You just heard this story…did anyone hear it for the first time?
what are some of your first impressions?
What is the story about?

There is healing that takes place in this story… but I don’t know if we can call it a healing story…
a man born blind is given sight…
The healing is a launching point for some theological discussion that ultimately leads to faith.
and in the end some shade is thrown at those who are unwilling to see

This story is almost a novella
It seems almost like a movie or tv movie script to me… I would love to see it made into a movie or play…

There is mud… made of Christic spit and dirt…placed on the eyes of the man born blind…
he is then told to go and wash off the mud
He does and he can see…
Wow, he can see and everyone… does what? Rejoice?
I’d like to think I would rejoice… what about you?
The fact he can see is a good thing— so why aren’t people rejoicing?

In healing his blindness, Jesus provides for this man’s rebirth… he was born blind… he has never been able to see the sky or the face of his parents or the sunset
he is starting over…
This is a good thing and we all have to wonder why those who knew him are not rejoicing with him?

Though the blind man had been begging outside the Temple for years, the Temple leaders had paid him so little attention that they did not recognize him when he was not in his usual place.
They had seen him with their eyes, but not paid him any attention.

Jesus on the other hand, saw him and paid him attention.
He treated him as a real person.
In response to his need, Jesus healed him.
Later, when Jesus went looking for the man after he got thrown out of the Temple, he did not need anyone to point him out.
He remembered what he looked like.
Jesus saw him
Jesus sees you and me… even when we feel invisible

There are problematic bits in this passage.
The first is in the whole “why is this man blind? discussion that starts the story.
As 21st century people we all agree that congenital blindness has little to do with sinfulness …but in almost every translation of the bible there is a suggestion in this passage that God made the man blind so that Jesus could cure him.
that does not make sense to me.…
I agree with the Working Preacher podcast from professors at Luther Seminary who feel the KJV Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.
That there is the opportunity in his blindness for God to work…

another challenge with the text is one that is true for the gospel according to John in general… and another reason it is my least favorite gospel
Any time John says “the Jews” there is the potential for an anti-Semitic interpretation.
This reference to the ‘the jews” makes it possible to read the rest of the story as saying “those silly sinful, willfully blind Jews. why will they not see?”
Jesus was a jew, an observant jew…and the human manifestation of God
Jesus was calling the Jewish people, all people into a deeper, authentic relationship with God, their creator

The theme of sinfulness then runs through the episode.
The Pharisees talk about Jesus’ sinfulness and the sinfulness of the man born blind, also their suggestion that the man was born in sin.

The story ends with Jesus’ condemnation of the Pharisees, whose sin remains because unlike the blind man, who recognizes the grace of God in Jesus’ bestowal of sight and light in his blindness,

the Pharisees insist that they see and know everything already.
They are closed to the gift of Jesus, who can only give sight to those who know they are blind.
Can only bless those who stand in need of a blessing.

This is fundamentally a story about grace, and the blind man sums it up beautifully for all of us: “One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.”
And the man comes to faith— he makes a statement of faith to Jesus… saying I believe…
Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say Rejoice! Amen

Resources:
http://worshipingwithchildren.blogspot.com/2014/02/year-fourth-sunday-of-lent-march-30-2014.html
Narrative Lectionary: Who is Blind? Who Can See? Edition (John 9:1-41)
http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=906
http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=3387
http://www.workingpreacher.org/narrative_podcast.aspx?podcast_id=971