Our text for today is a miracle story – a story of Jesus healing a blind man. He had been blind from birth.
Jesus and his disciples see this blind man and they ask Jesus “Was it due to his sin….or his parents’ sin…. that he was born blind?” “Neither…” Jesus says. The man’s blindness is NOT directly related to his, or his parents’ sin. To see one’s misfortunes as always a result of sin is completely wrong.
Jesus makes some mud with his spit, puts in on the man’s eyes and tells him to go and wash it off in the Pool of Siloam. When he does, his eyes are “opened” and he is miraculously healed…. he can see!
This causes some confusion among his friends and neighbors. Some think it really happened. Some think that it’s a different person than the blind man that they’ve always seen begging on the street. Further, the word of this healing gets out. And the Pharisees are concerned because the healing happened on the Sabbath, when evidently “no healing should be done”.
In the end, the blind man is called before the Pharisees and leaders, and then later his parents are called in for questioning. If you read the details it is really rather humorous how the once-blind man is able to answer the Pharisees and state his belief that the man who healed him must have been a prophet, someone who was connected to God.
The healed blind man is thrown out of the synagogue and we know only that the Pharisees and leaders are frustrated and angry with Jesus.
There are many questions raised by this story:
- Clearly Jesus refutes the initial inference that the man’s blindness is directly related to specific sin.
- Unlike other healing accounts, Jesus has no conversation with the man. The blind man does not ask for healing. Jesus just heals him.
- No one – not his neighbors, not his family, and certainly not the Pharisees – seem happy about his healing. No one! No one is excited for him!
- At first there even seems to be some indifference on the part of the healed man toward Jesus – when asked where Jesus is…..he simply answers “I don’t know.”
- Later, we’re given a hint that people were afraid to say too much, because they would be thrown out of the synagogue if they confessed Jesus as the Christ.
But now let’s go to those final verses – because I believe it’s here that we really understand this story. After Jesus hears that the healed man has been thrown out of the synagogue, Jesus finds him and asks him…”Do you believe in the Son of Man”. He answers….”Who is that…show me so that I can believe.” Jesus says: “It’s me, you’re talking to him.” Then the man worships, “Lord, I believe”.
And then we have these words of Jesus:
Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” 40 Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?” 41 Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.“
So here it is: this is a story about blindness and sight – darkness and light. A man is born blind, not able to see. Then Jesus, the light of the world (v.5) heals him and he is given the miracle of sight. The neighbors and friends are unable to “see” the miracle that has been done. They too are blind. The Pharisees and Jewish leaders are blind to the fact that a great prophet is among them. They are unable to “see” the truth, because they are so sure that they know the truth – (we are followers of Moses, this fellow is a sinner, doing anything on the Sabbath is a sin, etc.)
- To be certain of our correctness, to be certain that we are always right…..is to be blind. A lack of humility is a sign of blindness.
- Jesus’ paradoxical statement at the end: If you were aware of your blindness, if you had even an inkling of humility, you would not be guilty. But because you say with pride “we see clearly” you unfortunately have no excuse for your blindness.
How about us? Today, as we enter the 4th week of Lent,
- Let us be humble, aware that our sight is limited, that we see through a glass darkly.
- God, please open our eyes so that we may see new truth! So that we may see your miracles all around us! Help us to recognize you as our Savior, Messiah, Lord!
The Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai (1924–2000) captures this paradox in his poem:
From the place where we are right
Flowers will never grow
In the spring.
The place where we are right
Is hard and trampled
Like a yard.
But doubts and loves
Dig up the world
Like a mole, a plow.
And a whisper will be heard in the place
Where the ruined
House once stood.
(the above is a summary of the message shared during our worship on March 19, 2023.)