Sunday of the Blind Man
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9:1 As he passed by, he saw a man blind from his birth.
2 And his disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"
3 Jesus answered, "It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be made manifest in him.
4 We must work the works of him who sent me, while it is day; night comes, when no one can work.
5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world."
6 As he said this, he spat on the ground and made clay of the spittle and anointed the man's eyes with the clay,
7 saying to him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam" (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.
8 The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar, said, "Is not this the man who used to sit and beg?"
9 Some said, "It is he"; others said, "No, but he is like him." He said, "I am the man."
10 They said to him, "Then how were your eyes opened?"
11 He answered, "The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and said to me, 'Go to Siloam and wash'; so I went and washed and received my sight."
12 They said to him, "Where is he?" He said, "I do not know."
13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind.
14 Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes.
15 The Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, "He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and I see."
16 Some of the Pharisees said, "This man is not from God, for he does not keep the sabbath." But others said, "How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?" There was a division among them.
17 So they again said to the blind man, "What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes?" He said, "He is a prophet."
18 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,
19 and asked them, "Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?"
20 His parents answered, "We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind;
21 but how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age, he will speak for himself."
22 His parents said this because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if any one should confess him to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.
23 Therefore his parents said, "He is of age, ask him."
24 So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and said to him, "Give God the praise; we know that this man is a sinner."
25 He answered, "Whether he is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I know, that though I was blind, now I see."
26 They said to him, "What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?"
27 He answered them, "I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you too want to become his disciples?"
28 And they reviled him, saying, "You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses.
29 We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from."
30 The man answered, "Why, this is a marvel! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes.
31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if any one is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him.
32 Never since the world began has it been heard that any one opened the eyes of a man born blind.
33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing."
34 They answered him, "You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?" And they cast him out.
35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, "Do you believe in the Son of man?"
36 He answered, "And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?"
37 Jesus said to him, "You have seen him, and it is he who speaks to you."
38 He said, "Lord, I believe"; and he worshiped him.
1 ΚΑΙ παράγων εἶδεν ἄνθρωπον τυφλὸν ἐκ γενετῆς.
2 καὶ ἠρώτησαν αὐτὸν οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ λέγοντες· ραββί, τίς ἥμαρτεν, οὗτος ἢ οἱ γονεῖς αὐτοῦ, ἵνα τυφλὸς γεννηθῇ;
3 ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς· οὔτε οὗτος ἥμαρτεν οὔτε οἱ γονεῖς αὐτοῦ, ἀλλ᾿ ἵνα φανερωθῇ τὰ ἔργα τοῦ Θεοῦ ἐν αὐτῷ.
4 ἐμὲ δεῖ ἐργάζεσθαι τὰ ἔργα τοῦ πέμψαντός με ἕως ἡμέρα ἐστίν· ἔρχεται νὺξ ὅτε οὐδεὶς δύναται ἐργάζεσθαι.
5 ὅταν ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ ᾦ, φῶς εἰμι τοῦ κόσμου.
6 ταῦτα εἰπὼν ἔπτυσε χαμαὶ καὶ ἐποίησε πηλὸν ἐκ τοῦ πτύσματος, καὶ ἐπέχρισε τὸν πηλὸν ἐπὶ τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς τοῦ τυφλοῦ
7 καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· ὕπαγε νίψαι εἰς τὴν κολυμβήθραν τοῦ Σιλωάμ, ὃ ἑρμηνεύεται ἀπεσταλμένος. ἀπῆλθεν οὖν καὶ ἐνίψατο, καὶ ἦλθε βλέπων.
8 Οἱ οὖν γείτονες καὶ οἱ θεωροῦντες αὐτὸν τὸ πρότερον ὅτι τυφλὸς ἦν, ἔλεγον· οὐχ οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ καθήμενος καὶ προσαιτῶν;
9 ἄλλοι ἔλεγον ὅτι οὗτός ἐστιν· ἄλλοι δὲ ὅτι ὅμοιος αὐτῷ ἐστιν. ἐκεῖνος ἔλεγεν ὅτι ἐγώ εἰμι.
10 ἔλεγον οὖν αὐτῷ· πῶς ἀνεῴχθησάν σου οἱ ὀφθαλμοί;
11 ἀπεκρίθη ἐκεῖνος καὶ εἶπεν· ἄνθρωπος λεγόμενος Ἰησοῦς πηλὸν ἐποίησε καὶ ἐπέχρισέ μου τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς καὶ εἶπέ μοι· ὕπαγε εἰς τὴν κολυμβήθραν τοῦ Σιλωὰμ καὶ νίψαι· ἀπελθὼν δὲ καὶ νιψάμενος ἀνέβλεψα.
12 εἶπον οὖν αὐτῷ· ποῦ ἐστιν ἐκεῖνος; λέγει· οὐκ οἶδα.
13 Ἄγουσιν αὐτὸν πρὸς τοὺς Φαρισαίους, τόν ποτε τυφλόν.
14 ἦν δὲ σάββατον ὅτε τὸν πηλὸν ἐποίησεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς καὶ ἀνέῳξεν αὐτοῦ τοὺς ὀφθαλμούς.
15 πάλιν οὖν ἠρώτων αὐτὸν καὶ οἱ Φαρισαῖοι πῶς ἀνέβλεψεν. ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· πηλὸν ἐπέθηκέ μου ἐπὶ τοὺς ὀφθαλμούς, καὶ ἐνιψάμην, καὶ βλέπω.
16 ἔλεγον οὖν ἐκ τῶν Φαρισαίων τινές· οὗτος ὁ ἄνθρωπος οὐκ ἔστι παρὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ, ὅτι τὸ σάββατον οὐ τηρεῖ. ἄλλοι ἔλεγον· πῶς δύναται ἄνθρωπος ἁμαρτωλὸς τοιαῦτα σημεῖα ποιεῖν; καὶ σχίσμα ἦν ἐν αὐτοῖς.
17 λέγουσι τῷ τυφλῷ πάλιν· σὺ τί λέγεις περὶ αὐτοῦ, ὅτι ἤνοιξέ σου τοὺς ὀφθαλμούς; ὁ δὲ εἶπεν ὅτι προφήτης ἐστίν.
18 οὐκ ἐπίστευσαν οὖν οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι περὶ αὐτοῦ ὅτι τυφλὸς ἦν καὶ ἀνέβλεψεν, ἕως ὅτου ἐφώνησαν τοὺς γονεῖς αὐτοῦ τοῦ ἀναβλέψαντος
19 καὶ ἠρώτησαν αὐτοὺς λέγοντες· οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ υἱὸς ὑμῶν, ὃν ὑμεῖς λέγετε ὅτι τυφλὸς ἐγεννήθη; πῶς οὖν ἄρτι βλέπει;
20 ἀπεκρίθησαν δὲ αὐτοῖς οἱ γονεῖς αὐτοῦ καὶ εἶπον· οἴδαμεν ὅτι οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ υἱὸς ἡμῶν καὶ ὅτι τυφλὸς ἐγεννήθη·
21 πῶς δὲ νῦν βλέπει οὐκ οἴδαμεν, ἢ τίς ἤνοιξεν αὐτοῦ τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς ἡμεῖς οὐκ οἴδαμεν· αὐτὸς ἡλικίαν ἔχει, αὐτὸν ἐρωτήσατε, αὐτὸς περὶ ἑαυτοῦ λαλήσει.
22 ταῦτα εἶπον οἱ γονεῖς αὐτοῦ, ὅτι ἐφοβοῦντο τοὺς Ἰουδαίους· ἤδη γὰρ συνετέθειντο οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι ἵνα, ἐάν τις αὐτὸν ὁμολογήσῃ Χριστόν, ἀποσυνάγωγος γένηται.
23 διὰ τοῦτο οἱ γονεῖς αὐτοῦ εἶπον ὅτι ἡλικίαν ἔχει, αὐτὸν ἐρωτήσατε.
24 ἐφώνησαν οὖν ἐκ δευτέρου τὸν ἄνθρωπον ὃς ἦν τυφλός, καὶ εἶπον αὐτῷ· δὸς δόξαν τῷ Θεῷ· ἡμεῖς οἴδαμεν ὅτι ὁ ἄνθρωπος οὗτος ἁμαρτωλός ἐστιν.
25 ἀπεκρίθη οὖν ἐκεῖνος καὶ εἶπεν· εἰ ἁμαρτωλός ἐστιν οὐκ οἶδα· ἓν οἶδα, ὅτι τυφλὸς ὢν ἄρτι βλέπω.
26 εἶπον δὲ αὐτῷ πάλιν· τί ἐποίησέ σοι; πῶς ἤνοιξέ σου τοὺς ὀφθαλμούς;
27 ἀπεκρίθη αὐτοῖς· εἶπον ὑμῖν ἤδη, καὶ οὐκ ἠκούσατε· τί πάλιν θέλετε ἀκούειν; μὴ καὶ ὑμεῖς θέλετε αὐτοῦ μαθηταὶ γενέσθαι;
28 ἐλοιδόρησαν αὐτὸν καὶ εἶπον· σὺ εἶ μαθητὴς ἐκείνου· ἡμεῖς δὲ τοῦ Μωϋσέως ἐσμὲν μαθηταί.
29 ἡμεῖς οἴδαμεν ὅτι Μωϋσεῖ λελάληκεν ὁ Θεός· τοῦτον δὲ οὐκ οἴδαμεν πόθεν ἐστίν.
30 ἀπεκρίθη ὁ ἄνθρωπος καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· ἐν γὰρ τούτῳ θαυμαστόν ἐστιν, ὅτι ὑμεῖς οὐκ οἴδατε πόθεν ἐστί, καὶ ἀνέῳξέ μου τοὺς ὀφθαλμούς.
31 οἴδαμεν δὲ ὅτι ἁμαρτωλῶν ὁ Θεὸς οὐκ ἀκούει, ἀλλ᾿ ἐάν τις θεοσεβὴς ᾖ καὶ τὸ θέλημα αὐτοῦ ποιῇ, τούτου ἀκούει.
32 ἐκ τοῦ αἰῶνος οὐκ ἠκούσθη ὅτι ἤνοιξέ τις ὀφθαλμοὺς τυφλοῦ γεγεννημένου.
33 εἰ μὴ ἦν οὗτος παρὰ Θεοῦ, οὐκ ἠδύνατο ποιεῖν οὐδέν.
34 ἀπεκρίθησαν καὶ εἶπον αὐτῷ· ἐν ἁμαρτίαις σὺ ἐγεννήθης ὅλος, καὶ σὺ διδάσκεις ἡμᾶς; καὶ ἐξέβαλον αὐτὸν ἔξω.
35 Ἤκουσεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς ὅτι ἐξέβαλον αὐτὸν ἔξω, καὶ εὑρὼν αὐτὸν εἶπεν αὐτῷ· σὺ πιστεύεις εἰς τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ Θεοῦ;
36 ἀπεκρίθη ἐκεῖνος καὶ εἶπε· καὶ τίς ἐστι, Κύριε, ἵνα πιστεύσω εἰς αὐτόν;
37 εἶπε δὲ αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς· καὶ ἑώρακας αὐτὸν καὶ ὁ λαλῶν μετὰ σοῦ ἐκεῖνός ἐστιν.
38 ὁ δὲ ἔφη· πιστεύω, Κύριε· καὶ προσεκύνησεν αὐτῷ.
Larger Thought Unit
Today’s reading comprises most of Chapter 9 and is part of a larger unit in John’s gospel which consists of Chapters 7-9. Similar to last week’s, there is a long discourse followed by an “authenticating sign.” Here also we encounter the same technique. Chapters 7 and 8 are the discourses, with chapter 9 showing that Christ is indeed the “water of life” and the “light of the world.”
Here is the last post-paschal reading that stresses (as all the previous ones did) the primacy of ‘hearing’ over ‘seeing.’ We, especially the Orthodox, are used to underscoring the element of ‘seeing’ and ‘vision’ in our teaching that we very easily miss the evident point of today’s pericope: in the biblical language seeing is nothing else than understanding, and understanding is related to words of teaching.
- In this periscope, the Pharisees, Jesus’ opponents, were not privy to the ‘miracle’ itself. The first time they are introduced is after the miracle; their entire activity in the story revolves around what was ‘reported’ to them. In the pericope they inquire thrice concerning the ‘report’ that a blind man was healed.
- The pericope is introduced with the statement that Jesus is “the light of the world,” (cf. Jn 8:12) which is said first and foremost of the “gospel word” in Jn 1:4. Jesus brings life and light to the world through his ‘teaching.’ That is why, at the end, the blind man who was healed is asked to believe in Jesus as the “Son of man,” i.e., the one like the prophet Ezekiel whose message was doomed to be refused and yet is offered in his book as the only way for the ‘new life’ for those who decide to accept it. The Pharisees refuse to “hear/listen to” (v.27) the report and, in so doing, refuse to become “disciples” of Jesus (vv.27, 28). The “disciples,” around whose question to their “rabbi” the pericope revolves (v.2), are invited to follow the example of the blind man who was healed even at the cost of being “cast out” (vv.34, 35): to believe that Jesus was sent to do “the works of God” (vv.3, 4) as a “rabbi,” i.e., through his “word of teaching,” which is also the “word of judgment” (Jn 5.19-30) as in the case of Ezekiel.
- The centrality of the ‘message’ over the ‘vision’ can be also seen in that the healing of the blind man actually takes place when he washes himself in “the pool of Siloam (which means Sent)” (v.7). “Sent” is the translation of ἀπεσταλμένος which is a passive participle of the verb ἀποστέλλω (send) and thus is another way to say “apostle” (ἀπόστολος). That is to say, one is healed from one’s blindness by accepting the ‘light’ of the gospel teaching whose carrier is the “rabbi/teacher” Jesus.
Charles H. Talbert, Reading John, Crossroads Publishing Company, NY, NY, 1992; pp. 158ff.
Paul Nadim Tarazi, New Testament Introduction, Vol.3: Johannine Writings, St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, Crestwood, NY, 2004; pp.191-3.