New Sight

Written by Mark C. Pederson, Pastor, Trinity Lutheran Church

 Theme Background

Reading these healing stories, one right after another, you can’t help but see some patterns develop.  Those healed come to new understanding.  In today’s reading the blind man healed makes a progression in his understanding and worship of Jesus.

  • At the beginning he only knows Jesus as a voice that touched him, and gave him instructions (verse 7).
  • Then he knows that he was healed by someone named Jesus (verse 11).
  • Next he’s being questioned by the Pharisees and he proclaims that Jesus is a prophet (verse 17).
  • By the end of the story he is boldly proclaiming that Jesus came from God (verse 33)
  • Finally he meets again with Jesus and proclaims that Jesus is Lord, and the one to be worshipped (verse 38).

Belief (or spiritual sight) is a process.  In this case it starts with an encounter with Jesus, which leads to persecution by religious authorities and alienation from family.  It proceeds to a new understanding, and, finally, a deep and reverent faith.  But it’s not easy.  Can you imagine how this poor man feels?  He’s able to see for the first time in his life and then he is attacked for being able to see.  His parents are of no help, all they know is that he was born blind (they are filled with fear).  Finally he gets to hear, and see Jesus.

I am captivated by the parents in this story.  It’s not too difficult to imagine that they stand for many parents of believers who converted to Christianity in the time of the writing of John.  Their children have gone through some strange spiritual experience, but they don’t understand it (can’t see it), and don’t want to be questioned about it.

When Jesus gets into an existential discussion with the Pharisees at the end of today’s reading we get to another level of being blind.  The blind man in the story knew that he could not see.  The Pharisees think they can see, but are blind to everything that Jesus is saying and doing.    Jesus remarks at the end of the reading lead me to think about how strongly denial can have a hold on our lives.  The first step in new sight is to actually see the world as it is and to face it with honesty, and without fear.

Healing and sight can be disruptive.  To have our eyes opened to the realities of the world is not comforting, it is often the opposite.  To have our eyes opened is to see the injustice all around us.  This new insight calls us to do something about it.  That too is a process, a path of discipleship, of trying to figure out what Jesus is doing in the world today, and trying to catch up.

Quotes for the Week
“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.

“We scarcely know how much of our pleasure and interest in life comes to us through our eyes until we have to do without them; and part of that pleasure is that the eyes can choose where to look. But the ears can’t choose where to listen.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin,

You can become blind by seeing each day as a similar one. Each day is a different one, each day brings a miracle of its own. It’s just a matter of paying attention to this miracle.    Paulo Coelho

Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.       Mark Twain

Gospel Lesson John 9:1-41 (NRSV)

As 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. 8 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?” 9 Some were saying, “It is he.” Others were saying, “No, but it is someone like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” 10 But they kept asking him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 11 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.” 12 They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.” 13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 14 Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15 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.” 16 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. 17 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.” 18 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 19 and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” 20 His parents answered, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; 21 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.” 22 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.

 

23 Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.” 24 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.” 25 He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” 26 They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 27 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?” 28 Then they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29 We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” 30 The man answered, “Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. 32 Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” 34 They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?” And they drove him out. 35 Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 He answered, “And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.” 38 He said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped him. 39 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.” 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not blind, are we?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.

Questions for the Week

What is one example of you having your eyes opened?

Where do you think we struggle most with denial in our lives?

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