Jesus TOUCHED Him

My last blog post began looking at John 9 and Jesus’ healing of a blind man by the temple gate in Jerusalem. We saw that while the man had been abandoned by his parents and ignored by society, Jesus SAW him. Jesus saw him as a person created in the image of God.

Jesus saw him. But He did more than see him; He TOUCHED him. I love the intimacy of this miracle! Jesus could have said to the man, “Be healed!” and he would have been healed. But that’s not what He did. Jesus knelt down, spat on the ground, and made mud with His saliva. He then took the mud and rubbed it on the man’s eyes. After rubbing the mud on the man’s eyes, Jesus told him to go wash in the pool of Siloam. The man had to be wondering what was going on. But he was desperate. So he did what Jesus said, and he came back seeing.

The ESV says that Jesus anointed the man’s eyes with the mud. This indicates to us that something special was happening. Jesus participated in the man’s healing in a very intimate way.

This is similar to the intimacy seen in the way He created the first man and woman. While God spoke everything else into existence, Adam was formed from the dust of the ground. God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. Then Eve was formed from a rib taken from Adam’s side. The intimacy of God’s creation of man serves as a reminder of the value God places on human life.

Now think about this miracle. The Son of God knelt down, made some mud with His spit, rubbed it on the man’s eyes, and he was healed. The value Jesus places on human life is clear. Jesus did these things because He cared for this man as a person created in the image of God. Yes, this man was a person with a disability. But for Jesus, this man’s disability was not his identity. It was HOW he was, but it was not WHO he was.

My point is not to say that you need to go around healing people with disabilities like Jesus did. But just as Jesus’ care and compassion for this man led Him to act on his behalf, our care and compassion for our neighbors with disabilities must lead us to act on their behalf.

It is not enough for us to see the needs around us. It is not enough even for us to feel sympathy for those around us. If we truly care, we will see the needs around us, and we will seek to meet those needs in any way that that we can. As we follow the example of Jesus by caring for His image bearers with disabilities, we also will be bearing His image.

Photo by Doug Maloney on Unsplash

 

Jesus SAW Him

The Bible is full of affirmations of the dignity and worth of every human being. We’re told in the very first chapter of God’s creation of man “in his image.” The Mosaic Code includes many laws intended to ensure that even the downcast are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve as God’s image bearers. Then when we get to Jesus, we discover that He treated every person with whom He interacted as a person created in the image of God.

I have been amazed over the last week as I’ve thought about one particular interaction Jesus had during His ministry on earth. The story is recorded in John 9. I’d encourage you to read it for yourself, but I’ll give you the short version.

There was a man who was blind from birth. He had been abandoned by his parents at some point. He was looked down upon by the people in Jerusalem. And the religious establishment thought that surely either he or his parents had done something awful that had caused his blindness.

So, the man was left to beg by the gate of the temple every day. It was the only means of support that he had. There was no social safety net for people with disabilities like we have in our country today. And no one was stepping up to make sure that his most basic needs were met.

That is until he encountered Jesus. I love verse 1 of John 9. John writes, “As he [Jesus] passed by, he saw a man blind from birth.” Did you notice that? Jesus SAW him.

Imagine being someone who is forced to beg just to have enough money to survive. As he sat by the gate of the temple begging, I’m sure some who walked by turned away and ignored him. I’m sure others walked by on the other side so they wouldn’t feel as guilty for not helping him. But Jesus SAW him.

This is important because so many in the disability community often feel unseen. This includes both physical and mental disabilities. This includes the disabled themselves and their caretakers. Sometimes it’s because they are pushed to the margins of society and we really don’t see them. Sometimes it’s because disability makes us uncomfortable so we stay away. Other times it’s because we just don’t know how to help.

Disabled people are typically not looking for you to fix their situation. They know that you can’t. Most are not looking for you to feel sorry for them. They just want what you want. They want to be valued for who they are. They want to be seen for their strengths rather than their weaknesses. They want you to see them as people and treat them that way. And if they have a need that you can meet, they would typically be extremely grateful for you to step in and meet that need.

That’s exactly what Jesus did for the man in John 9, but we’ll get to that in a future post. For now, ask Jesus to help you see people as Jesus sees them, as people created in the image of God.

Photo by Anthony Garand on Unsplash

To Our Friends and Family

We are writing to let you know that our oldest son Hudson was recently diagnosed with autism by a developmental pediatrician. We have known that this day was coming for quite a while, but now that the diagnosis is official, we feel it is the right time for us to inform our friends and family. While we would love to be able to have a face to face conversation with each of you, that is simply not possible. We have so many friends from various stages of life with whom we remain connected through social media that we felt it best if we write this letter to inform you all at once.

While some of you reading this may be surprised by this news, it will come as no surprise to those of you who have been around Hudson in recent years. While Hudson continues to make progress, his expressive language remains very delayed. He finds it difficult to interact with his peers in age appropriate ways. And focusing on one task for any length of time is normally a big challenge.

Whatever comes to your mind when you think of autism, please do not project that onto Hudson. It is often said in the autism community that if you have met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism. Autism is a spectrum disorder. This means that it does not look the same in every person with autism. The challenges faced by some children with autism are more limiting than the challenges that Hudson faces, and other children with autism are further along developmentally than Hudson is at this time.

Hudson, however, is not primarily defined by his autism. Here’s what we want you to know about Hudson. Hudson is a five-year-old little boy who enjoys life. He likes running and playing. His favorite foods are pizza, donuts, and PB&J sandwiches. Mommy is his favorite, but he’s quite fond of Daddy, Addie, and Amos too. He is blessed to have so many people who love and care for him. And most importantly, he bears the image of the God of the universe by whom he is fearfully and wonderfully made.

We realize that it can be difficult to know how to respond when someone shares news like this with you. We cannot pretend to speak for every parent of a child with a disability, but we can speak for ourselves. Do not say that you are sorry. We are not sorry. We are more blessed than we could have ever imagined. Sure, there are challenges we face because of Hudson’s autism, but every family faces challenges in one way or another. The challenges faced by so many others are far greater.

We do ask that you pray for Hudson and our family. The most important prayer that we pray for Hudson every day is that he would one day repent of his sin and place his faith in Jesus. We long to see his life transformed by the powerful gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Beyond that we pray for his continued growth and development physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially. We pray that he will reach his full potential and accomplish everything of which he is capable. Pray for our family as we walk this road together. The blessings far outweigh the challenges, but the challenges are still challenges.

Finally, we want you to know that we are starting a blog. If you’re reading this, you’ve found it! The URL is bearinghisimage.com. Ashley and I will both be writing here. We will share the links on social media, but we encourage you to subscribe to the blog through email as well.

There is no shortage of blogs out there by parents of children with autism, but we hope to make our own contribution by creating a blog that is personal, informative, and theologically rich. As we walk this journey, we will write posts about some of our own experiences. We will pass along information that may be helpful to caregivers of children with autism along with those who want to love and minister to children with autism. We will do it all through the lens of a biblical worldview that seeks to see the goodness and sovereignty of God in everything.

About

Our son Hudson was diagnosed with autism in July 2018 at 5 years old. We started this blog in August 2018 as an outlet for sharing about our journey with autism.

Our hope is to be an encouragement to parents of children with autism and other disabilities. We also hope to be a source of insight and information for those seeking to minister to children with autism and their families.

We do not claim to be experts on autism or disability. Instead, we simply write from our own experience. We also seek to connect the things we write to the Bible’s teaching concerning the image of God and the inherent dignity and worth of every human being.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to interact with us in the comments. We can also be contacted via email using the contact page.

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