"Blind from his birth"

Much food for thought is contained in Mary Baker Eddy's brief statement concerning the method of teaching spiritual truth (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 575), "Spiritual teaching must always be by symbols." A close study of Christ Jesus' words and works provides convincing evidence that our Master employed this method. By way of example, let us consider the healing of the man "blind from his birth," as recorded in the ninth chapter of John's Gospel.

Jesus' disciples, trying to ascertain a cause for the so-called physical blindness, inquired of their teacher, "Who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?" They evidently recognized that this condition indicated an erroneous mental state, and would, perhaps, have fastened the responsibility for it either upon the man or upon his parents. By directing their attention to the truth, "the works of God" that he was about to demonstrate, the loving Master gently and considerately led their thought away from condemnation of persons and from the belief that sin can be a cause. When he proceeded to anoint the eyes of the blind man with clay, he thereby called their attention to the one thing they needed to recognize about the error—its unreality. Did the mighty demonstrator of immanuel, or "God with us," require the aid of matter to prove the ever-presence of harmonious being, including perfect sight? No honest student of Christ Jesus' ministry could entertain such a misconception of his teachings. Was not the clay used, then, as a symbol of the material belief which must be removed in order to reveal the presence of true vision? Could Jesus have employed a more applicable illustration of the nature of the false claim than the covering of the man's eyes with clay to indicate that he was blinded, not by what might be termed personal sin, but by belief in matter, even by the general belief that man is material?

Immediately following the application of the clay, the so-called blind man was admonished by the Master, "Go, wash." Had the clay been used for the purpose of effecting a physical change, would Jesus have directed its immediate removal? What, except a cleansing from the belief of material creation, would be necessary to bring the light of spiritual discernment, or true sight? How simple, and yet how profoundly beautiful, is this symbolic teaching of a great spiritual truth! How deeply the lesson sinks into thought when presented in this manner and accompanied by glorious proof! Thus did Jesus show the inseparability of true spiritual teaching and healing; and it is certain that a proper recognition of his use of the clay as merely a symbol illustrative of the belief of life and intelligence in matter must silence any question as to the purely spiritual method which he utilized in this instance, and in all of his wondrous healing works.

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Wings of Thought
August 9, 1930

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