Just about the time we think we know this story, it surprises us. The second questioning of the man born blind yields his unforgettable confession: I once was blind, but now I see. But then the conversation between the religious authorities and the man heats up.
What starts as a narrative of questions and answers becomes an angry exchange. The religious authorities are offended by the sighted man’s innocent question: “Do you also want to become his disciples?” We can almost hear them shout at him. “You are a sinner; you can’t teach us anything about this Jesus!” (ap). The drama ends with them driving him out. But it doesn’t end with the narrow view in triumph.
Jesus comes to the healed man to ask one more question, “Do you believe?” Suddenly full disclosure comes. What has been dawning slowly all the while suddenly bursts into full sight. Jesus bears divine judgment in the form of healing. Those who think they know with certainty who God and sinners are have become blind, while those who seek Jesus are given revelation to their seeing. The man sees more and more while the religious authorities see less and less—victims of their own theology. Here is John’s Gospel in miniature, startled by the great theme that runs throughout it: All who yearn to understand who Jesus is are invited to “come and see!”
We are all part of this story now, both saints and sinners. In this season of spiritual discipline, Jesus comes to our world to bring sight to our blindness. His light shines in our darkness; his healing touch stretches out to us and to the whole weary world.
God of mercy and light, heal our blind souls; turn us from our narrow-minded views of others. Let us see Jesus, and grant us the light of his presence. 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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