By Laura Leavitt
The objective of Gospel Doctrine lesson #16 as stated in the manual is “to help class members have a greater understanding and appreciation of Jesus Christ as the Light of the World and the Good Shepherd.”
To discuss personal applications of Jesus healing of the blind man in John 9.
Before preparing to write about this Sunday School lesson, I came home from work and my almost two-year-old daughter was unhappy to see me. When I tried to feed her a bottle she rolled on the floor crying and screaming until her dad (& very favorite person) picked her up and fed it to her. When I tried reading her a book, she grabbed it out of my hands and threw it on the floor. When I tried with another book, she did it again. Then she sat on my husband’s lap and read several books in a row. This isn’t the first time this has happened and it feels like it’s becoming more commonplace. Even though she’s a toddler, it’s a heartache and a disappointment to feel rejected by her. I start thinking things like, “If only I could stay at home with her; if only I’d breastfed her longer; if only my personality were more like my husband’s…” It’s really easy to withdraw and just let him put her to bed. It’s very hard not to feel jealous.
John 9 begins:
1 And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.
2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?
3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.
Small as my current situation is in comparison with what it meant to be born blind during Biblical times, this scripture brought me immediate comfort. Neither myself or my baby daughter have done anything wrong but it’s still difficult. I remembered a conference talk called “Special Lessons” by Ronald A. Rasband given in April 2012. He quoted John 9:3 as he spoke about his newborn grandson who was born with a rare chromosomal deletion. He said:
To all of you who have challenges, concerns, disappointments, or heartaches with a dear one, know this: with infinite love and everlasting compassion, God our Heavenly Father loves your afflicted one, and He loves you…Trusting in God’s will is central to our mortality. With faith in Him, we draw upon the power of Christ’s Atonement at those times when questions abound and answers are few.
It’s important to remember that bad things happen to us/good people/bad people and that God is aware of all of us. We need his mercy, strength and example. The best-built parts of my testimony were founded during my most difficult experiences.
Before Christ continues to heal the blind man he says (John 9:5):
As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.
He then puts clay on the blind man’s eyes and tells him to wash it off in the pool of Siloam. When the blind man returns with his sight, the Pharisees question whether he was ever truly blind, whether Christ truly performed the miracle, and if so, whether Christ ought to have done so on the Sabbath. The Pharisees tell the healed man: Give God the praise: we know that this man [Jesus] is a sinner.
He responds: Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see…I have told you already, and ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again? will ye also be his disciples?…Why herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes (John 9:25).
The conversation between the blind man and the Pharisees continues, and lays out some of the common beliefs of their day about sin, which include mistruths that reflect so many of my biggest fears (annotated below):
31 Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.
(God doesn’t listen or care about you if you have committed a sin. You have to be perfect for Him to acknowledge you.)
32 Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind.
(Miracles aren’t real.)
33 If this man were not of God, he could do nothing.
(Sinners aren’t worthwhile/incapable of doing good.)
34 They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out.
(You were born blind because of yours/your parents’ sins anyway; how dare you try to teach us?! Also, you’re now excommunicated.)
Jesus goes to find the blind man once he hears of his excommunication and Jesus lets him know that He really is the Lord, the Son of God. The blind man believes Him and worships Him.
I love the chapter resolution that follows:
39 And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.
40 And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also?
41 Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.
There are many excellent takeaways from this chapter. We should be bold with our testimonies. Even when facing excommunication, the healed man bears his testimony multiple times and never backs down, unlike his parents. This chapter also reminds me of Jesus Christ’s radical disobedience in the name of truth and unconditional love. He reminds us that doing good is the right thing even when it breaks the established rules. He reminds us that bad things happen to everyone despite what others may say or think. He reminds us that He will be there for us especially when we’re “cast out” by everyone else. He is truly the light of the world, not just the centerpiece of various organizations and institutions.
The simple effort I’ve put into studying this chapter has helped me change my perspective and feel at peace with being rejected by my grumpy toddler tonight. The manual reminds us that Christ performed the miracle of healing the blind so frequently as a symbolic reminder that His power will help us see spiritual truths. I know we can see spiritual truths in our lives through Christ’s power concerning whatever questions and injustices we face, big and small.
Related Mormon Women Project Interviews
We Are Made for Love and Light, Rachel von Niederhausern
People are made for love and light. God is so mindful. He loves all his children, no matter where you are, and if you tap into that love then you can’t help but start seeing others who need love. But it has to start with yourself, and then with your family, and it’s all one circle of love. Let it be messy, and let it be real, and just don’t worry. Don’t even try to be perfect! It’s no fun! Rely on the Atonement and on Heavenly Father’s perfect plan and then love and joy will flow so much better.
Seeking Peace that Passeth Understanding, Patty Gutshall
Healing has come as I exercise faith in Christ. I also choose, day by day, to love and forgive my husband for all the years of neglect and abuse, and I watch his heart soften in return. Through the prayers of family and friends, and through the process of repentance and forgiveness for both of us, our marriage has been saved. I’ve heard that when Christ touches something it lives. I know for myself that this is true, and because He touched our marriage, it lives today.
Other Related Women’s Voices
Filling Our Homes With Light and Truth, Cheryl Esplin
The answers to our prayers may not come dramatically, but we must find quiet moments to seek greater light and truth. And when we receive it, it is our responsibility to live it, to share it, and to defend it.