Daily Readings in John – Day Thirty-One
November 9, 2017
John 9:13-34 (NRSV)
13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 14 Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15 Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.” 16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not observe the sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And they were divided. 17 So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” He said, “He is a prophet.”
18 The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight 19 and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” 20 His parents answered, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; 21 but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. 23 Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”
24 So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.” 25 He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” 26 They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 27 He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” 28 Then they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29 We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” 30 The man answered, “Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. 32 Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” 34 They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?” And they drove him out.
Have you ever missed something really important, even when it was sitting right under your nose? I have. Once, when I was a high school administrator, I expelled a kid for bringing a bag of weed to school. It was an open and shut case, possession of drugs in school with the intent to sell. I could have referred him to the police and given his age, he might have seen jail time. I didn’t notify the police. I thought I was merciful.
But looking back years later, I realized the family had a boatload of problems, some of which I knew about, or could have easily inferred. I knew some of the kid’s story too and knew enough to know that he wasn’t malicious, he was needy. But I didn’t know how to help, didn’t have a lot of resources. I know I was scared by the politics of the situation – I would have been crucified (well, not really – bad choice of metaphor for a Jesus blog, I suppose) had I not done the “tough on crime” thing. I also was stressed out in life for my own reasons and didn’t spend a moment of time that year trying to find creative solutions for this guy’s life. Maybe I could have, maybe I couldn’t. But I didn’t try. And that’s one of my regrets of my career in education.
It’s easy to judge the Pharisees in the gospel accounts. I mean, everyone here is not seeing what is right in front of their eyes.
Except the blind/formerly-blind man. He seems exasperated trying to deal with his inquisitors. “I was blind, now I see.” Isn’t this of interest to you?!?
Nope. His parents are afraid of the politics. The religious authorities are offended that Jesus, by their standards, is a law breaker. That’s all they can see.
And if I’m honest, I’ve been like them too.
God have mercy on each of us, that we can see clearly what is most important in our lives and in our surroundings. Jesus have mercy to take away our blindness and help us see clearly, so we can be people of mercy as well.