- As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. (John 9:1-3)
After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing. (John 9:6-7)
We just heard about the blind man who suddenly found that he could see.
Everyone close your eyes very tightly – so tightly that you can see little sparks. Do you think you can’t see? Does the world seem a little different. Well, the blind man could not even see those little sparks we can see when we close our eyes very tightly. All he could ‘see’ was black.
But although the man born blind could not see with his eyes, he ‘saw’ with something much more powerful. . . through the eyes of faith.
When the disciples saw a man, afflicted with blindness from birth, their first thought is about sin. Did HE commit a sin or did his parent do something so horrible that he would be punished with blindness for the rest of his life? They see a man who has never seen a flower, a sunrise, the sea, his parents, or the place he called home – and they start wondering what he did wrong.
But Jesus doesn’t look at him as a sinner, he sees someone to lift up. So he reached down into the dirt of the ground, spit into his own hand, and slathered a paste onto the man’s eyes. He touched him. He got down in the dirt. He heals him. He lifts him up.
Because that’s what Jesus does.
Now, I know that this story of giving sight to the blind, like all the stories of Jesus giving sight to the blind, is about God giving spiritual sight to all of us who are spiritually blind. It’s about God showing all of us the way with new eyes, and a fresh look into the Universe that He made.
But, that also means that Jesus comes to us. And digs in the dirt. And spits in his hand. And slathers us with paste. So that our new eyes may behold the Light of the World.
I can’t help thinking of God digging in the dust of the ground in Eden, and giving us his breathe that we might live. God lifted us out of the earth in the beginning, and Jesus is still in the business of lifting us up. And opening our eyes. And bringing us Life.
There are a lot of broken lives out there that need picked up. Whole countries of lives, in fact. Japan. Libya. Sudan. The Middle East. Egypt. Yemen. Syria. Those UN workers who died in Afghanistan because that pastor in Florida burned the Qur’an.
Let’s not look on people like they’re pitiful sinners. Let’s reach out – into the dirt. Let’s dirty our hands. And let’s bring the Life that Jesus brings.
Let us pray:
God, who surrounds us with miracles, open our eyes to your presence in our lives. Help us to trust, not solely in our senses, but in our hearts. Teach us to reach out to one another in compassion and love, setting aside pity and fear. Remind us that our flaws and weaknesses as human beings are the very places where you so often touch our lives with grace. Teach us not to blame one another for sadness or illness or calamity but rather, to love one another in every circumstance. Where our vision is impaired, help us to see clearly, to perceive faithfully, to understand deeply. Grant us eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to love. Amen.
Delivered at In The Garden, Trinity Episcopal Church, Columbus OH, 3 April 2011