“As he passed by he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, 'Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him. We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day. Night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world…’”
So much imagery, and so little time! “Blindness,” “Night,” “Day,” “Light.”
In this portion from the Gospel of John, we again encounter strong symbolic imagery used by Jesus. These are terms with which we are familiar, and there’s a metaphor we saw in our previous blog: the metaphor of “Light of the World.”
Jesus says in this passage, “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Also, in John 8:12, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” After reading this, we can make the connections between Day, Light, and Life. There are also the connections between Night, Blindness, and Death.
In a way, we are all like the man born blind. Not that we all literally have poor eyesight, but that we have difficulty seeing the reality that’s before us, and within us. We are often spiritually blind, and need help seeing what is not visible to the naked eye. God is visible to the eye of our souls.
Jesus promises that he is the light that opens our souls’ eyes to life, and to His unending mercy. We don’t need to walk in darkness, we don’t need to be blind! But you’ll notice if you read the rest of the story in John Chapter 9, that both Jesus and the blind man needed to get their hands dirty (literally, with the clay). The man was made able to see again only after he and Jesus both put forth some effort. This is true for you and me, too.
But wait, if Jesus is no longer in the world, who is the light? Good news! Jesus is still in this world, by means of the Spirit living in us! Thus, it makes sense that he tells us in Matthew 5:14, "You are the light of the world.” He passes the baton on to us. He continues to be the light through us!
So we must take that baton! Jesus said that, “We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day. Night is coming when no one can work.” If that isn’t urgent, I don’t know what is. Here Jesus alludes to the temporary-ness of this life, of this very world. Our sharing of light must be done today, because tomorrow is not guaranteed. Even Jesus doesn’t know the hour in which the end will come, but it will come. At that time, the lamp of human history as we know it will burn out.
But we can live in the light, which is to live in the promise of everlasting life! To live in this promise indeed is to be blind no more!
Read all of John, Chapter 9 to “see” for yourself more of the blind man’s story, and the imagery Jesus used. In this story, there is so much more you can shed some light on ;)
Enjoy one of my favorite songs, by Chris Rice http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmquDS65YZs