During this pandemic Covid-19 outbreak, the following things are noticeable: first, the number of the affected people are on an increase at least in some parts of the world; second, at the spiritual level, many people connect the disease with human sinfulness; third, so far there was no medicine available for Covid-19, though recently a vaccine is made available; fourth, people are made aware of the need to wash and be clean; and fifth, even the family members disown the affected people.
A critical question is: ‘Why such a situation emerged in the global scenario?’ The life situation of the Johannine believers may throw some light on it.
The man born blind in John 9 underwent a similar situation in the early decades of Christianity. His life-situation is reminiscent to the current scenario: first, he was born and lived as a blind man, hence he was suffering from it for a prolonged period of time; second, the Jews usually connected the blindness with his or his parents’ sinfulness, but Jesus says that “this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life”; third, there was no physician available to cure his blindness, but Jesus spat on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes; fourth, as it is instructed today, Jesus asks him to go and wash in the Pool of Siloam; and fifth, the parents of the healed man disowned him in public.
Here we see a connectivity between the life situations of the Johannine believers with that of ours.
The man foreshadows Jesus in several ways: first, just as the Jews considered Jesus as a sinner (9:16b, 24), the man was also considered a sinner (9:2, 34); second, as Jesus underwent trial (chaps. 18-19), the man is now under trial (9:13-34); third, as Jesus was in agony and he was alone during his last hours (chaps. 18-19), the man was left all alone and his parents disowned him (9:18-23); fourth, as Jesus was the Truth of God (1:17; 14:6), the man was a seeker of truth; fifth, as Jesus was out from the guild of the Jewish community, the man was sent out of the Synagogue (9:34b, 35); sixth, as Jesus was baptized in the River Jordan (1:31), the man washed himself in the Pool of Siloam (9:7, 11, 15); seventh, as Jesus testified about His Father, the man testifies concerning Jesus (9:11, 17, 30-33); eighth, as the Jews hurled insults on Jesus, the man was suffering from insults (9:28); and ninth, as Jesus had a full vision (both external and internal), the man receives a complete vision (9:39-41).
In that sense, the man realigns himself in Jesus.
The man accelerates his faith in Jesus through his confessions: first, he says, “the man they call Jesus” (9:11); second, he considers “He [Jesus] is a prophet” (9:17); third, the man accepts that Jesus is from God (9:30-33); fourth, he says, “Lord, I believe” (9:38a); and fifth, he worshipped Jesus (9:38b). The man was making a steady progress in his belief, irrespective of the growing opposition from the Jews.
The difficulties in our life during the pandemic Covid-19 outbreak is an important concern; but the way we build our faith in Jesus irrespective of the tragic situations is the eternal concern.
Rev Dr Johnson Thomaskutty serves as the Associate Professor of New Testament at Union Biblical Seminary, Pune, India.
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For Other Articles by Dr Johnson Thomaskutty
God’s Work in Times of Quarantine (John 5:1-18)