Blindness

In Blog by Bruce LogueLeave a Comment

In the first century, blindness was an absolute curse. There was no Society for the Blind. No seeing-eye-dogs. No white canes. Only begging. “Alms for the blind.”

There was also no compassion shown for people like the blind or the leper. Lepers had to cry out their presence so that people could avoid making contact with them. The blind had to sit on the edges of human consciousness and beg for help.

It was not uncommon to hear blindness and such being attributed to sin. If blindness wasn’t bad enough, imagine the shame of having people assume you must have done something sinful. It was a miserable and lonely way to live. Not only would you be handicapped by some malady, but you would also be regarded as spiritually unclean.

John describes a time when Jesus and his disciples walked by such a blind man. True to the customs of the time, the disciples wanted to quiz Jesus about who sinned to cause such a condition – the parents of the blind man or the blind man himself. The man was a theological issue more than a human being.

Jesus put an end to the debate and made a mud poultice for the man’s eyes. “Go wash your eyes in the pool of Siloam,” Jesus said.

There are two important things to note about this man. The first is that he knew he was blind, and he was keenly honest about his condition. The second is that he was willing to take a risk by obeying Jesus. One could never imagine that a man in such distress would scream at Jesus, “I am not blind.”

In this account by John, there is a contrasting condition of blindness that we are also meant to see. In this case, it is the privileged ruling class that is blind, except you might not have noticed that. They walked around without aid, looked adoringly at the Temple, and enjoyed the beauty of the world. How could they be blind?

But what John wants us to see is that they are blind, and their blindness was not of the eyes, but of the heart. The central idea of this passage is found in John 9:39 where Jesus says, “I came into the world….so that those who do not see may see, and those who have made a great pretense of seeing will be exposed as blind.” The Pharisees were the ones with 20/20 vision but who yet could not see the things that require spiritual perception.

The Pharisees got the point Jesus was making. “Surely your not calling us blind?”

As a matter of fact, yes. These blind religious leaders were like people with their heads willfully buried in the sand.

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