What do we see during this time of disruption?

John 9:1-41

A Man Born Blind Receives Sight

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[a]must work the works of him who sent me[b] 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.’ 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. The neighbours 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.’ 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.’

The Pharisees Investigate the Healing

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[c] to be the Messiah[d] 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.

Spiritual Blindness

35 Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’[e]36 He answered, ‘And who is he, sir?[f] 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,[g] I believe.’ And he worshipped him. 39 Jesus said, ‘I came into this world for judgement 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.

Last week we talked about “God Encounters”…I had a question for this week:  Are God encounters always notice?  Do we recognize them while they are unfolding?  

What do you think?

This week, we see a man born blind in front of Jesus on the Sabbath…He didn’t ask to be put in that situation…actually, the disciples presented him with a  question to Jesus on sin.  Folks at that time often believed that sin caused physical ailments.  If you were blind, or crippled somehow, it was because you or your family had somehow sinned.  Jesus responds that this man, nor his parents had sinned, but Jesus also saw him in his blindness and saw an opportunity for God’s power to be at work.

What was that blind man thinking though?  I wonder…he’s only known darkness in his life.  Yet, here he is, in front of Jesus and he’s hearing these words that it’s not his fault that he’s blind.  He’s probably heard all of his life that somehow God caused his blindness because of something he had done or his parents had done…his view of himself and of God was probably complicated at best, more likely bitter or disillusioned.  

And, yet, Jesus healed him.  It was a strange healing, wasn’t it.  Jesus put mud in his hands, then told the blind man to go to a pool and wash his eyes out…the man did, and he was healed!  No one asked Jesus, he just did it.  Why saliva?  That sounds gross, but given that some folks back in the day thought saliva had healing powers. 

Now, today, we know that’s not true!  So, don’t go around spitting on people to ward of the coronavirus!  That will give us a different outcome I believe!

The man goes and tell his neighbors and friends, and they were astonished and wanted to meet this Jesus.  

Of course, the pharisees and religious leaders had questions of their own…they were threatened by pride and wanted to keep the status quo.  So, they formed an inquisition…they did not want the status quo to be shaken.  

Yet, this man’s disruption of being healed did just that!  They were mad, they drove him out, brought in his parents, questioned them as well.  But, the parents did not try to rescue their son, they allowed him to have agency and put it back on the Pharisees!  Brilliant!  

The formerly blind man was brought back in, he gave witness to being blind and now being able to see, a second time!  He was kind of snarky…I liked his response…ultimately telling the pharisees that the they don’t see God when God is right in front of them…confronting them of their blindness!  

So, they excommunicate him.  At that point, I don’t think the guy cared.  Jesus found him after Jesus heard what had happened…and he found a true friend in Jesus.  He believed out of Jesus’ belief in him.  

Now, friends, we may be walking around blind these days.  With all that’s going on, a common theme with this pandemic, is that we know that we don’t know.  With this pandemic, and so much in life, we are blind.  Maybe even a bit lost (or a lot) lost in our blindness.  If you feel that you are, I would encourage you…being lost means you are getting closer to finding God or God finding you.  It’s part of the process really, the process of growth, illumination, conversion, transformation. 

This season that we find ourselves can be a time of tremendous possibility for growth and becoming the people that we went to be!  

We are not alone, even as we stumble about.  

A good friend of mine, Rev. Nancy Ross-Zimmerman read this poem called “I Stand by the Door.” at the church we both served a few years ago.  The poem reminds me a lot of what we’re talking about today, so I wanted to share the first stanza:

I stand by the door.
I neither go too far in, nor stay too far out,
The door is the most important door in the world-
It is the door through which people walk when they find God.
There’s no use my going way inside, and staying there,
When so many are still outside and they, as much as I,
Crave to know where the door is.
And all that so many ever find
Is only the wall where a door ought to be.
They creep along the wall like blind people,
With outstretched, groping hands.
Feeling for a door, knowing there must be a door,
Yet they never find it …
So I stand by the door.

Friends, no matter where we find ourselves today, may we know that God is with us…that we stand by the door.  We may be lost, we may be blind, but God’s divine flow is at work. May we crave to know where the door is, may we not be satisfied with our blindness, or lostness, but may we also know that we are connected to a God who loves, a Jesus who shows us how to live, and the Spirit of God that guides us when we listen and connects us to God, to one another, and to ourselves.  

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