Today we dive into John 9 in #Beloved #LentChallenge.
The ninth chapter of John explores the issue of physical and spiritual blindness in the most beautiful and profound way.
Jesus sees a man who has been blind from birth, a man who was born different, with a disability, and marginalized because of it.
One can only imagine the disappointment and difficulties, the rejection and anger that he felt growing up.
The challenges he faced physically were only made worse by the cultural and religious beliefs of the day.
It was widely accepted that for a person born with a disability of any kind, either the person or their parents had sin in their lives. Can you imagine the guilt, the shame that placed on every family whose child wasn’t born perfectly healthy?
It’s cruel. Yet this belief is so ingrained in the culture that even the disciples believe it. Looking at the blind man, they ask Jesus, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?”
Can you imagine the look of shock and dismay on their faces when Jesus answers, “Neither! No one sinned. The man was born blind so that the works of God might be displayed in his life.”
Jesus makes one of his famous “I AM” statements: I am the light of the world.
Jesus spits on the ground, creates clay with the moist dirt, and applies it to the blind man’s eyes
and tells him to wash in the pool of Siloam. Something is demanded of him, a theme we’ll see reappear throughout the Gospel of John. He must go to a specific place and perform a specific action.
When he does, his eyes are opened. His vision isn’t restored, remember, he’s born blind.
This is the first time he’s experienced visual beauty. Can you imagine the moment?
The beauty of the God’s creation. The wonder of looking on a human face for the first time.. Brilliant colors flood his eyes. Sights ignite his imagination
I imagine him wide-eyed, 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 blind guy who was a beggar. And someone else says, “No way that’s him.” Another person pipes up, “It only looks like him!”
The man announces, “It’s me! It’s me!”
Instead of responding to this beautiful moment that someone in their community has been healed with celebration and joy, they begin interrogating him.
They take him to the Pharisees, the religious leaders of the day, and pick apart his story.
This raises the question of who in this story has the glaring blind spot.
Who is not seeing clearly? Who can’t recognize the beautiful work of God?
What do I most need to read but least want to hear?
The whole story raises the question of 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. I don’t want to see, because if I see, if I truly see than it’s going to shift how I see God, others, and even myself. Yet in the process I rob myself o the beautiful work God wants to do.
The blind man can’t see clearly. First, because he’s blind. Second, because once his eyes are opened he’s not quite sure what’s going on.
And in our own lives, we too must realize that we don’t see clearly. We have blind spots.
Sometimes are vision is distorted by culture or religious upbringing than we ever realize. Sometimes we don’t recognize that the beliefs of those in our own community are askew. Sometimes we forget that even if we score perfectly in bible trivia test that doesn’t mean our vision is 20/20.
Like the blind man in the story we are utterly dependent on the person of 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.
Where are your blind spots?
Where are the areas where you don’t see clearly?
Or rather are there areas where someone has tried to expose a blind spot in your life and you’ve refused to listen?
What did you least want to read but most need to hear in today’s reading?
(If you have any questions post them below. We’ll be collecting and gathering responses for insight from New Testament scholar, Craig Blomberg in the upcoming weeks).
Day 18: John 9 Discussion Questions:
- In what ways is the healing of the blind man a fulfillment of Jesus’ claim to be the light of the world?
- Read Psalm 146:8. How is this true for you spiritually? Relationally? Emotionally?
- What would you like God to reveal to you or help you see more clearly in your life right now? Write out your answer as a prayer.
- Using the Color Method, what stood out to you most from today’s reading?
- What do you find most challenging about today’s reading? What do you find most comforting about today’s reading?
- Open the Eyes of My Heart by Michael W. Smith
- The Organic God by Margaret Feinberg
- John by N.T. Wright