See thoughts on “The Book of Signs” in the November 4 entry.
Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt
See 2 Kings 6:18-20 Elisha blinds people then gives them sight
Today’s reading bears out this thought:
Scripture is like a river again, broad and deep, shallow enough here for the lamb to go wading, but deep enough there for the elephant to swim. — Gregory the Great’s commentary on Job
People often attribute a similar saying about the Gospel of John to Augustine, but you’d never find it in his writings if you went looking: John’s Gospel is deep enough for an elephant to swim and shallow enough for a child not to drown. — NOT Augustine (354-430) (Thanks internet!). It is still true, even if someone famous did not say it.
You’ll see, if you read John 9:1-41
His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” …
Jesus 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.” Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not blind, are we?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.
More thoughts for meditation
The lame man at the pool waited 38 years to be healed. Yet, when he was made well, he went to the officials and essentially betrayed Jesus. By contrast in today’s reading, the man born blind, after persecution by the same officials, comes to believe in Jesus and “worships him,” in the process flummoxing the officials with his rebellion.
The sixth sign, this physical cure, calls attention to spiritual blindness — from birth. Jesus calls us to wash in the pool of the “Sent One.”
The sense of the story is that Jesus was not shaken or disturbed by the almost deadly confrontation with the religious leaders that just happened — He was often reviled, but never ruffled. He came upon a blind man begging, possibly saying he had been born blind. Thus the disciples ask their theological question, “Who sinned?” The man is an unsolved riddle to them, since it was commonly held a great malady must have been caused by a great sin.
Jesus demonstrates an answer that fits all situations: “The whole world is in darkness so I may bring it light.” Everyone can see the glory of God in the face of Jesus. He overrules the disasters of sin and death. People are not theology problems or moral dilemmas, they are possibilities of grace.
Jesus uses an unpredictable and unrepeatable method of healing to which the man must respond in faith by washing in the Pool of Siloam. Siloam is the “sent” pool, since the water came through Hezekiah’s remarkable tunnel, and so was sent into the city. The man was sent to the sent pool by the Sent One. He came back with sight, the first person born blind known to have been healed by God (a sure sign of the Messiah — Isaiah 35:5).
Some Pharisees think only a sinner would heal on the Sabbath. Others think no sinner could perform such a miracle. They interrogate the man — and his parents! The beggar confronts the elite with one of the funniest and profound lines in the Bible: “Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” They throw him out of the temple.
Jesus finds the formerly blind man and essentially says, “”The religious leaders say ‘You can’t worship with us in the temple.’ But I will receive your worship.”
Suggestions for action
Wade like a lamb or swim like an elephant.
Pray: I would like to see. Show me glory, Light of the World.
Some people might read this and still go back to a question like the disciples had, only ask it as they look at themselves, “Am I blind? Have I done something wrong so I can’t see better? Did I not go wash when I was sent so I’m scarred with spiritual blindness?” The disciples look a bit ignorant until we see how often we see ourselves as intellectual problems rather than objects of the Lord’s mercy and power. Call out to Jesus, who is nearby listening for you.
It might help to feel yourself in the story somewhere. Maybe you are watching the whole thing. Maybe you relate to the man’s parents, facing the authorities. Maybe you can see the situation like Jesus. There is probably a similar situation in your own experience on which you could meditate with a similar, instructive lens. Read the whole story again prayerfully and see if a character or instance resonates.