Seeing from Above-John 9: 1-41

John didn’t tell us this man’s name so we could fill in our own name. Like Debbie confessed to be the woman at the well, I am this man born blind. We are to read these stories from the inside out. The story of the man born blind read from the inside out speaks to the invisible person who thinks they wouldn’t be missed, since they don’t appear to be much to anyone else anyway. The story of the man born blind read from the inside out speaks to persons who feel though people see them; they don’t see them as they really are. The story of the blind man read from the inside out speaks to person who believes they’re nothing more than the sum of their failures. The story of the blind man read from the inside out allows us to see God doesn’t see us the way we or others see ourselves. God sees us as a child of God who does the work of God in the world.

The story begins: “As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth.” It seems no one else sees this man until Jesus sees him. Even if they did see him, what they see is not him. They only see a blind man, while Jesus sees a man born blind. John employs irony to get his reader to see the man who can see; sees the man who can’t see. In seeing the man who can’t see, he lets us see who, what, and how God sees.

Who does God see?-First, God sees a child of God. Jesus doesn’t see the wound first, he sees a person. He’s not distracted by our fixation with cause and effect. He refuses to enter into dead-end discussion answering the question: Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents so he was born blind? Conversations of purpose tend to look past the person. Jesus plainly says his blindness had nothing to do with a person’s sin. He says, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so God’s works might be revealed in him.” He makes the exchange about this person and his relationship with God. First, God sees each person as a child of God.

When Jesus says “so that God works might be revealed in him” he is not blaming God for the man’s blindness; suggesting God made him blind so God’s work might be revealed. A man born into darkness is not the creative work of God. God can reveal God self without causing disability. But there are times when we have to live in a mystery about a person who is burdened by malady because God hasn’t seen fit to explain the why. To say too much about why runs the risk of becoming so purpose driven we miss seeing this person whom God is at work.

Stevie Wonder’s mother cried about her child being talented and yet blind. Stevie said to mom, Mother, maybe God made me this way so God could show wonders. When someone believes that; I don’t correct, as if I know more than those bearing it. We who haven’t suffered ought to speak slowly with certainty about why such things happen. Yet, we should move quickly to be with the person who needs a relationship and not our ridiculous rules of thumb. Who does God see? God sees us as a child of God.

What does God see?-Second, God sees a child of God in need. Jesus goes to work on the present need. He wants us to see-God sees our need and, God will see to our need. For the man born blind that meant Jesus would see to the need himself and heal him. Jesus spits on the ground, grabs a handful of mud, rubs it on the man’s eyes. We’d think he would say ABRACADABRA or at least lay hands on him. Instead he offers him home-baked medicine and tells him to wash and the man’s need is met. Jesus opens his eyes so he will come to see who, what and how God sees.

At times, God meets our needs by miraculously restoring things fully. We have grown afraid to give God glory when the inexplicable happens. We have become fearful to be persons who favor supernatural explanations to rational ones. It’s OK to be a person calls a miracle, a miracle. We can call something a miracle while at the same time striving to understand it. Other times, God meets our needs not by a transforming event, producing a substantive and visible change. God allows us to put our needs to work to bring about things that might not happen if we were miraculously healed. Some suffering is useful, it shapes our service.


Flannery O’Connor was stricken with lupus. She returned from New York to the cramped confines of Milledgeville Georgia to find her Southern voice. Her stories came to life. She wisely says: “I have never been anywhere but sick. In a sense sickness is a place, more instructive than a long trip to Europe, and it’s a place where there’s no company, Sickness before death is a appropriate and I think those who don’t have it miss one of God’s mercies.” I may be missing one of God’s mercies by not being afflicted by sickness, YET! I am watching you, the blind man, Flannery O’Connor, and even Stevie Wonder. I wait my turn assured the person I really am will not change though I may suffer. I am also confident God always takes note of our needs and provides grace that is always sufficient. God starts by seeing child of God before he sees to our needs.

How does God see? Third, God sees the glory of God revealed in children of God in need. God heals this man so he would glorify God in his healing. Jesus tells him to wash in the pool of Siloam. John says the name of the pool, Siloam, means SENT. That is the Latin word “missio”, were we get our word MISSION. God’s glory is revealed by our willingness to be sent, so God’s work may be seen in a child of God in need whom God is at work.

People are passionate about what afflicts them. A person dies of a disease and the family asks donations be directed to research for a cure. Someone is struck with illness and everyone mobilizes to fight it. The outcome of many deaths and diagnosis is a lot of good works for lots of people. That is how God sees that God’s work is done—God’s nature is redemptive, which enables suffering to be redemptive for more than just ourselves.

 

Not all maladies that shape mission are physical. Anyone who faces a challenge carries something of that experience into tomorrow. How many people have been shaped for the better by a painful experience? Charles Colson started Prison Fellowship after being jailed from the Watergate scandal. Recovering alcoholics help other alcoholics recover. Those who have known the grief over a lost child or a suicide or any other sadness help others going through the same things. In all these ways and more, children of God in need can reflect the glory of God’s redemptive ways.

We don’t have to wait for a suffering experience to jumpstart ourselves into seeing how God sees. When we participate in any kind of mission our eyes can be opened and our blurry vision can become clear to see with greater clarity the glory of God. Whatever opens our eyes so we can see beyond ourselves to the glory of God in the midst of our need is seeing how God sees. But, to see how God sees; we have to wash in the pool of Siloam; dive into mission; and become immersed in the work of God.

At the end of this story, the man born blind is not only healed; he becomes a believer. God doesn’t want blind faith. God wants us to see our own salvation and see others who are yet blind. If it takes a malady to find your mission and clear up your blurred vision can you say Glory be! Can you? You can if you are seeing from above. What say you children of God in need wanting to reflect the glory of God in your life? Glory be? Glory be!

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