The context of today’s message from John 9:1-41 involves Jesus healing a blind man in an unusual manner. What makes the episode one of the strangest in scripture is how Jesus accomplished the healing. Jesus spat on the ground and made a paste of saliva and dirt, creating some sort of divine mud. Jesus then rubbed the concoction into the blind man’s eyes. Once the blind man followed Jesus’ instruction to go wash in Jerusalem’s Pool of Siloam his sight was miraculously restored.
Just when you’d think that this wonderful feat would be praised, it all comes crashing down. The blind man was interrogated and criticized by the religious bureaucrats who refused to perceive the healing’s beauty and power. Rather than accept the healing as a blessing, the critics twisted it into opportunity for cynicism, legalism and skepticism. Undeterred, the healed man provided a simple, powerful defense by stating plainly what had happened. The critics attempted to coerce the healed man into denouncing Jesus. But when reminded about how only a righteous man could do God’s healing, the shamed critics spewed toxins and accused the healed man of being Jesus’ sinful stooge.
And that, my friends, is a great lesson about how some people are determined to twist God’s blessings. As has been the case throughout most of human history, centralized religious authority on earth is corrupted and itself tends to destroy what it controls. Jesus seemed to think this as well, as the powerful story of the healing rises up from scripture to warn us about those mired in official state religions. Jesus came to set us free from such yokes, and we must struggle against all who those who would subjugate us.
The greatest and most useful lesson about the healing story is that about Jesus, who came to restore spiritual sight to those walking in darkness. The once blind man had an even greater gift than physical sight because of his awakening. Sight was a wonderful gift, but the formerly blind man could now also embrace Jesus spiritually. The transformation of defective flesh is one thing, but the greater feat is a restored relationship with God.
Following the story’s example, we should also seek spiritual vision. We are blessed to have physical sight, but that is not the end of things for people of faith. We must be aware and awake, yearning for spiritual enlightenment and illumination. We must open our hearts and minds to God’s Spirit, and crave both the sight and insight that comes from the indwelling, divine Presence. My prayer is that we not only marvel at God’s wonders, but ourselves be the wonders that God is transforming. –Reverend Hoxey