Who is Jesus? In this story from the Gospel of John we see Jesus healing the man who was born blind. Let me tell the story and give some ideas to think about. (To see the words of this gospel, click here.)
Jesus is with his disciples in Jerusalem. They walk past a blind man who was sitting there begging for money. One of his disciples asked, “Who sinned? This man or his parents to make him blind?” And Jesus says, “He is not guilty of any sin, but he is here so that people can see the power of God.”
Remember a long time ago people thought that a person was blind or crippled because he was guilty, that God was punishing him. We know this is not true, but many people thought it a long time ago.
Jesus has compassion for the blind man. Maybe Jesus says, “I have no money, but I can help you see, see the light, see the beautiful world.” Remember the man grew up and was never able to see anything. He did not understand what Jesus wanted to give him.
So Jesus takes some dirt, spits in it, makes mud, puts it on the man’s eyes and tells him to go and wash it off. The man really wanted money. Now he has a dirty face; so he goes off and washes his face.
Then immediately he sees clearly. Imagine, what does he see now? He sees all the colors, the blue sky, the bright sun, all the people walking around. He may feel amazed. He didn’t know how wonderful, how awesome and beautiful the whole world was.
You and I see well enough; we think nothing about it. It’s not very special that we are able to see the beauty of the sky, the trees, the flowers, all the other beautiful people. Sometimes you and I need to stop and say, “Thank you, God; you made so much beauty. I can see all you have made; it is wonderful; and you, God, are wonderful.”
Maybe the man wanders around, amazed, excited. Maybe he talks about how wonderful and beautiful everything is. People come around and say, “He was blind before; how does he see now? Is he the same man or a different man? It is the same face but how can he see, how?” A crowd gathers; some leaders of the people come and see the crowd and they wonder what is happening. They start asking the man and he says, “The man Jesus made mud, put it in my eyes; I washed and now I see!”
Notice: the man says “the man” Jesus made mud and put on his eyes. He thinks of Jesus as an ordinary human being.
Notice too: Jesus did what? He used something (mud), did something (put it on his eyes) and said something (go wash). Jesus’s power causes the change for the man, like a sacrament. In the Catholic Church we have seven sacraments.The person doing the sacraments? It is really Jesus. You see the priest, yes. But the real person of power doing the sacrament is who? It is Jesus. For example in baptism: Jesus takes something–water; he does something–he pours water over the head of the person; he says something, “I baptize you.” And then it happens that the person is changed, becomes a daughter of God, a son of God; the Holy Spirit rushes in to live in the person. The same is true in the Eucharist, in Confirmation, in the Anointing of the Sick, in all the sacraments.
The religious leaders ask the man, “What happened?” Remember the story happened on a Sabbath. There was a very strict rule that no one could do any work on the Sabbath, no work. The man explained that Jesus made mud; this was work. And the man washed it off; this was work. The leaders said that work was forbidden on the Sabbath. Jesus broke the law; he must be a sinner.
The man answered, “About Jesus as a sinner, I do not know. Before I saw nothing; I was blind. Now I see clearly. Can a sinner do something like that?”
The leaders asked him, “Who do you think Jesus is?” The man answers, “He is a prophet!” Prophet means a person who acts for God, speaks for God, comes from God. The man knows who Jesus is a little bit more clearly. The leaders are angry, and they throw him out of the temple.
The man is confused; he doesn’t understand what is happening. Now his people reject him, what can he do? Jesus hears about what happened and looks for him and finds him. Jesus is sorry for the man’s suffering. Then Jesus asks him, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” The man answers, “Yes, who is he?” Jesus says, “I am the Son of Man.” Son of Man was a title in the Bible about a man from Heaven coming to bring strength, peace, freedom to suffering people. The people were waiting a long time for this man to come from heaven. The man says, “Yes I believe that you are the Son of Man.” The man has a more deep idea who Jesus is. Then the man says, “ I believe, Lord” and he worships Jesus. Remember “Lord” in the Bible is the name for God. The man says, “Jesus, you are God,” and he worships Jesus because Jesus is the same as God.
The story is about a man who comes to know Jesus more and more deeply. He knows Jesus as Savior of the world, as light for the world, as God come into the world. So we too need to grow in our understanding of who Jesus is and know Jesus more and more deeply.