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Maybe You, Too? — John 9:1–41

“IF YOU WERE BLIND, then you would not be guilty; but since you claim that you can see, this means that you are still guilty” (John 9:41, TEV).

C.K. Barrett writes: “Many have their own inade­quate lights . . . which they are too proud to relin­quish for the true light which now shines. The effect of the true light is to blind them, since they wilfully close their eyes to it. Their sin abides pre­cisely because they are so confident of their righteousness.”*

We all are capable of falling into such darkness. We see what we want to see, but we do not see what we ought to see.

That is why the insight of Jesus into our world-blinded eyes is both barb and bait. He pronounces judgment when we expect grace. He announces grace when we expect judgment.

The Pharisees said of Jesus, “The man who did this [healing] cannot be from God, for he does not obey the . . . law” (vs. 16), which was the only power the Pharisees could see. Jesus, who saw by the light of love, “split their ranks” and said, “I came to this world to judge, so that the blind should see and those who [think they] see should become blind” (vs. 39).

Who of us has not harbored the fear that pres­ent calamity is punishment for previous sin? Or looked upon someone else’s plight and nodded, “Your sin has caught up with you”? So does Jesus, full of grace and mercy, catch up with us.

Naturally, the disciples contended that the poor fellow was blind because he reaped exactly what he had sown, or because he was visited by the “sins of the fathers.” Like the church most of the time, the disciples had trouble seeing it other­wise. Jesus saw the man’s blindness not as an op­portunity for condemning the man for sins either committed or inherited, but as an opportunity for grace, “that God’s power might be seen at work.”

He said to him: “Go and wash your face in the Pool of Siloam.” Siloam meant “Sent.” Alter­nately: “Go, be rid of your dirt by the cleansing waters of the One who is sent.” “So the man went, washed his face, and came back seeing.” (vs. 7).

To rephrase the theology, the man was made whole again (able to see) by the power of God’s grace, by nothing else. The Pharisees objected because they believed preeminently in the fulfill­ment of the law as the only way to salvation. Jesus had broken the law for the sake of grace. “The man who did this cannot be from God, for he does not obey the . . . law.”

But what is “from God”? The law? Certainly. To live up to the law? Yes, for Jesus.

But for us? Impossible. For us, “from God” means to live, to “see,” to be healed by grace.

So the man said to his accusers concerning himself: “I do not know if he is a sinner or not.” And that makes you want to laugh for joy, because it doesn’t matter. “One thing I do know: I was blind, and now I see” (vs. 25). That does matter. Cry for joy! “Maybe you, too, would like to be his disciples?” (vs. 27).

*C. K. Barrett, The Gospel According to St. John, An Introduction with Commentary and Notes of the Greek Text  (London: S.P.C.K, 1962), p. 293.

BIBLICAL QUOTATIONS FROM Today’s english version (TEV), American Bible Society, 1952