A BEGGAR BLIND FROM BIRTH IS HEALED
Jesus is still in Jerusalem on the Sabbath. As he and his disciples are walking in the city, they see a beggar who has been blind from birth. The disciples ask Jesus: “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, so that he was born blind?”
The disciples know that the man has no invisible soul that existed before he was born, yet they may wonder whether a person might sin while in his mother’s womb. Jesus answers: “Neither this man sinned nor his parents, but it was so that the works of God might be made manifest in his case.” (John 9:3) So neither this man nor his parents were guilty of a specific error or sin that caused his blindness. Rather, as a result of Adam’s sin, all humans are born imperfect and are subject to defects, such as blindness. But the man’s blindness provides an opportunity for Jesus to make manifest the works of God, as he has done at other times in healing people of their sicknesses.
Jesus stresses that it is urgent to do these works. “We must do the works of the One who sent me while it is day,” he says. “The night is coming when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the world’s light.” (John 9:4, 5) Yes, soon Jesus’ death will plunge him into the darkness of the grave where he can do nothing. In the meantime, he is a source of enlightenment to the world.
But will Jesus heal the man, and if so, how? Jesus spits on the ground and with the saliva makes a paste. He puts some of it on the blind man’s eyes and says: “Go wash in the pool of Siloam.” (John 9:7) The man obeys. When he does, he can see! Think of his joy at seeing for the first time in his life!
Neighbors and others who knew him to be blind are amazed. “This is the man who used to sit and beg, is it not?” they ask. “This is he,” some answer. But others cannot believe it and say: “No, but he looks like him.” The man himself responds: “I am he.”
Hence, they ask him: “How, then, were your eyes opened?” He replies: “The man called Jesus made a paste and smeared it on my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed and gained sight.” They then ask: “Where is that man?” The beggar answers: “I do not know.”
The people lead the man to the Pharisees, who also want to know how he gained sight. He tells them: “He put a paste on my eyes, and I washed, and I can see.” It would seem natural that the Pharisees would want to rejoice with the healed beggar. Instead, some of them denounce Jesus. “This is not a man from God,” they claim, “for he does not observe the Sabbath.” Yet others say: “How can a man who is a sinner perform signs of that sort?” (John 9:15, 16) So they are divided.
Faced with these conflicting views, they turn to the man who now can see and ask: “What do you say about him, since it was your eyes that he opened?” He has no doubts about Jesus and responds: “He is a prophet.”
The Jews refuse to believe this. They may think that there is some scheme between Jesus and this man to fool the people. They conclude that one way to settle the matter is to question the beggar’s parents about whether he really was blind.