Breaking out, giving sight
John 9.1-41 (NRSV)
We get what we deserve – really? Do you actually think that’s
true? I mean that if a person is poor or sick or even depressed it’s
because of something they or their parents (or ancestors) did what was
wrong? – or the converse; that wealth, good health and good looks are
deserved – a reward that only the right people should and do get? It does raise the question then, in what way are God’s people favoured?
What does Jesus say? your Father in heaven…makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. Matthew 5.45 …so then the drought affecting various parts of the country, has nothing to do with any one person’s sin, otherwise we could expect to see pockets of rain falling on the properties of those God has embraced in grace. We’d also expect that no-one here has experienced a day’s ill health, since, in Christ, we are free of sin and it’s accusation. But it’s not like that is it?
The burning question Has the man found congenitally blind offended God to that extent? Have his parents? The answer is neither can be blamed for this calamity – thus, even more importantly, neither can God be blamed. This is the state of the world to which everybody is subject. So that by the accident of flawed genetic material, one of us is born to struggle with cerebral palsy, other with dyslexia, yet others to endure and sometimes overcome the ravages of cancer, and others the black dog of depression. It is absolutely not a matter of how have those people, or their loved-ones offended God’s law – it is a case of no-one is to blame and we are all to blame.
We have work to do As He comes to the point of liberating this blind man from his lifetime of darkness, Jesus calls us all to join Him with two very important. We and must; Jesus’ call to do God’s work in bringing the light is for all who would follow Him, and it is a “must”, an imperative – we have to do this, each of us. So we are each required to give time, energy and resources to doing God’s work in this way for as long as we draw breath, that is while it’s still day. Jesus uses the threat of our own mortality (the coming of the dark) to give urgency to the task. I believe that this is Jesus describing the primary task not only of each individual, but also of the church. As individuals and as communities of faith we have a limited time in which to discover the joy of doing the works of God to the fullest of our ability and attention.
Bringing the light Saliva was commonly believed to alleviate blindness in Jesus’ day – and yet by using clay He was recreating the blind man’s eyes, just as He had created the first eyes on the sixth day of Creation – in so doing He makes non-functioning, blind eyes into new, wide-open, seeing eyes. In this case the clay and saliva is singularly effective – the change affects more than the man’s sight, because the change in him as a person is so complete some are not sure it is the once blind man. He has been given the gift of a sight that transcends physical sight – he is now more confident, direct, happier – his healing is of the spirit as well as the body. We would say “someone” has turned on a light in his life. The Pharisees protest that it isn’t right though – Jesus is not qualified, he broke the rules about the Sabbath.
After a sad interlude involving his parents, the Pharisees again confront the man and try to get him to condemn the one who healed him (not that he knows who it was). However this newly sighted man turns their challenge back on them, repeating that this healer they want to condemn is the one who healed him, and in a humorous way reminds them how simple it all was. When they really put on the heat with insults, he says here’s a man with no apparent authority, an unworthy Sabbath breaker, who has achieved something no-one has ever done before, giving sight to a man born blind – declaring that only God could do this through this unnamed healer.. Finally the Pharisees can’t stand it and throw him out of the synagogue.
When Jesus catches up with the man, He refers to an even worse blindness – a blindness of the spirit that refuses to see when the light has come among them. This wonder is the sign that Jesus is indeed the Light that leads people into the light, and enables them to be the light.
So here’s the Good News In Jesus God heals every kind of blindness, steering us away from the darkness of our addictions and self-destructive habits, away from the swirling shadows of the lies that we’re worthless, impotent (without power), filthy, unacceptable, still lost – in HIs glorious act of healing Jesus is bringing us ever close to the Light, to Himself that we can see and live confidently in the truth – able and willing to confront the lies about ourselves, about God, about His call on our lives and even about those to whom he has sent us in His loving grace and power. We will find that the light that’s growing in us is God’s instrument in destroying the dark oppression under which so many around us are captured and held.
Go to Jesus the Light, receive the Light of salvation (renewed daily), live in the light of his Presence and let Him shine through your words and deeds [Matthew 5.16]. Jesus has made you the light of the world. [Matthew 5.14-16]