The Message, March 19: "New Vision," John 9:1-17

The Message, March 19: "New Vision," John 9:1-17

Author: Rev. Scott W. Cousineau
March 21, 2023


“New Vision”
A Message by Rev. Scott W. Cousineau
John 9:1-17

            When I was growing up attending Sunday school and summer camp, I learned the song ‘Blind Man.’ My guess is that many of you learned it too.

            Of course, there are several different versions of the song with different lyrics. The version that I learned was:

            Blind man sat by the road and he cried.
            Blind man sat by the road and he cried.
            Blind man sat by the road and he cried.
            He cried, “Oh … oh … oh …
            “Show me the way, show me the way, show me the way …
            “The way to go home.”

            Let me say that I love that children and youth learn songs that support the words of scripture. This starts out as a sad song. It is heartbreaking. In our mind’s eye we can see the poor blind man sitting by the side of the road begging. He is likely outside of the city gates so that he can interact with as many people as possible. We can imagine most people walking past him, perhaps some people moving away from him as they pass. We might see an occasional person drop a shekel into his hand.

            The song lyrics tear at our hearts. “Show me the way to go home.”

            Rejected by his family, shunned by his community … all that the man wants is an opportunity to go home.

            Of course, this song was written hundreds of years later. The songwriter took some liberties with the story. As we heard in our passage this morning, than blind man did not cry out. He did not reach out to Jesus. He did not do anything at all. It was Jesus that took the initiative. It was Jesus who acted first. Prompted to do so by the question posed by the disciples.

            His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

            Let me pause here and acknowledge that this passage is one of those that has caused great pain and suffering for people over the generations.

            Because the ancients did not possess sophisticated knowledge of medicine or genetics, many people attributed health issues to sin or some sort of moral failing.

            This man was born blind. Did he commit some sin in utero? Some people believe that he did. Others believe that it was some sin of his family, his parents, that was passed on to him. “The sins of the father are visited upon the son.” There are passages of scripture that indicate that a family will be punished for three generations.

            Sadly, this school of thought did not disappear as the advent of education. There are still people today that are victimized because of this belief. There are still those who believe that someone’s struggles are caused by some moral failing. There are still those who believe someone’s life circumstances are because of their sinful nature.

            And tragically, those people are ostracized, demonized and cast aside. They are treated as if they are less than human. Unworthy, imperfect, undesirable.

            But we all know that there are plenty of sinful people walking around that are perfectly healthy and living what appears to be the best life possible.

            Let us get back to the story and the disciples’ question. “Who sinned?”

            And Jesus’ answer, “Nobody sinned. Not the man nor his parents.” The man was blind because he was blind. No other reason. And this was the perfect opportunity to display the power and glory of God! “Let me do something that this man did not even ask for, but will display the works of God.”

            Jesus spat upon the ground and kneaded the dirt into a paste of clay. He applied the clay to the man’s eyes then instructed him to go wash in the Pool of Siloam. And as we heard, once he washed the mud away, the man could see. The man went home … seeing.

            Jesus displayed the power of God. Jesus performed a miracle and gave the man a gift that he never imagined that he would have … vision. But was the lesson on the road that day for the man? Or was it for another purpose?

            Certainly, the man who could now see learned about the power and glory of God. Without question, he was convinced. He proclaimed that Jesus was a prophet.

            Jesus also said to the disciples, “While I am in the world I am the Light of the World.” Jesus helped the man born blind to see. Now he would help the world to see as well.

            Who else needed to hear and see that message?

            Consider this: who was caring for the man born blind? Was his family caring for him? Were his neighbors caring for him? Were the religious leaders caring for him?

            The man sat by the road begging people as they walked by. Those who had been brought up in a faith that taught that they should care for the widow, and the orphan, were not caring for a man born blind. He was the blind guy sitting on the road. He must have been a source of shame for his family. He was someone that caused his neighbors to look the other way when they passed.

            How can we tell? They did not even recognize him when his sight was given to him! They did not recognize him when he was standing before them. “Where is that blind guy that is usually sitting here?” “Hello!! I am right here! Right in front of you!!” The people did not know him or see him. They only knew his affliction. They only assumed his sin.

            And the Pharisees, those whose role was to preserve the practice of the faith, what was their response?

            “Well, Jesus should not have done that. He is not a man of God. He does not observe the Sabbath. He is a sinner!”

            Healing the man born blind broke several of their Sabbath laws. Jesus made mud by kneading his saliva in the soil. Kneading is forbidden on the Sabbath.

            Jesus healed on the Sabbath. Healing on the Sabbath was forbidden. Healing on the Sabbath was only allowed if it was a life-saving measure. Obviously, in the Pharisees’ eyes, the blind man could have waited until tomorrow to receive his sight.

            The Pharisees rejected the possibility that Jesus could have healed the man born blind because he was not a man of God. He did not observe the Sabbath in the way that THEY observed the Sabbath. Jesus did not conform to their standards or practices. He did not follow their rules.

            We do know that. Jesus did not follow the rules that said that he could not heal on the Sabbath. Instead, Jesus did what Jesus does … he chose love.

            The man born blind received the blessing of God … he received his sight. But the NEW vision was for his family. The NEW vision was for his neighbors. The NEW vision was for those who call themselves “church” or “faith” leaders. The NEW vision is for us.

            See with the eyes of Jesus.

            When Jesus saw the man born blind, he did not see sin. He did not see a man that had brought about his infirmity. He did not convene a council meeting to decide if the man deserved care or compassion. He saw a person, a child of God.

            He did not judge. He did not question. Instead … he loved. He offered compassion. He gave him the way to go home. He gave him the way to be welcomed into his community. He loved.

            Jesus said, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

            As long as Jesus lives, there is hope. As long as Jesus lives, there is love. As long as Jesus lives … IN US … and through US … there will be light.

            Jesus has rubbed the mud in our eyes. May we receive new vision. May we see with Jesus’ eyes. May we see with the vision of love.



Congregational Church