Peace be with you!
Blindness: verb. 1) physically—you are unable to see; 2) psychosocially—it a. clouds your judgment, b. damages your social status; 3) spiritually – a. you are lost in the darkness, known as the wilderness, b. you do not know the Triune God—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
You have experienced blindness sometime during your lifetime—we all have. Being blind can be scary, because it can shake your foundation and your self-being. Today, physical blindness is adaptable with guide dogs, special computer software and phones, and more. It possible to be an individual who is blind and be successful. However, in biblical times, individuals who were blind experienced poverty, and homelessness; they were outcasts. They had no place in society. Physical blindness put an individual on the streets with no community to aid them.
Jesus finds the blind man on the side of the road in Jerusalem. The disciples ask Jesus, “Whose sins caused the man to be blind?” (John 9:2). In biblical times, illness or a disability was thought to be caused by sins of an individual or sins of his parents. People thought, “God is punishing this person for past sins.” Jesus says, “The man’s blindness is not caused by his sins or his parent’s sins. He is blind so God’s work can be revealed through him. The darkness prohibits anyone from working, but I am the light of the world” (John 9:3-5). As the light of the world, Jesus serves as the vision for those lost in the dark wilderness. He calls the lost into the light and gives them eternal life.
Jesus heals the blind man and tells him to go wash in the pool of Siloam (John 9:6-7). The physical healing causes the previously blind man to have a psychosocial healing by being included in an immediate community with his neighbors. The healing gives him a social status. Being able to see allows the previously blind man to be in conversation with others. He no longer lies on the side of the road helpless, but he walks with people again—albeit, people who would look down on him before his healing. The previously blind man now has a role in society.
The community gathered around the previously blind man is confused (John 9:8-9b, 10). Who is this man? Is it really the previously blind man? Or is it someone else? If it is the blind man, how can he see now? The previously blind man addresses his neighbor, “I am the man who was blind, but now I see. Jesus came to me and put mud mixed with saliva over my eyes. He then told me to go wash in the pool of Siloam, which I did and received my sight” (John 9:9c, 11). There is power behind the previously blind man’s story, because he is able to digest what happened and begin to understand the power behind this Jesus figure. The more the previously blind man tells his story, the more he understands what Jesus did for him: he gave the blind man new life.
The Pharisees are mystified; how can the blind man now see? First, it is the Sabbath, which means no healing (“work”) should have been performed. Second, how is it even possible? The Pharisees question the previously blind man as to how he was healed. When he describes what Jesus did, the Pharisees grumble because a man of God would never perform a healing on the Sabbath, yet a sinner could never perform such a sign (John 9:16). The previously blind man tells the Pharisees Jesus is a prophet (John 9:17). The more the previously blind man tells his healing story; the more confident he becomes about who this Jesus figure is.
The Jews are not persuaded that the man before them is the same man who was blind, so they call upon his parents. His parents confirm the previously blind man is their son who was born blind, though they have no idea who or how he was healed (John 9:20-21). Fearful, his parents direct the Pharisees back to their son; they fear being kicked out of the synagogue for proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah (John 9:22).
The Pharisees call the previously blind man back into the room and tell him to “give God glory” (translation: “tell the truth, now”), because surely Jesus is a sinner (John 9:24). The previously blind man refuses to call Jesus a sinner for he was blind and now he can see (John 9:25). The previously blind man does not give in to the Pharisees’ pressures and stays true to his story. Again, the Pharisees ask the previously blind man to explain how his eyes are now opened (John 9:26). The previously blind man says, “We have been through this. Do you want to be one of his disciples?” (John 9:27). He welcomes the Pharisees into Jesus’ circle. They reject Jesus and reassert Moses as their authority (John 9:28-29).
The previously blind man’s spiritual healing continues as he argues with the Pharisees. The previously blind man states, “God does not allow just anyone to perform healings; they have to worship him and obey his will. If Jesus were not from God, he would not be able to open my eyes. No one has ever healed the blind before” (John 9:30-33). The more the previously blind man speaks about his healing, the more convinced he becomes about Jesus being from God. Nothing can change his mind about Jesus, not even the Jewish authorities. Therefore, the Pharisees banish the previously blind man out of the synagogue—out of their community. The Pharisees are so blinded by their own interpretations that they miss being in a relationship with the Messiah. They miss the boat.
Jesus hears about the Pharisees throwing the previously blind man out of the synagogue. He searches for the previously blind man and asks him, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” (John 9:35 NRSV). The previously blind man says, “And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him” (John 9:36 NRSV). The previously blind man is eager to know and worship the Messiah; he has experienced new life through his healing. Jesus says, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he” (John 9:37 NRSV). The previously blind man comes to believe Jesus is Lord and worships him (John 9:38).
The previously blind man is rejected by one community but accepted into another when he shares his story. The more you share your story—[whatever “it” is], the more you start to find the language understand of who you are as an individual and within different communities. Once you have language to behind your story, you grow a better understand of yourself. Your story tells others who you are, what you believe in, and where you are heading. The community (family, friends, school, church, neighborhood, [whatever “it” is]) shares your story and molds you through unique experiences. The more you talk about your experience and what they mean, the more you learn about yourself and the more your community will know how to support you as an individual. Within the church, your story becomes a tool to share your faith with others. The good news is found in each of us, and our ability to share it becomes crucial to leading others in worship.
Thanks be to God!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for taking away our blindness. Help us to share our stories with others and bring them into a relationship with you. Thank you for giving us new life through Jesus Christ. Amen.
Please answer the following reflective questions in the comments below. Please agree to disagree and be respectful to each other. (If you have not already done so, please also take a moment, to sign the behavior covenant by commenting on it.) You can answer as many questions as you would like.
- How have you been blind?
- What is your story? How does it define you?