1As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" 3Jesus answered, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God's works might be revealed in him. 4We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. 5As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world." 6When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man's eyes, 7saying to him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam" (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see. 8The 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?" 9Some were saying, "It is he." Others were saying, "No, but it is someone like him." He kept saying, "I am the man." 10But they kept asking him, "Then how were your eyes opened?" 11He 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." 12They said to him, "Where is he?" He said, "I do not know."
13They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 14Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15Then 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." 16Some 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. 17So 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."
One blind man received the miracle of sight. Other blind men stayed blind because they refused to see. The blind man whose eyes Jesus healed with mud knew only what happened to him. All that he knew was that he used to be blind and now he no longer was. He followed the instructions of Jesus -- go to Siloam and wash off the mud that was spread on his eyes by Jesus. When he did so, he could see for the first time in his life. Some people asked the beggar where did Jesus go. The man said, "I do not know." Where Jesus was was really not that important to the once-blind man. The fact that he could see was the important thing, which we can all understand.
Even at this point in their apprenticeship to Jesus, the disciples aren't really seeing Jesus correctly. They want to talk theology but they do not do theology. They see a blind beggar and, instead of doing something about the condition, they are more interested in figuring out why this man is blind to begin with. They are trying to theologize about the blind man's condition, as if that's what's called for. The disciples half-see. They don't fully see why Jesus came and what they are called to be, healers and not just talkers.
The ones who stay completely blind to what's happening before their eyes are the Pharisees. Their religious arrogance and unwillingness to be taught otherwise prevent them from acknowledging what's clearly visible in front of them. They don't see and they don't listen. The first-hand testimony of the blind beggar is not taken to heart. Their minds are so clouded with their religious pride that they fail to register the possibility that Jesus healed by the power of God. They grasp at technicalities to dissuade themselves from considering honestly what Jesus did, as if healing on the sabbath automatically disqualifies the healing. They are moved not one inch. They choose to cover their eyes to Jesus.
The varying degrees of blindness -- the spiritual kind -- is the result of a combination of our choosing, our teachableness, and our humility. If we are dead set in our ways we will always be blind. If we are humble enough to be taught, we can see in new ways. Seeing is always better, whether you are a beggar or a billionaire.
Let's pray: Father God, we humble ourselves so that we can see you. Like the blind beggar, give us the simple heart of obedience to Jesus. Better than the disciples, let us do what Jesus did. Unlike the Pharisees, help us to move away from our stubborn and proud ways so that we are not stuck in our blindness. We want to see truly. In Jesus' name, amen.