Shuffling feet -
some quietly hoping that I would not notice them pass by on the Sabbath
day, others in a hurry, to busy for a beggar on the Sabbath, very few
stopped, and if they did, most often with frustration.
My clay dish,
shaking back and forth with two coins in it - just enough to remind
people that I was sitting there, just enough to let them know how much
more I needed just to live.
Sometimes children -
laughing at me - I could recognize their voices - but I would never
catch them, But I had words - would curse them out loud hoping my abuse
would make them go away. And if those who laughed at me were older - I
knew how to use satire to make them feel like dirt among those who were
Just sounds, sounds
and smells, and sometimes shapes, shapes in the palms of my hands, Many
of them the shapes of what we use everyday. There were some shapes that
were like memories to me, good memories, like my mothers face when I was
young - I'll never let go of the shape of her face. She would let me
touch her face so that I could see her. And the moisture under her eyes
always said to me "I love you son." But that was way back then.
Just sounds, smells
and shapes - and walls, invisible walls made out of fear. I knew my
pathways, the stones were familiar to my feet, the heat of the sun on my
back when I left home in the morning and when I returned in the evening.
But beyond the edges of my paths - I didn't know what was there, and it
takes such a small step to fall into the wrong places around Jerusalem.
Invisible walls no one else saw kept me in a prison of routine.
That's it - Sounds
and routine - do the same thing everyday, practice the same thing again
and again, never venture beyond what you know and understand. That is
safety for a blind man.
Being blind in my
culture has no advantages. You are a burden to society, a discomfort and
a nuisance to most people. And so most people don't treat you like a
human - Some men did that again the other day - they were talking to a
Rabbi - I was a test case for theology - I'd heard this one before - I
was about to make a comment exposing their insensitivity -
"Why was I born
blind - they only knew of two options - either I was blind because my
parents sinned (and my parents had lived with that reputation for
years), or I had sinned grievously even before I was born - they asked
the Rabbi whose fault it all really was. They didn't even seem to care
to much about the fact that there was a person listening to their
discussion - as if b/c I was blind I was missing a whole bunch of other
The Rabbi surprised
them though. He refused to answer their question in their categories and
he refused to treat me like an object lesson - rather he treated me like
a person, like somebody who he cared for. He mentioned that he was the
light of the world - he took some of the fine dirt of the ground, he
spit in it - and he rubbed it on my eyes. And he told me to go and wash
in the pool of Siloam.
And as I washed, it
was as if the darkness went with the mud.
I saw light,
brilliant burning light shining off the water, hurting my eyes.
I saw light, I saw
color, I saw my own hands and feet. In a daze I turned to look around -
there were people walking in carefully measured Sabbath steps, there
were beggars whose only hope was alms - and there was me - with sight -
to see the world, sight to see the millions of things I had never seen
I turned to go home with
a very unmeasured skip in my step. I turned to go home by a different
path - the path was familiar to my feet - but I wanted to see the
buildings, the cracks in the ground, the large stones that I had avoided
for so many years for fear. I wanted to wallow in creation like I never
I stepped outside of the
invisible wall - my prison of routine - that's when people started to
They looked at me
with long stares - it didn't seem so strange - before I never knew how
they looked at me - maybe I was always a sight to behold - but it became
very obvious that they were curious about me - they remembered me blind
- now in my actions, in my freedom, in the skip in my step and the joy
on my face they could tell that I was becoming free - because I could
"Aren’t you the
blind beggar from..."
I recognized their
voice - for the first time I saw their face - its strange how the voice
never tells you what a face looks like - I nodded - and their mouths
They started arguing
I started insisting
on the impossible.
Never in the history
of our people had a person born blind ever been healed. They wanted to
know how it all happened and all I could say were the facts.
"The man they call
Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam
and wash. So I went and washed, and now I can see!"
They asked me where
he was - I could give them no answer - he could have been standing near
by - yet I would have never recognized him - I had never seen him
But the name "Jesus" started an avalanche. He was the man who
caused heated debates in the temple - some believed in him, others
wanted him stoned. Word spread that something had happened that had
never before happened in Israel - I didn't even make it home and the
priests with their authoritative voices came to question me.
They seemed open to a
miracle, open to the fact that something happened in Israel that had
never happened before, they, the theologians, the ones who knew the
scriptures and could see the truth with divine eyes because they knew
the Torah - they asked me how I had received my sight.
I told them about
Jesus, I repeated my story to them. "He put mud on my eyes and I washed,
and now I see." The evidence was in front of them - I could see - and if
anybody was a reliable witness, I was.
But they saw
problems with it all. The first problem they saw was the Sabbath. Their
amplification of the law stated very clearly that 39 works were not
allowed on the Sabbath - one of these was kneading - weather it be doe
for bread or mud with water to anoint the eyes - it was not allowed -
kneading was not allowed on the Sabbath. And Jesus had kneaded saliva
and dirt to make mud - he had broken the Sabbath.
At first some were
open to the possibility of a miracle - they argued that a Sabbath sinner
could not really do this. Again the theologians turned to me
"What have you to
say about him? It was your eyes he opened?"
A - ha - They
admitted together that Jesus had truly opened my eyes on the Sabbath. I
new no mere man could do that. I answered with the word that had been
spoken again and again about Jesus in Jerusalem - "He must be a
prophet." We had had not prophet, no voice from God for 460 years -
except for John the Baptist - and few of the Pharisees recognized him as
If there was one with us
now, he truly deserved our attention and recognition.
"I doubt he was ever
"Let's get his
parents - see if he was really blind from birth."
A few minutes passed
- they led my parents in. I would never have recognized them as my
parents except for two things. When the man spoke, it was my Father's
voice that I heard. And I knew it was my mother - the second she saw me,
there were tears running down her cheeks - tears that had spoken her
love for me many times in the past, tears I had felt drop on me as she
held me as a child, now for the first time I saw the lovely shape of her
face, and I saw her love for me.
"Is this your son?"
"Is this the one you
say was born blind?"
"How is it that now
he can see?"
My parents had heard
of Jesus, they had listened to him speak - they with so many other
people from Jerusalem believed he was a prophet, maybe even the Christ.
My Father spoke. His
answer hurt. It showed me how much of a burden I had been to him and my
mother for these many years.
"We know that he is
"And we know that he
was born blind."
"But how he can see
now, or who opened his eyes, we don't know. Ask him, he is of age, he
will speak for himself."
I was his, but then
he left me there to fend for myself. He feared being excommunicated and
ostracized. He valued going to the synagogue and hearing the theological
discussions. It was a game the men played. There is something about the
preservation of status and reputation that can turn parents into
relatives and loved ones into acquaintances.
This time the
Pharisees addressed me with Venom in their breath.
"Give glory to God.
We know this man Jesus is a Sabbath sinner."
They were getting
angry. I didn't understand why - things just looked so obvious to me.
"Whether he is a
sinner or not, I don't know. One thing I do know, I was blind but now I
But what seemed so
obvious to me seemed now even less obvious to the Pharisees.
"What did he do to
"How did he open
I again felt like a
blind man being picked on - but this time I could see, I could see the
Pharisees - and I could see their venom - and I used the defence I knew
the best - satire.
"I have told you
already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you
want to become his disciples too?"
And even as I spoke
- I felt free - free in ways I had never felt free before - like I had
stepped over an invisible wall - free because I could speak the truth,
free because I could see what Jesus had done to me.
"You are this
fellow's disciple! We are disciples of Moses! We know that God spoke to
Moses, but as for this fellow Jesus, we don't even know were he comes
I'm not a theologian
- but things seemed so crystal clear to me. The reason they believed God
spoke to Moses, that Moses words came right from God, was because of the
miracles he did in bringing our nation out of Egypt. The evidence
compelled me to speak.
"Now isn't that
remarkable! You don't know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes -
something never before done in Israel.
"We know that God
does not listen to sinner, He listens to the godly man who does his
will. Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. If
this man were not from God, he could do nothing.."
It seemed my words
darkened their eyes. They no longer saw my sight. They no longer saw the
obvious. They no longer accepted what they themselves believed about
prophets and righteous men. They chained themselves in with Moses, they
had built for themselves invisible walls with tradition and the law.
I saw in their eyes
for the first time fear - and how memories came flooding back to me -
memories of sounds, and invisible walls, and fear of loosing my way on a
pathway that was a prison but it was a safe prison. I saw they were
blind - to blind to see the
reality of how Jesus
changed my life, to blind to see that Jesus must be from God. Their
blindness was a prison.
The authorities on
seeing were not about to accept that from a man who used to be blind.
They accused me of sinning even before I was born - that's fine I though
to myself - I can see now - that must mean I'm forgiven. But their anger
wasn't over yet - to my father's shock and my mother's tears, they
excommunicated me from the temple - I could go in it no longer. Now
instead of being shunned for being blind, I was shunned for seeing by
those who were blind.
I was shunned by
many - except one - he came to me and asked
"Do you believe in
the Son of Man."
"Who is he sir? Tell
me so that I may believe in him."
And he said words
that sent shivers down my spine
"You have now seen
him, in fact, he is the one speaking with you."
They were words of
acceptance and love. First the world threw me out because I was blind,
then the Pharisees through me out because I could see. Now Jesus came to
me, and said to me with his actions "Anyone who comes to me I will never
I dropped to my
knees and gave him my all. And he accepted me. And now with my eyes, I
have seen him.
happened to be there again - they didn't like what they saw - a man
worshipping another man. They didn't see that this Son of man was the
son of God. Or maybe they did see the obvious, the signs were plenty
evident - yet they choose not to admit it or acknowledge him. They tried
to put out the Light. But Light is not something that can be eliminated
- it arises again - to gives us sight and healing so that we can truly
see, or it stands so that in time we will be judged in its light.
They could see - but they
obscured the light by building around themselves walls - of law, of
tradition, or routine which they were not willing to break for fear. A
prison of their own making.
One thing I know - I was
blind - now I see, and I am free.
The Scripture upon which
this story is based.
John 9 :1-=41 NIV
As he went 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 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this
happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. 4 As
long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is
coming, when no one can work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the light
of the world.”
6 Having said this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the
saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. 7 “Go,” he told him, “wash in the
Pool of Siloam” (this word means Sent). So the man went and washed, and
came home seeing.
8 His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked,
“Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some claimed that
Others said, “No, he only looks like him.”
But he himself insisted, “I am the man.”
10 “How then were your eyes opened?” they demanded.
11 He replied, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my
eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and
then I could see.”
12 “Where is this man?” they asked him.
“I don’t know,” he said.
The Pharisees Investigate the Healing
13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. 14 Now the
day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a
Sabbath. 15 Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received
his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and
now I see.”
16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does
not keep the Sabbath.”
But others asked, “How can a sinner do such miraculous signs?” So they
17 Finally they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say
about him? It was your eyes he opened.”
The man replied, “He is a prophet.”
18 The Jews still did not believe that he had been blind and had
received his sight until they sent for the man’s parents. 19 “Is this
your son?” they asked. “Is this the one you say was born blind? How is
it that now he can see?”
20 “We know he is our son,” the parents answered, “and we know he was
born blind. 21 But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t
know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself.” 22 His parents
said this because they were afraid of the Jews, for already the Jews had
decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Christ would be
put out of the synagogue. 23 That was why his parents said, “He is of
age; ask him.”
24 A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory
to God,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.”
25 He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I
do know. I was blind but now I see!”
26 Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your
27 He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do
you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?”
28 Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s
disciple! We are disciples of Moses! 29 We know that God spoke to Moses,
but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.”
30 The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he
comes from, yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen
to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will. 32 Nobody has
ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were
not from God, he could do nothing.”
34 To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you
lecture us!” And they threw him out.
35 Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he
said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
36 “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in
37 Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking
38 Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.
39 Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the
blind will see and those who see will become blind.”
40 Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What?
Are we blind too?”
41 Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but
now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.