Our eyesight is something most of us simply take for granted. Yet, when we stop to think about it, sight really is quite remarkable. Our ability not only to touch and taste, hear and feel, but to see our surroundings is astonishing. To observe the changing colors of a sunset or the gradual dawning of a new day is a wonderful experience. To be able to perceive the detail of faces and the expression in the eyes of the person we are talking with is amazing. Sight is truly a remarkable gift.
Read – John 9:1-7
1 As Jesus (he) walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. 4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6 When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, 7 saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see.
A blind man begging on the side of the road was a familiar sight in ancient Israel. But this man wasn’t blind because of the dusty roads and disease-laden air. He had been born blind. In answer to the disciples’ question about who was to blame, Jesus responded by pointing to the purpose of the man’s blindness. It was so that God’s power might be revealed. Here and elsewhere Jesus implies that physical ailments are an outcome of living in a world out of step with God.
John describes Jesus’ stunning miracle simply. It is another occasion when Jesus didn’t look for any expression of faith. He just took the initiative and acted. When the man obeyed Jesus’ instructions, he returned seeing. Imagine how this would be reported today. ‘How did you feel?’ he would be asked. But John wants us to focus on Jesus’ action, not the man’s feelings.
As John 9 unfolds we observe the way that the man progressed in his understanding of Jesus. Towards the end of the chapter Jesus asked him, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ and the man’s response is honest, even if somewhat vague, ‘I would believe if…’ Jesus said to him, ‘You have seen him. With your own eyes you have visually seen me, the Son of Man. And now as I speak to you,’ Jesus was saying, ‘I am opening the eyes of your mind and heart. I am giving you a sight of the deeper things of life because of who I am. ‘Do you believe this?’ And the man’s response? ‘Lord I believe.’
Consider this man’s experience. He began by calling Jesus ‘a man’ in 9:11. He then said he is ‘a prophet’ in 9:17. In 9:33 he could say, ‘This man must be from God.’ At the end of the chapter, he worshipped him as ‘Lord’. It’s a picture of the road to faith many people travel.
The miracle is also a parable. We are born spiritually blind. We sense there is something more in life but in our natural state we cannot see. We are blind to God and to what life with him can be like. It is only when Jesus opens the eyes of our soul – our spiritual eyes – that we begin to see the wonders of God and his glory revealed in Jesus Christ. If you ‘see’, then thank the Lord. Pray also for others you know, not condescendingly, but asking that God in his mercy will open their spiritually blind eyes . And plan to invite them to church this Easter.
Prayer – Merciful Lord, let your glory shine upon your Church; so that, enlightened by the teaching of your blessed apostle and evangelist Saint John, we may walk in the light of your truth and come at last to the splendor of eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP, St. John the Evangelist)
Suggested reading – John 9:1-23