Seeing is hard work. It’s something that I think we take for granted because we typically do it almost all day every day. We assume we see just as good as the next person and sometimes we assume we see things better. Problems can occur when someone sees something differently than we do or differently than what we expected. Some even say that our brains our wired to fill in blanks and make connections when what we see does not make sense or is not complete. So, our brains might be telling us one thing when our neighbor might be telling us another. Today’s reading for Lent has all sorts issues with people seeing and not seeing what they think they see or should expect to see.
As Jesus walked along, he saw a man who was blind from birth. Jesus’ disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned so that he was born blind, this man or his parents?” Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents. This happened so that God’s mighty works might be displayed in him. While it’s daytime, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” After he said this, he spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and smeared the mud on the man’s eyes. Jesus said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (this word means sent). So the man went away and washed. When he returned, he could see. The man’s neighbors and those who used to see him when he was a beggar said, “Isn’t this the man who used to sit and beg?” Some said, “It is,” and others said, “No, it’s someone who looks like him.” But the man said, “Yes, it’s me!” So they asked him, “How are you now able to see?” He answered, “The man they call Jesus made mud, smeared it on my eyes, and said, ‘Go to the Pool of Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed, and then I could see.” They asked, “Where is this man?” He replied, “I don’t know.”
John 9:1-12 (CEB)
So lets break this down.
There’s a blind man who can’t see. The disciples see him and ask about who might have sinned so that this man was born blind, or born not seeing. Jesus saw him. Jesus says this man is blind so people can see God working in him. Jesus puts mud in the blind man’s eyes, tells him to wash in the Pool of Siloam and the blind man can now see. People who used to see him when he was a beggar (he must not be anymore) are not sure what they see. They can’t believe their eyes, he must be someone who looks like the blind man. The blind man says Jesus healed him, but when asked where Jesus is, he does not know…he did not see where he went.
Oh, and Jesus is the light of the world so that people might see God’s work displayed as if it was day-time. When Jesus is gone, it will be like night-time when no one can work because it’s dark…the light is gone.
They won’t be able to see.
Later the Pharisees will show up, and like the disciples they will see only sin. Jesus made mud and healed on the sabbath which was considered against God’s law and a sin. Sinners are not supposed to be able to heal people so they are really confused about this blind man receiving his sight from Jesus. How can a sinner heal a sinner? They are not seeing what they expect to see so things get weird.
God can not work through sinners…right?
What do you see?
Do you see sin as the disciples and Pharisees do, as a curse and absence of God?
Who sinned so that he was born blind, this man or his parents?
Or, do you see people as Jesus does, as a venue for God’s glory?
Neither he nor his parents. This happened so that God’s mighty works might be displayed in him.
What if you asked the question of yourself?
“Who sinned so that I was born blind, me or my parents?”
Jesus answers, “Neither you nor your parents. This happened so that God’s mighty works might be displayed in you.”
Lent asks us to open our eyes and look behind our preconceptions, ideas and assumptions about what is right and good. In the fasting of Lent we hope to reveal something about ourselves, our relationship with God and our neighbors. When we fast we open up a space in our hearts and minds for light to shine and reveal what might be hidden from us. We fast so that we might see the world through the light of Jesus who fasted and gave up quite a bit to come down, heal the sick, set the captives free and suffer death on a cross. When the light of the Jesus shines in our life and we see things the way Jesus did, the way they were meant to be, we may stop seeing sin as a hindrance, obstacle or curse. We will instead seek ways to find God’s glory and display it for all to see.
How has what you see changed during Lent? How do you see sin around you? How do you see God’s work on display around you? Which has more impact or is more important to you? How did you feel turning that verse into a statement about you? Can you accept the words of Jesus that way?