It must have come like cracks and fissures breaking through decades of impermeable darkness. Who knows how long it took for the pool to come into focus, or for his eyes to adjust to what must have been the astounding brightness of everyday light. In all those early moments of merciful sensory overload, I wonder if he took a little extra time getting back to town, on a route he might have somehow known but never seen. And as his eyes opened up, and the world with them, what did he want to do first? Match his parents’ faces with their voices and touch? Finally find out what people meant by blue or green? Or meet the man who made the miracle mud? By the time he gets back to town, as it so often goes in John, Jesus is nowhere to be found. Instead, his inexplicable change of fortune meets only suspicious neighbors, antagonistic local leaders, and his own flummoxed and fearful parents. And instead of being the subject of celebration, he becomes the key witness in the authorities’ investigation into that Sabbath-breaking troublemaker, “the man called Jesus.”
Timid and succinct at first, his testimony about his encounter with Jesus seems to gather steam. At first, he only confirms that he doesn’t know who or where Jesus is. In the next round of questioning, he gathers steam and confesses that Jesus must be a prophet. By the time the inquisition has reached its climax – and just before it ends with his ejection from the synagogue – he confesses that this man must be from God because, “One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” By the time Jesus comes to him again at the end of the story, he sees Jesus clearly. Then he worships.
Having walked away from an encounter with Jesus with my own face mud-streaked and my eyes dazzled by the everyday brilliance of grace, I find myself bearing witness with increasing boldness. The still greater grace is that such boldness does not come to any of us on the basis of our eloquence or even complete understanding. An encounter with the living Lord can make miracles out of mud and bold proclaimers out of former blind beggars.
Amanda Pittman Durham, NC Th.D. Candidate in Christian Education and New Testament Cole Mill Road Church of Christ