We find this story of the Man Born Blind in Chapter Nine of John’s Gospel. Father Ray Brown, in the second volume of his wonderful commentary on John’s Gospel, tells us that the early Christians put on this story as a play. Going on that, fifty years ago when I was in Korea I wrote it as a play, and we performed it in the town theater for a thousand people.
Then, forty year ago when I was stationed at the university parish for the University of Iowa, the man the parish employed to run their youth programs suggested that with him supplying the music, we should do it as a play. So I scripted it, even writing lyrics for songs. Since then, I have put the play on several times at St. Paul’s.
The play opened in Jerusalem’s market, with folks selling pottery, grain, and vegetables.
In the southside of Jerusalem, within the city walls,
We people of the marketplace, we tend our market stalls.
The Pharisees enter, introducing themselves,
Make way! Make way, for Pharisees, for men who have no flaw.
We have a thing for holiness, and the letter of the law.
They proclaim that the man called Jesus had been violating the Sabbath by
curing people on the Lord’s Day. Anyone following him would be cast out of the market, and cast out of the synagogue.
They exit, and the man born wanders in, singing.
Our temple and our marketplace are the best you will find.
We have our very own beggar here. Me, the man born blind.
The people sing,
The synagogue becomes our home when the sun sinks out of sight
The last day of the weary week, Holy Sabbath, Friday night
They fold their tents, and they process into the synagogue, singing the Sabbath song from Fiddler on the Roof.
May the Lord protect and defend us, may he always keep us from harm,
May we come to be in Israel a shining name.
The Man Born Blind joins them, but they push him off, saying. “How many times do we have to tell you that your blindness has made you unclean for life?”
He sits, and he holds out a hand when he hears Jesus and the disciples wander in.
Peter asks, “Master, who sinned, this man or his parents that he should be born blind?”
Jesus said, “Neither this man or his parents did any particular harm. He is this way for the purpose of showing God’s glory through him.” With that, Jesus spat in the dust, making mud he smeared on the man’s eyes, sending him to wash in the Pool of Siloam.
When the people came out of the synagogue and found him seeing, they were saying, “No one born blind has ever been cured, so this man only looks like the Man Born Blind.”
But he assured them, “I am the man.”
From then on it became a comedy with the man, then his parents, being brought to testify before the Pharisees. In the end, after the Pharisees drove the man out of the market, Jesus came, asking him if he believed in the Son of Man.
“Who is he, Lord, that I might believe in him?”
“The one speaking to you is he.”
The man said, “I do believe,” and he worshipped Jesus.
The point of the play is that being spiritually blind is worse than being physically blind.