‘In ancient theatre no more than two active characters
should appear on stage at any one time, and scenes
were often divided by this rule’. On this basis
there are eight scenes in today’s
i) Jesus and the disciples;
ii) Jesus and the man born blind; iii) The blind
man and his neighbours; iv) The blind man and
the Pharisees; v) The Pharisees and the blind
man’s parents; vi) The Pharisees and the blind
man; vii) Jesus and the blind man again; viii)
Jesus and the Pharisees. The description of the
opponents of Jesus as ‘Jews’ and ‘Pharisees’ reminds
us that the author was reading back into the story
of Jesus the experience of early Christians brought
before the bet din (religious courts)
in Jamnia and the animosity generated by the decision
to expel them from the synagogue. Only a tiny
fraction of ‘the Jews’ could have been involved
in arguing about the blind man, obviously.
JESUS rejects the age-old Jewish
belief that illness or handicap was punishment
for sin. In giving us the meaning of ‘Siloam’
as ‘sent’, John hints at the questions: ‘Has Jesus
been sent? By the Father? These are the questions
the people and the authorities are asking about
him. It is Sabbath, when no one can work, when
Jesus makes paste and puts it on the man’s eyes.
Is this work? His gesture reminds us of God making
man from the dust of the earth. The blind man
washes at the pool, reminding us of Baptism.
In Scene vii) (above) Jesus opens the
blind man to another light, that of faith.
God also had performed two actions at creation:
he had modelled the creatures and then breathed
into man the breath of life. God creates, and
then shares his life. But that can only come about
in and through Jesus Christ. When Moses was being
sent back to persuade his people out of Egypt
he refused to go, saying: “I have never been eloquent.
. . I am slow of speech and slow of tongue”, God
told him: “Who gives speech to mortals? Who makes
them mute or deaf, seeing or blind? Is it not
I, the Lord?” [Exodus 4:10-11] Jesus
has proved he has the power of God; he is the
light that ‘illumines everyone coming into the
world’. ‘The works of God are displayed in this
The ‘Jews’, as followers of Moses, will not be
moved. They know that God had spoken through Moses,
but they do not know ‘where Jesus comes from’.
The blind man points out that there must be some
connection between Jesus’ origin and the healing
he has just accomplished, but the ‘Jews’ can only
see what Moses brought. Sadly, they suffer from
a sort of ‘tunnel vision’.
|1. “I am the
light of the world”. What should that mean
|2. Like the ‘Jews’,
have I ‘blind spots’, things about Christ
I do not wish to consider?
|3. Where I might
I have to show courage like that of the blind