This week, I continue my Lenten journey to creatively engage with Scripture. Today, I visit with a blind man healed by Jesus. Once the blind man was healed, he sure stirred things up with the Pharisees as he didn’t back down from their stream of questioning. As I wrote, I imagined this blind man giddily retelling his story to his children or grandchildren. Below is the beginning of his story in the book of John, however, this story in its’ entirety is all of Chapter 9 of John. Bible Gateway is a great resource to search and read portions of the Bible and sample the array of different versions.
Reading from the Book of John (NIV)
As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.
His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” Some claimed that he was.
Others said, “No, he only looks like him.”
But he himself insisted, “I am the man.”
“How then were your eyes opened?” they asked.
He replied, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.”
“Where is this man?” they asked him.
“I don’t know,” he said.
I’d been sitting in my usual spot on that Saturday. Singing away as I always did, hoping someone might throw a coin my way. I came to realize long ago I wasn’t worth much, so anything I received was a gift. From early on, I experienced deep shame because of my blindness. Much of life was full of hushed whispers from friends and neighbors wondering what I or my parents had done to cause my lack of sight. For a time, I was furious about my lack of vision. Then, my anger turned to depression. As days wore on, I grew callous to the remarks and taunts, resigned to my meager life.
For that reason, on this ordinary Sabbath day, when I heard a group of men approach with their teacher, I didn’t flinch at their question. “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” I went on humming my tune, pretending I didn’t hear them. But, my ears were keen and I heard more than most people realized. I listened in to hear the response I feared most, that my wretched ways had caused my blindness. But the Rabbi spoke, “Neither this man or his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” I immediately stopped humming. I had never heard such merciful words.
Next thing I knew, I felt the presence of the Teacher crouch next to me, scraping dirt from the ground. As I heard him spit loudly, mixing dirt and saliva between his hands, I hardly knew what he might do next. Then, I felt it. Cold, wet mud over my eyes. The earthy scent of damp dirt wafted into my nose as I sat motionless while my eyes were sealed shut. What was this rabbi up to? Was he making a mockery of me? His voice sent me, “Go, wash in the Pool of Siloam”.
I knew my way to the pool by heart, as this was my usual place for bathing. I made my way feeling the stares and hearing the jeers of those I passed. I reached the water and splashed the cool, clean water on my face. The mud slid off and bright light streamed into my eyes. I blinked violently and the world, the beautiful world, came into focus! I cried happy tears. I laughed aloud. I shouted for joy. I kept closing my eyes and opening them afraid I was dreaming.
I ran towards home, anxious to see the face of my mother for the first time. As I neared, neighbors and acquaintances hardly recognized me; they were astonished. The questions came and wouldn’t stop. “Who? When? Where? How? Why?” It didn’t take long for a crowd to escort me to the synagogue to visit with the Pharisees, those men who strictly followed God’s laws.
The Pharisees wanted specifics. They wanted understanding. They craved to make sense of what happened to me. More questions flew my way. Their aggravation was palpable. They were angered I was healed on the Sabbath, convinced the Teacher was not of God. I vehemently disagreed with them. They questioned my parents and challenged my blind diagnosis. When they asked me to recount how Jesus opened my eyes for a second time, I suggested they may want to become disciples of him. I knew it was a dangerous comment but their desire to disprove my experience infuriated me.
By the time I was thrown out of the synagogue, I believed more than ever I’d been touched by the hand of God. From the moment I heard the Rabbi, I knew his ways were unusual. When Jesus sought me out again and clarified he was, indeed, the Son of Man, I immediately believed and worshiped him. I encountered his goodness firsthand. It wasn’t only that my vision had been restored, but that my spiritual vision was ignited. For the first time, I realized God was here to love me, not punish me. This truth settled peacefully deep in my spirit.
Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” – John 9:39
Reflect on a circumstance in your life where you were blind, but then were given new insight into the situation. Reflect on a situation where you had great clarity that became blurry. Consider how spiritual blindness and vision are a continuous dance in our lives.
The classic song Amazing Grace, performed by Alan Jackson