When we left off last, Jesus had placed mud on the man’s eyes, the man washed, and then was healed. Jesus then disappears from the story for a bit, but don’t worry, he’ll be back. As we read, the man runs across his neighbors. His neighbors see him and ask, “Isn’t this the blind guy?” Others answer, “Naw, just looks like him.” (I’m using the John Elkins revised remix translation). Now take note, the debate is between the neighbors. No one specifically addresses the blind man until he interjects himself. This happens throughout the story. First it happens with the disciples, then the neighbors, then the Jewish leaders. So this poor man stands around his neighbors and they don’t believe his story. No one cares about the blind guy.
What should give us pause is that the people who live around this man are unsure if he is even the blind guy. They are so far disconnected from the plight of the weak that they cannot even recognize a neighbor. This is the tragedy of the story, that no one cares about the lame guy… no one that is, except Jesus. The community of faith has failed to defend the weak and broken among them. They have allowed this man to beg in the street without ever engaging in the plight. This is exactly what Ezekiel condemns the Jewish leaders for doing in Ezek. 34 and 36! The shepherds of Israel have abandoned God’s sheep. In this story, the Lord if fulfilling His promise that He will be the Shepherd.
So, the neighbors take him to the Pharisees and they ask the same questions. This time there is the added struggle that Jesus decided to heal the man on the Sabbath. The Sabbath is the day of peace and remembrance of God’s work in creation. So it should not surprise us that God is recreating on the Sabbath. But it surprises the Jewish leaders. In the court of the Pharisees, the discussion is not about the blind man’s sin, but about Jesus’ sin. (Of which there is none, by the way.) The Pharisees don’t care about the man’s story. In fact, they don’t even believe in it according to verse 18. So they call his parents and his parents refuse to stand up for him. No one cares about the blind guy… not even his parents.
The Pharisees call the blind man again and demand that he reject Jesus as a sinner who could not heal the blind. This is exactly what people do in our modern world today. First we deny the validity of the change that happens inside a person, then we challenge the story, then we reject the answer, then we reject Jesus. No one cares about the person. We get caught up in the way that things are done, insisting that we know better. We get caught up in WHEN things are done, insisting that we know better. We tweek programing thinking that our programming will save people. We get mad because we think we have the right answers in our programs and works. In this story Jesus shows us that we should be concerned for the blind guy. But we are often too busy being right to care about the blind guy.