I Once Was Blind (Part 1)

Gertrude and Mildred were driving to their Sunday school party.The two elderly sisters were thankful they could still drive and took turns driving the Buick they shared. Gertrude became very nervous after Mildred ran through two red lights. As they approached the next light Mildred was talking nonstop and gave no indication that she would stop. Gertrude shouted, “Mildred, the light is red!” Mildred immediately slammed on the brakes. As she stared at the red light she said, “I’m sorry, I thought you were driving.”

Have you been around folks who are blind to reality? Let me give you an example. There are many in our world who are blind to the reality that in our natural state mankind is inherently sinful. They do not see that we are sinful by nature and by choice. In fact, they are blinded by their own since that, at heart, we are good.

In our Gospel reading from John 9, we find two kinds of blindness. First, we meet a man born blind physically who will be made to see physically and spiritually. Second, we will confront the Pharisees who can see physically, but who are blind spiritually.  

Read Genesis 1:1-2, 2:7-14 – From Darkness to Light

These passages are foundational for our mediation on John 9. Notice that God created the heavens and the earth and then filled the void of darkness with light! Notice also that God used the dust of the earth to form man. And finally, notice the river Gihon flowing out of Eden. All of this will help us understand John 9.

Read John 9:1-7 – From Blindness to Sight

In John 9 and we meet a man who is Blind from Birth.  This man did not incur an injury that blinded him. He did not have an illness that caused his blindness. He was blind from birth. The disciples wondered why he was blind. Have you ever wondered, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Jesus followers wondered about the origin of Sin. There was a common belief in that day that sickness or serious health conditions were the rather direct result of sin. The disciples ask Jesus, who is the resident expert on all things theological, whose fault is it that he is blind? Did he sin – or did his parents sin?

Jesus dismisses their false choice. It was neither! Why was this man born blind? It’s because God had a higher purpose for his infliction. At the end of verse 3 we see that God brings good out of this. This man has was born blind so that the work of God might be manifest in His life. You see, in a real sense all of us are born blind. We are all “walking in darkness” as Isaiah wrote. Romans 5:12 says, Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men… In Ephesians 2:1-3 we find that we, …were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

 This sin nature infecting all of us is called Original Sin. This man, born blind from birth, was a real man. But, he happens to represent all of us, for we were all born spiritually blind! What we need is exactly what happened to the blind man. He became a new creation and it was offered to him as a miracle from mud. 

In verse 4 we see a clear connection to creation. Jesus compels them to do the works of the Father. Like the old hymn say. “Work for the night is coming, when man works no more.” Then, Jesus goes on to say in verse 5, “I Am…” Is there anything significant about that? I Am is the name of God. Jesus is identifying Himself as God. He goes on, “I Am the light of the world!” In the beginning God created. What did He do first after creating the heavens and the earth? He filled the darkness with light! Now, Jesus says, “I am God and I am the light shining in the darkness!” 

In Genesis one, mankind was created from clay.  In John 9, After Jesus said these things, He spit into the dust and made mud or clay. Jesus then anointed the man’s eyes with the clay. Why did he do this? He had healed others simply by speaking over them. Surely there is something else going on here! This is an unmistakable connection to God’s creation of man. Genesis 2:7 says, “then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground…” Genesis 3:19 says, For you are dust and to dust you shall return. In the Dead Sea Scrolls a Jewish tradition was uncovered that Adam was made from dust and spit. They believed man was created when God “kneaded Him from the dust…he is so much spit”  So, what is Jesus doing by spitting in the clay? Just like God created Adam, now, Jesus is recreating the man born blind! Just as God brought the creation from darkness to light, so, Jesus is bringing this man from blindness to sight.

Next, he is purified in the pool. New creation themes are evident here as well. After Jesus anointed the blind man’s eyes, He sends him to the Pool of Siloam to wash. The pool of Siloam was important for many reasons. First, it received its water from the Gihon, a spring which served as the water source for Jerusalem. According to Genesis 2:13, it was named the Gihon after one of the rivers of Eden. Scholars believe that the Jewish people thought of Jerusalem as a new “Eden.” With this additional connection to creation, it seems quite clear that Jesus is making this man into a new creation. After he is anointed by Jesus, he dips in the pool and returns seeing! Into his darkness came the light. And into His heart and soul came the Light of the World! 2 Corinthians 5:17 declares, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed, the new has come.”

As we follow the Pathway to the Passion, let’s understand that what happened in the life of the blind man is why Jesus has turned his face resolutely toward Jerusalem. He wants all of us wandering in darkness to see the Light. He wants all of the blind to regain their sight.

In our meditation for tomorrow, we will look at the rapid response of the Pharisees and the progression of faith in the man healed of his blindness.