Where’s Jesus? Reflection on John 9:1-41

Where’s Jesus? Reflection on John 9:1-41


Carla Dietz is the Senior Minister at First Congregational Church of San Jose, CA. A life-long New Yorker/New Englander, Carla was ordained by and served in the Connecticut and Massachusetts Conferences and the newly formed SNEUCC. She served as a Pastor for 13 years and as a Christian Education Professional and educational mentor to all age groups,13 years prior to ordained ministry. She misses New England but loves living in Northern California because Spring starts in February!

Scripture: John 9:1-41 (NRSV)

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.” 12 They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.” - John 9:10-12 

Reflection: Where’s Jesus?


Isn’t that how it is with us? We experience miracles every day, sometimes the simplest of miracles like a smile from a perceived foe or the bloom of a crocus pushing through the snow and we think, how’d that happen? Is God in the middle of this or were these things just a lucky stroke?

Some of my colleagues believe on both sides of this question and have great theological backups for their stances but I remain neutral. Because I really don’t know. I have beliefs, theories, a faith inspired background but in truth, as the man in this text said “I do not know.” It’s part of the brilliant, divine mystery. Where is Jesus in this passage? Where did he go? Why did he just leave and not own up to the mud healing or take credit? The man said, “I do not know.”
The Pharisees belabor the point, “This man is not from God, for he does not observe the Sabbath.” Here we go with the Judgy Mcjudgerson’s in the crowd and we do know this, judgment is everywhere and eternal.

Often, I will bump into people on the street and after we exchange the common niceties of how they are and how’s the family and what have they been up to, inevitably this is said: “I am sorry I have not been to church in so long” or “in a while.”

And you know (respectfully now) I really don’t care. I mean I care about the person. I just don’t care if they don’t come to church. It’s okay! It’s one of the perks of being Protestant, I tell them, which usually brings forth an uncomfortable laugh. I’ll take an uncomfortable laugh over no laugh at all, anytime.

The fact is, which is one thing we pastors do know all too well, the vast majority of people in the U.S. do not go to church. It is not my preference, but there it is. So, the religious authority in this scripture is not telling us anything new. Sometimes, Jesus did not go to church, imagine that.

The Pharisees clearly thought this was a bad precedent that Jesus had turned away from their beliefs and had no business preaching, teaching or healing in the name of God. Jesus did not hide from them. In fact he came back on the scene when he heard that the man was being bullied by the Pharisees.

 35 Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found (the man) he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 He answered, “And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.” 38 He said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped him. 39 Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see may see and those who do see may become blind.” 40 Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not blind, are we?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.

I simply love when Jesus flips the tables of language. He wants those who have been blinded by their education or lack thereof and by the limitations that have been placed on them, to be able to see fully. He wanted the oppressed to get out from under the ones holding them down so that they might see their own worth in the eyes of God.

That is the answer to “where is Jesus?” He is right there with those of us who have been held down too long. Those of us who have been judged unfairly. Those of us who have not had the capacity to overcome physical or mental adversity.  Jesus’ example of life and the writings we have about his work, his courage and his blessed contrariness is right there. As long as we are willing to wash the mud out of our eyes in order to see.


Gracious and Holy One, thank you for moments of illumination, for instances of confusion, for sacred interventions to our conventional thinking. God knows we need it. Amen

New Prayer Requests:

We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Marlene Gasdia-Cochrane at cochranem@sneucc.org.

Prayers of Intercession:

  • For the people of Ukraine whose lives continue to be shattered by war.
  • For those grieving or suffering due to the ~8,000 gun violence deaths that happened in the US since the start of the new year.
  • For the health of our congregations.

Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:

  • For those who have invested in continuing to become a thriving and formative conference.
  • For those who have had the mud washed from their eyes in order to see.

This Week in History:

March 15, 1965 (58 years ago): President Lyndon B. Johnson addresses a joint session of Congress to urge the passage of legislation guaranteeing voting rights for all, regardless of race or color.  [History

“Study the past if you would define the future.”

March 13, 2023
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