Sunday Wrymouth 004: One Thing I Do Know...
From John's gospel, another miniature painting of human nature: the inquisition of the man who was born blind, but then was healed by Jesus:
The story starts in the ninth chapter, as Jesus is gallivanting around with some disciples in tow:
As he went on his way, he noticed a man who had been blind from his birth, and his disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned — this man, or his parents? — that he was born blind?"A typically "clever" puzzler, dreamed up by the people around Jesus. Something about it sounds like the kind of witty remark I'd no doubt come up with when given a chance to converse directly with God.
Stupid anti-semitic Christians take note: Jesus is a Jew. They're not calling him "Rabbi" because that's a Greek term for teacher.
Jesus answered, "This has not happened because he has sinned or his parents, but that in him the works of God should be displayed." ... When he said this, he spat on the ground and made mud and anointed the man's eyes with the mud, and told him, "Go, wash in the Pool of Siloam..."Huh. Bad things aren't always somebody's fault. And God has an agenda that seems odd, at best, and unfair or capricious at worst. The only reason it doesn't bother me more than it does is because it didn't seem to bother Jesus very much. He seems to be okay with the whole "life is unfair" appearance of this world. Probably because that's not how he sees it.
So he went and washed and came back seeing.
A lot of my belief system hinges on the character of Jesus. If someone could convincingly show me his character was a fiction or a fraud, I would gladly become far more agnostic than I am.
Now, we enter a part of the book of John where Jesus leaves center stage, and we follow this miraculously healed man around. This (like the fish and loaves cooking on the campfire on the beach, later on in the book) is where I get especially intrigued by the reactions of the people, but moreso by the reactions to the inquisitors by the ex-blind man.
Instead of Deep Insights or Grand Revelations of Christ, we get his famous "I dunno" takes on How Jesus Did It:
The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar said, "Isn't this the man who used to sit and beg?"Here's a group of townsfolk arguing over the guy's identity, while he tries to get their attention and tell them who he is. Let me highlight that this is just the beginning of a slow slide into exasperation for Our Hero:
Some said, "Yes! That's him," others said, "No; but he looks like him!"
He said, "I am the one!"
They said to him, "Then how were your eyes opened?"So,
He said, " The man called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes, and said to me, 'Go to Siloam and wash.' So I went, and washed, and received my sight!"
They said to him, "Where is he [now]?"
He said, "I dunno."
They brought the man who had been previously blind to the Pharisees.I love the fact that his relating of the tale is getting shorter and shorter as he has to repeat it.
Now, it was on the Sabbath that Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes.
The Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight.
He told them, "He applied mud to my eyes, and I washed them, and I see."
Some of the Pharisees then remarked, "This man is not from God, for he does not observe the Sabbath!" Others said, "How can a sinful man perform signs?" ... So they again said to the blind man, "What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes?"
He said, "He is a prophet." ...
[They] did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight, until they summoned the parents of the man who had received his sight,I like the redundancy there — it seems to be used ironically —
and asked them, ""Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?"Wouldn't it be easier, from a fictional standpoint, just to give the guy a name? That way, we wouldn't have to keep referring to him as "the man who was born blind," or "the man who had previously been blind." But, evidently, John never found out the guy's name. Huh.
His parents replied, "We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind. But how he sees now we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. He is of age; he will speak for himself!"
So, for the second time, they summoned the man who was previously blind
and told him, "Give God the glory [for the healing?]; we know this man is a sinner."Finally, our man snaps:
He replied, "Whether he is a sinner or not, I do not know. One thing I do know, that I was blind and now I see!"
They asked him, "What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?"
He answered, "I've told you already, and you wouldn't listen! Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples?"After a miracle later described as something that had "never happened in the history of the world," we get not Hallelujahs and world-changing repentances, we get — gossip and bureaucratic committees, and this one guy trying to get people to believe his story.