As we begin our study of John 9, the man born blind, Sharon reminds us that John’s Gospel contains 7 signs: water changed to wine (John 2), healing of the royal official’s son (John 4), healing of the lame man (John 5), feeding of the 5000 (John 6), walking on the Sea of Galilee (John 6), healing of the man born blind (John 9) and the raising of Lazarus (John 11). Some scholars add an 8th sign, the resurrection of Jesus (John 20). Focusing then on John 9, Sharon shows how the disciples were passing moral judgment against the man born blind, asking if it was his or his parent’s sin that caused his blindness.
If we are honest with ourselves, we tend to do the same: we assume lung cancer is related to smoking or cirrhosis of the liver is related to alcohol abuse. Sharon then takes us to the story of Job, who lost his possessions, his health, and his children, yet never sinned by cursing God. As with the man born blind, Job’s sufferings were not without meaning but instead was an opportunity for the Lord to be magnified. As we so often see, John’s Gospel is intimately connected with the book of Genesis: the pre-incarnate Jesus created, while the incarnate Jesus recreated. Recalling how Adam was created from the dust, the Church fathers believed that the man of John 9 was born without eyes and that Christ recreated this man by fashioning new eyes out of dust and spittle.
In another wonderful connection with Genesis, we recall that Gihon was one of the four rivers that flowed from Eden. A river named by the same title Gihon or “Gush Forth” supplied the pool of Siloam, where the blind man washed away the mud, completing the restoration of his sight. We also remember that after forming man from the dust of the ground, the Lord breathed His own divine breath of life into man, imparting an eternal soul into Adam. The soul and body unite in a single nature, separated only at death, but to be reunited at the resurrection of the dead. Jesus uses all things for his good, including death. The curse of death resulted from the fall, yet Jesus conquered death on the cross and now our own death becomes our only avenue back to the fullness of the Trinity through Jesus! Death used to separate us from God, but now death is our way back home. As St. Paul said: “Where, O death, is your sting now?” (1 Cor. 15:55b).
Sharon gives several examples of various types of blindness in this chapter, including the blindness of the Pharisees who failed to see the glorification of God through this healing. But blindness does not have to be a terminal condition. Saul, Pharisee of Pharisees, was spiritually blind as he persecuted the early Christians. Then the Lord rendered him physically blind for three days, resulting in the most magnificent of conversions. A blind, sinful Pharisee was recreated into one of the most powerful witnesses ever to the glory of God. Jesus came for all, the righteous and the sinners. Baptismal waters gush forth to recreate all believers and fill us with His Holy Spirit.
Sharon Doran serves as the teaching director of “Seeking Truth.” An experienced Bible Study teacher, Sharon has a passion for scripture that will motivate and challenge you to immerse yourself in God’s Word and apply His message to your everyday life.
“Seeking Truth” is an in-depth Catholic Bible Study, commissioned by the Archdiocese of Omaha in response to John Paul II’s call to the New Evangelization as well as Pope Benedict XVI’s exhortation for all Catholics to study scripture. To learn more go to www.seekingtruth.net