John – The author and disciple of Jesus of Nazareth tells us another piece of his history, his testimony of living life with Jesus in Chapter Nine. In chapter one John tells us that Jesus was with God from the beginning and in fact through Jesus the entire world was made not just some but all. He describes Jesus as the word and as life and the life that was the light of men. He told us that Jesus was God manifested in the flesh not a version but a separate entity who by his relationship with the Father, through and by the spirit demonstrates to us God’s plan of redemption and restoration of His kingdom.
In chapter nine we read about a story of Jesus having compassion on a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him why this man is blind. Did he do something wrong or were his parents being punished for something they did wrong? “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answers them “neither, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed 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.” After he said these things John says Jesus spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva, then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said “go, wash in the pool of Siloam”(which means Sent)”
This on its face makes no sense to us. Why didn’t Jesus just command his sight to return? Like open your eyes and see just like he did to the Lame beggar “pick up you mat and walk?” or stretch out your hand to heal the withered hand? This was more like the Mighty Syrian Captain Naaman and Elijah when the captain was required to wash himself 7 times in the Jordan River to be healed of leprosy.
John carefully chooses this story to demonstrate that Jesus has the power over creation itself. In that him life itself resided in him and that the life was the light of the world. This man was born blind not from an accident nor a disease, he had never know what it was like to see. He was born into darkness he lived in an audible world and of what he could feel and smell. The ground was his reality, objects we walked around he stumbled over. He was dependent on others whether kind or not. I can almost hear him answer others “hey I’m blind not deaf!” All his life, on a daily basis he was reminded of his “disability”. It defined who he was, that is how people knew him. Oh the blind baby, the blind boy, what a shame, now a blind man. Is it not funny that you can stare at a blind man all day and he will never know it or so we think that morbid curiosity compels us to stare not once but often twice as we shudder to ourselves and thank God for our sight? We do not realize that our senses compensate when one is taken away others are heightened. When we are talking and approaching and start to start the silence is deafening. You can hear the pity or derisive remarks muttered under your breath or whispered to friends.
I became very nearsighted growing up. I wore the thick lenses that allowed me to live a normal life. My classmates found it funny to move my glasses after I showered in the locker room and watch me fumble around looking for them. Being a rambunctious boy I on occasion broke my lenses and frames through my activities and sometimes harebrained ideas of adventure. In college I saved and purchased my first pair of contact lenses. There were called semi hard lenses and you had to wear them little by little getting your eyes to tolerate them 15 minutes more each day. It was awesome! I was free from glasses and I could see all around not just out the front. I could participate in basketball, volleyball, soccer, without sweat covering my lenses and suffering from an elbow to the corner of my frames, and yes, even swim with goggles and see under the water clearly.
One day after pulling very late hours studying and wearing the lenses far past the recommended time I woke up with blinding pain. I could not open my eyes, I was blind. The lack of oxygen resulted in a scratched or degraded epithelia. I went to the eye-doctor who reassured me that this was only a temporary situation in 24 to 48 hours I would be fine and put in eye-numbing drops (ouch they hurt). We were scheduled to go visit my wife’s brother’s house for a family gathering in Camarillo. I sat glumly in the passenger seat and rode along wondering “what if the doctor was wrong?” I had suffered from the blindness of myopia most of my life. I experienced the wonders of contacts and now suffered one of the side effects and thought if this was permanent how would I exist? As I was led around by my wonderful and compassionate wife a whole new world opened up to me, I found I could reach out with my ears and touch and almost see the world around me in a different way. Once I was led through a room I remembered mostly where everything was. I could feel the approaching doors and walls through pressure and temperature changes and sound cues. I was dependent on what I saw and missed out on many other experiences that god had given me. I even played a game of backgammon with my Niece; I think she let me win. I could see the board in my mind and remember through touch where the pieces were not just mine but her’s as well. I experienced what it was like to be completely dependent on others. The next morning I woke up and my sight was restored because the pain abated. It was a bit fuzzy for a-while but I fully recovered.
I know personally what it is like to be blind because I once saw. This Man who Jesus healed only knew of what sight was like through the description of what others told him. His view of the world was an audible and vulnerable one. Did he hear the disciples saying to Jesus about him? “RABBI, WHO SINNED, THIS MAN OR HIS PARENTS, THAT HE WAS BORN BLIND?” He possibly heard Jesus reply, “It was not that this man sinned or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed 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.” After the said those words he spit in the ground and made some mud and spread it over this blind man’s eyes and said “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam (Which means sent in Greek”) and ( is the root word for Apostle according to some scholars). I liked to think that Jesus was making some new eyeballs out of the mud, but while I know there is no scriptural basis for this opinion, it just make a better story and illustrates and reminds to me that Jesus is the creator of all things. My supposition is also based on others reactions to him after the healing. In verse 8 His neighbors the ones who saw him grow up his entire life and were very familiar with his very face were having a problem recognizing this man who now looks back at them. Remember the safe but morbid stares we make of the sightless ones? His entire demeanor was different, the way he walked and entire countenance had changed as he could now see an entire new world of colors and shapes of things and faces. He now looked back at those who stared at him all his life. What he knew in part through hearing and smelling and touching was being redefined with a new vision. His hearing was still very acute and people still thinking blind people are deaf as well as sightless argued back and forth whether this was the same man despite the man himself who kept saying I am that man. How humorous that must have been! So they asked him how were your eyes opened and He told them all he knew and heard that the man called Jesus made mud put it on my eyes told me to go and wash my eyes off in the Siloam Pool, when I did I could see. Then they said the most wonderful statement of ignorance! “Where is he?” And the formally blind man says “I do not know.”
The story while amazing continues as they bring this man before the religious leaders to tell his story. John recounts importantly that it was the Sabbath, the day of rest. When recounts his story to the “leaders” the formally blind man just stick to the facts. “He put mud on my eyes and I washed, and I see” This caused a theological debate to arise among them. Some claimed he wasn’t sent form god because he did not hold to the man-held traditions of the Sabbath. Others countered how can a man who is a sinner do such signs. So they asked the blind man for more information, “What do you say?” He replies, “He is a prophet.” Disbelieving they bring in his parents and ask them for an explanation and a testimony as to the truthfulness of the story. How can a congenitally born person have his sight restored? It was politically incorrect to side with Jesus already so they answered “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind”(sightless) “but how he now sees we do not know nor do we “know” who opened his eyes” “Ask him; he is of age”
So they called the blind man in again and tried to get his to speak the party line. “Give glory to God. We KNOW this man is a sinner” (A Sabbath working sinner). I love the answer the man gives which show he can now see with more than his eyes. “Whether he is a sinner I do not know, one thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” The Religious leaders cross examine him for more details trying to build their case of Jesus “working on the Sabbath” asking the formally blind man what actions Jesus actually did. “What did he do to you? How did He open your eyes?” the man replies “weren’t you listening since I told you already? Do you want to become his disciple?” (Do you want to follow him?)
They reviled him. Merriam-Webster dictionary says “to subject to verbal abuse: vituperate, to use abusive language: rail, scold.
They purposefully put him down by saying “You are his disciple, we are disciples of Moses, we know his credentials but we don’t even know where this man comes from!” The formally blind man is amazed and answers them wow you don’t know where he comes from yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. NEVER since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. (This is where I use the term without eyeballs; you can use connection to the optic nerve or any medical definition you care to)
Parents usually become aware that their baby has a vision problem within a few weeks of birth. He or she may be less responsive than other babies, lying quietly to make the most of his or her hearing. Parents may also notice that their baby:
- Is unable to fix his or her eyes on a close object.
- Has random eye movements.
- Does not smile by the age of 6 weeks.
- Has abnormally large, cloudy eyes if glaucoma is present.
Parents may find it difficult to bond with a quiet baby who does not smile.
Andrea Bocelli My Favorite Tenor!
In his final statement to them he attests “If this man were not from God, He could do nothing.” Rather than argue with him they accuse him of being “born in utter sin you would teach us?” They used the very argument the disciples posed to Jesus as if they were frozen in time. Jesus hears of this man’s humiliation and seeks him out and asks him “do you believe in the Son of Man? He answers “and who is he, sir that I may believe in him? Jesus says to him “You have seen him and it is he who is speaking to you.” Now with a face to go with the voice He says Lord I believe and worships him. Seeing Jesus did not change anything but confirmed what he already held in faith and hope he went to the pool of Siloam. His response to the revelation was adoration, praise and worship. It is particularly interesting the John note Jesus saying “for Judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see and those who do see may become blind.” Some Pharisees heard him say this and said’ “are you calling us blind?” Jesus replies “if you were blind you would have no guilt but since you claim you can see your guilt remains” Jesus does not condemn them, as they do it all of their own.
They could not accept that a person could be physically restored from a permanent condition much less if it occurred on the Sabbath. They held fast or rather clung to what they thought they knew about God through the Law of Moses of what they thought they understood. Their closely held traditions and understand of who God was and is was filtered through an incomplete understanding of God’s plans for them. Like them even we are blind before grace comes into our lives from birth with are in sin and do not realize how so until our sight is restored when Jesus comes to us and makes new eyes for us to see through, His eyes. We are welcomed into the world he has for us to see restored to a relationship we once had and with a promise of completion that is dependent on His Grace his timing and yes his will. Once saved by grace we see the battle is not between flesh and blood but between principalities.
I also once was blind but now I see because of the actions of Jesus not my own.
So to you I say here’s mud in your eyes!