|Healing the Man with Blindness
7th Sunday after Pentecost, July 7, 2013, John 14:1-8
The Reverend Douglas W. Abbott
“As Jesus passed by, he saw a man blind from birth”. These opening words give us immediate insight into how Jesus lived in the world and how he perceived it. Jesus lived what he taught and saw what was needed from God. Remember the parable of the Good Samaritan? Jesus held true to his account.
Today’s expressions might be, “as we are on the go”, or as “we are moving on”, or “as we are making progress”. All of these focus on the future.
“As he passed by” brings Jesus into the present moment. His healings took place spontaneously where people were and lived, at the pool, at the well, at home, or today, on the road. He noticed and stopped and reached out.
Notice it says that Jesus did not see a blind man. Jesus saw a man blind from birth. There is a huge difference from seeing a blind man to seeing a man with blindness. The difference is seeing a person as a human being as opposed to seeing them as their disability. Jesus sees the humanity in each of us. How a person is viewed has a great impact on how we relate to with them.
And we are encouraged to do the same. In today’s areas of health, he/she is not a schizophrenic but a person with schizophrenia; is not a diabetic but a person with diabetes; is not a loser but a person who is struggling. Do you get what Jesus is getting at? Jesus always leaves open the door to embrace the dignity of God in each person.
And he encourages us to do the same in the way we identify ourselves. We are not to identify ourselves as our disability. We are to identify ourselves with Christ’s love and to incorporate that into our consciousness.
Look at how the disciples viewed this man – through the lens of judgment. Since he was born blind, someone must have sinned for this to happen, either him or his parents. It was someone’s fault. Jesus threw out this judgment.
Look at what Jesus says. This man was born blind that the works of God might be made visible through him. What a guideline for living.
And we know what happens. This man’s blindness is healed. Jesus does not get to know this man personally. He doesn’t have to. He spits on the ground, makes clay of the spit, anoints the man’s eyes with the clay, and tells him to go wash in the pool of Silo’am. The man did what Jesus told him to do. He went and washed and came back seeing.
These are the first seven verses. The next 34 verses of this chapter are accounts of disbelief that the man was healed and disbelief that Jesus could do such a thing.
The neighbors did not believe him. This was a blind beggar, a sinner. How could this possibly happen. The Pharisees did not believe him nor did they believe that Jesus did it. The man was interrogated and reviled. His parents were even brought into the fray. And Jesus was confronted by the Pharisees. How could this be done? This is impossible!
Wouldn’t you think that people would be rejoicing that a person would be healed? The only ones rejoicing were the man and Jesus. The parents were too afraid to rejoice publicly and told the Pharisees to let their son speak for himself.
There is a difference between knowing and believing. Jesus and the man healed knew what happened. The others could not believe.
I am not here to judge or to try to change anyone’s mind. But I am here to share a real life, true experience that I recently had.
Last June, Pam and I went on a two week retreat to Abadianai, Brazil, a village almost two hours northwest of the capitol city, Brasilia. This healing prayer retreat was held at the Casa de Dom Inacio, otherwise known as the home place for John of God. John of God bases all his work primarily on the power of the Lord’s Prayer and the reality of people on the other side to help out.
Bob Dinga and Diana Rose, from the San Francisco area, were our tour guides. They have been connected personally with the Casa and John of God since the late 1990’s, for over 15 years.
Bob had been in business, management. In 1986, he was diagnosed with a rare disease in the retina of the eye called serpiginous choroiditis. Laser surgery was the only way to stop its progression. He had five of them over a thirteen-year period. He then was designated as legally blind and was told to start learning Braille. There was nothing more that could be done.
In 1998, he decided to visit John of God on his own with the encouragement of his beloved partner, Diana. At this point, he could still read but needed large print and could drive but only on familiar roads in his neighborhood.
During his first visit to the Casa, Bob stayed for a day and a half but did not grasp what was happening. He failed to comprehend the scope of the spiritual intervention provided through John of God. Bob did not heed the recommendations and went about business as usual. Back home, his eyesight continued to decline. His ability to read was almost zero, and his ability to drive was gone. He was declared legally blind.
He received a strong message to go back to the Casa and did so alone in May of 1999, leading to several more visits into early 2000. His eyesight has come back, able to drive again and read. His eyesight has improved steadily ever since. He quit his job, set up a home office, and communicates with people from around the world who want to know more about John of God. He is an official tour guide for the Casa and is living a normal life. His vision has been restored.
1000 people a day, three days a week visit the Casa, and wait in line to meet with him. He says very little. He is very humble. He invokes the presence of the Divine. He does not charge for his services. His love based upon his Christian faith pours through everything he does. I have seen healings happen.
Bob Dinga’s experience is no myth. It may not be the healing of a blind man from birth but it is the healing of a man declared legally blind in mid-life and is now fully functioning.