This past Sunday I preached on the story of Jesus healing a blind man found in the Gospel of John. The story is so much more than about the healing of a man born blind: it touches on the theology of disability, the role of parents and authority figures in the church, the ways in which we “miss the point” so often when it comes to God and God’s will, and how strict adherence to the Law – while noble – may yield un-Christlike results. There is so much to say, and as a preacher I ended up leaving much on the cutting room floor.
One phrase of this passage has always interested me. It’s a parenthetical reference that the gospel writer makes for those who do not understand Hebrew place names. Jesus creates a mud with saliva and dirt, puts it on the man’s eyes, and then gives him the following instructions:
“Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). – John 9:7
In order for the blind man to see, he must first get dirty and then go to place which has the name of the pool of Sent. Now for me this is a wonderful morsel of Good News.
There is a baptismal reference – you go in the waters blind and come out seeing a new world through the grace of Jesus. In the waters of baptism we admit our blindness and enter into a community which sees the world differently, though new lenses of faith in Jesus Christ.
There is also a missional reference – the blind man is sent to the pool of Sent, receives his sight, and becomes The Sent. He becomes a missionary for Jesus, wondering in the midst of his interrogation by religious authorities is they might want to become Christ’s disciples too. The now un-blind man has good news to share, and share he does.
For us – blinded as we are by the temptations of power, consumption, greed, and radical individualism – comes hope in one who gives sight. Jesus gives us a new vision of the world as a place where God enters in and brings healing and wholeness, rather than a place where the strong overpower the weak or the disabled are marginalized to the point of only being defined by how they are different.
All this in part of a verse, a parenthetical, an additional portion of a thought. God can work there too though, in the parentheticals, the portions, the snippets, right?