Jesus sent a man who was blind from birth to the Pool of Siloam and he came up out of the cleansing bath with his eyesight restored. We have been talking about it ever since.
When we tell the story, we usually focus on what the newly-sighted man saw in Jesus. What we don’t usually talk about is what Jesus saw in him.
We learn to see ourselves through Jesus lens
As John tells the story, it is obvious that John admires the formerly-blind man very much. His telling gives me the idea that Jesus must have spoken about him fondly, too. Maybe the former blind man even became one of the disciples who travelled with Jesus, and John was telling his friend’s story. Someday in eternity maybe I’ll find out about all these details.
Jesus saw something in that man who later on saw something in Jesus. I wonder what he sees in you.
As I was saying last night, as the first day of the blind man’s sight wore on, his insight and boldness grew deeper and more impressive. The Pharisees were sure Jesus had done something evil to open his eyes, especially since the Lord violated Sabbath rules to do it. But the former blind man did not bend under their pressure to take their interpretation of his reality. Instead, he learned how to see and speak stronger and clearer. The man’s replies to his abusers became so profound they bear quoting:
Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”
He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?”
Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.”
The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will. Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”
To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out (John 9:26-34).
I have no way of knowing this for sure, but I still think that Jesus discerned what kind of sight he was going to give this blind man when he first saw him at the side of the road. We are so astounded by the tangible miracle of a man receiving his sight and so interested by Jesus spitting into the clay earth and making mud (reflecting how God made humans out of dust), that we miss the miracle of what new physical sight unleashes in this man’s heart and mouth.
On his first day of sight his parents don’t get too involved, the leaders of the synagogue attack him, and they finally throw him out of the synagogue for not denouncing Jesus. It is a big change from making a living as an invisible beggar! Through it all, the man just keeps gaining more faith and voicing it – and this is even before he meets Jesus face to face. When Jesus comes and finds him, the man sees what is in Jesus and worships him. Jesus saw something in the man and the man saw something in Jesus and life was never the same again. I think Jesus knew this was a man whose eyesight would lead to heartsight. I think he noticed a person who would hold on to the truth in the face of upheaval and opposition. I think Jesus expected him to connect with him, as the man did.
What’s your story?
The man just kept telling his story all day, and I feel like telling it too. But what I really want to get to is your story. What do you think God saw in you when you two ran into one another? Maybe you were actually sitting on some curb somewhere. Maybe you were not even looking for a Savior and were quite acclimated to your condition. What did he call out in you? What is he still calling out? Someone, maybe even one or two of your own inner voices, is probably telling you, “You’re sinful. Shut up or get out!” But what did Jesus see in you in spite of all those voices?
When we were telling our stories at the Love Feast last Saturday, I had to think, “And what did God see in us?” Not too long ago we were a semi-disabled, little group of people sitting by the side of the road. Jesus decided to stand us up, enable us and send us. I don’t think we imagined what would become of us: nearly sixty cells, four congregations, creative compassion teams, including our thrift stores and counseling center, so much community, sharing and vision! But I think Jesus saw the possibilities. We have some traits just like the blind man he restored. Here are three:
1) We can tell stories. We do it in our meetings, face to face in our cells, through music, through acts of compassion, through writing and all the virtual processes. One of our friends was saying last week, “When I first visited you guys, I knew I needed to move here and be a part of what God is doing.” He got it.
2) We don’t give in to the irrational demands of the powers that be, either. Like the man said to the religious leaders, we say things like, “So you think that is true?” or “You think that will work?” Right now a bunch of us are on the street trying to get the powers to think straight about public education. Shalom House cancelled their potluck tonight so they can get engaged with drones! God’s miracles get discounted every day and we deal with that. We are not easy to divert from our radical ways.
3) And we are also still asking whether someone wants to be one of Jesus’ disciples, even though people seem to think evangelism is illegal! The former blind man certainly knew what he was doing when he asked the furious leaders if they also wanted to be one of Jesus’ disciples. But he did it. Why not? He was not really looking for a whole new life when he met Jesus, either. But he was glad he met him, anyway! There are no doubt a lot of other blind people hoping to see.