The Man Born Blind
(Fourth Sunday of Lent, Year A)

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Jesus Heals the Man born blind - by El Greco - from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

 

John 9:1-41 (A)

As Jesus walked along, He saw a man who had been blind from birth. His disciples asked Him, "Rabbi, was it his sin or his parents' that caused him to be born blind"?

"Neither", answered Jesus: "It was no sin, either of this man or of his parents. Rather, it was to let God's works show forth in him. We must do the deeds of Him Who sent Me while it is day. The night comes on when no one can work. While I am in the world I am the light of the world".

With that Jesus spat on the ground, made mud with His saliva, and smeared the man's eyes with the mud. Then He told him, "Go, wash in the Pool of Siloam". (This name means "One who has been sent".) So the man went off and washed, and came back able to see.

His neighbors and the people who had been accustomed to see him begging began to ask, "Isn't this the fellow who used to sit and beg"?

"Some were claiming it was he; others maintained it was not but someone who looked like him.

The man himself said, "I'm the one, all right".

They said to him then, "How were your eyes opened"?

He answered: "That Man they call Jesus made mud and smeared it on my eyes, telling me to go to Siloam and wash. When I did go and wash, I was able to see".

"Where is He"? they asked.

He replied, "I have no idea".

Next, they took the man who had been born blind, to the Pharisees. (Note that it was on a Sabbath that Jesus had made the mud paste and opened his eyes.) The Pharisees, in turn, began to inquire how he had recovered his sight. He told them, "He put mud on my eyes. I washed it off, and now I can see".

This prompted some of the Pharisees to assert, "This Man cannot be from God because He does not keep the Sabbath".

Others objected, "If a Man is a sinner, how can He perform signs like these"? They were sharply divided over Him.

Then they addressed the blind man again: "Since it was your eyes He opened, what do you have to say about Him"?

"He is a prophet", he replied.

The Jews refused to believe that he had really been born blind and had begun to see, until they summoned the parents of this man who now could see. "Is this your son?" they asked, "and if so, do you attest that he was blind at birth? How do you account for the fact that he now can see"?

His parents answered, "We know this is our son, and we know he was blind at birth. But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we have no idea. Ask him. He is old enough to speak for himself". (His parents answered in this fashion because they were afraid of the Jews, who had already agreed among themselves that anyone who acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. That was why his parents said, "He is of age -- ask him".)

A second time they summoned the man who had been born blind and said to him, "Give glory to God! First of all, we know this Man is a sinner".

"I would not know whether He is a sinner or not", he answered. "I know this much: I was blind before; now I can see".

They persisted: "Just what did He do to you? How did He open your eyes"?

"I have told you once, but you would not listen to me", he answered them. "Why do you want to hear it all over again? Do not tell me you want to become His disciples too"?

They retorted scornfully, "You are the one who is that Man's disciple. We are disciples of Moses. We know that God spoke to Moses, but we have no idea where this Man comes from".

He came back at them: "Well, this is news! You do not know where He comes from, yet He opened my eyes. We know that God does not hear sinners, but that if someone is devout and obeys His will He listens to him. It is unheard of that anyone ever gave sight to a person blind from birth. If this man were not from God, He could never have done such a thing".

"What!" they exclaimed, "You are steeped in sin from your birth, and you are giving us lectures"? With that they threw him out bodily.

When Jesus heard of his expulsion, He sought him out and asked him, "Do you believe in the Son of Man"?

He answered, "Who is He, sir, that I may believe in Him"?

"You have seen Him", Jesus replied. "He is speaking to you now".

"I do believe, Lord", he said, and bowed down to worship Him.

Then Jesus said: "I came into this world to divide it, to make the sightless see and the seeing blind".

Some of the Pharisees around him picked this up, saying, "You are not counting us in with the blind, are You"?

To which Jesus replied: "If you were blind there would be no sin in that. 'But we see,' you say, and your sin remains".

 

The Man Born Blind

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The "Pool of Siloam" referred to in the Reading is shown
in the lower right hand corner of the map of the city.

city.jpg (439982 bytes) crucifixion3.jpg (1600 bytes) What's worse: physical blindness or moral and spiritual darknessSin clouds the mind in darkness and closes the heart to God's love and truth.  Only in the light of God's truth can we see sin for what it really is, a rejection of God and opposition to His will

The Pharisees equated physical blindness and sickness with sin.   While the scriptures indicate that sin can make the body and mind sick as well as the soul, not all sickness, however is the result of sin.   Sickness befalls us for a variety of reasons. Paul the Apostle reminds us that "in everything God works for good with those who love Him" (Romans 8:28). One of the most remarkable miracles of Jesus is the healing of the man who was blind from birth. Even the blind man, once cured, marveled and proclaimed that "never since the world began has it been heard that any one opened the eyes of a man born blind" (John 9:32). This miracle remarkably reveals the power and glory of God.

Jesus is ever ready to heal us and to free us from the darkness of sin and deception. There is no sickness, whether physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual that the Lord Jesus does not identify with. Isaiah prophesied that the "Suffering Servant" would be bruised for our iniquities and by His stripes we would be healed (Isaiah 53:5).

The Lord offers us freedom from spiritual blindness due to sin and He restores us to wholeness of body, mind, soul, and heart.  Augustine of Hippo, in his commentary on this gospel passage, remarks: "If we reflect on the meaning of this miracle, we will see that the blind man is the human race ...You already know, of course, Who the "One Sent" is.  Unless He had been sent, none of us would have been freed from sin".

"Jesus, in Your name the blind see, the lame walk, and the dead are raised to life.  Come into our lives and heal the wounds of our broken hearts.  Give us eyes of faith to see Your glory and hearts of courage to bring You glory in all we say and do".

 

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