effect, Jesus told the blind man to go wash in the pool that symbolized the Messiah; Jesus sent the blind man to himself. Go wash in the pool of Siloam, of Shiloah, of Shiloh, the one who is to come, the gently flowing waters, the one who was sent. Wash away your blindness in Me.
I am the light of the world
The man born blind lived in total darkness until he met Jesus, and Jesus was the light who broke through that darkness and enabled the blind man to see clearly. The man’s new sight was not limited to the physical world, but he was also able to see Christ for who He is, the Son of Man who is to be worshiped.
The man’s physical blindness was not caused by the man’s sin, or that of his parents, or of a sin he committed before he was born (as some of the Jews mistakenly believed). Jesus makes that clear. Rather, the man’s blindness was a symbol of the spiritual blindness of all men – to sin, to truth, and to salvation through Jesus.
Jesus told his disciples that the purpose of the man’s blindness was “…that the works of God might be displayed in him.” The cure for our spiritual blindness is the same as the cure for the man born blind – “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam.”
Water and Spirit Introduction
1) Water and Spirit and Creation
2) Water and Spirit and the New Man
3) Water and Spirit and Wine
4) Water and Spirit and Nicodemus
5) Water and Spirit and the Jordan
6) Water and Spirit at the Well: Decision, Decisions
7) Water and Spirit at the Pool – Do You Want to Be Healed?
8) Water and Spirit on the Sea