The Blind Man Sees…

The painting, Healing of the Blind Man (1871) by Carl Bloch. Photo: Public domain

Christ is Risen!

We find ourselves at the sixth and last Sunday of Pascha. On this particular Sunday, the Church remembers the Blind Man that was given sight for the first time in his life by Christ. Prior to this, Christ did indeed heal those who were blind but this was the first time that Christ granted both eyes and sight to someone. The man was born without eyes, just empty eye sockets. Since He is the Creator, Jesus made human eyes from the dirt and his spittle, making a clay. This is very similar to the creation of man: “then God formed man out of dust from the ground, and breathed in his face the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7). Christ spat on the ground with His saliva to make the dust into a clay but it was His breath which creates and gives life. His breath emits the Holy Spirit just like after His Resurrection when He appeared to His Disciples: “‘As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’ And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit,’” (John 20:21-22). Last Sunday we heard about the Living Water that Christ spoke about to the Samaritan Woman. The Holy Spirit is the Living Water that is life-creating and leads us to eternal life. The Blind Man indeed received the Holy Spirit when he was healed, being given the gift of sight.

But why the water? Why would Jesus tell the man to wash his eyes in the Pool of Siloam? Water has always been associated with purification and renewal. We are baptized by water and given the seal of the Holy Spirit by chrismation. The Blind Man going to the Pool of Siloam to wash his eyes and then for the first time being able to see is an image of baptism and chrismation. The first person the man ever saw was Jesus. It was not only a physical healing but a spiritual one as well, from darkness to light. The Blind Man did not know who Jesus was when he was blind but now having been granted sight he worshiped Him as Lord and Savior.

As with the past two Sundays, this Sunday also correlates when Jesus was in Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles. On the last day of this eight day Feast, water was drawn up from the Pool of Siloam and was mixed with wine and poured at the foot of the altar, both for purification and for remembrance of the water flowing from the rock that Moses struck. “Behold I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it so the people may drink” (Exodus 17: 6). It is also interesting that in the Gospel of John, the healing of the Blind Man was the sixth sign or miracle of Christ and the remembrance of this great miracle is always celebrated on the Sixth Sunday of Pascha.

As with the healing of the Paralytic we heard two Sundays ago, the Blind Man was also healed on the Sabbath. This is something the Jews held Jesus in contempt for. Christ transcends the Law and desires mercy not sacrifice. Even His Disciples questioned Him on the cause of the man’s blindness. “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:2). It was common belief at that time that maladies were a result of someone’s sins or their parents. Jesus rejects such a notion and states: “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him” (John 9:3). This is a message for us. Many people believe that diseases and hardships are a result of their sins or the sins of their parents. Christ affirmed that this is not accurate. Christ healed the Blind Man not only for his physical and spiritual benefit but that others may bear witness to Him. We may experience disease and hardship in our lives but rather than question the reason or blame someone or something, let us be faithful, knowing that God will provide the healing in His chosen time and way. Whether that is a physical healing or a spiritual healing, or both, God knows what we need and what is best for our salvation. As we heard in the Doxastikon at vespers on Saturday evening: “O Christ our God, the noetic Sun of Righteousness, who by Your immaculate touch illumined in both ways the man who was deprived of sight from his mother’s womb, do also illuminate the eyes of our souls, and make us sons of the day, so that with faith we may cry out to You: Great and ineffable is Your tenderheartedness for us, O Lord who loves humanity, Glory to You!”

The Blind Man was indeed healed both physically and spiritually. The day refers to our daily lives of prayer, good works and repentance. The night refers to death when we will no longer have the opportunity to repent or do good works. That is why we should live our lives to the fullest in faith, always being vigilant because we do not know the time when we will depart this life.

As we approach the last few days of Pascha let us be comforted that the Risen Christ has destroyed death by death so that we may drink of the Living Water in His Kingdom.

Glory to His Three-Day Resurrection!