7 He went and washed and came back seeing
I’m not sure what it is I love about this simple sentence. Perhaps it is just its utter simplicity. He went. He washed. He came back seeing. He who had been blind, he who had never known the light, he who had lived among the cast off and unclean, he who had survived only from begging, he went and washed and came back seeing. A life that had known darkness now knew light.
One translation says, “he came back able to see,” but that seems like such an impoverished translation. He came back seeing.
I remember the day I got my first pair of glasses. I did not know that I didn’t see clearly. I can’t remember now what prompted me to get my eyes checked – except I do remember not being able to see clearly the sign above the servers’ heads when I stood where the cafeteria line first turned into the serving area. Perhaps it was the realization that I could read it with my left eye but not my right. Anyway, it was late fall in Minnesota. I walked down from campus into the little town of Northfield, Minnesota that, at the time, had only one stoplight. The leaves had all fallen and we were awaiting snow. The optometrist fitted me with my glasses and when I walked out into the bright sunshine my jaw dropped. I could see every little twig on the end of every bare branch in the stately old trees of the town. I could see every line in the brickwork and facades of every old building. I could see every ripple in the water as the Cannon River flowed beneath the bridge. I walked back to campus staring up and around at everything, my mouth open in wonder.
He came back seeing.
He came back able to see what he had never known. He came back seeing every twig, every color, every face. He came back seeing the temple shining brilliantly in the sunlight – the white stone and the brilliant gold. He came back seeing the red capes of the Roman soldiers. He came back seeing the merchant stalls, the purple grapes, the golden wheat, the bleating lambs, the silver and bronze coins. He came back seeing the scampering children and the old men praying and the women carrying water. He came back seeing the camel caravans and the awestruck pilgrims who, just like he, stood in awe of the vast temple mount. He came back seeing.
He came back seeing. He came back seeing the truth of Jesus. He came back knowing the light that now filled his soul. He came back overwhelmed at the grace and mercy of God. He came back seeing.
He also came back seeing the religious people having a conniption that his eyes had been opened on the Sabbath. He came back seeing that they didn’t see. How can it be that God’s creating redeeming work should wait?! How can it be that this Jesus was a sinner?! He came back seeing.
And when Jesus showed himself to him again, he came back kneeling.
He came back truly seeing.