Jesus sees a man who has been blind from birth. The challenges this man faced physically were only made worse by the cultural and religious beliefs of the day.
During this time, most believed a person born with a disability of any kind meant that either the person or their parents had sin in their lives. Can you imagine living with this stigma? Despite this, Jesus decides to give the blind man sight.
I picture the former-blind man gaping, taking in all the sights and scenes, when the neighbors begin to realize they can’t walk by unnoticed any more. He sees them. An argument breaks out. One person says, “That’s the blind guy who was a beggar.” Someone else rebuttals, “No way that’s him.” Another pipes up, “He’s only a look-a-like.”
The man announces, “It’s me! It’s me!”
Instead of responding to this beautiful moment with celebration and joy, they begin interrogating him. They take him to the religious leaders and pick apart his story, raising the question of who in this story is truly blind? Who is not seeing clearly? Who doesn’t recognize the beautiful work of God?
If the blind man is healed, then this means blindness isn’t a result of sin. One act challenges everything the religious leaders and community believed. The miracle exposed a glaring cultural and religious blind spot.
Yet rather than acknowledge the beautiful phenomenon or the unusual circumstances or the unforgettable man who healed, they close their eyes, and shove the man who can now truly see away.
The whole story asks how often God wants to expose a blind spot in my life, and I respond like the religious leaders. I close my eyes and turn away. That in truth I don’t want to see, because if I honestly see how I see God, others, and even myself may shift. Yet in the process I rob myself of the beautiful work God wants to do.
I also rob myself of seeing beauty in other’s lives. By insisting the man sinned and refusing to see the miracle, the religious leaders and those in the community missed out on a wonderful opportunity to celebrate a great victory. This miracle could’ve built a stronger bond within their community. Instead, parents are pitted against children; friends against neighbor; the blind man banished-the community torn apart.
Like the blind man in the story we are utterly dependent on Jesus Christ to open our eyes. To expose our blind spots. To allow us to see clearly. To cleanse us from our sins. To perform a beautiful work in our lives.
I cannot help but ask myself, when Christ does open my eyes, will I embrace the beautiful work done in myself and others or will I squeeze my eyes shut again? What would happen if we were to continue keeping our eyes open? Will we dance in victory? Will our communities be strengthened? What other beauties are waiting to be seen?
Anyone interested in diving into John’s Gospel with me may enjoy Pursuing God’s Beauty: Stories from the Gospel of John. To purchase, click here.
**Photo courtesy of here