Sight: A Cause for Scandal

One thing I know … I was blind and now I see” (John 9:25)

– O Lord, I am no one. Just a blind beggar in the outer court. I have no eyes to see, I have no wealth by which to live. I am forgotten and despised by men. Have mercy on me. Illumine my eyes, O never setting Light of the world.

Restore in me the inner eye of the soul, which I have lost through sin and death.

And the hand of God took earth and mixed it with His saliva and made clay. He breathed into it His Life and anointed me with earth and the moisture of His Grace. Go and wash in the waters of Life, the waters of the Him who was sent into the world by the Father, the Light of the world, the Living Water, the Great Siloam.

I went and washed and now I see, I received sight. –

Who made you well? Murmurers the multitude. Some say that Jesus Christ is not of God; some say when the Christ comes, will He do more signs than these? But how could a sinner do such signs? This Christ is no more than a mere man. A division grows among the people a schism in their midst.

The Pharisees and the leaders proclaim, “Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed on Him? The crowd does not know the Law.” We tell you, “This man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.” This Jesus is not the holy one nor is He a giver of life. But a few wondered, how can a man who is a sinner do such signs?

From the start a difference of opinion is evident among the common folk, with many supporting Christ. Only later did this praiseworthy division appear among the rulers. I call it ‘praiseworthy,’ because there are good separations and justifiable schisms. The Lord says, ‘I came to send a sword on the earth [see Mt. 10:34].’ The sword means salutary divergence of opinion that may arise when true reverence for God is at stake.” Bl. Theophylact (The Explanation of the Holy Gospel According to John, pg. 156).

Tell us, you who claim to have been blind and now see, what do you say about Him whom you say opened your eyes? Will you listen to us and will you cease your disturbances and claims, or will you cause further division and scandal?

– I know that He has spoken the words of Life to my soul. He took earth and infused it with the water of His very being, and thereby gave me new eyes and sight. He is the Prophet. He speaks and it comes to be. His touch brings only life, and life most abundantly. –

Who of the multitude has agreed with you? Your own parents will not stand in strong testimony with you. You are alone, a sad minority that is led astray by this man. Listen to wisdom, and heed our warnings, join the majority in following our good order. Have any of the leaders believed? Nay, the majority testify that this man is not of God. Humble yourself, lay aside your stubborn pride! Submit your will to our decision.

The opposite should not happen; namely, the minority should not forsake the command of God just because they are few, and follow the majority into transgression of the commandment. For if this is how matters ought to proceed the Prophet Elias (Elijah), the Apostles, and so many other Fathers – as many, that is, as struggled on behalf of the truth – should have hid the truth and followed the majority, for they were in the minority. For this reason Basil the Great says, ‘Regarding the things which are according to the will of the Lord, even though some may be scandalized, one must demonstrate courageous boldness,’” St. Nikodemus the Hagiorite (Concerning Frequent Communion of the Immaculate Mysteries of Christ, pg. 166).

We sit in the seat of Moses and you must offer us your obedience, we have told you that Jesus is a false Messiah, will you listen to us or not? He is a minister of corruption and illness, he is no different from the norm of sinful men and the nature that rules them.

St. Basil the Great … saying, ‘He who is in charge of preaching the word (that is whether he is a teacher or a hierarch) must do and say everything with great deliberation and judgment, aiming at pleasing God, inasmuch as he must be tested and borne witness to by the very people who are entrusted to him.’ Again he says, ‘The hearers that have been instructed in the Scriptures should test what their teachers say. Those things that are in agreement with the Scriptures they should accept, but should reject that which disagrees; and they should reject even more those who persist in such teachings’ … Elsewhere he writes, ‘One must not be easily carried away by those who feign the truth, without examining them, but one must investigate each man with the help of the test given by Scripture.’ And once more, ‘Every word or thing should be confirmed by the testimony of the divinely inspired Scripture, so those who are good may be assured, and so that those who are bad may be ashamed.’” (Ibid. pg. 183).

Give glory to God, we know that this man is a sinner!

– Death is of sin; sin is corruption. Sin destroys and does not bring life. Sin is darkness and blindness. Jesus has not brought me death but life, He has removed the corruption of my blindness; He has created in me new eyes to behold the light! He did not convey to me illness and corruption, for only a person or thing affected by sin would do that. How can the Holy One give anything but life? How could touching Life minister death? How could the Everlasting Light convey darkness of any kind? Even the hem of His garment is full of Divine power! I was blind and now I see. This I know. It is impossible for Holiness to be a conduit of corruption. Yet, you want to make of Him a minister of sin, corruption, and illness. Does a spring produce both fresh water and bitter from the same source? One cannot be simultaneously a minister of Life and the fallen corruption of this world. Why will you not listen, why will you not believe? –

Do you persist in your pride? Do you think you alone are right? Do you judge us? Do you teach us? What good will your stance do? No one cares for you, you are alone. Will you persist in your scandalous claims that are the cause of division and schism among the people? This will only be for your harm. You are the problem, you are the one who will not follow our edicts.

We cannot disdain the commandments of God in order that men not be scandalized, as Chrysostom says … ‘When that which is pleasing to God is hindered by another’s being scandalized, we should be concerned about this: that we not be forced because of him to offend God’ …Therefore, those who do what is outside of the commandment of God are the ones who cause scandals and disorders, and not those who struggle as much as they can to keep the Master’s commandments” St. Nikodemous ( Ibid. pp. 166-167; 168).

– How can you not know that Jesus Christ is Life; in Him alone is the Father worshiped in spirit and in truth. If He were but a mere man subject to the fallen natural laws of the material world, He could do nothing. But He is God, and everything of His gives only life and healing. Why do you seek to sell the Holy One of God to appease the masters of this age? Why do you seek to make Christ into a minister of sin and corruption? Compromising the Messiah will not save your place, for if we betray Life we are left with only death. If you shut up the way to the Healer of mankind then you relegate men to an existence of enslavement to corruption and illness and the cruel masters of this fallen world. –

You are altogether in sin! Away, we will have no fellowship with you; we cast you out!

– I was but a blind beggar, but now I see. Having seen but a little, I cannot deny for any man the truth of the Life I’ve beheld. Lord Jesus, where did you go? You fashioned new spiritual eyes for those who believe and love Your holy Name. Now, having given me eyes, why have You hidden Yourself from me? Why upon gazing on the light was I then turned over to the Pharisees to be mercilessly interrogated and cast out? I desire no scandal or schism, only to hold fast to You, my Lord and God. Yet, here I am cast out from the fellowship of the synagogue because I would not confess you as a minister of corruption. O Lord, do not leave me here alone and cast out, for to be with You is to with the host of angels and saints, indeed all of creation! To be with You is to never be alone. Please, Lord, come and find me! –

“Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him, He said to him, ‘Do you believe in the Son of God? For you have both seen and it is He who is talking with you.” Then he said, ‘Lord, I believe!’ And he worshiped Him.

Do men receive healing merely by believing? Certainly not: they must first go to Siloam, which is the spring of Baptism, to be baptized into Him Who sent them there, namely, Christ. ‘For as many of us as have been baptized spiritually have been baptized into Christ [Gal. 3:27]. After a man has been baptized, temptations will beset him. He shall be brought before governors and kings [Mt. 10:18], as it were, because of his allegiance to Christ Who healed him. He must then hold steadfast to his confession, never denying it out of fear, but willing to be denounced and excommunicated: as it is written, ‘Ye shall be hated by all nations for My name’s sake [Mt. 24:9] and ‘They will put you out of the synagogues [Jn. 16:12]. Even if this confessor is cast out by men who hate the truth, and is driven from their temples and the places of honor (meaning, he is deprived of wealth and glory), Jesus will find him. Then he who was abused by his enemies will be highly honored by Christ. The Lord will bestow upon him knowledge and a more exact faith, and the confessor will fall prostrate and worship Christ,” Bl. Theophylact (The Explanation of the Holy Gospel According to John, pg. 162).

May we be those who are found by Christ Jesus, and are found in Him.

About the author

Husband, father, and Priest.

Schooling: Kharkov State University (Ukraine); Brownsville School of Ministry; St. Tikhon's Orthodox Seminary (M.Div.).

Author and illustrator of St. Patrick, Enlightener of the Irish Lands (Conciliar Press, out of print) and illustrator of The Life of St. Brigid (authored by Jane G. Meyer).

Proprietor and writer at the Inkless Pen Blog, at which, based on the foundation of the teachings of Orthodox Christianity, a wide variety of topics are addressed. Fr. Zechariah has translated some works by St. Dimitry of Rostov and New Hieromartyr Seraphim (Zvesdensky), these translations are also available on his blog.

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