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31 - The Blind See; The Seeing are Blind

So for the second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner.” He answered, “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” And they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” The man answered, “Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out.

 

Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.

 




John 9:25 is one of my favorite verses in the entirety of Scripture for its simple statement of faith: “One thing I do know: I was blind, now I see.” It serves as a reminder to me that faith is not rooted in elaborate statements or complex expressions of theology; It is rooted in the recognition that Christ has changed us, that our lives will never be the same because we have encountered Him. Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. The man never saw Jesus, nor did he have to; what he knew was the evidence which had presented itself. Though he is now seeing, his faith is in what remained unseen to Him. What is perhaps most astonishing about the interaction is that this man doesn’t actually see his healer until after these extraordinary statements of faith.


The tense exchange between the Pharisees and this man has at its center the question of Jesus’ sinfulness. On the one side are the insistent Pharisees, who believe that Jesus must be guilty of breaking Sabbath because His act of healing occurred on that day; on the other, a man who has spent his entire life in darkness, cast out of the community for an act of sin neither he nor his family ever committed. His guilt had been assumed simply because of the “punishment” he bore. Yet Jesus knows the reality of the man’s situation – he is afflicted so that the power of God might be made manifest in his life. Not only this, but the man’s testimony now becomes yet another acknowledgment of the validity of Jesus’ earthly ministry.


For many, the recognition that they have become a part of the story of Jesus’ work on the earth changes their view; they go from a self-centered focus to a Kingdom-centered focus. The reader never encounters a moment where they hear the man born blind complain to Jesus about how long he suffered from his affliction. He is pleased simply to be able to testify of Jesus’ work and to take a stand for the gospel message.


The context in which a story is told often yields meaningful insights into its significance, and this case is no exception. From here, John’s narrative continues on to Jesus identifying Himself as the Good Shepherd who cares for His sheep. In the case of the events captured in these verses, John essentially equates the man born blind with that one lost sheep whom the Shepherd seeks out. He leaves the 99 to find the one. We even receive confirmation of this in the narrative – the man doesn’t seek Jesus out after these events, but Jesus comes to him first. When Jesus heard the religious leaders cast out the man born blind, Jesus is the one to find him. In part, this is practical; the man never knew what Jesus looked like to begin with!


On a deeper level, however, it was always Jesus who sought the man out. How often our own stories parallel his! We are alone by the wayside, struggling to figure out where to even begin, and in our desperation, God finds us. Countless are the times where someone’s story involves the words, “Once I gave up, He found me.” Few know the surrender of control and the dependence on others that the blind know all too well.


The problem is that each of us, in order to truly walk in the ways of Christ, must know this same surrender of control. We must know what it is to rely on our Father as Christ does, to walk in obedience in the way which was modeled to us by our Savior. Too often we rely on our own sight as the Pharisees did; when we do so, we choose self-reliance and independence. Our choice must be obedience and surrender.


Jesus links this indignant self-reliance with guilt on our parts. The more we insist we are capable, the more we push God away. The more we demand our own way, the less we choose humble submission to the will of the Father. We must be a people of humility and holiness, for this is the way our Savior walked. This is the mark of the Christian.

 

Today, Lord, let me choose humility. I have many burdens, many faults, many prideful moments, as You well know – but today I choose to lay these at Your feet. Help me to hold onto You as one who clings to You for all things, who relies on the guidance of my Savior for every step I take. You lead the way; help me to follow in obedience, trusting that You see what I cannot. Take away my guilt and shame as I surrender to You in greater measure each day. Thank You for Your gentle voice which guides me through the dark and uncertain places. Tune my ears to Your voice, and align my heart to Your will, in the precious Name of Your Son. Amen.

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