Sunday’s Gospel passage is the story of Jesus healing the blind man. I have been thinking about this passage and what I would preach from it and offer these reflections on the first portion of the passage.
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.
This morning I begin with a question for you. “How are you experiencing God in your life?”
I ask you to consider this question because I believe that in the answer you will again see the reality of God at work in your life.
For me the answer is as diverse as the experiences I have had, from the earth shaking, to the mundane. And therein lies a part of the answer for me: in my day-to-day walk of life I encounter God and like the blind man in this passage, it can give me sight.
I recognize that I encounter God in at least two distinct ways that at times blend together.
The first is within me, in my heart and mind or what we might call my soul.
The second is outside myself, in my interactions with you and all the people in my life or what we might call the communion of the saints.
In each case these encounters happen both intentionally and unintentionally. Sometimes God’s presence is as apparent and tangible as the laptop before me. It is a crystal clear insight or a transforming conversation. Other times it is as subtle as the unnoticed warmth of a perfect spring morning.
I point out that my question has an assumption behind it, namely that God is present. That is an assumption of course but I make it because it is a truth I have accepted, been gifted to see. Indeed it has become the lens through which I see everything, the bedrock truth of my faith. I am certain God is with me and you and all creation, as surely as there is air in this room. But like the air we breathe, God’s presence can go unnoticed. We simply take it in and let it out. On one hand that is fine. God’s love for us is not dependent on our recognition or response, it is simply there, sustaining, nurturing, holding. But it doesn’t have to be that way, it doesn’t have to go undetected, unnoticed, unutilized. So I invite you to take a long slow breath right now and after a moment let it out. Do it again and take notice of it. Now close your eyes. Settle into not seeing and then open them as if for the first time.
Our passage this morning is the story of Jesus healing a blind man. It is a miracle story, but it is also much more. A good question to ask when you are reading any biblical narrative is why is this included? Is it simply part of a biographical narrative? Did John include this story to show how powerful Jesus was? I don’t think so. I don’t think that is it at all.
What do you think? What does this story offer?
I believe it has a deeper purpose. Like much of the Biblical narrative, this passage is both truth and metaphor. It tells us about Jesus’ life and it teaches us something deeper. We are given this story not just as a historical record, but also so we might see a deeper truth about God.
This is the story of a person receiving sight, and a reminder of God’s transforming presence in the world and our lives.
This morning we are being reminded of God’s transforming presence in a time of uncertainty and separation, as well as in our common desire for assurance and hope. So I invite you to spend the next few minutes pondering your life and what it shows you about Christ’s love. Each of us has stories, like John’s account of the blind man’s healing, that are on one level biographical, but at a deeper level metaphoric illustrations of the ways God is at work.
So close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, ponder how you are experiencing God in your life and then open yourself to receive the gift of new sight.