‘I am the light of the world,’ says the Lord; ‘those who follow me will have the light of life.’ John 8:12
in order that we children of earth
might discern good from evil
you sent your Son to be the light of the world:
as the light of Christ shines upon us,
may we learn what pleases you,
and live in truth and goodness;
through the same Jesus Christ our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you and
the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
- 1 Samuel 16:1-13
- Psalm 23
- Ephesians 5:8-14
- John 9:1-41
- Ezekiel 37:1-14
- Psalm 130
- Romans 8:6-11
- John 11:1-45
The healing of the man born blind: “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him … “I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do not see might become blind.”
In his accounts of Jesus’ “signs,” the writer of the Fourth Gospel displays great skills as a dramatist. His story of the healing of the man born blind is really a play with six scenes: the blind beggar’s healing with the mud Jesus mixes on the Sabbath; the townsfolk’s reaction to his cure; the beggar’s testimony before the Pharisees; the testimony of the blind man’s parents; the beggar’s second appearance before the Pharisees (resulting in his expulsion); the beggar’s return to Jesus.
While his synoptic counterparts recount Jesus’ miracles as manifestations of his great love and compassion, John “stages” Jesus’ miracle to reveal the deeper meanings of Jesus’ mission of redemption as the Messiah. The healing of the blind beggar heightens the tension between Jesus and the Pharisees. The teaching of this itinerant Rabbi threatens the structured and exalted life of the scribes and Pharisees. They seek to discredit Jesus – and this miracle gives them the opportunity. In using spittle, kneading clay and rubbing it on the man’s eyes, Jesus breaks the strict rules prohibiting any kind of manual labour on the Sabbath. The miracle itself becomes secondary; the issue becomes Jesus’ breaking of the Sabbath. Jesus’ teachings and healings so threaten the comfortably ordered lives of the Jewish leaders that they seek some way to discredit what he has done, so they condemn Jesus’ mixing of the mud as a clear violation of the Jewish prohibition of any kind of work on the Sabbath.
The inquisition of the blind man and his parents and his expulsion from the temple are important parts of Jesus’ story for the evangelist and his readers. John and his community of Jewish-Christians are experiencing the same rejection: many of them have been expelled from their synagogues and the temple for their belief in Jesus as the Messiah
Our faith, our embracing of the Spirit of God, demands that we see things not with the eyes of practicality, self-interest and profitability alone, but with the eyes of Christ’s selflessness and humility: to see beyond appearances and superficialities and look deeper to discover the timeless and profound truths of the human heart. To see the world in the light of Christ empowers us to re-create our world, to shatter the darkness of injustice and hate with the light of justice and compassion.
Jesus says that the man he heals was born blind “so that the works of God might be made visible through him.” In his blindness, the man’s healing becomes the manifestation of God’s goodness and grace for his family and neighbours. Christ calls all of us to such an understanding of faith: that the moments of greatest hurt and difficulty in our lives — the crosses laid upon our shoulders — can become manifestations of God’s grace through understanding compassion, and patient forgiveness.
You can read the Pew Sheet hereLent-4-A