Daily Devotion – March 23, 2020 – Dr. Pat Taylor Ellison
1 As [Jesus] walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. 4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6 When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, 7 saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see. 8 The 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?” 9 Some were saying, “It is he.” Others were saying, “No, but it is someone like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” 10 But they kept asking him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 11 He 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.” 12 They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”
13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 14 Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15 Then 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.” 16 Some 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. 17 So 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.”
18 The 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 19 and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” 2 0His parents answered, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; 21 but 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.” 22 His 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. 23 Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”
24 So 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.” 25 He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” 26 They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 27 He 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?” 28 Then they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29 We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” 30 The man answered, “Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. 32 Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” 34 They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?” And they drove him out.
35 Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 He answered, “And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.” 38 He said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped him. 39 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.” 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not blind, are we?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.”
The story in John of Jesus healing the man born blind raises several questions about which persons and what things are holy, or of God. Jesus breaks a big rule and heals a person on the Sabbath. To some people, that seems to be NOT godly. The man was born blind. That condition makes people wonder whose sin caused that – whose ungodly behavior made him blind. So a person (the blind man) in what folks thought to be a sin-provoked ungodly state (blindness) is healed by a person (Jesus) on the Sabbath (breaking a God-given law). What a mess. And the focus is on the ungodly.
The mess presents itself in bickering on all sides. Some of it is honest confusion, trying to work out what is right in what situation. These folks are trying to interpret a confusing situation (a cure for life-long blindness) using the tools of facts and beliefs they have at hand. Sound familiar? Great medical persons and true servant journalists at this moment are doing the same things – some for noble reasons, some perhaps for selfish ones. But it is a confusing worrisome thing. And it focuses on ungodliness and blame.
The important exception amid the mess is the blind man whose life has been changed and for whom doors are now open that have always been closed to him. To him this is a miracle. And he testifies to it, patiently, over and over, to the people trying to sort it all out. The cured man sees being able to see, his new situation, as a gift. And he thanks Jesus and confesses his belief in him.
As the new reality of contagious disease swirls around us, and people try to figure it out, doing the best they can but making both wrong and right turns as they work on it, let us wake up and open our eyes. Let us notice the wonders that have been hidden from us, things that we can see now that we have been too busy or too blind to see. And as you focus on the wonders, Jesus may come up to you and ask whether you believe in the Son of Man. Tell him you believe in him. Worship him. Float for even a few minutes in the peace of Christ, which passes human understanding. If we can set aside the messy flurry of confusion, if we can open our eyes and rest in his presence, look at his picture, see who he is, and confess that he is Lord, something wonderful will happen.
Show us how to leave the confusing mess in another room and rejoice in what you have given us. Help us to see every gift as coming from you. Help us to see you when you come near and ask whether we believe. Help us to say “Yes, I believe.” And then open our eyes even more to see your Kingdom at hand.