As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see.
The 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?” Some were saying, “It is he.” Others were saying, “No, but it is someone like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” But they kept asking him, “Then how were your eyes opened?”
He 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.” They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.” They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes.
Then 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.” Some 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. So 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.”
The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” His parents answered, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.” So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.” He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”
He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” Then they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” The man answered, “Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?” And they drove him out.
Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.” He said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped him. Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.” Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not blind, are we?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.
I’ve always felt sympathy for the Pharisee’s. They always seem to be on the short end of the stick. They try really hard to do the right thing and Jesus keeps on challenging them. They are kind of the Ancient Semitic version of the Bad News Bears.
I don’t think they are all that wrong. Jesus did violate the Sabbath by laboring in healing our blind friend. Jesus may have not exercised the greatest restraint in confronting the temple authorities about the Sabbath laws he broke. To the Pharisee’s Jesus was asserting authority without having earned it in the trenches.
Here is this new guy from Nazareth, a Podunk fella from a Podunk town. He comes to the city and starts telling the establishment how things ought to run. In fact, as he asserts his opinion over authority he attracts disciples of his own.
I’d be a little upset too if the world to which I offered myself in service was not all that was promised. The countless years in the finest schools being fashioned in to societies upper crust. The Pharisee’s were the movers and shakers of their time.
The Pharisee’s got all the headlines as the ancient world paparazzi would stake out the temple and their homes just to get that money-shot. The citizens of ancient Israel hung on the words and actions of the Pharisee’s. They were the gurus, yogis and proprietors of wisdom that were sought on high. If you were to climb a mountain seeking wisdom from above you may discover a Pharisee a top that peak above the clouds.
The Pharisee’s were what you dreamed of growing up to be. Being a Pharisee meant you were the peoples advocate to God. For a pious religious servant, can it get any better than that?
Look around today. What is it that we dream for our children? For ourselves? Do any of us dream of being a peacenik, carpenter just scrapping by? I know this rings true in my heart.
I never wanted to be a pastor. I went to seminary on a trial basis. I had nowhere to return to after I ceased being a missionary in Kenya. I was going to check out this seminary thing in Texas and return to Africa or go get a real job. God had other things in mind. One of which sings in the choir here today.
I hoped for wealth. I hoped for success. I hoped for the gigantic house and a few cars. Maybe a summer home on the beach. I focused my heart on anything and everything besides that aching part of my heart that I knew could never be filled with anything but what God had called me to.
They say a lot of things…whoever “they” are… they say that some people have to become ministers because there is no other way for them to be reconciled unto God. Imagine that…
“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him.” This man was born blind neither according to his sin nor the sin of his parents but so that God might be witnessed in his restoration!
The Pharisee’s go on to question Jesus’ actions and with or without justification the fear rises in the heart of the Pharisee’s. They are concerned with maintaining the status quo. They need their order and structure to exist in a world of ever increasing chaos.
The Romans occupy the Holy Lands. The Promised Land in now the rented land. Wickedness visits the chosen people. They await an opportunity to be relevant again. They hunger for that time in the good old days when thousands of folks filled the temple. They remember when they were the rule of the land and they fit in to a way of life that was good to them. There was plenty to eat and everyone pitched in.
Just as fear motivated the Pharisee’s questions, fear can motivate our questions. We can operate in a manner that is a matter of survival when God is calling us to prosper in transforming our minds.
Are we asking the wrong questions? Are we climbing mountains to distract us from the duty of the mundane calling to be justice in the life we lead?
Where is the Pharisee in us and what are they holding on to? I personally have no problem relating to and finding the Jesus in me. I can tell you 10 ways till Sunday about the Jesus-like awesome I exhibit day in and day out. But if I bragged on it here I’d not be acting much like Jesus would I? I just don’t like to admit the Pharisee in me.
I was watching this film last week called Enlighten Up! It is a film about a guy that is skeptical about yoga and what practitioners’ claim are its benefits. He agrees to practice yoga for a few months and allow a camera crew to follow him around. He goes to a few classes in New York City and is not amused with the perceived hoity toity nature of those involved in the NYC yoga scene.
Then he goes to India to study at the source for a few months. He discovers that yoga is more about being than about doing. He learns that yoga is not just something that one signs up for and attends a couple of times a week to get healthier. Yoga is a way in which one may enter in to a deep conversation with their self and awaken to the real self.
In one of the final scenes on the film the skeptical atheistic American is sitting at the feet of a very famous Guru as the Guru answers his questions.
The American says, “I’m afraid to ask you stupid questions.”
The Guru replies, “Answers are stupid. Questions are never stupid. You came to meet me. You could have come by cycle. You could have come by car. You could have come by train. You could have come by elephant. You could have come by foot. To reach here there are so many directions. That depends on you, where you are presently. It’s not important what you are doing. It’s important why you are doing.
The American asks, “What do you mean?”
The Guru answers, “You can prepare food for yourself to consume. You can prepare food for somebody you love. And you can prepare food for your Lord, your god. The action will be the same. Physically, but inside it will be different. Even if you are forced to do some cooking for somebody you don’t like you will do it. But you wont enjoy it.
The American questions, “The same can be said for yoga?”
The Guru returns, “Anything…anything under the sun. The same can be said about anything.”
The American replies, “But I’m a godless guy from NYC. It does not make sense to me about bhakti or Krishna.”
The Guru says, “Don’t embrace them. I never said to embrace Krishna. No, never embrace. Never do it. If you don’t like, then don’t do it. Go on practicing what you are doing. If you want to believe in God, believe in God. If you don’t want to believe, don’t believe. And still you can be a religious person.
The American asks, “Then what would make me religious or spiritual?”
The Guru answers, “Being yourself. Being your true self.”
It is good to ask questions of God only if we are prepared to seek answers. Asking questions of God draws us deeper in to relationship with our Divine Creator. This is the root of the child-like faith we are all called to. Parents, what does a child do to understand the world around them? They ask questions! They will ask questions until they understand what is going on and then ask some more questions, testing the parameters of their existence. It is good to ask questions.
“So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.” He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”
He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” It is not about the questions the Pharisee’s are asking it is about the questions the Pharisee’s are not asking.
There is danger in hearing the Gospel! When we ask questions of God we hear the Gospel. When we hear the Gospel we are transformed from the inside out. “We are born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in us.” We are not born blind neither according to our sin nor the sin of our parents but so that God might be witnessed in our restoration! Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.”