Scripture Reading: John 9:1-41
It is the fourth week of Lent and we have so far heard the stories of Satan, Nicodemus and the woman at the well who all had a moment with Jesus.
They see a blind man (sinful)
Today we have the story of a blind man who has a moment with Jesus. This story begins differently because in the first three experiences, Jesus is alone with each of the people. In this event the disciples are walking along with Jesus when scriptures states, “He saw a man blind from birth.” It is interesting that John writes that Jesus sees the man but not the disciples. The disciples see him too but their first reaction is to ask, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
So here we have a blind man, note we are not given his name, probably because he is simply known as the blind man who has been in the streets, probably most of his life, just begging for any help or food he can get. He’s not deaf so he knows what people say and think about him and he’s probably pretty convinced of it himself. He or his parents must have done something pretty bad to be in this situation. That was what the religious leaders and others believed in those days. A person, who was deaf, blind, lame or had a disease like leprosy, was in that situation because they had sinned. That is simply how they explained these handicaps. It assumed that this was God’s judgment upon them for their wrongdoings, so society looked down on them as sinners and they were shunned. The blind man in our text is one of those ignored and even rejected by his community.
Jesus stands before this man though and does not judge him or reject him, but instead answered their question by responding, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him.”
Jesus then bends down and makes mud with dirt from the ground and His saliva and spreads that mud on the man’s eyes. Now before we get too grossed out, in ancient times, saliva was believed to have curative powers… and in a sense, it must be an instinctual belief. Look at little children, when they burn or hurt their finger, their first reaction is to put it into their mouth. Adults even encourage this belief when a child scrapes their arm and runs to a parent, what do we do? “Here, let Mommy kiss it and make it all better.”
So Jesus created this mud, put it on the man’s eyes and sent him to the Pool of Siloam to wash.
The man does so and is no longer blind. The blind man who had spent his life in the streets begging can now see! Can you imagine the excitement this man had to be feeling! All he had ever known was darkness but now he can see the light of day and the people and scenery all around him! It must have been overwhelming and yet amazing and thrilling!
How, Who, Where?
As he comes back to his community people are really confused because of course he looks the same but now he can see. They had only known him as a beggar who sat on the ground and they probably had never given him the time of day before. So the people are full of questions. “Is this the man who used to sit and beg?” “How were your eyes opened?” “Where is the man who healed you?”
The man, who had been healed, can’t answer any of their questions. He has no idea who Jesus is. He could not see when Jesus put the mud on his eyes so, although he can see now, he cannot identify Jesus. He has had a moment with Jesus, the Son of God, and his life has been forever changed because of it but he cannot even find Jesus to thank him.
His neighbors are so astonished by his healing that they take him to the Pharisees. There he is, for the first time able to see the Pharisees who have declared him as sinful and who have probably walked by him hundreds of times as he begged on the street. He is face to face with them and they ask him, “How were you healed? How did you receive your sight?” He told them, “He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.”
This man has been healed! He must have been in awe as he stood there and looked around at all the people and these teachers and leaders of the Jews. He hadn’t even had a chance to really comprehend what this was going to mean for his future! The Pharisees though don’t seem too impressed or thrilled. Instead, they are upset with this man who healed him on the Sabbath. They say, “This man is not from God, for he does not observe the Sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” They are divided.
What do you have to say about Him?
The Pharisees ask the man again about who healed him and he seems to come up with the best answer he can, “He is a prophet.”
This is still not enough for the Pharisees. Now they are even questioning whether this man was ever really blind. So they call in his parents.
Can you imagine this man who is healed watching as they bring in his parents…parents that he has obviously never physically seen? He sees them come in and watches as the Pharisees question them. “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” His parents seem as astounded as everyone and are of course afraid of the Jews so they simply answer, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but we do not know how it is that now he sees, no do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.”
Once again the Pharisees address the man who had been blind and say to him, “Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.”
I love this moment, this moment when the man is seeing clearer than any of them who have had their sight for their whole lives. He answers them, “I do not know whether he is a sinner.”
Remember what everyone used to say about him? He is blind because of his sins or the sins of his parents. He knew he had been accused for no reason and he didn’t want to do that the man who had healed him. He answers, “I don’t know if he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” He makes it that simple! One thing I know…I was blind but now I see!
The Pharisees are really upset now and they ask him again, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” I can almost hear him chuckle as he says, “I already told you but you wouldn’t listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” The Pharisees set the record straight, “You are his disciple, we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.”
The man answers, “Wow, you don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” Sure sounds logical to me. The Pharisees can’t have some sinful blind man talk to them like that! They drove him out of the temple.
The man must have left knowing it was the best thing. He knew what had happened to him, even if he didn’t know who it was, he must have been from God because no one else could have ever healed his eyes like that.
Jesus hears of what happened to the man and so Jesus goes to him and asks him “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.”
Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.” The man responded, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped him.
There were Pharisees nearby who hear Jesus say, “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.” The Pharisees ask him, “Surely we are not blind, are we?” Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.
Are we blind or can we see?
The Pharisees were as blind as the beggar beside the road had been before Jesus healed him. The Pharisees had 20/20 physical vision but their spiritual vision was blind. They were so focused on living by the law that they became blind to the Spirit behind the law.
They could not rejoice over the healing of the man because they were too concerned about the one who worked on the Sabbath. The Pharisees were truly blind to who Jesus was.
The man, who was once blind, had two moments with Jesus and was given 20/20 vision into the TRUTH and now had perfect physical sight and spiritual sight! There was nothing keeping him from seeing who Jesus is. He had been healed not simply by the mud but by the will of God through Jesus Christ. As Jesus said to the disciples in the very beginning…“this man was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him.” Through his healing God was glorified and Jesus was revealed.
How about us?
Are we among the visually impaired? Are we so focused on the physical world that we have become spiritually blind?
If so, why not allow Christ to heal your eyes today?