In our current environment, it is far too common to hear complaining about issues in the world. We seek to assign blame to politicians, or people’s choices. However, our blame game is nothing more than being blind to the mission of the Gospel in our world. Jesus calls us to have compassion, address the issue first, then seek to make a lasting change. The world has enough people complaining about problems without helping resolve them.
Without compassion and comprehension of a problem, we get trapped in repetitive cycles, unable to break free from our preconceptions. We continue to do the same things repeatedly, hoping for a different outcome. Our past experiences often hinder our ability to recognize God’s plans for our future, and the fear of reprisal from those in power can prevent us from speaking up, and we too often shift blame. Jesus orients us to an understanding that we are repeatedly blinded to the truth, but once we approach Him, our eyes are opened, enabling us to see clearly finally.
Turning to John 9, we see how Jesus treats a man’s blindness and then speaks to the Pharisees’ blindness in their response to witnessing this grace-filled act.
As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6 Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud 7 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing. 8 The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar were saying, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some said, “It is he.” Others said, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” 10 So they said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 11 He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed and received my sight.” 12 They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.” 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 So the Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, “He put mud on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” 16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them. 17 So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes?” 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 how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” 22 (His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to 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 said to him, “Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner.” 25 He answered, “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. 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 And 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, “Why, this is an amazing 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 if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. 32 Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” 34 They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out. 35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” 38 He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. 39 Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Jn 9:1–41.
When Jesus’ disciples first saw the blind man, their first instinct was to try and determine who was responsible for the man’s blindness. This showed their blindness to Jesus’ purpose in the world. We often blame sin for the afflictions we find in others but remain blind to our own sin when afflicted. The trials faced by many in the world, while a result of sin, cannot be pinpointed to a specific sin but the problem of all sin in general. The danger of casting blame indiscriminately is that it prevents us from considering solutions that do not align with our preconceived notions and further confines us to darkness as we fail to recognize the positive in alternative views. To solve problems, we must first confess to our blindness and our sin and approach with humility.
Jesus’ solution for the recovery of sight was unconventional. Making mud, applying it to the man’s eyes on the Sabbath. He got in the dirt, literally and figuratively challenging the perception of the religious elite. When the problem was solved, the Pharisees did not rejoice. Rather, they looked at the man with questions and rejection. The solution was improper in their eyes because it was done at the wrong time. Sometimes we can question solutions because we should raise a flag if it solves one problem by creating three more problems. However, if the problem is solved, we should rejoice that the problem is gone. Solving problems is hard and often takes sacrifice, hard work, getting uncomfortable, and sometimes literally getting dirty. We need to rejoice that Jesus trusts the church with this work. Dirty work transforms our community and builds trust in the church’s commitment.
The Pharisees responded to the man’s recovered sight with cynicism and mistrust. This reaction put the man and his family on the defensive for accepting such a blessing. When questioned by the man for their inquisitiveness, they rejected and expelled the healed man. When approached by Jesus again after his rejection by the Pharisees, the man saw Jesus for who he was, the Son of God and the redeemer of the world. Jesus gave him sight, and with that sight, he proclaimed Christ. Our community will often look at our actions and may even be skeptical of our intentions; however, if we are consistent, truthful, and humble, they will see the work of the Holy Spirit in us. Jesus has given us sight and the Holy Spirit; if we embrace the power given to us, we can bring people to embrace God’s kingdom.
Sin blinds us and makes us incapable of following Christ, but Christ cured us by getting dirty and dealing with our sins through death and resurrection. God calls us to follow Christ, which means we must also get dirty and walk in faith. We often must set aside our skepticism and work with people and agencies we have previously shunned. If we act out of our faith in Christ, we will allow Jesus to heal our blindness and help us to do the saving work of the Kingdom of God. The Holy Spirit heals, and may the church rise and embrace our mission to bring sight to the blind.