The John 9 gospel story about the man born blind, is a long reading that makes us want to sink into our seats.

The healing episode is quite short.

Jesus noticed a man blind from birth, and after a few words with the disciples, made a wet mixture of clay and spittle and anointed the man’s eyes.

Jesus then told the man to wash his eyes in the pool of Siloam.

The man did so, and he could see.

Imagine it!

For the first time in his life that man had vision!

There was a newness to his senses – colours, shapes, faces!

The world was presented to him in an entirely different way.

The man had not yet seen Jesus; but he’d heard his voice, felt his touch, and experienced the life-changing miracle.

We can be sure he was yahooing all over the place, attracting  enough attention to form a crowd.

That created the inquisition that makes this reading so long.

We know the reason for it. The man was healed on the Sabbath.

His rejoicing would have turned to bewilderment as a storm of Pharisees rained questions on him.

He was a sinner!

Everyone knew an illness or infliction was God’s punishment for sin.

He didn’t deserve healing! He should have accepted his blindness!

But that wasn’t the main concern.

Jesus was regarded the greater sinner, breaking the laws of the Sabbath.

How could he claim God’s power for the miracle when God never worked on the seventh day?

The questions and accusations were relentless. They went on and on.

We can imagine how helpless the man felt.

He didn’t know what Jesus looked like, didn’t know who Jesus was, but guessed he could be a prophet.

Didn’t prophets have special powers?

Every answer he gave displeased the Pharisees.

Then it occurred to them that the man may never have been blind.

He was fake, only pretending.

So they went to see his parents who were too scared to talk, lest they be kicked out of the synagogue.

However, they did say yes, their son had definitely been blind from birth.

The Pharisees returned to the man and harassed him again.

How did he meet this Jesus? What did he know about him?

We are not told how long this questionimg lasted.

But we can imagine the man drawing up his shoulders and spreading his hands as he said to them, “All I know is that I was blind and now I see.”

That’s the nugget of gold in this long story, and it is priceless.

We recognise it as a deep knowing within us.

We have encountered Christ Jesus, felt his touch, experienced his healing, but when it comes to describing how this has happened, words fail us.

Oh, we can talk on the surface all right, exchange ideas about God and discuss the shoulds and should nots of living.

Some of that is useful.

But when it comes to the deep heart experience, that new vision of the love that re-shapes the world for us, how can we describe it?

All we can say is, “I was blind and now I see.”

  • Joy Cowley is a wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and retreat facilitator.

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