This week in Sunday School, we studied the account found in the book of John Chapter 9 of Christ healing the blind man. For the record, this has become one of my favorite stories in all of scripture.
If you don’t know it, or don’t remember, here’s a brief summary.
Jesus and his disciples pass a man who is blind. For some reason, the disciples ask Christ about the man’s blindness, wondering if it perhaps came from some sin. Jesus answers that it was because of no sin, but that the miracles of God may be made manifest. He then spits in the dirt, makes clay, puts it on the man’s eyes, and sends him to wash in the pool of Siloam.
The man does so and receives his sight.
The result of this action, performed on the Sabbath day, is a huge debate. The healed man is subjected to what appears to be a day of questioning by the Pharisees, the local leaders. His parents are even questioned. At first he knows little of Christ, but as the Pharisees press him to deny the source of the miracle, his determination that the act came from God only grows stronger.
In the end, the man refuses to deny Christ and is cast out of the synagogue, exiled from society. Christ comes to him and teaches him that He is the Son of God. The man immediately believes.
Now, there are a lot of reasons that I like this story. But there is one reason I’m chosing to share it today.
I am an activity day leader in my church. Twice each month, I organize an activity for girls age 8-11. We teach them new skills, play games, do service projects, etc. I recently learned of a girl who lives in our neighborhood who has shown an interest in coming to church and to these activities. I went last night to meet her.
The girl is mostly blind.
As soon as we set foot in her house, she was beaming. She fell in love instantly with Patrick, bringing him toy after toy to play with. She listened as I explained to her that he has feeding tubes attached to him, carefully let me guide her hands so that she would know where they were, and then once she knew it was safe, happily helped him to play.
Patrick in turn fell in love with her. He even came home wearing a friendship bracelet she gave to him.
As I watched these two children play together, my mind returned to the story from Sunday School.
Many people look at a child with a disability with sadness and pity. But as this girl’s mother and I discussed last night, these are just normal children with one extraordinary thing about them.
I don’t believe that a child is born blind or with a severe birth defect by accident. I believe, instead, that these valiant spirits are chosen, or perhaps even chose, to take on bodies and lives with more difficulties, knowing that from birth they have the kind of faith that works miracles.
I think that when Christ healed the blind man on the Sabbath, it wasn’t done in ignorance of the consequences that would come. But I think he knew of the caliber of that man’s soul. And he knew that through that man’s life, many others would be blessed.
I have seen my own son’s life build the faith of those who meet him, too. And I saw my faith grow last night, too in the presence of a little girl whom I’d just met.
“And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.
And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?
Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.”