Between the Lines: Lent 4: April 3, 2011

Text: John 9:1-41

Man Born Blind

Jesus heals the man born blind (Cameroon, Africa)

When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent).

What an odd story, when you enter it. Other gospel accounts of Jesus’ healing seem to involve little more than a touch (if that—how many times does Jesus say, “Your faith has made you well”?) Imagine yourself as the blind man, sitting in your customary place by the road, overhearing (maybe not for the first time) some passers-by debating the meaning of your blindness. What questions might you have asked yourself, or God, or others about your blindness?

Now you hear a pause in the conversation, you hear someone spit and then suddenly someone (is it the man they call “Rabbi”?) is spreading mud on your eyes and telling you to wash them off in the Pool of Siloam. What thoughts are racing through your mind? Can you hope, or is this just a setup for disappointment? How far away is Siloam, and do you have any idea how to get there? What might lead you to try? What might incline you to refuse, wipe the mud out of your eyes, and perhaps curse at this heartless human being who is having a joke with your disability?

John tells us that the name “Siloam” means “Sent,” but he doesn’t go beyond that. Who is Sent? What does it mean to be Sent? The root of the Greek word is the same as that for “apostle.” Who might the apostle, the Sent one, be? The blind man? Jesus? You or me?

– Andy Kille

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