As he walked 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?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (John 9:1 – 5)

Whose fault is it if someone has a disability? That is a question we would not dare to ask in our day and age. Of if we dared, certainly not out loud. I love Jesus’ answer – that he was born blind so that the works of the Divine could be seen. It transforms this man’s plight from a misfortune to a blessing in the making. Jesus implies there is a time limit or deadline to do such deeds. That puzzled me at first, but I realized it simply meant that Jesus’ time was growing short in this world and there was so much more he wanted to and had to accomplish.

“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, saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see.” (Verses 6 – 7)

Be aware, beloved reader, that Jesus “sent” him to the pool to wash. He did not have a disciple accompany him or instruct a friend of this man to over see his going to the pool. No, this man functioned well enough, I am assuming, to go himself. It was not a healing that was done out of dire need, but an opportunity for the work of the Divine through Jesus Christ to be accomplished. And, a large teaching moment – according to the writer of the gospel of John.

“The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” Some were saying, “It is he.” Others were saying, “No, but it is someone like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” But they kept asking him, “Then how were your eyes opened?”
He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ Then I went and washed and received my sight.” They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.” (Verses 8 – 12)

Let me deal with the last part of this passage first; the formerly blind man really did not know where the man who healed him was because (wait for it) he was BLIND and could not see where he might have gone. I guess his becoming a man of sight transformed him so much in the “eyes” of his neighbors that they could not be positive that it was the same person. How sad, that as a blind man they paid little attention to him, but as suddenly “sighted” he was transformed in their eyes.

“They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.” Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not observe the Sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And they were divided. So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” He said, “He is a prophet.” (Verses 13 – 17)

I like that the writer of the gospel of John has the Pharisees ask the formerly blind man what he has to say about the man who healed him. From being a beggar who was alternately ignored and pitied (one assumes) to being asked his opinion is a comparatively far journey.

“The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” His parents answered, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.” (Verses 18 – 23)

I have to think back to the disciples question of who sinned, this man or his parents. If the man had been blind since birth, it could not really have been his sin. And his parents seem reluctant to get involved in the disputes of the Pharisees, so it is unlikely that they sinned such a comparatively large sin to have a blind son. Clearly this meeting between Jesus and the formerly blind man was destined to happen for good cause.

“So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.” He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” (Verses 24 – 27)

A man of wit and having a quick mind! He must have surely realized that the Pharisees were peeved (I would like to assume) and yet he tweaks them! Good for him!

“Then they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” The man answered, “Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” (Verses 28 – 33)

This formerly blind man holds his own. And takes on the Pharisees at their own game! I like this man! I think Jesus did too. Imagine, blind since birth and having to beg for a living. And yet he is unafraid in the face of the Pharisees. His blindness did not hold him back. We may think that he would be pitiful, shy, and not at ease when questioned. But that is far from the truth of the matter. Clearly this man was seen by the Divine from young on up, and given a quick wit and tongue despite eyes that could not see. So it is with people who are within the plans of the Divine. The Divine hand is upon them.

“They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?” And they drove him out. Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.” (Verses 34 – 37)

Jesus told the formerly blind man that he has seen the Son of Man. Now, let’s take this step by step. This man had been blind since birth. When he encountered Jesus, he was still blind – did not “see” Jesus. Jesus put mud on his eyes, and told him to wash it off at a certain pool. The man did that, and THEN he could see, but still did not see Jesus. The man was questioned and only after being questioned did Jesus seek him out. So how could the formerly blind man have seen Jesus? He just said to Jesus that he did not know who the Son of Man was. But apparently he had “seen” him? There are different types of “seeing” going on!

Remember I said the Lord God has Divine sight on him? Perhaps made sure care was taken over him so he could arrive at this point in his life? I think so.

“He said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped him. Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.” Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not blind, are we?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.” (Verses 38 – 41)

Yesterday we talked about seeing the Divine. The Pharisees obviously did not see Jesus for who he was, even though they claimed they could see. The man whose sight was healed had been aware that there was a Messiah (this is implied in the passage) but did not know what he looked like. Now, by connecting the miracle to the person (Jesus Christ) who made it possible he could both see and “see” the Messiah.

May we, this Lenten Season see and “see” the Divine where and when our Lord God is made manifest.

I am writing this on the cusp of the shut down and sheltering is place to keep our communities safe, and to try to stop the spreading of Covid-19. It seems clear that the rest of the Lenten season will take place more in isolation than in community. It is my humble hope that my writings will provide you opportunity and content for pondering and meditation this Lenten season. Shalom!