Scripture: John 9: 1-17
Key verses: (1-2) As he walked 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?”
Reflection: I loved this healing story from the first time I read it. I can just picture the scene. Jesus comes across a blind man. He spits into his hand, mixes it with a little dirt and slathers it right on the blind man’s eyes. How cool is that?!
I totally missed the question from the disciples. Who sinned? Really?!! That is your question? I guess we still do it today, when in a crisis we ask “why GOD?” Jesus hears the question, as I believe God does today, then reframes the situation from a new angle. Jesus didn’t pick either of their answers in fact he refuses to accept the false dilemma presented by his disciples. Jesus offers a third way. Jesus speaks of liberation and new life.
Nancy Eiesland, Associate Professor of Sociology of Religion at Emory University in Atlanta, is one of a number of theologians that have spent a lot of time in recent years studying this text and working on what is called a “liberation theology of disability.” Eiesland has written:
Growing up with a disability, I could not accept the traditional interpretations of disability that I heard in prayers, in Sunday school, and in sermons. “You are special in God’s eyes,” I was often told, “that’s why you were given this painful disability.” Or, “Don’t worry about your suffering now—in heaven you will be made whole.” This confused me. My disability had taught me who I am and who God is.
Eiesland encourages us to listen to those with disabilities, instead of others speaking for them or about them. In our scripture, Jesus shifts from listening to the disciples talk about this blind man to inviting him to speak. The man says, “One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” Liberation and new life. Thanks be to God that Jesus still comes to those in need to grant sight, faith, and life to all those who ask.
Prayer: God of resurrection power, break through the locked doors of our hearts and free us to love. Break through the walls of our fears that we might step out in faith. Liberate us from our doubts and confusion so that we might know your presence more fully in our lives and in this world. In the name of the risen Christ we pray. Amen.
Author: Michelle Thomas-Bush
[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].