As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?” “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him. We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work. But while I am here in the world, I am the light of the world.” Then he spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and spread the mud over the blind man’s eyes. He told him, “Go wash yourself in the pool of Siloam” (Siloam means “sent”). So the man went and washed and came back seeing! His neighbors and others who knew him as a blind beggar asked each other, “Isn’t this the man who used to sit and beg?” Some said he was, and others said, “No, he just looks like him!” But the beggar kept saying, “Yes, I am the same one!” They asked, “Who healed you? What happened?” He told them, “The man they call Jesus made mud and spread it over my eyes and told me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash yourself.’ So I went and washed, and now I can see!” “Where is he now?” they asked. “I don’t know,” he replied. Then they took the man who had been blind to the Pharisees, because it was on the Sabbath that Jesus had made the mud and healed him. The Pharisees asked the man all about it. So he told them, “He put the mud over my eyes, and when I washed it away, I could see!” Some of the Pharisees said, “This man Jesus is not from God, for he is working on the Sabbath.” Others said, “But how could an ordinary sinner do such miraculous signs?” So there was a deep division of opinion among them. Then the Pharisees again questioned the man who had been blind and demanded, “What’s your opinion about this man who healed you?” The man replied, “I think he must be a prophet.” The Jewish leaders still refused to believe the man had been blind and could now see, so they called in his parents. They asked them, “Is this your son? Was he born blind? If so, how can he now see?” His parents replied, “We know this is our son and that he was born blind, but we don’t know how he can see or who healed him. Ask him. He is old enough to speak for himself.” His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who had announced that anyone saying Jesus was the Messiah would be expelled from the synagogue. That’s why they said, “He is old enough. Ask him.” So for the second time they called in the man who had been blind and told him, “God should get the glory for this, because we know this man Jesus is a sinner.” “I don’t know whether he is a sinner,” the man replied. “But I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!” “But what did he do?” they asked. “How did he heal you?” “Look!” the man exclaimed. “I told you once. Didn’t you listen? Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?” Then they cursed him and said, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses! We know God spoke to Moses, but we don’t even know where this man comes from.” “Why, that’s very strange!” the man replied. “He healed my eyes, and yet you don’t know where he comes from? We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but he is ready to hear those who worship him and do his will. Ever since the world began, no one has been able to open the eyes of someone born blind. If this man were not from God, he couldn’t have done it.” “You were born a total sinner!” they answered. “Are you trying to teach us?” And they threw him out of the synagogue. When Jesus heard what had happened, he found the man and asked, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” The man answered, “Who is he, sir? I want to believe in him.” “You have seen him,” Jesus said, “and he is speaking to you!” “Yes, Lord, I believe!” the man said. And he worshiped Jesus. Then Jesus told him, “I entered this world to render judgment—to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind.” Some Pharisees who were standing nearby heard him and asked, “Are you saying we’re blind?” “If you were blind, you wouldn’t be guilty,” Jesus replied. “But you remain guilty because you claim you can see.”
Dear God, an entire book could probably be written about this story. You have so many interesting characters. There is the blind man. There is Jesus. There are the people who witness everything. There are the ones who report it to the Pharisees since it was done on the Sabbath. Then there are the boys parents. I want to just focus on the parents today. I’ve never thought much about them before other than to consider the part where they don’t want anything to do with answering the Pharisees’ questions. So let’s look at the parents.
As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?” “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered.
Since the boy was born blind, presumably before he could have committed a sin, I’m sure that these parents lived with some sort of stigma that they had committed some sort of heinous sin to have caused their son to be born blind. I don’t know what that was like for them. Did it impact their ability to earn income? Did it impact their standing int he church or the community. Jesus confirms that it wasn’t anything they did, but how many decades had they lived with the shame of something they never did? How many times did they ask themselves what they had done? How much did either of them suspect the other of having done something to cause all of this? I’m sure it was a source of conflict for them throughout their lives. Beyond the challenges of a blind son, they had this other cloud constantly over them, even after he was out on his own.
His neighbors and others who knew him as a blind beggar asked each other, “Isn’t this the man who used to sit and beg?” Some said he was, and others said, “No, he just looks like him!” But the beggar kept saying, “Yes, I am the same one!”
I wonder what his parents’ role was like in his life at the time of this event. They were obviously close, but if he was left to simply beg, did they have any role in his daily life? Was he living with them? Did they wash their hands of him, or was this how he contributed to the family. Either way, again, they must have experienced a lot of shame from their son’s situation. They were known to be the beggars parents. That has to be hard.
The Jewish leaders still refused to believe the man had been blind and could now see, so they called in his parents. They asked them, “Is this your son? Was he born blind? If so, how can he now see?” His parents replied, “We know this is our son and that he was born blind, but we don’t know how he can see or who healed him. Ask him. He is old enough to speak for himself.” His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who had announced that anyone saying Jesus was the Messiah would be expelled from the synagogue. That’s why they said, “He is old enough. Ask him.”
I can’t imagine the mixture of joy (elation?) and fear the parents experienced at the same time. On the one hand, “Our son can see!!” On the other hand, “Oh no, we might suffer even more shame and get expelled from the synagogue.” This is what makes me wonder how close they were to the boy at this point. They were willing to throw him under the bus to save themselves. They’d rather he be expelled from the synagogue than themselves.
It’s easy to judge these people, but there are decades of actions and happenings here to which we are not privy. This boy might have rejected them and their help. He might have really hurt them. Or they might have expelled him out of self interest. It could run the entire gamut. The thing we are told is that, at this point in life, they were no longer willing to sacrifice for him. And when I say, “they,” I know at least the father was. Perhaps the mother was just being obedient to the father. Again, we aren’t given that detail.
Now that my children are adults and we have a lot of history behind us, I suppose one question to ask myself in all of this is whether there is a part of me that is unwilling to sacrifice for them. Have they exhausted my good will? Have I just decided to be selfish in some way at their expense? Is there any unforgiveness in my heart that keeps me from doing whatever you need me to do for them? I’m not talking about spoiling them or getting in the way of any lessons you might be teaching them. But is there anything holding me back from being the dad that you need me to be for them?
Father, I give you glory and praise. I thank you for helping both my wife and me see our children into their 20’s. You know all of our background so I don’t have to write about it here, but there have been times when I confess that I was done because of personal pain done to me. I have repented of that, but once again I tell you that I am sorry. I’m sorry that I’ve allowed my own feelings and wants (even needs) get in the way of doing whatever you might have called me to do for their sake. Help me to see them with your eyes and let go of my own selfishness.
In Jesus’s name I pray,