I am the man

There was a man. A man with parents. A man born blind.

It wasn’t like he had been able to see and then a disease took his sight. It wasn’t like an accident or an incident.

He had never seen.

One day, a bunch of people who knew him didn’t know him. He was “the blind guy.” He was “the beggar.” He was the one who people looked down at, looked down on. And on this particular day, he was looking them in the eyes.

Have you ever had someone who has always looked away look you in the eyes?  It is such a change of perspective, of power. On this day, the man who had fit into clear cultural categories – blind, beggar, sinner – didn’t fit anywhere.

“This couldn’t be that man. This has to be someone else. That man was only waist-high. That man had a bag. That man we knew.”

“I am the man,” he said. And he was, but he wasn’t.

On this particular day, he hadn’t been begging for change. More accurately, he hadn’t been begging to be changed.  In fact, Jesus  found him. Unlike many other stories where people are hollering for help. this man didn’t say anything. He was in his life of unchanging change.

Jesus came looking for him. Jesus defended his reputation. Jesus sent him to wash his face. And changed his identity.

Lots of people go looking for Jesus. And find him. But lots of people are doing fine. They have figured out how to adapt, how to survive, how to live. And then, one day, when they least expect it, Jesus finds them. And disrupts everything. I suppose it is possible to ignore this disruption, to stay begging.

He was the same man. But he wasn’t. And everyone could tell.

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About Jon Swanson

Social media chaplain. Author of "Lent For Non-Lent People" and "A Great Work: A Conversation With Nehemiah For People (Who Want To Be) Doing Great Works." Writer of 300wordsaday.com. I help people understand. Understand some of the Bible. Understand what Lent can be about. Understand what it means to follow.

14 thoughts on “I am the man

  1. i try to word my comment the right way
    maybe not even leave it
    maybe i’m not meant to
    but
    i don’t understand :/
    i have no idea what you are saying

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    1. Dear Kat. I am more than grateful for “I don’t understand.” I was, I confess, dozing while writing last night. As a result, things may have been more clear in my head than my fingers.

      So here is the post in less than three hundred words.

      Sometimes people go looking for Jesus. Sometimes Jesus goes looking for people. He went looking for this blind man; the blind man wasn’t looking for him. And he healed the blind man. The blind man’s friends were confused. They knew him as “the blind man” or “the beggar”. And he was neither now. Though he was the old DNA, he wasn’t the old labels. Now he was “the man Jesus touched.”

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  2. Kat – When I read this post, I thought about us in the park and you giving to the man who needed money for food. I wondered if God placed him there. Perhaps your act of kindness and generosity and willingness to converse with him were what he needed to believe that God does love him. Perhaps he received a little bit of healing that day. I know that your action and his response made a difference for me.

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  3. i understand that people go looking for Jesus
    but what does Jesus goes looking for people mean?
    I’ve never heard of that ever
    it’s completely new to me
    i think
    can you give an example?
    i mean in everyday experience

    in the exchange with the man in the park that Nancy mentiones
    Nancy where was Jesus and who was he looking for?

    And the blind man
    is it because he found faith that he became a new man?
    like how your life changes when you find faith
    ?
    or is it that the other guys were syaing “Wow he sure is differnet, i wonder what he found that’s so great?”

    ?

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    1. Most of the time, I walk around with this gauzy cloud of self-absorbedness wrapped around me. All the things I care about, my personal worries and vanities and the petty concerns and ephemera that fill up my head keep me from seeing past the end of my own nose.

      For me, most of the time, Jesus finding me looks like suddenly a knife slicing through that gauze, clearing my “stuff” out of the way of my attention, and allowing me to see an act of kindness, someone else’s real need or problem, or just generally something worth seeing. Something that shows me something about the other 99% of reality that I miss because I’m so caught up in my own crap, pardon the phrase.

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    2. coffee cup Kat –

      here’s what’s funny (to me) and incredibly helpful about your image. I had been thinking the other day about the claritin commercials, where the person talking about their life is shot with a lens that looks smeared with vasoline. fuzzy, hazy. Then they take claritin, for allergies, and everything is clear. And I thought, “Is that the image for what God does? God as a drug?”

      And you start at the same point and then show me what it really is. Jesus using a knife to slice through the fog. He isn’t the knife. We don’t have to take another dose of Jesus to remain clear. It’s that sometimes he shows us the clarity that he is seeing all the time.

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  4. Though the man in the park wasn’t Jesus in the flesh, I wonder if it was like the story Jesus told in Matthew 25:35-40. He (the King) blesses those who fed him when he was hungry; gave him something to drink when he was thirsty, clothed him, etc. And the listeners ask, “When did we do all that?” They had never actually done those things for Jesus. He answers, “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”
    The man in the park certainly was “one of the least” important in everyone else’s eyes. But you looked past his appearance; you gave to him as you would have given to Jesus. He came back and blessed you with his “thank you”.
    And you now want to be involved in caring for invisible people. Was the man “Jesus”? How are you (and I) different because of that experience, followed by the SOBcon presentation on invisible people? I don’t believe any of that was a coincidence, especially in light of the questions you were asking earlier that day.

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    1. The going looking that Jesus does is a main way he talked about himself. He called himself a shepherd. (Here’s an old post about why people liked Jesus http://levite.wordpress.com/2008/05/18/looking-back-why-people-liked-jesus/). He talked about his purpose in coming to earth being about seeking.

      Here’s John Shore’s rather distinctive story of being sought out ( http://johnshore.com/2010/04/26/i-a-rabid-anti-christian-very-suddenly-convert/).

      I’m going to talk more about the way the man responded tomorrow morning. For tonight, here’s a hint. The man didn’t have a very complex story. He was blind, he could see. And it was Jesus touching him that made the difference. For him, this wasn’t an interesting conversation; his eyes were fixed. Anyone who could do that with just mud had to be amazing. That was his story.

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  5. So when Jesus is seeking people out He might help people’s paths cross. He might make it possible for us to say “I don’t get it” to people who will hear us and help us see.

    Maybe when Jesus is looking for people He brings friends together to work on a project. And maybe that project pushes the relationship a bit and exposes vulnerabilities and maybe the people involved in that project begin to feel complete acceptance and true love.

    And maybe when He is looking for people to follow Him, he gives them these children who can shine His light. Who tell their Mama that she’s his best friend. Or one that can sing and dance in joyful oblivion when (she thinks) no one is looking. Because we need those moments to balance out the rotten things they can sometimes do :-)

    And maybe He sticks a hymn in your (my) head and pushes repeat for days and days…

    “Make me a channel of your peace,
    Where there’s despair in life, let me bring hope,
    Where there is darkness, only light,
    And where there’s sadness, ever joy…”

    Or maybe not… but I’m leaning towards yes.

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  6. Jon – “He shows us the clarity that he is seeing all the time.” That’s it exactly.

    More and more on my journey of following Jesus, I’m realizing that it’s nothing more or less than seeing reality as it actually is, and acting accordingly.

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