John 9, In this chapter of Jesus healing the man who was born blind. We see how his being born blind has cut him off from normal life in the society; that he was forced to beg for his living.
Jesus engages with the man in numerous ways
- Jesus saw him (verse 1)
- The man touched by Jesus (verse 6)
- Spoke to him Jesus (verse 7)
- Jesus found him (verse 35)
- The man’s conversation with Jesus (verse 35).
Jesus’ encounters and attitude towards the man born blind shows; how Jesus had treated him like any other people; and did not define him or limit him to his disabilities.
The blind man (John 9)
The person is simply labelled as “The blind man” and this shows how he was stigmatized. His blindness was negatively valued; and he was viewed as a sinner just because he did not have that specific attribute; that the society has stretched as normal.
The disciples asked to Jesus, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Disciples thought that the disability was the punishment for some unspecified sin. When Jesus healed the physically impaired man; who lay by the pool of Bethesda.
He said to him, “see, you have been made well! Do not sin anymore. So, that nothing worse happens to you” (John 5:14). This may have indicated to the disciples; that there was a connection between the man’s disability and some sin.
But Jesus gave a clear answer saying, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him” (John 9:3). Also, this text possesses an interesting reality; how the man’s healing instead of being rejoiced was still categorised even after his healing.
The neighbours in verse 8 asked, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” when they could have instead said “Is this not the man who was healed?”
This shows about how he was still tagged of what he used to be even after healed. They were trying to identify the man with the identification of not what he became; but what he used to be.
The line used in verse 13 is “The man who had formerly been blind”.
When it could be “The man who was healed of blindness”. And this is what happens even now; we are all like those neighbours who discuses disability differently and tags the people with disabilities even before or after their healing.
That very form of disability as the society puts it that they posses or had possessed tags along with them; all throughout their lives and this is one way of the many of how they are marginalized. The disability that a person has becomes their defining identity.
However, Jesus moves beyond that; he puts the person first; he doesn’t see a blind man; rather he sees a person living with blindness. For the others, the man’s blindness came first; but Jesus recognized the Man first. Also, there were different encounters with the man born blind by four other groups:
- The disciples (verse 2);
- His neighbours and acquaintances (verse 8);
- The Pharisees (verse 13); the Jews/leaders of the Jews (verse 18, 24);
- His parents (verse 20).
Their attitude towards him showed how that person’s blindness has limited him to not be respected and even in the sight of his family he was someone they wouldn’t risk their lives to even stand for. At the end of it all Jesus clears the air by pointing out; that disability is not in the physical body; but dwells in the minds of the people.
The Gospel author repeatedly applies with literary technique to convey Jesus’ teaching in certain situations. He moves from an everyday experience and human need message from God to persons. it’s as if He draws His audience into a practical situation.
So, as to confront them with God’s Will. On this chapter, Jesus uses the sufferer’s blindness; and therefore, the disciples’ question about whose sin caused the blindness; to spotlight the public’s lack of insight. Jesus points His disciples also because the religious leaders to the Source where their most profound need are often satisfied.
When the misunderstanding is cleared up; they’re going to see God. During this particular story, it means correcting the erroneous concept the man’s blindness was caused by somebody’s sin. Read more…