The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight and asked them, ‘Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?’ His parents answered, ‘We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.’ His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. Therefore his parents said, ‘He is of age; ask him.’
So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, ‘Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.’ He answered, ‘I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.’ They said to him, ‘What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?’ He answered them, ‘I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?’ Then they reviled him, saying, ‘You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.’ The man answered, ‘Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.’ They answered him, ‘You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?’ And they drove him out.
Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ He answered, ‘And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.’ Jesus said to him, ‘You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.’ He said, ‘Lord, I believe.’ And he worshipped him. Jesus said, ‘I came into this world for judgement so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.’ Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, ‘Surely we are not blind, are we?’ Jesus said to them, ‘If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, “We see”, your sin remains.
- John 9:18-41
Today's reading is a continuation of the episode of the man who was blind from birth, and the healing of sight by Jesus. The Pharisees are anxious to say that Jesus is a sinner, that he cannot be a holy man, and so begin their questioning of the formerly blind man and his parents. First there is aspersion cast on the idea that this man could have been blind from birth, an important fact in the story. Then, his parents are put on the spot - because they are afraid of the consequences and being put out of the Temple, they redirect the Pharisees to question their son. But the healed man does not waver; in fact the opposite happens. His faith becomes stronger and more adamant the more it is questioned.
Later, Jesus himself is finally approached. The formerly blind man confesses his faith, and the Pharisees are confronted. Jesus' words turn to judgment, and how judgment is shaped and formed by the works of God, and witnessing. There is a greater and deeper accountability brought about by these works, by this action of Spirit, of God in the world. When an act is done by the will of God, by the action of Spirit, it becomes a tool for judgment - and we are called to be witnesses. We can be true or false witnesses, but either way our accountability has become heightened.
Thus Jesus says, I came into this world for judgement so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind. And when the Pharisees further question him regarding his statement, and what it means about them, Jesus tells them: If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, “We see”, your sin remains.
The thing that creates Judgment is this action of the holy. It is for this reason Jesus has also said that the one thing to remain unforgiven is the blasphemy of the Spirit. Are we alive to the action of the Spirit in our lives? Where does it dwell and how do we see, how do we listen? I think this notion of the heightening of accountability is significant. I wonder what does it mean for us today. Are these stories only about something that happened 2000 years ago, or does the Spirit live and is present to us now - are we blind to it or do we see?