“Beggar”

GOSPEL | JOHN 9:1-11

As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth.  His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”  Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him.  We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work.  As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”  When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes,  saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see.  The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?”  Some were saying, “It is he.” Others were saying, “No, but it is someone like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.”  10 But they kept asking him, “Then how were your eyes opened?”  11 He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ Then I went and washed and received my sight.” 

This man born blind was known as a beggar by his neighbors and his community. Several questions spring up for me:

  • Do I know the beggars in my community?
  • How do people recognize me?
  • What do I “beg” for? What do I need that I can’t get for myself?
  • Why don’t I let people know what I need, or when I am in need?
  • Would I be willing to own up, like this man did (end of v.9), to being a beggar if that’s how people recognized me?

My wife and I only have one car. In some ways, this is intentional (we usually can get by on one car), and in other ways it isn’t (we can’t afford the gas or insurance or maintenance of a second car). This means that, on wintery, sleety days like today, I need a ride. Thank God (and thanks, friends!) that I have good friends who are willing to either lend me their cars or even give up their own time to drive me places.

I hate asking for things. Wish lists repulse me. Needing help frustrates me. I could blame my proud Dutch roots that demand I do for myself. I could blame my rugged country upbringing, where what I don’t earn or make for myself isn’t worth having. I could blame the whole American culture of self-sufficiency. All things considered, though, I still am what I am: a beggar-in-denial.

Because I need. I can’t do for myself. It is Monday morning, and I am already exhausted and behind. “I am the man.” Usually when I feel like this — when I feel like I can’t get what I need to do what I am supposed to get done — I retreat to what feels good, to what I want: movies, junk food, couch.

Jesus doesn’t work an extravagant miracle here. He didn’t put on a big scene so everyone could see this man’s sight restored. He got his hands dirty. A little spit, a little mud, a little water. Lord knows I don’t need much today: a little energy, a little inspiration, a little dedication. But I am in need.

Jesus Christ, please provide. Amen.