Questions about the Sunday of the Blind Man


Tell the story of the healing of the man born blind from birth. Where does this story appear? When is it read in church?







The story of the healing of the man born blind from birth only appears in the Gospel of the Holy Apostle John, and is read, appropriately enough, on the "Sunday of the Blind Man", the sixth Sunday of Pascha.

Jesus met a blind man, as He was passing by. His disciples, who just recently had seen Him admonish the paralytic to "sin no more", asked the Lord why this man had been born blind. Our Lord not only answers their question and corrects their misjudgment, but as was so often the case, also used their question to expound on deeper theology. He then spat on the ground, and made a paste out of the clay, and anointed the blind man's eyes, then ordered him to go wash in the pool of Siloam. This he did, and came away seeing.

The Jews were angry because of this miracle, and interrogated the formerly blind man in the temple. He bore their questions with great dignity and honesty, and gradually became more bold in his answers, until the blinded Jews cast him out of the temple. Jesus then found him again, and the blind man saw the Lord for the first time. He believed in Him, and worshipped Him.



Why was the man born blind? The scripture mentions two possibilities.







The disciples, upon seeing the blind man, thought that he must have suffered for the same reason that the paralytic, (whom the disciples had just recently seen healed) was lame, and they asked Jesus: " Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?"(John 9:2) This was an understandable question, since it is clear that our physical infirmities are sometimes caused by our own sins. In this case, however, the Lord corrected them, saying: "Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him." (John 9:3)



What is the tradition concerning the "eyes" of the man born blind?







When Christ spat on the ground, and made a paste out of the clay and anointed the blind man's "eyes", He actually created eyes for him. The services mention this wondrous detail:

Along the way, our Savior found / a man who lacked both sight and eyes. / And making clay with His spittle, / the Lord anointed him therewith. / He sent the man to Siloam, that he might go and wash therein. / And having washed as he was told, / O Christ, he came away seeing, / and he beheld Thy divine light. (Expostilarion, Matins for the Sunday of the Blind Man)

Having, like an abundance of wealth, the form and members which comprise this our mortal flesh, the man who was blind from birth could neither imagine nor think what the form or nature of this world could be; for he also was endowed with a genuine lack of eyes ... (Vespers, Sunday of the Blind man, Lord I have cried, sticheron 2)



Many of Christ's healings recounted in the Scriptures consists of TWO healings, sometimes in a different order. What are these, in general terms? Describe these two healings of the blind man, in the order they occurred. Give at least one other example of a "double healing".







The blind man not only had no eyes and had seen no man; he also did not know Christ. Jesus first healed his eyes, and upon meeting him again, healed the eyes of his soul. He who was formerly blind both in his physical eyes and those of his soul now could clearly see out of both. The services for the Sunday of the Blind Man are replete with references to spiritual blindness, and supplication to be delivered from it.

" O Christ God, Thou spiritual Sun of Righteousness, / Who by Thine immaculate touch / didst bestow a two-fold enlightenment upon him / who from his mother's womb was deprived of sight, / illumine Thou the eyes of our souls also, / and prove us to be sons of the day, / that we may cry to Thee with faith: / Great and ineffable is Thy compassion toward us, O Friend of man; // Glory be to Thee." Aposticha, Vespers for the Blind Man)

"Who can tell of Thy mighty acts, O Christ, / or who can number the multitudes of Thy wonders? / For even as Thou, in Thy goodness, didst appear on earth twofold of nature, / so didst Thou grant twofold healings to the sick; / for Thou didst open not only the bodily eyes of the man / who was blind from the womb, / but those of his soul also. / Wherefore, he confessed Thee, the hidden God, // Who grantest great mercy unto all." (Glory from the Praises, Matins for the Sunday of the Blind Man)

The paralytic by the sheep's pool, whom we only just considered the previous Sunday, was also healed of his physical infirmity first, then enlightened as to the cause of his affliction. For the Lord healed him, then later admonished him to "...sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee." ". (John 5:14)

Another paralytic, who had been lowered down through the roof of Simon Peter's house, was also given two healings. First Jesus forgave his sins, and then gave strength to his legs. (Mark 2:3-12)



Why were the Jews upset about the healing of the blind man? What were the stated reasons, and what were the real reasons?







Jesus healed the blind man on the Sabbath. Some of the Jews will filled with jealousy and envy, and used the healing on the Sabbath day as a pretext for their displeasure. Their dialogue with the formerly blind man shows clearly their lamentable hatred.



The complete healing of the blind man is a marvelous example of synergy, the cooperation of man with God's will. One may justly conjecture that his complete healing would not have been affected if not for his own praiseworthy actions. Explain. Hint - describe and comment on the actions of the blind man from the time he was told to wash in the pool of Siloam until his second encounter with Christ. You should be able to describe at least two of his important actions, which were absolutely necessary to affect his complete healing.







When Christ anointed the eyes of the blind man with spittle and clay, He demanded that he go wash in the pool of Siloam. This blessed man did not object, even though in every outward sense, this act and order was very peculiar. He stumbled to the pool, all the while feeling the eyes of all upon him, who could not see. He must have looked pathetic - a blind man with mud caked on his face stumbling through the city. This first great act (of obedience, which is a hallmark of true faith) of the blind man affected the physical healing of his eyes. After he washed in the pool, his eyes and eyesight were made whole.

The envious Jews did not want to believe in this miracle, even though it was obvious that it had happened. They interrogated the man in a threatening way. This man had never seen Christ, and knew very little about Him. He answered their leading questions simply and elegantly, and these blasphemers unwittingly contributed to his second healing.

As the absurdity of the Jew's questions and their true motives became apparent, he who was formerly blind began to understand a little about Christ. It is clear that he still did not understand things completely, but he nevertheless showed remarkable courage, and rebuked the foolish Jews with an ironic question, in response to another foolish inquiry by them: "He answered them, I have told you already, and ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again? Will ye also be his disciples?" (John 9:27). This courageous rebuke incensed the council, and they roared like lions: "Thou art his disciple; but we are Moses' disciples. {29} We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence he is." (John 9:28-29). He who was blind stood alone, and undefended. His parents had deserted him, and he understood that he was in danger of being put out of the synagogue. Many men would back down in such an instance, and try to appease the leaders, because of fear. He still did not understand completely from "whence" Jesus was, but his breast was filled with conviction and courage, as he sealed his fate among those who love the world more than God, and said: " Why herein is a marvelous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes. {31} Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth. {32} Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind. {33} If this man were not of God, he could do nothing." (John 9:30-33). For this, he was cast out.

After this, Jesus sought him out, a man who had gained eyes, but lost his patrimony and all standing in Jewish society. Certainly, Christ would not have presented himself again to a coward. The man had been courageous in defending Him Whom he had never seen, and because of this, he was vouchsafed to see and understand the God-man.

"Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? {36} He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? {37} And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. {38} And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him." (John 9:35-38)



The healing of the blind man shows in a striking way that God gradually illumines a soul. This event was recorded for our benefit, and together with many other events and recountings, helps us to see the diverse manner in which Christ heals and illumines a soul, and also serves as an instruction to us, who are also being gradually illumined, more or less according to our reaction to God's grace.

The illumination of the soul has been a constant theme since Pascha. Describe at lease three other examples of this most important action of the grace of God, which the church has recently contemplated. What may these recountings teach us?







Since Pascha, the church has studied the holy process of the illumination of the soul with truth. The day of the resurrection, the Disciples of Christ hardly believed until Christ had shown them in diverse ways. Mary Magdalene saw an empty tomb, and conversed with an angel, but her understanding was not opened until Christ, Whom she mistook for the gardener, appeared unto her, alone, near the tomb. The two apostles of the Seventy, Luke and Cleophas, conversed with the God-man all the way to the village of Emmaus, and did not recognize Him. When He sat at meat with them, and broke bread, then they were illumined fully, and He vanished from their sight. The Holy Apostle Peter, still shaking inwardly because of his thricefold denial of Christ, saw an empty tomb with John, and heard the report of the Myrrh-bearing women, but he could not truly believe until Christ appeared to him, alone, and he who lamented his moment of weakness was vouchsafed to be the first apostle to see the risen Lord. Thomas doubted until eight days after the resurrection, when Christ appeared to him among the other apostles, and bade him to touch His wounds. The formerly doubting one then was the first to confess the dual nature of Christ, saying "My Lord and my God". All these events were explored from Pascha through the Sunday of the Myrrh-bearing women, the third Sunday of Pascha.

The church then turned its spiritual gaze towards the paralytic who had lain by the sheep's pool for 38 years. The Lord healed his legs, and afterwards, enlightened his soul, showing him that his infirmity had been because of his sins. The woman by the well, a stranger to Israel, was evangelized by the God-man in the heat of the day. She learned of the true faith, and became an apostle to her people, saying: "Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?" (John 4:29). On the Sunday following, a man who was formerly blind in his physical and spiritual sight had both restored.

All of these events from sacred history deserve careful scrutiny. These are stories of how God approached man, and taught him to see the truth. They were approached in different ways, by the same God-man, and learned the same truth. May we derive comfort and instruction from reading of how the God-man revealed Himself to those who loved Him.



The trip of the blind man to the pool of Siloam cannot be overlooked, as it is very instructive to us. What is this trip a model for? Describe the trip, and don't be so laconic! We must understand the difficulty of this trip, if we are to benefit from it.







The blind man's trip to Siloam was an astounding act of simple obedience. The request was strange, and the appearance of a man with mud on his face stumbling through the city even stranger. The unfortunate man had to endure stumbling and falling among the stones, but the shouts and derision of those who saw his misfortune were the more painful blows. This journey had a dual purpose. It tested the blind man, and memorialized his virtue, and also made it impossible for the envious Jews to credibly deny the miracle.

"But wherefore did He not this at once, instead of sending him to Siloam? That thou mayest learn the faith of the blind man, and that the obstinacy of the Jews might be silenced: for it was probable that they would all see him as he departed, having the clay spread upon his eyes, since by the strangeness of the thing he would attract to himself all, both those who did and those who did not know him, and they would observe him exactly." (HOMILY 57 JOHN 9:6, 7)

When you gaze upon the journey of the blind man, do you not see a model for prayer? We must pray with obedience, simply and with great and prolonged effort. We must not allow any obstacle to destroy our faith, and the prayer that proceeds from this faith. Are not all these virtues shown in the obedient walk of the blind man?



Jesus said to His disciples, after they asked him about the blind man: "I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work." ((John 9:4)

What is the meaning?







"I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work." ((John 9:4)

"What mean these words? To what conclusion do they lead? To an important one. For what He saith is of this kind. "While it is day, while men may believe on Me, while this life lasteth, I must work." "The night cometh," that is, futurity, "when no man can work." He said not, "when I cannot work," but, "when no man can work": that is, when there is no longer faith, nor labors, nor repentance. For to show that He calleth faith, a "work," when they say unto Him, "What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?" (c. 6:28), He replieth, "This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent." How then can no man work this work in the future world? Because there faith is not, but all, willingly, or unwillingly, will submit." (St. John Chrysostom, Sermon 56 on St. John, John 9:1,2)



Describe another washing in the Old Testament (this one, being 7 washings) that also affected a healing.







Naaman was the captain of the host of the king of Syria and also a leper. A slave who was the mistress of Naaman's wife kindly told her "... Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! For he would recover him of his leprosy." (2 Ki 5:3). The King of Syria loved Naaman, so he sent him to the prophet Elisha with all the trappings of wealth and pomp befitting a favorite retainer of a king: "And the king of Syria said, Go to, go, and I will send a letter unto the king of Israel. And he departed, and took with him ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment. " (2 Ki 5:5)

When Naaman finally gained an audience with the prophet Elisha, the prophet's instructions seemed strange and made the great man angry:

" And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean. {11} But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the LORD his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper. {12} Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage. " (2 Ki 5:10-12)

Naaman did not obey in simplicity, because he did not understand and was proud, but God did not abandon him. His wise counselors told him:

"... if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? How much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean? " (2 Ki 5:13)

Then Naaman obeyed, and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, and was cleansed.

Please read the 5th chapter of 2 Kings to see this wondrous story for yourself.


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