My least favorite part about waking up in the morning is that moment of first light. Usually, it is my iPhone, ready to offer me the Morning Office from Forward Movement, but sometimes it is the light in the kitchen to feed the dogs or the bathroom to… well that’s somewhat self-explanatory. That first moment of light can be excruciating as my eyes adjust from full dilation during what has been the darkness of night and to the constriction of what will be the brightness of the day. I can only imagine what that experience must have been like for the man born blind. After decades of darkness, how intense was that first experience of light?
As the story unfolds, John uses this ongoing metaphor of darkness and light to show us how the man’s spiritual pupils had to slowly adjust after his encounter with Jesus. The adjustment doesn’t seem to happen quite as quickly as that first moment of actual light, but it seems the experience was just as painful as the man searches for meaning.
Immediately, the questions begin. “Weren’t you the beggar we knew? Who did this to you?” The man responds, “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ Then I went and washed and received my sight.” They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.” The crowd near his home doesn’t buy it, and so they drag him off to the Pharisees for what amounts to a heresy trial. He once again tells the story of the mud and the Pool of Siloam, and when pressed by the Pharisees, “What do you say about him?” the man’s understanding deepens. He is no longer able to say that Jesus is just “the man called Jesus,” but now he sees him as “a prophet.”
The saga continues as now the man’s parents are brought before the council to give account of this miracle. Unwilling to comment on who Jesus might be, they turn the ball back over to their son saying, “ask him, he’s the one who was healed.” So again, the Pharisees question the man. He wonders aloud if they want to maybe be his disciples, affirms that he’s not sure how it all happened, but that the man who healed him had to be “from God.” As he considers the truth that never before had anyone ever heard of someone blind from birth being healed, his spiritual vision continues to come into focus.
Finally, after the man is removed from the Synagogue, he is once again encountered by Jesus. Here, with physical eyes wide open and spiritual eyes ready to see, he comes to see fully that Jesus is the Son of Man, one of John’s favorite names for the Messiah, and he becomes the only person in John’s Gospel to worship Jesus. It was difficult work, coming to see Jesus fully, but the man is blessed in the experience. His eyes are opened, but more than that, his heart is open to God and he becomes a disciple. Would that our hearts might be made open to see God’s hand at work in the world about us.