John 9:1-41, Lent 4, Jesus Heals Blind Humanity

Take Up Beer For Lent, Week 4, 2011
Stories from our World:

Extreme Makeover where every week ABC says, let us pimp your body!

You know the transformations are life changing when you see Extreme Makeover’s new butterflies (as they keep saying) revealed to their families, especially the parents—the people responsible for creating the original monsters.  Or so they clearly have felt for years.  The parents always cry.  Their guilt and self-blame are extreme and apparent.  They may have told their kids it was enough to be beautiful on the inside, but they knew this wasn’t true.  One mother said something like, “I always wanted Billy to be able to get married.  Now maybe he can.”  It’s heart wrenchingly effective TV.


  • Write down in as short and succinct a phrase or sentence as possible the meaning of this text as you interpret it.
Ancient Story:  John 9:1-41 ,

Lent 4, RCL Gospel Reading


Compare and Contrast the characterisation of the blind man and his example of conversion/discipleship with that of Nicodemus in Chapter 3.

From last weeks story of the Samaritan Woman in John 4 John’s story moves like this…

  • Chapter 5 Healing at Siloam…connection with this healing story also.
  • Chapter 6 The Battle for a ‘Bread” Messiah:  Defining Messiahship beyond political violence or the animal sacrifice of the temple but in the non violent, self sacrifice of discipleship symbolised by Eucharist.
  • Chapter 7-8  Big Fight in Jerusalem: The provocative significance of Jesus saying he is Light and Water at the Festival.
  • The movement of the plot suggests that the ‘Blindness since birth’ at issue here is also that of the disciples and religious leaders commitment to a system and ways of operating that they assume as a ‘given’.  The ‘water they swim in’ which John’s Jesus seems to be at least questioning if not rejecting outright!  What systems are we ‘blind’ participants in?


Chiastic Structure

Verses 1-5 Asking why vs. doing Gods work:

  • Disscussion on Stories from our World above on guilt, shame, blame parents and family, the nature of ‘healing’,
  • Pick any issue.  How much of our endless nature versus nurture, personal vs. social responsibility, left wing vs. right wing debates ever centre on anything more than defining or passing blame?

Verses 6-7 The invitation to be born again accepted: Sharing stories of commitment and conversion

  • I love the image of Jesus using saliva.  Living Water = Spirit.  Spirit and mud = Creation at Genesis.  This is a rebirth process

Verses 8-17 Witnessing to the truth round 1 : Sharing stories of costly witness

Verses 18-23 The sins of the parents and the child: Stories of conflict with family and friends over discipleship.

Verses 24-34 Witnessing to the truth round 2: Stories of costly witness

Verses 35-38 Finding jesus on the outside (and in the work): Sharing our stories

Verses 39-41 Are we blind? What does it mean to be ‘excommunicated’ in our contemporary contexts?


A Discipleship/ Conversion Process implied by the Text

1. Unasked for act of grace. Change that comes from light/sight
2. Challenge from those who seek control.
3. Dual enlightenment about ‘the way of Christ’ and ‘The the way of the ‘world’.
4. Social crisis and movement.

What is your personal experience of such a process?

Personal Stories

(good questions based on Wes Howard Brook)


How much time does our culture/ church spend defining sin/blame versus working to remove/ treat root causes?

Consider a painful process of ‘learning to see’ the uncomfortable or embarrassing truths about the social world in which you live? Family, Peers, Church, Nation.  What would be the cost to you in speaking out about such truths?

Consider your own growth in ‘learning to see’?  What looks different about the world due to your experience of discipleship?

Talk about a context where you have borne witness to the truth.  What fears did it raise? What did you learn about yourself and others?

Consider the difficulty of witnessing to one’s faith publicly.  What did it feel like in practise? How did people respond?

What is our cultural equivalent of excommunication? In your experience is the church a place of judgement or a ‘safe house’ for those rejected by their own?

Where might you turn to for support due to hostility and rejection caused by expressing your truth?

Man Born Blind:  Chroming Whose Fault? John 9:1-41, 2002


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