New insights from Bible pages
Some Bible stories are read so many times that one finally tends to skim through them. I've heard all this before, the reader finds himself concluding. And then, suddenly, those familiar events flash with new meaning, meaning that was there all along waiting to be discovered.
This happened to me recently with the ninth chapter of John. Basically I had been reading only the plot of this account, which tells how Christ Jesus healed the man blind from his birth.
The events are clear enough. Jesus saw a blind man, and his disciples asked whether the man's sins or those of his parents had caused the blindness. Jesus said: "Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. ... As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world."
And then the Bible tells us: "He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, and said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing." See John 9:1–7.
It seems a perfectly straightforward story. But as I read it this time, I was awed at how many harmful beliefs Jesus refuted and erased in healing that man. It wasn't just the blindness, which was the surface phenomenon. Jesus proved powerless some of the most tyrannical beliefs of human existence: intelligent matter, permanent disability, heredity, fear, religious prejudice, cruelty.
He employed several symbolic actions. No doubt Jesus could have healed the man instantaneously, as he had many others. But the narrative suggests that he proceeded carefully in order to illustrate important points about this healing as it was taking place.
What was actually going on is explained in what Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes about this healing of the Master's: "When, through Mind, he restored sight to the blind, he figuratively and literally spat upon matter; and, anointing the wounded spirit with the great truth that God is All, he demonstrated the healing power and supremacy of the law of Life and Love." Miscellaneous Writings, p. 258.
May not Jesus, by this action, have been making a reference to the allegory of the creation of Adam—who was formed from "the dust of the ground" Gen. 2:7. —in order to illustrate man's freedom from matter and its limitations? The man's disability did not come, fundamentally, from mistakes made by himself or his parents but from the Adam-dream—from the mistaken belief that man is produced by matter, lives in matter, and serves matter.
Christian Science, which follows the teachings of Jesus, holds that the figure of Adam is an illustration of all that man is not. Man, as Genesis I says, is the image and likeness of God.
Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, "The parent of all human discord was the Adam-dream, the deep sleep, in which originated the delusion that life and intelligence proceeded from and passed into matter." Science and Health, pp. 306–307.
When the blind man was obedient to Jesus' instructions, the Gospel tells us, he saw. But this is not the end of the story. The man's healing did not immediately lead to "happy ever after." He got into another kind of trouble. He was hauled before the Pharisees to explain what had happened to him. They were upset because Jesus had healed him on the sabbath day, a breach of their laws. The man answered honestly, but his questioners did not believe him. So they called in his parents to verify that he had been blind from birth and to tell how the healing had occurred. Out of fear of the Pharisees' power, the parents equivocated. They said, "By what means he now seeth, we know not; ... ask him: he shall speak for himself." John 9:21.
But the son was not afraid of the Pharisees. After all, he had just been healed of what he had believed to be a lifelong disability. He answered them honestly once again and challenged them when they persisted in their questions: "I have told you already, and ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again? will ye also be his disciples?" John 9:27.
As a result the Pharisees expelled him from the synagogue. They meant it as a punishment, but the man actually received a reward, which went beyond his healing of blindness. Jesus found him and gave him a new basis for religious trust. The Master revealed himself as the Son of God, thus indicating the power by which the blindness had been healed. The man believed, and gave honor to the Christ.
"The admission to one's self that man is God's own likeness sets man free to master the infinite idea," Science and Health, p. 90. Science and Health states. In this healing, Jesus illustrated to his followers in Bible times and to all who read the account today that the spiritual light he expressed can free us in many ways, healing both physical and spiritual blindness. He proved that neither disability nor heredity, neither fear nor pharisaical prejudice, need hold us in bondage. We can turn to the light, see clearly, and be free.