#2 – Chapter 9 from the Gospel of John

Jen (my wife) needed a little extra time to sleep this morning, so I threw a fresh onesie (onesy?) on Colin and we headed downstairs to hang out. He settled down and we enjoyed a quiet morning together; it’s actually one of my favorite times of the year – the last couple days before a big holiday. I’m making lists of things to clean, things to fix, food to purchase – bursting with anticipation for Thursday. Anyway, to begin our morning we read from the Gospel of John this morning, chapter 9.

This section of John’s account is better known as the healing of a man who had been blind since birth. Jesus spits into the dirt and then cakes the man’s eyes with mud. He then tells this man to wash his eyes at Siloam, and behold! he is then able to see. The rest of the story is then about the interrogation of this man and his parents by the Pharisees with the eventual explanation from Christ.

Observations:

1. This story is one of many to appear only in John’s gospel. It should be noted that John’s gospel is written much later than Luke’s writings (the Gospel of Luke and Acts) and even possibly some of Paul’s letters, so John could be writing his account with an awareness of things that have happened among the apostles and the early church, especially in the development of early Christian theology.

2. John is presenting what seems to be his version* of a standard Gospel/Acts story, specifically the person who has been afflicted with some debilitation (disease, disability, demon possession) who is then healed followed by a curious response from the crowd. John 9 while not exactly aping, certainly echoes Mark 5 (the demon possessed man in Gerasa) or Acts 3 (Peter healing a disabled beggar). 

3. In each story, the writer is sure to point out the crowd’s reaction, specifically that they recognize not only who the healed person was, but also that he has been changed. I’ll let you create your own sermon from that observation.

4. The actions of Jesus strangely echo the creation story; the physical and symbolic healing begins by the combination of dirt (the earth) and God (John 9:6). The Genesis account describes how God created man from dirt and then breathed life into him (Genesis 2:7). While John’s story is perhaps a little bit more profane with the images of spit and mud (the sacred and the propane, right Little Carmine?), it still carries the same essence. Human beings are this combination of earth and spirit, not exclusively one or the other…

I think it should be said that Colin did cry a little bit during last night’s reading of The Cat in the Hat, yet was quiet and serene while I read this morning. Coincidence? Probably. Yes.

*When I say version, I’m working within the context of Narrative Criticism, which is the idea of a Gospel writer framing and “typing” the stories of Jesus in order to convey the particular story that he is writing. This accounts for the different placement of certain stories in the Gospels (for example: the previously mentioned scene at Gerasa occurs within the same specific contexts of Matthew 8, Mark 5, and Luke 8, but the greater context can be much different as Matthew inserts different accounts amidst Mark and Luke’s versions of the story and even places the event at a seemingly different location (Gadara). Since we know each Gospel writer was portraying a different aspect or at least different characteristics of Christ, then we can assume that they could mold the “biography” to fit these specific theme(s). This does not mean that these accounts are falsified or fictional, but rather that they represent a different way of viewing history. Instead of our Western linear line of thought, the Ancient Near East viewed history much more as a narrative, and the Gospels reflect the narrative biographies of other historical figures of that day.

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Published in: on November 25, 2008 at 3:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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