We often consider John the most “theological” of the four Gospels. The Gospel begins with the incomparable words of the prologue: “In the beginning was the Word.” But today we encounter one of the most utterly human episodes in the New Testament, full of irony and realism. The healing of the man blind from birth reads like a short story. Yes, it is a miracle story, but it holds a dramatic key to John’s theology. I love the physical details, from the anointing with mud to the parents’ honest reply to the religious authorities: “Ask him!”
This story contains a series of questions with a spiraling series of surprising answers. The healed man is asked multiple times about who has healed him. Each time we come to understand a little more about Jesus. At first the man doesn’t know; then he admits that Jesus must be a prophet. Then the parents are dragged in for questioning and observe that their son is “of age.” They send the inquiring religious folk back to ask him. Then we find out that the Pharisees already think Jesus is a sinner and question how on earth he could have healed the man. Then comes the man's confession, which becomes one of the most famous hymns of all time: “One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” The hymn “Amazing Grace” echoes this testimony through many generations.
Could it be that we can understand who Jesus is by asking questions? This is the way of Lenten discipline. To fast and pray is like a series of questions, but now the questions are part of our own spiritual quest. Jesus will reveal his power to heal our spiritual blindness if we come in wonder.
Come to us, Lord Jesus, and restore our sight. Reveal to us who you are. Amen.
The two readings from the Hebrew scriptures focus on the life of David. In First Samuel, the prophet is sent to anoint the next king of Israel. God chooses David not because of outward appearance but because of his heart. David is not perfect, nor is his life always easy. Psalm 23 declares David’s trust in God in good times and bad times. Just as Samuel has anointed David with oil, so does the Lord anoint him. The New Testament readings both employ images of light and darkness. Ephesians instructs us to live as children of light, not darkness. In John, Jesus heals a blind man and brings him from darkness into light. Some religious leaders protest because although their physical eyes can see, their spiritual vision is darkened.
Read 1 Samuel 16:1-13. How often do you judge others by outward appearances or worldly successes? How can you “look upon the heart” to judge leaders in your community?
Read Psalm 23. When have you experienced Jesus’ presence with you in the wilderness?
Read Ephesians 5:8-14. How does God’s light help you persist through struggles within yourself or in the world around you?
Read John 9:1-41. What questions does Jesus ask you? How do your questions of Jesus help you understand him?
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