Join us for service at:
Meadowbrook Country Club
2149 N. Green Bay Road
Racine, WI 53405

Sunday Morning Service at 9:30 a.m.
in-person at Meadowbrook,
or via Zoom!

Sacred Journeys Spiritual Community on FacebookContact Sacred Journeys Spiritual CommunityDonate to Sacred Journeys Spiritual Community

To See or Not to See

Taken at face value, the story in John 9 is simply about Jesus healing a blind person, who, by the way, wasn’t born blind because of anything they or their parents did. Clearly, that must’ve been a “thing” back then.

To tackle this story at a deeper level, it helps to remember a few things about the gospel of John. John is a very mystical gospel and a very symbolic gospel, so in order to truly see what John wanted us to see, we must think metaphorically and symbolically. Also remember that 90% of the gospel of John is unique to John. These are stories that developed much later in the Christian movement and were written for a purpose. It didn’t matter that they weren’t factual, they reflected the author’s understanding of Jesus.

Throughout the gospel of John, we come to understand that John saw in Jesus a new dimension of humanity, a new consciousness, a new way of relating to the holy. It is only in John that we hear Jesus using the “I am” statements ("I am the way, the truth and the life," "I am the bread of life," "I am the vine," "I am the door," "I am the good shepherd," "I am the light of the world"). The “I am” takes us back to Moses and the burning bush where the divine name “I Am” is revealed to him. Clearly, John sees a divine revelation in the human Jesus.

So, there are two phrases in this story that I want to look at more closely because I believe they hold the key to seeing as John hoped we’d see.

At the beginning of the story Jesus reminds everyone that, “While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world”(John 9:5). Almost by way of showing exactly what he means by this, Jesus immediately proceeds to bring sight to someone who was born blind. And then after the formerly blind person has a run-in with the Jewish authorities and is kicked out of the synagogue, Jesus says, “I came into this world to execute justice – to make the sightless see and the seeing blind” (John 9:39).

In all of the gospels Jesus says over and over again, “Do you not yet see?” “Do you not yet understand?” Obviously, people had a hard time wrapping their heads around the teachings of this guy whose thought process, understanding of God, and relationship with God, was far beyond them.

John just lays it out blatantly, I am the light of the world come to help you see. What did Jesus want them to see. Well, distilled down I think it amounts to something like this: there is only one way to live in full communion with God and that is through love. Jesus wanted them to see and experience the unconditional, unbounded love of God which holds all things together as one.

The nameless blind beggar has much to teach us by their response to Jesus. This man or woman trusted Jesus, even though they didn't know him and couldn't see him. In this trust there was a level of risk involved - of failure, or looking foolish. But s/he was willing to open their heart and mind to the possibility of new life and new vision. The blind beggar also teaches us about integrity by standing up for themselves and for Jesus after they'd been healed.

In juxtaposition to the blind beggar we have the Jewish Temple authorities who respond to Jesus in none of these ways. They were stuck in their understanding of God and suspicious of anyone and anything that was outside of their realm of understanding. Consequently, they saw Jesus as a threat. And of course, in the year 90 – 100 CE, when John’s community would have been reading this, this is exactly what was happening between those who believed in the message Jesus brought and those who didn’t.

So, the second thing Jesus said that I wanted to look at was that not only was he planning to make the blind see, but also the seeing blind. What does that mean? I would suggest that those who believed they could see also believed they had all the answers. Jesus' hope was to challenge them and help them to see new perspectives, new ways of understanding God. He hoped to bring them back to the spirit of the law, instead of being stuck on the letter of the law. Jesus hoped to bring them some uncertainty and questioning to those who were stuck in old ways of seeing. 

In the story it is made obvious that Jesus is the key to seeing fully and understanding fully. The question becomes which camp do we fall in? If we claim to be in the camp that sees, then the “proof is in the pudding,” as they say. Is it obvious with each of us whether we can SEE or not?

  • Can people tell by our language, how we speak to others (and to ourselves) that we SEE?
  • Can people tell by our attitude - do we lead with a positive attitude, with grace, with an attempt to be kind and compassionate – that we can SEE?
  • Can people tell by our actions – do we reach out to others by volunteering, caring for, helping – that we can SEE?
  • Do we choose understanding over anger?
  • Do we choose love and courage over fear?
  • Do we choose to develop peace within so that we can offer peace to others?
  • Do we see the divine in all things and in all people, or just when we want to, or just on Sunday mornings, here at church?

Being “seeing” people consistently is hard and challenging. Frankly, this is the person I truly, truly want to be. I know I fall short (who doesn’t), but I will continue to intentionally seek to be a better person, a blessing to myself and others, not caught up in bitterness or regret, leading with love, even when it is hard, keeping my glass ½ full even when others want to pour it out, seeing God even in those folks it is hard to see God in.

And when I have a hard time doing this, I hope I will be able to look to you as living examples of people who strive on a daily basis to be people of Light. People who see.

Love & Light!