Fourth Sunday in Lent | John 9 – The Man Born Blind
In the Gospels, blindness is almost never just blindness.
It is a physical symptom of a spiritual condition.
Blindness, like darkness, represents unbelief.
And that is true, even in this text.
But there is more to it than that.
After all, the Pharisees could see just fine, but we’ll talk about them later.
Blindness this morning also means reliance and need.
Being blind was not an easy life.
It usually meant begging for the present,
And your future was as uncertain as your next step.
So, as a blind person, what do you do?
What do you do when you meet a Jesus like this?
Unlike so many others who pass by you daily
This Man actually sees you.
It’s right there in verse one. Jesus sees you.
And not just that.
Jesus does not merely see you, but He knows you.
He knows your needs; He knows your afflictions;
He even sounds compassionate, and understanding;
Until He spits on the ground, and rubs mud in your eyes.
Not like the mud in our parking lot;
More like the mud at the state fair,
The one that the cows and horses walk on.
Yes, you overheard that God’s works would be displayed in you.
But people have been saying that for years, and it never sounded like good news.
They only wondered whether He was punishing you for your sin or your parents’.
You’ve heard that before.
As a blind man, you were used to being insulted.
But this is the first time someone has gone out of the way to rub mud in your eye.
He didn’t tell you why, exactly.
He didn’t ask your permission
In fact, He doesn’t even address you, until He abruptly tells you to go wash up.
No explanation. No apology. Just, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam.”
What’s most amazing is that this blind man does it.
He has no reason to trust Jesus.
He doesn’t even have a good reason to like Him.
Jesus just rubbed mud in his eye;
Something that was neither polite nor hygienic, even by first century standards.
But he obeys.
Though He is blind. Though finding His way to the pool may be difficult, He obeys.
And not only that, but he considers himself to be disciple number 13.
It’s tucked in there in the verses that the lectionary skips over:
When the Pharisees interrogated him about his healing for a second time, he said,
“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? And they revile him saying, ‘You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses.’”
One thing bears some clarification:
At that precise moment, this man is not a believer.
He does not know Jesus to be the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God, or his Savior.
Unlike so many other healings in Scripture, his faith did not make him well.
This is a hard word for us.
Not that Jesus would heal a man who didn’t believe in Him yet.
After all, Jesus even raises dead folks without permission.
More than that, we know from Scripture, we express in the creed, and confess in the Catechism,
That God provides for His creation, and gives gifts even to wicked people.
So healing is simply part of what God does.
The hard word for us is that this man,
Blind, poor, and likely insulted,
Is more obedient to Jesus than we are.
We’ve not only had our eyes opened to see Jesus,
But we’ve had our Ears opened to hear Him.
We’ve had our mouth’s opened to confess Him to others.
God has worked faith in us by His Holy Spirit.
In waters better than the pool of Siloam,
He has made us His disciples, and yet still has to ask:
“Why do you call me “Lord, Lord” but not do what I say?”
Why is our obedience less than that of this man?
It is because we can see.
Like the Pharisees, whose physical vision is quite clear,
We are an independent people.
We don’t need others to see where we’re gong or what we’re doing.
We can find our own way.
We can decide where we will look, and where we will go.
If the Father wants to show us His Son in a manger, well and good.
Everyone loves Christmas.
But if He wants us to behold Him on the cross, we have other ideas.
That is why so many churches justify celebrating Easter without Good Friday.
If Jesus wants us to go wash, it will have to work with our schedule.
If Jesus expects us to pray and to fast and live in mercy,
We will do it our own way, and on our own terms, if we will have it at all.
When we try to have it our own way, the way we see and choose,
Jesus calls that blindness.
So what do you do when Jesus says that for all you see, you have vision problems?
The Pharisees would have crucified Him; something they ended up doing anyways.
They don’t want His kind of help.
There’s nothing pretty about mud in your eye, even when Jesus puts it there.
That just about sums up Lent.
But not completely.
This man may not have the whole picture yet.
He admits there are some things he does not yet understand.
But He is a disciple; He is learning.
He is obeying.
He is using his freshly repaired eyes not only to look, but also to see.
This has earned him a one-way ticket out of the Pharisees’ community,
And a warm welcome into Jesus’ community.
Jesus’ community is one where the pains of this world:
Blindness, deafness, and death;
Are an opportunity to bring sight, hearing, and resurrection.
And all of that,
For those who see, hear, and live,
Means a fresh start; and a chance to live in the image of the Divine.
Not because you saw Jesus.
But because He saw you, and would not ignore you.
Rather, He used your brokenness to show God’s mercy and love,
By taking it to His cross, and leaving it in His empty tomb.
There’s still a lot of Lent left.
We will not rush to Easter.
Rather, as Jesus’ very own disciples,
We will watch Him, wherever He goes, even to the cross.
We will listen to Him, whatever He says, even if we do not understand Him yet.
We will watch and pray.
And then, at the Great Vigil of Easter, we will sing with all the other disciples;
The man was born blind, and Nicodemus,
Mary Magdalene, and all the rest.
They’ll be there, too.
You will see.