Originally posted April 9, 2011, at A Front View Pew Republished with permission of the author.
“I saw the light, I saw the light. No more darkness; no more night. Now I’m so happy no sorrow in sight. Praise the Lord, I saw the light!” (from “I Saw the Light” — lyrics by Hank Williams Sr.)
If you had been blind your whole life, then suddenly gained the ability to see, how would you interpret all the stuff that never had any meaning for you before?
How would you describe all the new things you saw when the only words you had ever used before corresponded to information gathered through your other senses?
Would you even have the vocabulary you needed to express this new experience?
“Dark” seems at first like it would be a very familiar concept, but having lived in the absence of light, even that simple word would acquire new meaning.
Hearing other people talk about how blue the sky is would make that a pretty easy association. And, if you have already enjoyed eating oranges, you have known them by their taste and smell and shape, but seeing the color of them adds a whole new dimension to your understanding.
This is what I’ve been thinking about since we watched that scene in the miniseries, “Jesus of Nazareth,” the story from the ninth chapter of John’s Gospel where Jesus and the disciples come across a blind man begging.
What the disciples want to know is, who is to blame for this guy’s blindness? Jesus responds, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (John 9:3-5).
Jesus spits in the dirt, makes some mud, smears it on the guy’s eyes, and tells him to go wash in the pool of Siloam. The man does as he is told and comes back able to see for the first time in his life.
These folks have never heard of this kind of thing happening anywhere before, so their skepticism is understandable. Some suspect a hoax. The former blind beggar has to keep repeating his story for them.
Even though he tells them exactly how it happened, they “know that God does not listen to sinners” and eventually “they drove him out.”
Jesus changes people, but how can they explain it in a way that makes sense to others if what they have experienced is outside of all they have previously known? We don’t know if the blind man had any blind friends, but if he did, how would he describe the gift of sight in terms they could understand?
When someone attempts to relate to us how their life has changed, that they have begun to see things differently, do we also treat them with suspicion? On what basis do we decide whether their story is credible? Do we immediately dismiss some people because of how we judge their character?
“Surely we are not blind, are we?” said the Pharisees. How might we, too, be “vision-impaired” because of what we think we already know and what we refuse to see?
Find a link to Anita Nuetzman’s blog A Front Pew View at Lutheran Blogs.