By John Yieh
A Reading from the Gospel of John 9:18-41
18 The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight 19 and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” 20 His parents answered, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; 21 but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. 23 Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”
24 So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.” 25 He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” 26 They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 27 He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” 28 Then they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29 We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” 30 The man answered, “Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. 32 Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” 34 They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?” And they drove him out.
35 Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 He answered, “And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.” 38 He said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped him. 39 Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.” 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not blind, are we?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.”
Healing is supposed to bring happiness to the man who is born blind and great joy to his parents, and a miracle so extraordinary will surely excites the whole community in Jerusalem to jump up and down in the streets and praise the Lord. To his perplexity, however, this man finds himself tied down, as it were, in a burning house. Instead of celebrating the restoration of his eyesight, the leaders of the synagogue threaten his parents with excommunication if they will not call the miracle a fraud. Questioning Jesus’ pedigree, the Pharisees force the man to say that Jesus is a sinner breaking the Sabbath law. Where does this hostility come from? Under such pressure, however, the man says to those leaders, “One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” Facts cannot be denied by public intimidation. Truth cannot be twisted by loud lies.
Most disturbing is how a healing miracle ends with the disruption of relationship in the family and the community. The Pharisees’ pride and prejudice harden their conscience and cloud their judgment so much so that they cannot recognize Jesus’ compassion and power. They are so eager to condemn Jesus as a sinner that they refuse to share the joy of the healing miracle that happens to one of their most vulnerable brothers. Even worse, they go so far as to tear apart the community they are supposed to sustain and protect.
To defend this man from the Pharisees’ aggression, Jesus says he brings judgment to the world. He issues this warning to make all people see God’s healing power and give glory to God. The merciful God continues to work miracles for the most vulnerable people among us. Can we see it and praise God? Will we share the joy when one of the least of our brothers and sisters receive healing and liberation?
The Rev. John Yueh Han Yieh, Ph.D., is professor in New Testament at Virginia Theological Seminary and a New Testament editor for the Bible Society in Taiwan. Dr. Yieh enjoys his teaching ministry at VTS and is a frequent preacher and speaker in the U.S. and Asia.
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Today we pray for:
The Diocese of Kasai – Province de L’Eglise Anglicane Du Congo
Church of the Holy Faith, Santa Fe, N.M.