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Fourth Sunday of Lent: Reflection by Deacon Scott Johnson

Friends in Christ! This week we continue our Lenten reflections with another of the encounters of Jesus in the gospel of John. This week read of the encounter of a man born blind with Jesus who is the light of the world. Jesus and his disciples were leaving the temple area and they walked by a man who was blind from birth. Jesus noticed the man, and so did his disciples. His disciples then asked, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” It was a common view in the days of Jesus that physical ailments were the direct result of some particular sin of the person or even perhaps their parents. The ailment of this man provoked an interesting question given that he was born blind.

Notice that the disciples do not ask, are ailments like these the direct result of sin? Instead they take the predominant view of the day and assume that they are and ask Jesus whose sin caused this blindness? This idea might sound absurd to you and I, but it was a common view in Jesus’ day. And actually there are many who still think in this way. They assume that physical suffering of any kind is the direct result of some sin, or some lack of faith, or the curse of God. Perhaps you’ve run into people who hold to a view like this. Jesus however answers them by letting them know that it is not sin that caused this, but this man’s condition will result in glory being given to God.

Last week our Gospel readings told us that Jesus is able to give us streams of living water to satiate our spiritual thirst. Today we read how Jesus is able to heal our sight so that we can see spiritually. But to understand this particular encounter with a bit more veracity we have to look a bit deeper at the miracle itself. So Jesus today puts clay from the ground into his hands and spits on it making mud. He then puts this on the blind man and asks him to wash. When the people and even the leaders of Israel find out about the healing, the people who see the man after this don’t even recognize this is him anymore. Even the leaders of Israel are so baffled that they call in his parents to verify it, for surely the parents would know their child. They confirm it is indeed their son. But why was all that necessary, what had the miracle entailed that caused this confusion. If we look to Genesis we find the answer. God had made man from the dust of the ground. As it says, “But springs from the earth swelled up and water the whole ground. Then the Lord God formed man from the dust of ground…” The man born blind literally had no physical eyes. Jesus made new physical eyes for him. A miracle that even the leaders of Israel who knew scripture well should have been able to believe. But incredulous they didn’t. But as the former man born blind said to them, “It is unheard of that anyone ever opened the eyes of a person born blind.” But the leaders of Israel, like perhaps many in our own time, seem to be spiritually blind.

It is here we find that Jesus shows us that he does have the power to heal our physical sight, but what is even more important is our spiritual sight. Jesus desires to make for us spiritual eyes that can see life in a way that physical sight simply is not able. If we wish to make the most of our Lenten journey the last two weeks have revealed to us that Jesus can provide spiritual drink so that the heart of the soul can be spiritually nourished, and this week Jesus reveals that he is able to give us new eyes with which to see spiritually where perhaps we have been in complete darkness. Like our Gospel, where Jesus sought out the man born blind after he had been kicked out of the synagogue, it is truly in the healing of our spiritual eyes that Jesus most clearly reveals to us that he is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world. Amen and God Love you!

Deacon Scott Johnson

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