John 9:1-41, Lent 4 A, March 30, 2014
Grace and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.
The following is an imaginary conversation between the gospel writer and the characters from chapter 9. The format is similar to the commentary The Five Books of Miriam by Ellen Frankel.
(Responding to verses 1-5) The formerly blind man considers, “I suffered from blindness for most of my life, and I was ridiculed and rejected because of it. If this was not because of my sins or my parents sins, why did I have to suffer for so long?”
The evangelist John responds, “Not only your suffering, but everyone’s suffering is not directly related to their sins or to their relationship with the Lord. The Lord blessed you, however, by healing your eyes. You should be grateful that you could see for even one day. You were able to join your peers in a way that most of the ostracized never are able to.”
(Responding to verses 6-12) The man who was blind asks, “Why me? There are so many blind people in the towns and along the roads. Why did Jesus heal me? I am nobody.”
One of Jesus’ disciples replies, “It is exactly because you consider yourself ‘nobody’ that Jesus healed you. To my Rabbi, everyone is somebody and deserves to experience life to the fullest. Whenever Jesus sees someone who is shut out from society, he wants to help them.”
The formerly blind man continues, “So many people must ask Jesus to heal them. I hadn’t heard that he was special, nor did I even think to ask for him to heal me. Did Jesus really want to heal me just because I was sitting by the road?”
Jesus’ disciple answers, “It is true that many whom Jesus heals come before him requesting to be healed. Sometimes, he heals because they believe, but not always. Jesus healed you so that you might reveal God’s works to those who do not believe in Jesus.”
(Responding to verses 13-17) The Pharisees wonder, “Who is this man named Jesus? He doesn’t respect the Sabbath or other Jewish rituals, so he doesn’t appear to be a Jew. Yet he is able to perform such a miraculous sign. How could he be a sinner? The man who was blind says that he is a prophet. His identity is a mystery to us.”
John the Evangelist retorts, “How can you see Jesus right before you and not believe? How can you see the man that he healed and not realize who he is? Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. Jesus heals on the Sabbath because he saw someone who needed healing. He would not be around to return sight to this man a day later. Because Jesus is God, Jesus can do what God does - love the world deeply, always. Even on the Sabbath.”
(Responding to verses 18-23) The formerly blind man shares, “I would like my parents to know that I did not appreciate how they did not stand up for me. They were protecting themselves instead of rejoicing in my newfound sight. Could they truly have been that afraid of the Jewish leaders?”
His parents defend themselves, “You do not understand the depth of fear that we felt when we stood before the Jewish authorities. Yet, despite our apprehension, we did not lie; we shared the most basic facts about your healing. Just as you were pushed aside by our people when you were blind, we were afraid that we would never be able to attend the synagogue again if we professed faith in Jesus. We wanted to be able to celebrate with you in the synagogue.”
(Responding to verses 24-29) The Jewish leaders comment, “We have read the Hebrew Scriptures and we believe what is recorded there. Then this Jesus comes along and rejects much of what we hold dear in our faith. He is breaking our laws and acting with authority and ability that no human should have. Why should we respect him if he does not respect us?”
Jesus’ disciples interject, “You still cannot comprehend how Jesus can be a Jew, can you? Jesus did not reject any laws; in fact he intensified the laws that matter most. Jesus did not heal on the Sabbath to disturb you. He healed on the Sabbath because he saw a man who could not see. He healed this man so that he could bring glory to God!”
(Responding to verses 30-34) The evangelist John remarks, “You who were blind, how bold you are! You saw how your parents refrained from stating anything about Jesus. You knew that your right to worship in the synagogue was at stake. Where did you get the strength?”
The man who was blind answers, “Simple. The Jewish leaders had asked the same questions so many times by this point that I was getting angry. They clearly did not believe me at my word; they wanted more. I think they secretly wanted me to proclaim that Jesus was from God. Honestly, by this time, I truly believed it too. Jesus must be from God to be able to heal me like that!”
(Responding to verses 35-41) John the Evangelist asks the man who was blind, “What was it like to see Jesus face to face? I was not alive when Jesus walked the earth. I can only imagine what an experience that must have been!”
The formerly blind man replies, “Yes, hearing Jesus tell me directly that he is the Son of Man was exhilarating. After all that the Pharisees and other Jewish leaders put me through, I was so glad to meet Jesus again. Jesus’ few words reaffirmed for me that all of my stress after the sign was worth it. I sat by the road for so much of my life, begging and wishing that I could participate in the life of my community. Then Jesus smears some mud on my eyes, I wash the mud away, and I can see. Then with my newly healed eyes I look upon Jesus himself. I hear him proclaim that he is the one that we all have been waiting for. Jesus truly is the light of the world!” Amen.