Meet the Man Born Blind

John 9:1-7

As he was walking along, he saw a man blind from birth.

“Master,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it a result of his own sins or those of his parents?”

“Neither,” Jesus answered. “But to demonstrate the power of God. All of us must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent me, for there is little time left before the night falls and all work comes to an end. But while I am still here in the world, I give it my light.”

Then he spat on the ground and made mud from the spittle and smoothed the mud over the blind man’s eyes, and told him, “Go and wash in the Pool of Siloam” (the word Siloam means “Sent”). So the man went where he was sent and washed and came back seeing!

Up to now I’ve tried to approach these posts from the first person viewpoint. I hoped to understand those who met face-to-face with Jesus. I wanted to grasp what they were seeing through their own eyes. But I intend with this post to revert back to a more traditional approach to this passage.

First, we’re introduced to a man who is blind from birth.

I can’t even imagine what that would be like (just as he probably could imagine having sight). I’ve been told that he probably didn’t have a “dream” life–that requires having seen images (a dog, a tree, a mean person) and this wasn’t available to him. He never saw the color red, or seen a mountain. (He didn’t have the circuitry.)

I suppose we can only imagine what blindness like this would be.

Somehow I’ve come to an idea that this represents fallen men–we’re spiritually blind to the workings and truths of Jesus’ Kingdom. It seems a pretty good explanation of each of us–“blind from birth.”

Secondly, notice the response of the disciples who first met this unfortunate man. They don’t see his needs, rather they want to know the theology behind this. Perhaps that’s how we respond much of the time–we don’t see the needs, we only want to know the reasons. We’re not wise or discerning enough to see what’s going on–in short we’re not equipped to love or show mercy. (We haven’t got the circuitry.)

Perhaps this is how we operate as immature Christians.

We don’t engage the need, but rather we like having great theology over understanding compassion. If we really don’t love needy people, we miss so much. We don’t ever grow up. It’s easy to philosophize–it’s hard to get down and serve and really love others.

It’s funny but Jesus declares Himself to be the light of the world while speaking to the man who is born blind.

Third, we discover the gentle mercy that Jesus has when He meets needy people. Now the Lord does accommodate His followers, but not at the expense of engaging the need of the moment. Jesus is full of compassion–most especially when He meets broken people–and as His followers, we must grasp this.

Good theology is not the primary calling of Jesus’ followers.

As I mature in Christ I’m learning (slowly) that people are His real focus. He has come, not to theologize or philosophize, but to meet needs! Sure the reasons why become clearer, but that really isn’t Jesus’ primary goal. People are, not having impeccable theology.

Classes in systematic theology are good, but soup kitchens are better.

The miracle happens, and Jesus’ love and desire to restore this man is ‘front and center.’ The Lord’s methodology is interesting. Spit and mud, wiped on the blind man’s eyes. In Genesis we discover that God made man out of dirt and dust of the ground. Perhaps what He’s doing here mirrors that work.

And it’s also important to understand that Jesus never performs the exact same healing in the exact same way. For some reason He ‘tailors’ His work to the individuals deepest need. I suppose He doesn’t want us to grab a hold of a formula, as that’s what we want to have.

The story is primarily about a blind man’s healing.

It’s not theology, and it certainly isn’t about what is proper and acceptable. We really must understand this, and we really need to understand the tremendous mercy and power of God to both heal and restore.

There’s a ton more here we can extract, but I suppose there isn’t time. This is merely my take on John 9.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; he has appointed me to preach Good News to the poor; he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted and to announce that captives shall be released and the blind shall see, that the downtrodden shall be freed from their oppressors, and that God is ready to give blessings to all who come to him.”

Luke 4:18

Image: MCCC. Text from the “Living Bible,” published by Tyndale House

Meet Jesus’ Family

John 7:1-5

After this, Jesus traveled around Galilee. He wanted to stay out of Judea, where the Jewish leaders were plotting his death. But soon it was time for the Jewish Festival of Shelters, and Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, where your followers can see your miracles! You can’t become famous if you hide like this! If you can do such wonderful things, show yourself to the world!” For even his brothers didn’t believe in him.

To be honest, I didn’t believe He was the Messiah. I simply couldn’t accept that he was the Chosen one, predicted in the Scriptures. Really now, Jesus? Our older brother? Was he the one we were all looking for? Was he the one who would save Israel? He was family, and we saw Him eat, drink, sleep. I for one didn’t believe it.

We played with him in the streets.

We ran, played ball, and raced donkeys. We sat with him around the fire when the storytellers came. We had fun dancing–(with our sisters of course). When we weren’t working in the shop, carrying water, and helping out, we found lots of things to do, and Jesus as the oldest was the one who came up with many of our adventures.

But to say that he was the one who was prophesied about in the book of Isaiah seems ludicrous. To be very honest, our father was just a poor carpenter–we lived hand-to-mouth, much like any other family in Judea. We wore Jesus’ hand-me-downs, and when he outgrew his sandals, guess what?

Looking back at it all, the whole business of him being the Messiah seemed like a sad and silly joke.

Our father and mother seemed privy to some sort of secret, but we kids never could get the whole story from them or others. Our cousins knew something, but no one was talking, and I suppose we never really pursued it. Maybe it would’ve helped, and again maybe it wouldn’t.

Our lives rotated around the Temple and the synagogue. A Sabbath day was part of our religious upbringing, and we listened to the rabbis and Pharisees as they taught. Jesus had a tremendous knack at grasping these things, and yes, he did know the Scriptures and the various interpretations that the leaders gave.

Each of us boys had the mitzvot ceremony at the age of 13.

We were told that we were now responsible before God for our own lives after this ceremony took place. This was normal for each of us. And apparently, even for Jesus, there was nothing special about it–no lightning, no doves coming down. Like I said before, it all was very normal. We were normal people trying to survive in normal Judea.

Now, this is where it gets interesting.

When Jesus was around 30 we heard that he had been baptized by our cousin John. We later heard that he started to teach and preach to any who would listen. He gathered disciples who followed him from town to town, sleeping and eating in the countryside, or wherever things opened up. I was told by many that his teaching was brilliant and authoritative.

When we started to hear of his miracles, it didn’t make any sense.

Honestly, it seemed something happened directly after his baptism–something that was hardly normal. As his brothers and sisters, we tried to process it with each other. At that time we finally came to the conclusion that Jesus was losing it. Maybe he was or at least very close to it. I remember at least twice we came to take custody of him. That was hard.

Was Jesus orthodox, did he have the Pharisee’s ‘stamp of approval?’ After so many reports of healings and exorcisms, we thought that having that could help. I remembered then that we wanted him to reveal his ministry through the proper religious channels. For ourselves, we didn’t believe he was who he claimed to be, but we desperately wanted him to be safe.

When they arrested him and gave him a trial it was a shock to us all.

And when they ordered his death by crucifixion we were deeply troubled and ashamed. Only criminals died that way. Did Jesus deserve to die like this?

But then something quite startling was said to have happened–we were told that he rose from the dead! I remember the shock; maybe these resurrection reports were being made up by those with deluded hopes. We really didn’t know, but we did wonder.

Who was he really? Who was our older brother exactly?

He replied to the one who was speaking to him, “Who is my mother and who are my brothers?” Stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!

Matthew 12:48-49

[Two of Jesus’ brothers that we know of became believers, they went on to write the book of James and Jude.]

Meet the Crippled Woman, Healed on the Sabbath

Luke 13:10-13

“He was teaching in one of the meeting places on the Sabbath. There was a woman present, so twisted and bent over with arthritis that she couldn’t even lookup. She had been afflicted with this for eighteen years. When Jesus saw her, he called her over. “Woman, you’re free!” He laid hands on her and suddenly she was standing straight and tall, giving glory to God.”

———————-

(vv. 15-16, Upon criticism by the Pharisees)

(But Jesus shot back, “You frauds! Each Sabbath every one of you regularly unties your cow or donkey from its stall, leads it out for water, and thinks nothing of it. So why isn’t it all right for me to untie this daughter of Abraham and lead her from the stall where Satan has had her tied these eighteen years?”

17 When he put it that way, his critics were left looking quite silly and red-faced. The congregation was delighted and cheered him on.)

I was used to looking at the ground when I walked. My disease had gotten so bad that I had to use crutches to keep my balance. It seemed I sort of adjusted to seeing others out of the corner of my eyes, what can I say, you learn to adapt. You deal with the pain, and I know that many have it much worse.

I’ve endured this for 18 very long years, and at times it was easy to bear, and other times it’s very bitter and hard. God knows my heart, and I’ll take whatever He brings me.

At least I could still attend the weekly service at the synagogue. I made it there faithfully as it was my custom. The people knew me there, and they were quite kind and they accommodated my disability–I had a lot of friends there. I even had my own special spot.

But then Jesus came and taught.

On that Sabbath evening, my miracle came. The service was electric, the teacher that some were calling the Messiah began to speak. His words were coated (that’s all I can say,) with incredible authority. We had never ever heard from anyone like him. The hairs on my head began to tingle.

When he spoke we listened!

Jesus looked and He saw me. I wasn’t doing anything out of the ordinary, and I wasn’t expecting anything really. But He asked me to come forward, and again I really didn’t know why. I hobbled to Him with my crutches.

It was then He stated that I was free!

He reached out and touched me. And in an instant I stood up straight as an arrow. The pain was gone, and I was now completely whole. Now I can’t exactly say what happened. All I know was one minute I was twisted and bent over, and the next second I was standing upright!

The Pharisees went bonkers. I suppose my healing didn’t exactly fit in with their theology. I don’t really know about that. They accused Jesus of breaking the Sabbath. They became cruel and nasty. Jesus was angry at their foolishness. All I know is that I was full of joy.

I was now whole!

Jesus made an incredible observation. If a donkey could be untied and led out of a stall on the Sabbath, why couldn’t a real healing happen on God’s special day. This observation blew the Pharisees out-of-the-water. They couldn’t answer his heavenly logic. They were embarrassed. I suppose they now looked like fools to the congregation.

He gave me a new name, “a daughter of Abraham.”

This was a treasure, and I’ve contemplated that new name over the years. What do I now think of Jesus? I truly believe He is the Messiah–the Son of God!

Art: I honestly don’t know, I think it’s public domain. The verses come from the Message, Eugene Peterson’s translation.