Fourth Sunday in Lent
As Jesus 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 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.” 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.” But they kept asking him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 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.” They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”
They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 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.” 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. 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.”
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 and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” His parents answered, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; 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.” 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. Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”
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.” He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 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?” Then they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” The man answered, “Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?” And they drove him out.
Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.” He said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshipped him. 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.” Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not blind, are we?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.”
Something to Do
Play in the mud
Notice Jesus’ rather gross healing technique – making mud with his saliva and rubbing it on the man’s eyes! If you are of a certain age, you probably don’t want to play in the mud (but more power to you if you do!) so just remember that what is good for us is not always pleasant to begin with.
If you are of a different age, you might be up for something a little more hands on. Head outside and make some mud (not with your saliva, please). Get your hands good and dirty (don’t rub the mud on your eyes!). What does it feel like? What shapes can you make with it? Then go wash your hands and enjoy the feel of the water rinsing the mud away.
I came into this world for judgement so that those who do not see may see…
We are all flying a little blind these days, as we feel our way into social distance, isolation, and new ways of maintaining community. Explore what learning this time might have to offer you. Set aside some time for intentional silence. Read a book you have been meaning to get to. Learn a new skill. Figure out how to use a new communications platform. Call someone you haven’t spoken to for a while. How will Jesus open your eyes?
Something to Wonder
he was born (blind) so that God’s works might be revealed in him
Jesus is clear that the man’s blindness has nothing to do with anyone’s sin but rather has to do with God’s work in him. The danger with this line is that it can sound an awful lot like God burdened the man with blindness for God’s own purposes. What we need to remember is that we are all born, with whatever characteristics we have, for the same reason – so that God’s works might be revealed in us.
How are God’s works being revealed in you? In your strengths? In your struggles? Joys and sorrows?
In their shoes
Imagine you are the man’s parents. How are they feeling? What are they thinking? What do you think they do next?
Something to Learn
Blindness in John’s Gospel
The use of blindness as a metaphor can be highly problematic when considering the reality of actual people with actual blindness. In “Out of the Darkness: Examining the Rhetoric of Blindness in the Gospel of John” the authors discuss the consequences of John’s images and the importance of befriending complicated texts.
Something to Pray
Holy God, we do not always understand your word or your ways.
Give us wisdom and imagination and courage as we learn and grow.
The story this week has made me wonder about…
(what questions are still on your heart?)
Receive my questions and help me hear your answers.
The story this week has filled me with…
(how are you feeling?)
Accept my praise, heal my hurt, ease my worry.
The story this week has reminded me of…
(are there situations or people you are thinking of?)
Be with all who are in need of you.
In Jesus’ name, we pray.