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Tony's Reflection 69
I sometimes think my threshold for what excites me in life is getting lower, the older I get.
I was really excited by the arrival of new contact lenses a few weeks ago. For so long, I have struggled with blurred vision, when I look at my computer screen. I’ve had to insist on the flood lights being switched on at Emmanuel Church, if I’m going to see well enough to read from the service book. Reading glasses helped, but it was an affront to my vanity to wear them and, in any case, I could hardly see anything further than 2 m away.
But now… new contact lenses! My screen is crystal clear and no more squinting in church, trying to read the service book. I can almost recognise the people sitting on the back row…
Until you have had eyesight issues, it’s hard to appreciate the sheer delight and pleasure that comes with vision restored.
What if you were blind, though? What if you were born blind and darkness is all you have known? What if you once had sight, but have now totally lost it? Blackness is all you see now… but you still long for the beauty of colour, that you can only just remember.
How would it feel then, to be given eyesight?
Once you have pondered this, you’ll be ready to enter into today’s episode from Mark (
There is tension in the air as Jesus and his disciples approach the village. The Twelve are brooding. It’s obvious Jesus is hugely disappointed with them. He has called them hardhearted. Told them they have eyes to see but are too blind to notice what is going on right in front of them. These are the things he had said earlier about those “outside” their inner circle (Mark 4:12). They wistfully remember how privileged and pleased they had felt back then at being “in the know”. But now… whatever it is Jesus wants them to see, they are totally missing. Are they really just as blind, as those on the outside?
They trudge wearily into the village of Bethesda. The excitement of the crowd as they catch their first glimpses of Jesus arriving is totally lost on the Twelve. Jesus’ words are still haunting and hurting them. If they are blind to Jesus and his message after all this time, what hope is there?
Jesus, meanwhile, is mobbed. The crowd throngs around him. There is jostling, shoving, pushing, shouting… even begging.
The disciples resent this noisy intrusion on their moping. Jesus, though, is genuinely pleased to see the people, as he struggles to stay on his feet, with everyone literally trying to grab his attention.
Out of the corner of his eye, on the edge of the crowd, Jesus spots two people, with a blind man. The man can hear perfectly well the frightening, barging melee of the crowd. He tentatively holds his hands out, groping his way forward to Jesus, hoping he won’t get knocked over. His friends act as human shields, trying to get him safely close enough to Jesus for a just a touch.
They call out desperately to Jesus. If only he would just touch their friend… one little touch is all it would take to get him seeing again.
Jesus shouts for silence. In an instant, the clamour ceases. The crowd are mystified. There is a murmur as they wonder what will happen next.
The crowd parts for Jesus as he makes his way over to the blind man.
“It’s me, Jesus” he whispers into the blind man’s ear, as he takes him gently by the hand. “Come with me, we’ll be fine.”
Jesus tells the crowd to stay put and, tenderly guiding the blind man around the rocks in the path, leads him slowly out of the village. The blind man can’t believe his luck. His heart is in his mouth, as he wonders what it will be like to see again.
The Twelve follow at a respectful distance. The Old Testament heroes had done some amazing miracles, but no one had ever made the blind see. Could Jesus really do this?
They reach a quiet spot. Jesus puts his hand on the blindman. He spits gently into the blindman’s lifeless, dull eyes. The man knows what this means. It was what ancient healers did. A miracle was on the way. What would it be like to see again? He’s trembling, with a heady mix of excitement and anticipation.
As the spit trickles gently out of his eyes and down the side of his nose, it washes away the blackness of blindness. Gradually sight returns. The man looks around, full of amazement and gratitude, as long forgotten colours come back, vivid and bright. He can see people again, too … but they are blurry. They look like trees walking around – no detail, at all.
As Jesus looks into the man’s eyes, he sees sparkle, light and a twinkle where there had only been motionless darkness. He also reads in those eyes bewildered disappointment. He is so thankful to see at all. But how come everything is so blurry?
Jesus puts his hand on the man’s shoulder. “I know,” says Jesus, “it’s going to be ok…”
The man shuts his eyes as Jesus gently touches the lids. As he opens them again, the misty screen of blurriness slowly dissolves and everything is crystal clear.
“Stay out here for a bit,” says Jesus, with a smile. “If you go back and tell the crowd what’s happened, we’ll never get out of here in one piece.”
So, Jesus really can bring sight to the blind. The words about having eyes but not seeing swirl around in the minds of the Twelve. Maybe he could make them see, as well.