Healing of the man born blind - Page 4
And Jesus, having left the Temple, comes to the man who was born blind and demonstrates the truth of all that he has claimed. (15) We can imagine what life must have been like for this man: quite apart from his inability to see, there was the daily grind of begging enough to meet his basic needs, of having to cope with the assumption that he was blind because he or his parents had sinned, of being unable to join in the everyday life of the city. And it had gone on like that week after week, month after month, and year after year.
But now, as he sits in his usual begging place, he hears the voice of Someone who dispels that assumption about the cause of his blindness and even seems to be suggesting that something good is going to come out of it, that something momentous is about to happen. And the man who has lived all his life in darkness, who has never marvelled at those huge Temple candlesticks ablaze with light, hears that thrilling claim, “I am the light of the world”. Jesus doesn’t delay: he mixes his saliva with some dust from the ground and makes some mud. Then the blind man feels gentle fingers applying the mud to his sightless eyes and the voice of the Man who claims to be the light of the world tells him to “Go, wash in the Pool of Siloam” (NRSV, John 9:7).
What thoughts must be racing through his head as, wild with hope, he makes his way through the bustling crowds to the Pool! And there he washes himself and his life is changed for ever – for he can see. Perhaps he expects all around him to share his unimaginable joy, but not so. Instead they discuss whether he really is the blind man who used to beg and when he assures them he is, they keep asking him how he came to receive his sight. Then they bring him to the Pharisees and the man has a long and difficult exchange with them in which he holds his own most brilliantly! But the exchange ends with the man being driven out of the Temple.
And perhaps after that he returns to the poor little shack that is his home. But all the conflict with the Pharisees is about to be swept out of his mind for Jesus finds him and makes himself known to him. As St John Chrysostom writes in around the fourth century, “The Jews cast him out from the Temple, and the Lord of the Temple found him; he was separated from that pestilent company, and met with the Fountain of salvation; he was dishonored by those who dishonored Christ, and was honored by the Lord of Angels”. (16)