Blind Seeing

John 9:1-41

 

I was blind from birth. All my life I wondered what sin I committed to deserve this fate. As I begged on the street, many would not touch me. My sin made me unclean. They were kind in their way Ö they would at least drop a few coins in my basket so long as I didnít get too close.

It didnít make sense of course. How could I have sinned from birth? But some thought souls sinned and I received a bad one.

Some though thought my parents had sinned and I was their punishment. I never had the disrespect to suggest that to my parents. But I know they felt guilty. People still didnít want to touch me Ö my parentís sin, if there was one, made me unclean. After all I am a child of sin.

So I haunted the outer court of the Temple, begging for some small amount of coins. I can at least bring that little amount home to my parents.

Then Jesus came by. I knew it was him because of the excited crowds that followed him. He was a famous man who made great speeches. His followers were always generous to me, though they too wouldnít touch me. I heard one of his friends ask why I was blind.

I expected the usual: whether it was my fault or my parentís, I was a warning to everyone not to sin. But he didnít say that Ö

He said neither I nor my parents were at fault. I had never heard anyone every say that. Never had anyone absolved myself and my parents from my blindness. Then he said something strange:† I was born blind so that Godís works might be revealed in my rotten condition!

But Jesus then did something for me. He made healing clay from the dirt and his own spittle. What famous person would do such a thing? We know spittle is a curative. My mom used hers on me when I skinned my knee as a kid. But famous and powerful people donít share since their spittle is far more powerfully curative than any ordinary personís. Why waste it on a beggar or any common person for that matter?

And it worked! What Jesus did worked! I went to the pool of Siloam and washed my eyes. And I could see for the first time in my life! How amazing that at this pool that provides water for everyone even in a siege, I received my sight.

How wonderfully colorful is the world. At last I know what people mean when they say ďredĒ or ďgreenĒ. And I could see the pool and all of the people around it.

But why me? If Jesus wanted to show he had a direct line to God, why me? The people are oppressed by the Romans. Why didnít he use his direct line to get rid of the Romans? God promises liberation. So why didnít God liberate us through Jesus? Why would Jesus waste his connection to God on a beggar?

Is this what Jesus meant when Godís work could be revealed by my blindness? Did God make me blind just so he could show off? And giving me sight was hardly a show to be remembered!

But the miracle was spoiled anyhow. At the pool there were people who had given alms to me and now they were suspicious of what happened. They started questioning me whether I was really the beggar or not. Some thought I was an impersonator. But I suspect that they really thought I had never been blind. I think they thought I had been defrauding them all of these years, pretending to be blind just to cheat them of their alms giving. My story of how it happened was too far-fetched to be accepted.

They were suspicious enough to drag me to the Pharisees. Well, I quickly discovered that the Pharisees had been debating about Jesusí action towards me. It turned out that the day that Jesus (or was it God?) helped me was the Sabbath and the Pharisees are very protective of that holy day. I learned in their debate that making clay on the Sabbath is a violation of the Sabbath (its work). Healing, unless itís an emergency, is also work and therefore forbidden. Jesus was definitely in trouble.

I felt bad about that. He did me a good turn whatever his reasons were. I didnít like the idea I might be the instrument of his excommunication from the Temple or worse. They asked me Ö Iím now a witness in some sort of court Ö what happened. I explained about the clay and regaining my sight, all done by Jesus.

Some of the Pharisees were realizing how wonderful Jesus is and how miraculous was my cure. They didnít want to say it for fear of loosing their credibility. But I think they knew what I know: Jesus had a direct channel to God. Only such a connection would have made it possible for Jesus to heal me.

Jesus was a messenger from God, not just a speaker, but a prophet. And when they asked my opinion I told them as much, even if a lot of them, maybe most of them, didnít want to hear that.† I was beginning to think that most of them had already figured that out Ö they didnít want to admit it though at least not publicly. If he were a prophet, they were definitely in trouble, not Jesus.

I might have been blind in my eyes, but I wasnít deaf in my ears. I had heard enough talk about the Pharisees around the Temple and the pool of Siloam that folks were starting to complain about the Pharisees. They were overly strict and they cuddled the Romans far too much. People were sick and tired of the brutality and arbitrariness of so-called Roman justice. They wanted the Pharisees to represent them.

But the Pharisees really meant well by and large. They had a horrid task: to try to keep the people from rebelling and at the same time help them. The Romans were oppressors and they were just asking for trouble. But they were brutal and powerful. They wouldnít just get rid of the Pharisees, they would get rid of all of us. This was the terrible balancing act with which they dealt.

Now along comes Jesus and his rebellious, radical teaching. What are they to do? Jesus is well liked and they dare not get him off the street. Such an act in and of itself would start an uprising. So they were looking for some safe, quiet way to remove him. But I wasnít going to betray Jesus Ö

So they decided I was a fraud. But they were principled leaders not wanting to overthrow their own laws. They had to hear what my parents knew before they could make a case to dismiss me. So they sent my ďcaptorsĒ if you will to my parents.

My parents confirmed I was born blind. I think they were believed because they were very faithful people, supporting the Temple with their meager income. But because of their involvement in the Temple they didnít want to get involved with my growing support of Jesus. They didnít want to get excommunicated. I respected that they told the people to talk to me, not to them about Jesus. But now at least the people didnít think I was a fraud anymore.

But now that the powers had to admit the miracle really happened was an even worse circumstance. They had to ask themselves who is this Jesus? Could it be that he is really who he says he is?

So back to the Pharisees I was sent. Now they were very upset. No longer could they deny that Jesus had wrought a miracle with me. They wanted to wear me down hoping, I suspect that I would somehow disavow Jesus and that would give them the means to expose Jesus as a fraud.

Jesus saved me from a life of darkness and poverty. So I pushed back on them and challenged them to see Jesus for who he really was. If Jesus were not with God how could he had done what he did?† Only God could have opened my eyes and God did that through Jesus.

They could not refute it and cast me out of the synagogue. In all fairness their anxiety must have risen considerably. They were afraid of what Jesus was doing and they wanted him to go away not because they felt that he was usurping them, but because he was setting up what they thought would lead to a rebellion. This was the most horrifying possibility imaginable. The Romans had a history of destroying whole communities.

So they excommunicated me, cutting me off from the community of faith. And maybe this was done less in anger than as a warning to others not to be involved with Jesus. Now it would be unsafe for me to go back to my parents. If I did, they would be implicated too. And I didnít want that. I had nothing.

Is this why God made me blind? To use me to work his miracle and then leave me bereft of everything?

But then Jesus heard of my excommunication. And he found me. I then realized this had to be more than just Jesus or God using me to make a point. If he just wanted an excuse to show off, he certainly wouldnít be concerned for my fate.

He asked me if I believed in the Son of God. I didnít know what or whom he was talking about. Who was the Son of God? And what did that have to do with my plight? So I asked Jesus.

He said that he, himself, was the Son of God. And I realized he wasnít just a prophet with a prayerful channel to God. I realized that God, the very God who made heaven and earth, was there standing with meÖ not with the powers, but with an ordinary beggar. He stood with me as I had stood up for him.

And I realized that I didnít really understand what all this meant to me and to the world around me. But I wanted to understand more and more of Jesus and where this was going.

I realized he helped me first because I needed help. That what he did became controversial was the result of all the fear and anger at his teachings. But Jesus rose above that and did a compassionate deed for me who for no good reason was condemned to blindness. He helped with no other intention than that I needed help.

And I realized he had done more than just open my physical eyes. My spiritual eyes were open now to the possibility of life lived out of compassion and not out of fear or power.

The Pharisees who had shown up to check on what Jesus and I were saying were the blind ones. I could see now not just the sunlight and people bustling around. I could see a whole new possibility of life lived for love. The Pharisees and all those bound to their way of life were blinded by their expectations, their wealth or hope for wealth and their well-worn traditions.

Yet Jesus did not give up on them. He turned to them and tried to teach them too of the wonderful possibility that could be a reality. And I think he knew one day in some generation the powerful and the powerless and those who just exercise the power of others will see at last the emptiness of their power and yearn to be filled with the warmth and light of love and compassion for all of Godís creation.

I for one wish to be a part of this. I hope my parents understand when I leave today to follow Jesus wherever he may lead Ö

 

Think about it Ö

Godís grace and love be with you Ö

Amen.