Now, blindness of the eyes can sneak up on a person during life. The thickness of my own personal spectacles demonstrates how blindness has snuck up on me somewhat over the years.
But the Lord cured a man who had been born blind. The man had not grown blind by squinting at ancient Torah scrolls in dimly lit synagogues. He had not suffered an injury to his eyes in a battle or a fight or an accident. This man had been born blind.
St. Augustine interprets this in a mystical way: “The blind man here is the human race. Blindness came upon the first man by reason of sin, and from him all derive it.”
Whom can we not see? The most important Being of them all, our origin and the goal of all our striving. Can’t see Him. Can’t see the One upon Whom all the angels gaze, and it is all the food they need. We are blind from birth.
“Is this the one who used to sit and beg? No, it just looks like him.”
“This man might have cured the blind, but he cannot come from God because he does not keep the sabbath!”
These statements all have one thing in common: They are obtuse.
The Lord Jesus enabled a man born blind to see what was in front of his face. But it seems like everyone else involved could not see what was in front of their faces.
“Is your son cured?” “Ask him.”
“Are you disciples of Christ?” “No, we are disciples of Moses.”
“Where is the man who cured you?” “I don’t know.”
“What do you have to say about him?—No wait. You were born in sin, so how can you teach us?”
At one point, the cured blind man began to speak by saying, “This is what is so amazing…” What is amazing is that no one talks in a simple straight line. No one wants to acknowledge the obvious facts.
Except the Lord Jesus. “I am the light of the world,” He said.
The Lord of truth has no patience for obtuse and manipulative speech. In the Sermon on the Mount, He insisted: “Let your Yes mean Yes and your No mean No.” A disciple of Christ lives in the simplicity of the truth, without fearing it or blinkering himself to it, without trying to change it or fudge it.
The fact of the matter is, we human beings cannot live in peace with each other if we do not have confidence in each other’s commitment to seeking and speaking the truth.
The account of the cure of the man born blind would be much more satisfying to read if everyone involved loved the truth. But rather, the episode provides us with a particularly vivid example of a situation where trust and truthfulness have been lost.
The streets of Jerusalem hissed with whispers in shadowy corners. Small, weak men fought for their petty prerogatives. They conspired and plotted. The idea of the common good did not enter their minds, except as a pretext for self-serving violence.
The light of the world walked unarmed into this cesspool of dissimulation. He spoke divine truth with unguarded forthrightness and calm candor. When Christ went up to the obtuse city that Jerusalem had become, He showed us the path to honesty in this fallen world: He prized the truth more than His own mortal life.
Pontius Pilate tried to flim-flam his way through the Passover festival. Instead, he wound up with a riot on his hands and his lackluster career in peril.
Pilate knew the mysterious rabbi was innocent. But he sent Him to a cruel death anyway.
Before He took the cross in His hands, the condemned Galilean said:
For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.