By Ann Vendrely, academic dean
Scripture: John 9:1-41 (NRSV)
Scripture: John 9:1-41 (NRSV)
In our everyday busyness it can be very hard to take the time to notice what is going on around us. We focus on our own concerns, finishing our “to-do” lists and trying not to forget that one last thing we need to complete. It can be a burden.
Years ago I was teaching graduate health care students, working closely every day with the 30 students in our program. I was caught up in the busy work of lectures, assignments and grading. After class one day, a student asked to speak with me. I had worked with this group for nearly two years at that point, so I thought I knew him well and figured it would be another question about an upcoming assignment. It wasn’t. He was deeply troubled about his ability to finish the final year of the program. He shared his anxiety over family concerns and an interest in going into ministry instead of health care. We had a long discussion that day and agreed to meet again. We included another faculty member in the next meeting and the student asked for both of us to pray with him. I felt that I had been blind to his pain and suffering over the past two years. I was grateful that he reached out so that we could offer support. He did complete the degree and was able to use his clinical expertise in the mission field after graduation. Prayers were a critical part of supporting him.
Today’s scripture in John tells the story of Jesus healing a man who had been blind his whole life. Jesus spits in the dirt to make mud, then applies it to the man’s eyes. Jesus instructs the man to go to a particular pool to wash the mud off. I think it is noteworthy that this man followed those instructions exactly. He didn’t stop to bargain with Jesus by asking, can’t I wash it here? Or, can someone walk with me to the pool? He did what he was told, then returned to Jesus, joyfully healed. He was unrecognizable to some who knew him before. His obedience continued as many people asked him what happened. He explained to neighbors, the Pharisees and other Jews that Jesus put mud on his eyes, asked him to wash it off in the pool and then he could see. He proclaims this miracle and worships Jesus.
In what ways are we blind? Are there people we work with every day but don’t see them? How can we let Jesus put mud on our eyes? What will it take for you to follow Jesus’ instructions to go to the pool and wash? To trust that you can act with Jesus’ guidance? Can we see past the daily busyness to help others? We have hope in Jesus, he knows we are blind and is willing to help us.
The Ephesians scripture for today concludes with these words, “Sleeper awake! Rise from the dead and Christ will shine on you.”
Scripture: John 9:1-41 (NRSV)
As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2His disciples asked him, Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? 3Jesus answered, Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that Gods works might be revealed in him. 4We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. 5As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. 6When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the mans eyes, 7saying to him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see.
8The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, Is this not the man who used to sit and beg? 9Some were saying, It is he. Others were saying, No, but it is someone like him. He kept saying, I am the man. 10But they kept asking him, Then how were your eyes opened? 11He answered, The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, Go to Siloam and wash. Then I went and washed and received my sight. 12They said to him, Where is he? He said, I do not know.
13They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 14Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15Then 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. 16Some 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. 17So 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. 18The 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 19and asked them, Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see? 20His parents answered, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; 21but 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. 22His 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. 23Therefore his parents said, He is of age; ask him. 24So 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. 25He answered, I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see. 26They said to him, What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes? 27He 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? 28Then they reviled him, saying, You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from. 30The man answered, Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. 32Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. 33If this man were not from God, he could do nothing. 34They answered him, You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us? And they drove him out.
35Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, Do you believe in the Son of Man? 36He answered, And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him. 37Jesus said to him, You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he. 38He said, Lord, I believe. And he worshiped him.
39Jesus said, I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind. 40Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, Surely we are not blind, are we? 41Jesus said to them, If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, We see, your sin remains.