Today we hear from Dwayne Milley, Vice President of Operations. Dwayne is a regular contributor to the Forum. He has a heart for people with disabilities around the world and seeing them belong to communities. He lives with his wife Karen and daughter Deepika in Toronto, Ontario.
In John 9, Jesus heals a man who had been born blind. Jesus’ disciples pointed out the man to him and Jesus went ahead and spit in dirt, then rubbed the mud on the man’s eyes. He told the man to go wash it off in a local pond. He came back to Jesus and was now able to see. Others saw the man and couldn’t believe he was the same one who had been previously blind and begging. They didn’t recognize him. It doesn’t sound like he had time to change his clothes, so he was likely as dirty and smelly as before. These same people may have tossed him a coin, but they didn’t even pay attention to what he looked like.
So they brought him to the religious leaders. They questioned him and he explained the spit and mud thing. The religious leaders didn’t like that Jesus healed him on the holy day and questioned if the man really had been blind, so they called the man’s parents to ask them. The man’s parents, the writer says, were scared to answer. They knew the leaders weren’t fans of Jesus and they’d be excluded from their place of worship if they suggested they supported Jesus. So they told the leaders to simply ask their son directly.
The man who was previously blind answered again and posed a question to them. He said, “I used to be blind, but now I can see,” and, “do you want to become his disciples as well?” He challenged their denial, saying it was clear to him that someone who wasn’t from God couldn’t do what Jesus did.
Some will say this story means that as followers of Jesus, we must pray for people who are blind or otherwise disabled so they will be healed. That’s a shallow view of this story, in my opinion. Of course Jesus healed the man – Jesus is God, and when you’re God you get to do all the paranormal and supernatural stuff. The bigger miracle in this story is about a smelly, dirty, ignored man who up until then was blind and forced to beg — that guy was able to be seen and heard by the very same religious leaders who were responsible for the rules that kept him outside.
Societal norms? Not when Jesus shows up. Jesus removed a barrier and helped someone ignored to be heard. Jesus challenged societal and religious (gasp!) practices and expectations that kept people like this man in poverty and on the outside. Jesus helped a man who was blind to take a step toward community.
I used to be blind; now I can see.