Scripture: John 9:18-41
Key verse: (40) “Surely we are not blind, are we?”
Reflection: In seminary I worked as a youth intern at Timberridge Presbyterian Church outside of McDonough, GA. This was back when portable video cameras were first coming on the scene. The youth in that church loved making movies. They had their own version of “Forrest Gump”, a montage of “Monty Python” like skits, and a great murder mystery that was a cross between that old show, “Colombo,” and the board game “Clue.” As their youth pastor I decided to tap into their creative energy by turning our weekly Bible study into a movie-making endeavor. We would take the text for the week and create a short film of it. The script was the text. How the story was told was the study. It was one of my favorite Bible studies in the history of my ministry. John 9 was one of their favorite stories. It’s one of mine too. Their short film of the passage made me laugh hysterically, and illumined a profound truth. Take a moment this morning and read the whole story from 9:1-41. If it doesn’t cause you to chuckle, then you might be missing it. And if you’re not challenged at the end, read it again.
This story is all about who sees and who does not. In classic gospel style, Jesus reverses the categories of the world. The disciples, those who supposedly know Jesus better than any, cannot see the man. They can only see sin, wondering who is at fault that this man was born blind. The neighbors cannot see the man who has lived in their midst his entire life—because he doesn’t fit their definition of him any longer. The religious leaders cannot see the healing as the miracle it is; they can only see the sin of violating Sabbath law. Even his parents fail to see, leaving him isolated in his defense. Not one person in the story celebrates the miracle of his healing. They cannot see beyond the walls of their carefully constructed world. They are so afraid of this man who does not fit their categories, that they drive him out of their town.
On the other hand, the man born blind seems to be the only one who truly sees. Not only does he see in a biological sense, he sees the hypocrisy of the religious leaders. He sees their fear underlying their anger. And he sees Jesus for who he truly is — Lord.
Throughout Lent we’ve been talking a lot about seeing. Millie challenged us to see those on the side of the road, or hiding in the trees. Other sermons have called us to see Lazarus laying at our gates; to see the Lord who seeks the lost; to see the Samaritan who lives out love of neighbor, to see the woman who washes Jesus’ feet with her tears. Faith is all about how we see; how we see the world, how we see our neighbors, how we see ourselves.
What blinds us? Fear of what we don’t understand? Fear of losing hold of the world as we know it? Fear that someone might see our own sin and shortcomings? What would it mean to let Jesus heal us, so that we might see?
Prayer: Open my eyes that I might see. Lord, I believe…help thou my unbelief. Amen.
Author: Joe Clifford
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].