Sunday, March 22, 2020

Once Blind

Many of us may fear the dark, but he had grown accustomed to the quiet isolation of what could never be changed. There was a strange peace to it, a grateful predictability that had become even comforting.  But always you had to be attentive, that was survival. Feeling for the corner of the table and knowing you were in the right place. Counting off the paces to the square; then sitting on the ground with an open hand, hoping for a coin or two. Folks pitied you; and maybe that wasn’t so bad. But there was always the murmuring. “Whose sin was it?” He’d heard it since he was a little boy; he could remember hiding under the table one day, listening to his parents whisper. “What did we do wrong? I don’t remember anything serious.” And then, “It must be his sin then.” The eerie possibility was that, without even knowing it, he himself had done something really horrible, maybe even while still in his mother’s womb. Blindness was the direct consequence of sin; everybody knew that, all decent Jews in Jesus’ day believed it. Sin leaves its mark, sin causes sickness. It had to be someone’s fault. Case closed. Dead-end.

But now Christ Jesus comes to this dead-end; he steps into the primordial darkness and says, “God won’t have it. Let there be light.” For the Light that Christ Jesus our Lord is cannot abide the darkness, the shame and isolation. And so, God’s light in Christ breaks in, breaks through to heal and make whole again. Jesus the kind Physician bends down to the ground and makes an ointment, mixing his own spittle with the dirt, the dust, the earth that we are; and so he reenacts creation. And as in the beginning, the Word is bringing new life out of the dust of the earth. Jesus who is sent by his Father to heal and redeem and relieve, now anoints with a muddy ointment and sends the man to wash in the Pool that is called “Sent” (Siloam). But it is Jesus himself who is the refreshing Pool, he the Light that recreates and reverses. And even as he confronts darkness, Jesus knows that the darkness of rejection is hanging over him, oppressive, inevitable, a great heavy weight. But he does not hold back, he moves steadfastly into it all.

And so, it is, that Sabbath or not, Jesus has to make a move. It’s what drives the Pharisees so absolutely crazy, for a real Messiah would know better. But that’s the whole point - Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath; his sovereignty is his compassion. The Sabbath is his Day.  For he is the in-breaking of God’s regenerative intimacy with us, and we see here in this story the perfect prelude to what he will accomplish on Calvary in his Hour. There he will pour himself out, the blood and water gushing from his hands and feet and from his wounded heart will drench and anoint the earth, from this sacred clay a new creation will blossom. And all of creation gone hopelessly astray will be released from the burden of sin and all darkness and shame and Satan’s constant deceptions. Things must made right again. Light will indeed conquer darkness once and for all, because God will allow Godself to be crushed by death or darkness. They will be duped and reversed, for they are no match for the light that he is. 

Photo by Charles O'Connor.