Monday, May 24, 2010

May 24 - A Man Born Blind Receives His Sight

As Jesus walked along teaching the disciples they came upon a blind beggar who had been blind from the moment of his birth because of an incredible circumstance: he lacked eyes. As Jesus stopped to consider the blind man the disciples saw a great opportunity for education. They asked Jesus, "Teacher, whose sin robbed this man of his eyes? Was it his parents or was it the man himself before he was born?" It was a good question--the kind that might tell us something about the nature of sin and predestination but Jesus didn't answer it as they expected.

Jesus replied, "Neither is to blame. He was born blind so that God's glory might be revealed through him, today. We have work to do and we should do it while we still can--there is a time coming when other things will take precedence. But until that dark day I am the Light of the World." As the disciples pondered what he had just said and tried to reconstruct their crumbling thought systems, Jesus stooped down and spat onto the dirt at his feet. He picked up the mud created by his saliva and fashioned two mostly round figures that wouldn't have been mistaken for eyes but must have aroused suspicion when Jesus placed them on the space where the man's eyes should have been. Then, Jesus said to him, "Go to the pool of Siloam and wash your face."

The man went and did as Jesus was told and in the moment that the water flowed over his eyelids the mud was changed to human flesh and the man was suddenly able to see out of his new eyes. With the spittle from his lips, Jesus had brought creation to 1st century Israel. When they saw him, all who had once seen the blind beggar asked each other, "Isn't that the guy who used to sit and beg? You know, the one without eyes?" Those who had known him couldn't agree on whether or not it was truly him even though he insisted that he was the man they were talking about. Finally, they asked him with exasperation, "Fine, then, why do you have eyes? How can you see?"

The man shrugged and responded, "The man they call Jesus made mud, put it here," indicating his eyes, "and told me to go to Siloam to wash. When I did, I could see. I can't explain it but I know it happened." The crowd was amazed and desperate to know where Jesus was. The man responded, honestly, "I don't know. I've never seen him."

All of this attention attracted the Pharisees who came and began to question the now-seeing blind man. It was the Sabbath when Jesus made eyes for the man and so the Pharisees were upset when they heard the beggar's story. "Ah ha" they crowed, "this man cannot be doing this by God's power because he doesn't observe God's Sabbath." This didn't settle the matter, though, like the Pharisees hoped it would. Some insisted that it was ludicrous to think of this healer as a sinner if he could work what was clearly God's power in the world.

As they argued one with another, one of the members of the crowd finally asked the formerly blind beggar: "Well, you're the one with the new eyes. What do you say he is?"

"He's a prophet, " the man said, "he tells the truth."

Many still couldn't believe and suggested that this man was not the same man as the blind beggar. They went and took the man to his parents' house and decided that they could surely put an end to this madness. One of them asked the parents, "Is this man your son--the one who was born without eyes? How can this man who sees be your son?"

The parents replied, "Oh, it's definitely our son and he was definitely born without eyes but anybody can tell he sees now. We know neither how he sees now nor who did this miracle." Then, because they were afraid of what it would cost them to confess Jesus as good, they continued, "Ask him. He's old enough to answer your questions."

So, they asked him again and insisted, "Alright, you've had your fun but tell the truth. Jesus didn't do this, right? After all, we know that he's a sinner."

The man responded, "I can't tell you whether or not he's a sinner but I can tell you that I was blind and now I see." They asked him again how it was that Jesus had healed him and he became frustrated with their incessant questions. He snapped at them, "I've told you this already! Perhaps you just don't want to hear it." Then, coyly he continued, "Or is it that you want to become his disciples?"

This infuriated the Pharisees who spat back, "Oh, you're the one who is his disciple. We're the disciples of Moses--unlike you. Don't forget that we know God has spoken to Moses but nobody seems to know anything about this Jesus. We don't know by what power he works these signs."

The once-blind beggar responded, "Well, isn't that astonishing? You don't know how he does these miracles or where he comes from but he gave me eyes. You didn't. We know that God's power is demonstrated by God's people and that God listens to those who worship God and obey God's will. Something like this--giving eyes to a blind man--has never been done before. So, do the math: if this man wasn't doing God's work, then I wouldn't have eyes." In anger, the Pharisees picked up on that first strain of thought demonstrated by the disciples' question. They insisted that they wouldn't take instruction from a man who must have been born so deeply in sin that he had been born blind. They failed to appreciate what Jesus had said or the miracle that had happened in the man they quickly dismissed.

When Jesus heard that they had thrown the beggar out of town he went and found the man. He asked him, "Do you believe in the one who gave you sight?"

The man responded, "I'd like to but I need you to show me him."

Jesus said, "Use those new eyes of yours and look because it's me who did this thing." The man fell down to his knees and worshipped Jesus proclaiming his trust and faith in Jesus. There were some Pharisees nearby and so they heard him when he said, "I came into this world to turn things on their head and judge the hearts of men and women--believe me that those who cannot see will be made to see and those who can see will be blinded." The Pharisees scoffed at this and insisted that they surely weren't blind but Jesus overheard them and replied, "If you'd confess your blindness--that you don't get it--then you'd escape sin. Instead, you proclaim your sight and retain your sin."

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