Q: Did this man sin or his parents that caused his blindness? A: Neither.
Phwew…that would have been uncomfortable. Then Jesus says that the man was born blind and has had a terrible life of blindness so that the works of God might be displayed in him. And now I am really uncomfortable. Jesus makes it sound like God made somebody blind for their entire life for God’s benefit. I don’t think that’s really what Jesus means, but his statement is at least troubling. Personally, I think he’s refuting the idea that all illness is tied to sin (in contrast with John 5) and stating that instead of having evil in him (as many assumed at that time), he will have God working in him.
So Jesus spits on the ground, makes a mud pie, and sticks it on the guy’s blind eyes. Wait…what? Did Jesus need the spit, the dirt, the combination, or was this for the guy’s benefit (as in “You’ll know you’ve washed enough to get all the blindness off when there’s no more mud)? Okay…ready for my opinion? In John’s Gospel, when Jesus heals on the Sabbath he always does something or commands the healed person to do something that the Pharisees will consider “work.” In this case, it’s making mud pies for the eyes. Earlier it was picking up a mat. Either way, it’s picking a fight with the Pharisees. Again…this is my opinion. But if it is what Jesus is going for…well it works. And now for the awesome conversations:
- Isn’t that the blind beggar?
- No, that isn’t him.
- How can you tell?
- Because he isn’t blind.
- Hey, you over there with the seeing-eyes. Are you the blind guy?
- I am…I mean I was…er…yes.
- Then why are you seeing?
- Jesus put some mud on my eyes and I washed it off and now I can see.
- Where did Jesus go?
- I don’t know.
- Hey blind guy, how can you see?
- He put mud on my eyes. I washed. Now I see.
- Whoever did this cannot be from God. He breaks the Sabbath. How can a Sabbath-breaking sinner perform signs like this?
- Hey blind man, what do you think? It was your eyes he opened.
- He is a prophet.
- You weren’t blind. This guy is faking. Somebody go find this guy’s parents.
- Hey parents, is this your son? Is this your blind son who was born blind? How can he see?
- Well first, he is our son. We know that. Secondly, he was born blind. We are quite sure of that. But we don’t know how he can see or who did it. Please don’t kick us out of synagogue. You should ask him. He is a grown man after all.
- Hey blind man, come back over here. Hey, seriously…tell us the truth. We already know this guy is a sinner. What did he do? How can you see?
- I already told you and you didn’t listen. Why do you want to hear again? So you can become his disciples?
- (Pharisees’ heads explode in anger/insults follow) We aren’t his disciple…you are his disciple. We follow Moses. We don’t even know where this guy is from!
- You’re kidding. I mean…you are kidding, right? He healed my blindness. God listens to him and God doesn’t listen to sinners. Only people from God can do things like healing a man born blind. Therefore…
- You were such a sinner at birth you were born blind…what do you know? Get out of here!
- Heard you got thrown out. Do you believe in the Son of Man?
- Who is he? If you tell me I will believe.
- You’ve SEEN him; in fact, it’s me.
- Lord, I believe.
- I have come to judge people. The blind will see and those who see will become blind.
- (Pharisees nearby) Hey, are you calling us blind?
- If you were blind, there would be an excuse for the way you are. But you say you can see, so what could be your excuse? You must be held responsible.
This is one of my favorite chapters in the Gospel of John. It is so clear who is in control. It is so clear who cares about people. It is so clear how foolish those who are opposed to Jesus really are.