You are a blind man, sitting out front of a large parish church begging. One afternoon you hear a crowd approaching. It isn't Christmas, nor Easter. It's not Ash Wednesday or even the sabbath. As you ponder why a crowd is approaching, you begin to hear the tone of their conversation. One you've heard over and over again in your years.
"Who sinned, his parents or him, that he is blind?"
Oh boy, here we go again. Another group of well-meaning religious types who have come to look at your plight in order to feel better about themselves. "Just keep the cup out and smile on," you think to yourself, "this too shall pass."
Somebody pipes up from the crowd, "nobody sinned, this man is blind so that the glory of God's amazing works can be revealed." "Nut job!" you mutter under your breath, "Thanks, but I'll take my parents sin as reason for my blindness over God's direct hand. How is God glorified in my being ignored at the very steps people use to enter his worship? Bologna!"
The sound of a man spitting on the ground startles you from your anger cycle, and all of a sudden you feel something cold, slimy, and sticky upon your eyelids.
"What the..." Your blood pressure spikes, fight or flight takes over, you clinch your fist to swing at the unseen bully when you hear, calmly and with care, "Go, wash yourself in the pool of Siloam."
Without a clue as to why, you find yourself, with the help of some others on your way to the pool. They help you kneel at the edge of the pool, you lean over, splash water in your eyes, and...
You can see. And not just that, but you can process the newfound sight.
Why did the Man Born Blind (MBB) follow Jesus' instruction to go to the Pool of Siloam? Based on the details John gives us the man should have slapped the fool out of Jesus for messing with a blind man, not faithfully listened to his words. What on earth possessed him to get up and go?
The folks at Luther Seminary and workingpreacher.org are adamant about using the whole pericope this Sunday. Not just the interminably long John 9.1-41 (which roughly translated means ALL OF CHAPTER NINE) but they want us to read all the way through John 10:21. The Seven Signs in John's Gospel follow a pattern: 1) sign, 2) conversation, 3) teaching discourse. The RCL gives us parts 1 and 2, and I guess assumes that part 3 comes in the amazingly insightful sermons that follow the Gospel lesson. They aren't buying that, and quite frankly neither am I.
When Jesus goes on to explain the sign of healing the MBB, he tells us that seeing is important, but hearing and following are moreso. "The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice." (John 10.3-4)
They follow because they know his voice. The MBB knew Jesus' voice even though he had never heard it before. He knew that there was hope and joy and freedom in his commandments, and so he followed them. He got up and did the ridiculous thing of washing off the spity, slimy, goo where the man who abused him told him too. And he could see. clearly. fully.