Jesus heard that they had driven [the man born blind] out, and when he had found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.” He said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped him. (John 9:35-38)
For me, these verses have long been an interpretive key for the Gospel of John, but I noticed something new today.
What has always impressed me is Jesus’ action here: “When he had found him.” Jesus actively finds the man in order to complete his healing and overcome his estrangement. This is a truth of the Gospel that applies to us today. Jesus actively desires that we be whole and reconciled, and his Spirit is working to find us wherever we may have gotten to.
Another element to this story struck me today, though.
John’s Gospel, according to most scholars, was written for a community of Jewish Christians who had recently been thrown out of the synagogues they had belonged to.
Like the man born blind, they had “seen the light” of Christ, but their religious community could not see that something new was happening. As Judaism sought to distance itself and differentiate itself from the growing Christian movement, followers of Jesus were expelled from the synagogues. They were probably feeling the same sense of estrangement, loss, and grief as the man in the story, wondering where they could go now.
Jesus actively found those early Christians, too. We are even today members of the reconciled community formed by Jesus’ active desire. Where we feel estranged, where we feel loss and grief, where familiar religious structures are changing, Jesus is there to find us.
“You have seen me,” Jesus says to us. “And the one speaking to you is me.”