Session 4: The Pool | Preparing for Prayer
Start today’s prayer by becoming physically still. It doesn’t matter whether you choose to stand up, sit comfortably, or lie down. Just take up a position in which you can be, for a few minutes, both reasonably relaxed and yet alert. And stay quietly there for a moment or two.
Now take time to notice what is going on inside yourself, in your mind and heart. What thoughts do you notice passing through your mind? What feelings are you aware of? When you take time to become more still, as you are doing now, what do you find crowding in upon your consciousness?
As you stay with these thoughts and feelings for a few moments, you’ll probably notice how they come and go, swirling around like ripples on a flowing river. Some, perhaps, seem more important and long-lasting. Others are simply fleeting impressions, come and gone quickly. For a little while, just continue to watch the ebb and flow of these thoughts and feeling as they pass through you.
From this perspective, be aware that you are watching the river of these thoughts and feelings - you yourself are not the river, but the watcher. As the one who watches, you can peacefully observe all that is going on, without the need to get immediately involved. So let the river of thoughts and feelings continue on their journey. Meanwhile, from your quiet point overlooking the stream, listen to this week’s passage from the Gospel of John… Following the reading, we invite you pause and use our supplementary Lectio Divina guide to help you meditate on the scripture in a deeper way.
Reading: John 9:1-41
As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.
A Man Born Blind Receives Sight
As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.’ When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, saying to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’ (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see. The neighbours and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, ‘Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?’ Some were saying, ‘It is he.’ Others were saying, ‘No, but it is someone like him.’ He kept saying, ‘I am the man.’ But they kept asking him, ‘Then how were your eyes opened?’ He answered, ‘The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, “Go to Siloam and wash.” Then I went and washed and received my sight.’ They said to him, ‘Where is he?’ He said, ‘I do not know.’
The Pharisees Investigate the Healing
They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, ‘He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.’ Some of the Pharisees said, ‘This man is not from God, for he does not observe the sabbath.’
But others said, ‘How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?’ And they were divided. So they said again to the blind man, ‘What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.’ He said, ‘He is a prophet.’
The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight and asked them, ‘Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?’ His parents answered, ‘We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.’
His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. Therefore his parents said, ‘He is of age; ask him.’
So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, ‘Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.’ He answered, ‘I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.’ They said to him, ‘What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?’ He answered them, ‘I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?’ Then they reviled him, saying, ‘You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.’ The man answered, ‘Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.’ They answered him, ‘You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?’ And they drove him out.
Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ He answered, ‘And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.’ Jesus said to him, ‘You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.’ He said, ‘Lord, I believe.’ And he worshipped him. Jesus said, ‘I came into this world for judgement so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.’ Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, ‘Surely we are not blind, are we?’ Jesus said to them, ‘If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, “We see”, your sin remains.
• In our fourth session, we move from remote Samaria to the hustle of the city of Jerusalem in festival mode. The whole city was illuminated for the feast of Tabernacles. This was the occasion when Jesus proclaimed himself to be ‘the light of the world’ (John 8:12). This brought him into controversy with his religious critics, the Pharisees.
• He responded not only in word, but in action, too, as he performed the sign of giving sight to a man blind from birth by the pool of Siloam. Then Jesus disappeared from the story, and left the man to fend for himself as he faced questioning from his neighbours and from the enemies of Jesus who turned their wrath on him rather than on Jesus.
• As we hear the man dealing with these questions, we learn how Jesus not only gave physical sight, but was also the agent of spiritual sight. In answering his neighbours, the once blind man described Jesus as the ‘man called Jesus’. When interrogated by the Pharisees, he called Jesus a prophet. Later he would give ‘glory to God’ by defending Jesus against a charge of being a sinner. He had become a theologian. Finally, when Jesus sought him out, the man called him his Lord, knelt and worshipped him. He now believed; he is a model for all who hear this gospel story (John 20:31).
Talk to God
The question that began the story was, ‘Who sinned?’ By its end, we know that the ones who sinned were these Pharisees. In contrast to the man who was born blind, they failed to respond to the one who is ‘the light of the world’.
• If for this man the light grew brighter as the story proceeded, others stumbled from one degree of darkness to another. Again this darkness was spiritual rather than physical. Do you recognize any spiritual darkness in your life? Discuss this with the Lord now as one friend speaks to another…
• The neighbours in the story became divided among themselves; the parents of the blind man lacked courage to admit what they knew; the Pharisees who criticised Jesus argued among themselves and denied that the man had been cured at all. Do you have any divisions in your life at the moment? Perhaps in your community or among friends or family; divisions within yourself…
• The question that began the story was, ‘Who sinned?’ By its end, we know that the ones who sinned were these Pharisees. In contrast to the man who was born blind, they failed to respond to the one who is ‘the light of the world’. How will you respond to ‘the light of the world’ as we draw this week’s session to a close?