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. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
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.
His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” Some claimed that he was.
Others said, “No, he only looks like him.”
But he himself insisted, “I am the man.”
“How then were your eyes opened?” they asked.
Blindness was a much bigger problem in Jesus’ time than it is today. Poor living conditions, lack of sanitation and masses of venomous insects made it a common illness which usually resulted in people becoming beggars. Of all the healing miracles there are three of blind people having their sight restored that stand out. The man of Bethsaida who when first touched by Jesus saw people looking like trees and then on the second touch saw them as people. Bartimaus was a blind beggar in Jericho, when Jesus healed him he became one of his followers on the way. Here, in this third story, we meet a man blind from birth.
The Jews believed that such a condition was a judgement on sin but Jesus dispels this idea.
The restoration of the man’s sight is then seen as a pointer to Jesus being ‘the Light of the World’ and beyond that of how we need to have our spiritual eyes opened.
As one born and brought up in the city of Bradford I, like most of my peers, was blinded by racism. This rejection of ‘the other’ may have been in my DNA, in my ‘nature’. It was certainly in my ‘nurture’. There were just so many voices, opinions, ignorant views and terms of abuse in common use to re-inforce and bolster this spiritual blindness that it was almost unavoidable. It took Jesus years and years to open my racist eyes, to gradually bathe away the prejudice and enable me to see.
Spiritual blindness can be found in lots of ‘isms’. None more so than atheism; atheists are people who do not believe in the existence of God. I have met quite a few atheists over the years. Occasionally, though quite rarely, I meet one who has carefully thought through the issues of belief, faith and God and have decided that they just cannot accept. In most cases, however, it seems like they have simply closed their eyes to the possibilities and made their minds up. Christians are often accused of taking a blind leap of belief. The American novelist John Updike spoke of the ‘blind leap of unbelief’ being much wider. Atheism can be a prejudice, a blind faith. When Boris Pasternack, the author of Doctor Zhivago, was asked by his atheist friends why he had stopped attending their meetings he replied that he had ‘lost his faith’. He had opened his eyes and discovered God.
The eye that doesn’t see,
The mind that cannot open,
The truth that is hidden,
And the beauty obscured.
The voice that is not heard,
The music unloved,
And the life unlived.
How we need Jesus
To open our eyes.
In each of the three big ‘healing of the blind man’ stories that I mentioned earlier, there is a very strong sense of Jesus standing right in front of the blind man, focusing on him as an individual and reaching out to his blindness. As you read this he is looking into your face and eyes and reaching out to touch you.
So today’s question is simple, ‘Where is your blind spot?’
There are things I just cannot see.
Words I cannot hear.
I am blind and deaf,
In ways I cannot grasp.
Reach out and touch me,
And give me a true vision.