A Metaphor for Ministry
A Metaphor for Ministry
How does a blind man mark the passing of time? Not by red streaks in the east or a flaming western sky. Maybe the day sounds different from the night: different birds, different clanks and clinks from the people parade he hears but never sees. Light warms the face while darkness cools the skin. Surely there is a different sound to voices. The darkness muffles sound and the light brightens it.
He heard voices asking about him. “Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” He was used to such speculation. I am not the only one who was born blind, he thought.
Then another voice sounded, this one clearer, the sound echoing in his darkness.
“Neither he nor his parents,” the voice declared.
Finally, a voice of reason, the man thought. “This has happened to this man so that the work of God may be displayed in his life,” the stranger said.
“The work of God,” someone mocked. The crowd murmured, ready for a show. “What is he doing now?” a voice asked. “Making mud,” came the answer. “Mud? There is no well here. How is he making mud?”
“From his mouth!”
“From his mouth? How crude!”
Laughter flittered through the crowd like a nervous breeze. The blind man smiled. The work of God, he thought.
Suddenly cool, wet fingers were daubing his eyes. He blinked, flinching, but the fingers found his sightless eyes again. This was no assault. The fingers were gentle; the mud felt like a healing balm. Then the clear voice sounded right in front of him. It belonged to the hands.
“Now, go and wash in the pool of Siloam.”
How does a blind man find a pool? Friends helped him. Slowly at first, then desperately, he washed the mud from his eyes. With the mud went the darkness. He saw white light, dim and blurred as if through a veil. The light grew brighter until all the world was white. Then colors began to run to their assigned places: blue to the sky; white to the clouds; green to the lush grass; tan to the sandy road, brown to the stones by the pool. The water was clear, flashing back the busy image of the sky and that of a man standing knee deep in the water, a man with an astonished look on his face as if he were seeing for the first time.
“The work of God!” the man said. “It is the work of God!”
Each moment was like the first day at school as the man saw people and clothes and houses and animals for the first time. Joyfully he linked the sounds he knew better than anyone with their images so fresh and new. Someone brought his parents. They stood looking at each other, no one speaking. Then his mother called his name. The man wept when that sound came from that face. They held each other and wept. Slowly he embraced his father, closing his eyes and sinking deep into the familiar warmth of his broad shoulder. All the old man could say was “My son, my son.” But it was enough. There was a new order to the world. He thought of the man who had made the mud.
“Where is the man who touched me?”
No one knew. It had happened at Siloam. The Pharisees came and the man saw that their faces were as hard as their voices. It was the Sabbath and the man who did this, this Jesus, had broken the law. They wanted to know what had happened.
“He made mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to come here and wash and I did. Now I can see.”
“This man is a sinner!” the hard voice said.
The man thought, now who is blind? He protested but he had no light to penetrate the darkness of their minds. They expelled son, mother and father from the synagogue. Outcasts now, the family huddled together in their home. Someone was at the door. The father spoke softly to the visitor. But hushed, polite tones did not keep the man’s voice from flying like an arrow to the young man’s heart.
“It’s him! Father, let him in. It’s the man who…” he was silenced in mid-sentence by the hands, the voice, and then, the face of Jesus.
“Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
“Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.”
Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.” Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. As he worshiped at the feet of Jesus, his tears mingled with the dust. Soon, there was a little pool of mud, the divine mixed with the stuff of earth. This is the work of God.
© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved