Seeing in the dark

21st March, 2017

You and I belong to a Christian community of stories and storytellers. In the telling of the stories of Jesus especially, our own stories are told. As we identify with the people in those stories, with their distress, anger, anxiety, hopes, fears, struggles, sadness and joy, we too are led to make living contact with our Saviour. We are challenged by his words, supported by his love, and healed by his touch.

Today’s gospel reading is the story of Jesus ‘the Light of the World’. It’s the story too of the blind man. It’s our story too. Three stories, then, are interwoven and interconnected.

The blind man has lived in a world of darkness from the day he was born. He has never seen his room, his table, his chair, his bed, his door. He has never seen flowers, or trees, or children. He has never seen anyone or anything. Besides, with nothing like an invalid pension to ease his distress, his struggle to survive has been reduced to begging in the streets, a struggle aggravated by abuse, insults and contempt from passersby.

Leading lights in the town have been baiting him with their ignorant accusation: ‘Your blindness was caused by your sins.’ Even after his blindness is plainly cured they keep up their sneers: ‘What you allege just didn’t happen. This Jesus fellow is a sinner. Sinners can’t cure people. Anyway, you weren’t blind in the first place.’

All through their bullying the patient sufferer never loses his cool, and replies to every accusation with the unvarnished truth. And through it all he grows in his appreciation of the greatness of the One who has so generously stepped into his life to help and heal.

At first he sees in Jesus a man with special powers, one who can smear mud on a blind person’s eyes and make the sufferer see again. Next he comes to see that Jesus is a prophet, a messenger of God. Finally he recognises Jesus as his Lord and King, and bows down and worships him.