After he tells the blind man to go wash, Jesus disappears from the story until verse 35. Nowhere else in this gospel do we get 28 verses without Jesus speaking and acting. Instead, we have a man who has been touched and affected by Jesus, but who has never seen him.
Is there anyone here who can relate to that- having been affected by Jesus’ words or presence or actions, but never having seen Him? The blind man is seeking Jesus, working toward understanding his transfiguration, rejoicing in the change in his life.
Remember that in this gospel, in John, sin is not about actions. Sin is not what you do- it is what you believe or fail to believe. So the man’s blindness is not in this story so that we (or anyone else) might reflect on sin, what causes sin, and what happens after sin. The blindness just is.
In this circumstance, it is an opportunity for God’s work. God’s work in Jesus is revealing the divine nature and desires. The Spirit’s work around Jesus is supporting belief, trust, faith that Jesus makes God plain.
The people around Jesus, even in his absence in these verses, are being transfigured by his presence and his actions. They are coming to faith, coming to a deeper understanding of God in their midst, or they are resisting that understanding. Transfiguration, being transformed, undergoing change isn’t easy. It can be painful, frustrating, and feel lonely.
In the beginning, God created out of clay and breath- bringing people into being and into relationship. God transfigured with an eye toward relational possibility, a new way of being together. Here, Jesus heals with clay and with breath- bringing this man into a new being and into relationship. Jesus transfigures with an eye toward relational possibility, a new way of this man being together with his community.
We can get stuck in these stories because of our modern understanding of disability. We know that blindness or deafness or other physical difficulties (or mental difficulties) are caused by congenital problems or by accidents. We are caught in the action part. Try to let your modern mind go for a minute. This isn’t now, and never was about the disability. Instead, God is using the opportunity (again) to reveal the Divine Desire and ability through Jesus.
For us, this becomes a story about transfiguration- about the areas of blindness in our life, about truths we don’t want to see, about relationships we don’t want to embrace. The tough gospel news about Transfiguration is this: we, you, I can be transfigured by something we haven’t seen. We are being transformed by something that is beyond us. We can be, and are, shaped by something we don’t fully understand.
That is God’s work in Jesus, through the Spirit, in us, in our lives, in our world.
Transfiguration of Desires
Transfiguration Sunday comes right before Ash Wednesday. Next Sunday will be the first Sunday in Lent.
In the coming week, many of you will be choosing something from which to fast in the next forty days.
May I recommend that you reflect on Transfiguration? Approach Lenten fasting and feasting with a desire to see Jesus.
Let’s take a moment to reflect on what we want God to transfigure in our lives and in the world.