I’ve been fascinated lately by the story of Jesus healing the blind man in John 9. Each of the encounters described illustrate a reorientation of the way we might see things. In particular, they might change or strengthen our eyes for the events of this 9/11 anniversary weekend.
First, to the view of Jesus’ followers:
We love to diagnose. For some, standing in proximity to the light of the world seems to be an even better position from which to declare certainty. Jesus and his followers come across this man like we come across any unexpected situation – “as we go along” – and their first impulse shows their orientation towards strengthening their own position in the world. They encounter a man whose condition warrants diagnosis. Whose fault is this? How might we distance ourselves from the world around us by determining our rightness, our deservedness, in light of their suffering? It’s not a position that precludes being a help, but it is a posture that prevents any confusion about the beholder’s position in relationship to the beheld. Safe distance. Sure standing. Inoculation. Justification.
Jesus does not answer the question, but, instead, puts this lens over their view of things: “this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
How might we receive the stranger, the other, the enemy, the inconvenience, the uncertainty we encounter along our way, if in each encounter we assume that the purpose of all God puts in our path is his creative and restorative purpose: that the work of God might be displayed?
If we were to greet each moment with that kind of anticipation, with the orientation that our role in whatever we encounter is to draw out the work of God in the situation or person we see, how might we interpret differently our own triumphs and tragedies, as well?