Historical setting: 584 C.E. Ligugè
Copying a manuscript is a different practice than reading it, so to read the scriptures I do that in its own time. Here’s this page John Chapter 9. I know this. I’ve seen it happen when I was following Jesus. We came upon a man blind from birth and Jesus spit on soil then placed mud on the man’s eyes and told him to go to a healing lake and wash it off. The man received sight. In John this is a sign, not a miracle. So what does the sign point to? I wonder anew each time I read it and the mystery only increases.
The disciples’ questions, as usual, are base. In this story they asked who sinned to make this fellow blind from birth, was it the unborn infant or the parents? Jesus answers that it isn’t about sin; it’s about the light. So there you have it; its not about sin so seeing another’s blindness, or pain, or woes doesn’t speak of God’s judgment but of light. So if that means God doesn’t reveal holy judgment by letting us see someone punished maybe King Chilperic’s assassination wasn’t a display of holy justice.
But the gospel story’s concern over judgment goes on and on. This tale is full of characters making wrong conclusions about God and sin, light and blindness. Everyone is looking for sin. No one is looking for light. Neighbors wonder who the man is — is he the same person if he isn’t blind? Pharisees wonder about Jesus healing on the Sabbath. Maybe Jesus is the sinner? But we all (at least the ones speaking) know God doesn’t listen to sinners so the sinner can’t be Jesus because God listened to Jesus and the man was healed. The Sadducees call for the man’s parents to tell if he was faking blindness all along. The parents defer to their now adult and sighted son.
All these people just couldn’t let go of that idea of sin even though Jesus said in the very beginning it isn’t about that. It’s about light.
Then Jesus makes everything perfectly clear when he explains, “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see and those who do see may become blind…If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.” [John 9:41 NRSV]
Okay that explains everything … maybe.
(Continues Tuesday, October 5)