Light of the World (John 9:5-7)
Have you ever noticed your circadian rhythm? (No, that’s not got anything to do with your toe-tapping tendencies). Circadian rhythm is all about the cycles of day and night. Regardless of our work and leisure activities, our bodies respond to a roughly 24-hour schedule. Do you know why that is? It’s because of the sun. Apparently our brain picks up sunlight that enters in through our eyes; it then releases chemicals that set us up for the circadian rhythm we generally experience. Not so the blind. Their eyes not only fail to convey images to the brain, but also to transmit light there. The result? Some blind people find they are not synchronized to the usual 24-hour rhythm of life. They are always a little off this world’s schedule.
It’s interesting that as Jesus approaches the blind man of John 9 (see “God’s Lifework: Part 1), he speaks directly to that man’s need. He describes circadian rhythms and then confides, “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
“What is light?” the blind man must be thinking. “How is light relevant to me?”
I’m wondering if we sometimes think that about Jesus. How is he relevant to me? How is what He is offering connected to what I really need? How is He able to affect my relational problems, my responsibilities, my character flaws, my physical ailments, my doubts? Jesus’ answer always gets to the root of our problems. He knows how we tick; He created us for Heaven’s sake. And it just may be that we are praying prayers that are actually superficial. Our prayers may only be scratching the surface of a much deeper, foundational need that we can’t yet see.
No doubt, the blind man in this narrative had been praying for sight. If only he could see, life would be O.K. But Jesus offers him something incredibly greater: He offers Himself, the Light of the World. Physically speaking, if the man had the full capacity of sight, but there was no light (no sun, no firelight, no light anywhere), his sight would be useless. Jesus is revealing a truth to this man regarding his spiritual need. He needs something Jesus can give that is of far greater value than physical sight. He needs the Light of God’s love and truth, of forgiveness and of hope. His prayer for opened eyes will be answered by giving him an open heart first if he will accept it.
With this offer, the light of insight pierces the blind man’s soul. The silence is broken by the earthy sound of Jesus spitting onto the dirt. The blind man hears a scraping, a rubbing of fingers, a scratching about down in the dust. Then Jesus’ hand is back on his shoulder and he feels something sludgy plastered onto his eyelids. It smells like mud.
“Go, wash…” commands Jesus.
And we’re told the man went and washed, perhaps with the help of a friend or family member. Or maybe he knew how to shuffle his way to the pool, hands feeling the stone walls that led there. We’re told he “came home seeing”. We’re not told of the exhilaration he felt as the mud washed away a lifetime of blindness. We’re not privy to the sense of gratitude he felt for the One who gave him a deeper sight. But we know Jesus is a man of His word. He has become light to the blind man.
Has he become light to us? What do our prayers sound like? Is it possible we are asking for too little? Has the Light of the World got something even greater for our needs than what we can envision? If we listen to what He is saying, His light will pierce the deepest places of our souls. The time for darkness is over.