John 9:1-9, NIV

1 As he [Jesus] went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His
disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents,
that he was born blind?"

3 "Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but
this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his
life. 4 As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent
me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5 While I am in the
world, I am the light of the world."

6 Having said this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with
the saliva, and put it on the man's eyes. 7 "Go," he told him,
"wash in the Pool of Siloam" (this word means Sent). So the
man went and washed, and came home seeing.

8 Neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging
asked, "Isn't this the same man who used to sit and beg?"
9 Some claimed that he was. Others said, "No, he only looks
like him." But he himself insisted, "I am the man."


August 15, 2011
I would guess from reading these few verses that this chapter is about
being able to see, recognize, and identify the works of God in the world
around us. What do we need in order to accomplish this? We need
good eyes, a working God, daylight, help from the light of the world, and
a miracle that will cure our blindness. (If you want to soften that a bit, a
miracle that will cure all our blind spots.) Each of us needs this miracle
so that the works of God will be displayed in our lives. And that we will
reflect the character of God in an otherwise dark, unseeing and
disbelieving world.

The setting of the Feast of Tents in Jerusalem is behind him now. Jesus
is on the road among a different group of people. But the problems
persist. People do not see and believe. Instead they are blind and refuse
to acknowledge that Jesus is doing the works of God.

The Gospel writer goes into great detail to make this point, beginning
with the man's neighbors who correctly observe that he can now see,
but question whether there is some deception involved in his seeing.
Is this really our neighbor or does he simply look like him?

The man insists, "I am your neighbor, the man who was blind." But
some refuse to believe it and spread their suspicions. Which leaves
us with the question--What makes believing so difficult!?


                                                                        More journal entries


November 8, 1983
Being born blind, this man never had a chance to see. But Jesus saw him.
He was a person like Kim who attends our church services every Sunday,
only this man had parents to provide for some of his needs.  As we read
further, we learn he was a beggar sitting by the side of the road.

What was the conversation like between Jesus and his disciples when
they saw this blind beggar? The disciples wanted to know why he was
born blind? They weren't asking for any specifics about this man's
particular situation, they just wanted to know who is to blame for
this kind of tragedy?

The disciples held out two choices--his sin or his parents' sin. I think
that was a typical explanation among Jewish people at the time. It's an
example of narrow theologizing, creating a neat little box in which to
put stuff we don't know what else to do with. It's nice to learn answers
to questions and get a good handle on them but we must beware
lest these standard answers become a confining trap that prevents
us from gaining additional wisdom.

Jesus saw this man as an opportunity to illustrate the power of God.
He didn't heal him for the man's sake or out of love and compassion
for the blind man. Jesus healed him for God's sake--so the crowd
would see God's power and marvel, maybe some would believe. Or
did Jesus do it to stir up the ire of the Pharisees, and to contrast the
themes of darkness and daylight. The religion of the Pharisees made
them very unhappy! And that should always be suspect. The people
of God are supposed to possess a spirit of joy.


November 10, 1983
Why did this man have to suffer through 40 years of darkness?--to
show the power of God! I wonder how he felt about that. He had not
even volunteered for this assignment.

I don't think God "made" him blind but I think Jesus is turning a negative
into a positive. God's power can be seen here especially because of
the very dramatic and obvious severity of his circumstances. We're
heading into another confrontation between Jesus and the religious
leaders.


November 14, 1983
Then Jesus takes off on word association and comments on other
things that were not on the disciples' minds. We must do the work
I was sent to do. That's an interesting statement. The works of God
are to be done within, and by, a community of willing participants.
And during daylight hours because conditions at night make work
impossible. True in the ancient world; but not anymore.

Jesus said, I am the light needed for working; work now while you can
because soon I won't be in this world anymore. There were 50 days
between Jesus' death and resurrection and the day of Pentecost. Was
this the darkness? Light fades gradually, as memories fade. Jesus
appeared several times to his disciples during those 50 days.
Otherwise those were dark days because the world had crucified/
extinguished its light.

The world doesn't seem so dark to me today. But I do acknowledge
there are a lot of dark pockets. There is also a lot of beautiful light.
The Holy Spirit is Jesus in the present tense. This Spirit of God is
the light needed for us today.


November 15, 1983
Why all this mess (mud and spit) when Jesus could simply have
touched the man's eyes and said, "Be healed." Jesus was preparing
a healing solution. It would seem that the healing power was in the
solution rather than coming solely from God. Why did Jesus chose
to do it this way?

Go and wash. . . The man had to do something; he had to participate in
his own healing. He had to obey Jesus. It wasn't faith, but obedience to
the voice of Jesus, that restored his sight. Bonhoeffer would say those
who are obedient, have faith.

There was a blind man named Bartimaeus in Luke 18:35-43. Jesus
healed him simply by saying, "You can see again," and added, "your
faith has cured you." And Bonhoeffer would say those who have faith,
are obedient.

There are times when we need more than the voice of Jesus. We
need to feel the healing solution and experience washing the clay from
our eyes in order to believe that something is really happening to us.
Simply hearing it doesn't do it, we must act and participate. We must
have a story to tell, some details to relate as to how it happened.


November 16, 1983
Jesus sent the blind man went off and he washed and was healed. It
seems clear, no mistake about it, or questions or doubts as to what
occurred or what was said.
Very clear, simple--is the clarity in the telling
of the story or was it really this clear and simple while it was happening?

Siloam means "sent". How beautiful to be sent by Jesus, but in reality
it's not that simple. Trouble tags along! 
We want to be sent but there's
seldom smooth sailing. Jesus said, "Go and wash." He didn't tell the
man what to do after that.

I was thinking about this blind man during the night. Obedience was
key to his healing. Going and doing exactly what Jesus told him to do.
Why did he have to do all this! Why Siloam and not some other place!
Did anyone go with him? What were his expectations? Who rejoiced
with him when he could see? Did anybody really care?

His sight was restored. There's no mention of his feelings or the
excitement of being able to see for the first time in his long life. This
story is not so much about this nameless man per se. It's about
a much larger subject.


November 19, 1983
The neighbors--those who watch but claim no responsibility. They
weren't sure he was the same person. No wonder--how could a blind
man see? No one wants to be deceived and to believe one must run
the risk of being deceived.


November 21, 1983
Some were wiling to believe the impossible. Others would not be
fooled, and if you can't be fooled you can't believe!  We identify people
by the way they carry themselves, and what/how they do things. Their
gestures and expressions. All this probably changed because now he
could see. Naturally he was hard to recognize. Being able to see
made all the difference in the world. Now he could walk with confidence
and in newfound excitement and joy. What a contrast to sitting and
begging. He didn't have to sit anymore because he could see to walk.
Of course he looked different.

Everything was always so dramatic when Jesus touched someone,
and it's hard for me to relate to that. It sounds beautiful, exciting, electric,
to be so changed that his neighbors didn't recognize him!  I never
experienced anything like that.


November 24, 1983
Were people going to listen to a man who had been a poor beggar, an
eyesore and embarrassment to his neighbors. He was going to have
a difficult time explaining but he had some facts to relate that made
sense to him. Isn't it an awful feeling when you know something to be
true and others don't believe it! "Hey man, I'm the one--believe me.
This is what happened to me. I know, I was there."

What does actually convince people to believe? Not so much words
as actions. He would win his neighbor's over in time, if he can maintain
his own confidence in the face of their unbelief. Those who are inclined
not to believe, miss the joy and celebration of the miraculous event.

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