To See or Not to See?

I love reading the Book of John. When I was in school, it was kind of a dismissed gospel because it’s not like the other three; however, it is arguably my favorite. From the very beginning it focuses on Jesus’ divinity, His ministry, and His sacrifice. In John 1:17, John writes, “For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.” How wonderful is that! One of the passages I love the most in John is in chapter 9 where Jesus heals the man who was born blind.

There was a belief that sicknesses, deformities, etc. were a sign of sin. Even Jesus’ disciples ask Him who sinned, the blind man or his parents? Jesus responds by saying that neither had sinned, but the man was born blind so that the works of God might be displayed in him (v. 3). This sets the stage for the rest of passage. The miracle itself is awe-inspiring and demonstrates God’s power, but it’s the interaction between the man and the Pharisees that illustrates the difference between knowledge and wisdom.

The Pharisees are the teachers of the Law. They are the experts who are to lead by spiritual example. Yet with this healed man before them, they cannot reach a consensus on who Jesus is. Many say that Jesus couldn’t be from God because He healed on the Sabbath (v. 16)—something they always like to bring up. When asked about Jesus’ identity, the healed man believes Him to be a prophet (v. 17). Well, the Jews don’t like that so they turn their attention to his parents to find out if their son really was blind. Out of fear of being turned away from the synagogue, his parents throw the attention back to their son—surely he can speak for himself. Repeatedly they ask the healed man how Jesus did it, but he is finished with their interrogation. Instead, he asks, “You do not want to become His disciples too, do you?” (v. 27). Of course not! Instead, they claim to be Moses’ disciples, not followers of this man whose origin remains a mystery to them. Even though they have all the knowledge of the Scriptures, they remain ignorant. On the other hand, the healed man—uneducated and a beggar—understands more of the Scriptures than these experts:

“‘Well here is an amazing thing, that you do not know where He is from, and yet He opened my eyes. We know that God does not hear sinners, but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him. Since the beginning of time it has never been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, He could do nothing.’” (vv. 30-33 NASB)

What a testimony of the greatness of God and the wisdom He gives to those who are willing to receive it! After the man is cast out from the synagogue, Jesus finds him and reveals Himself as the Son of Man. He then uses the healing of the blind man to teach an even greater spiritual message: “’For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind’” (v. 39). Of course the Pharisees say, “We are not blind too, are we?” And Jesus replies, “‘If you were blind, you would have no sin, but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains’” (vv. 40-41).

The Pharisees had the truth at their fingertips. Of all the people, they should have known from the beginning who Jesus was. But they got caught up in the letter of the Law instead of its principles. They followed their own understanding and interpretations, and they enjoyed their lofty positions and relationships with the powerful. They neglected the wonderful blessing of truth they were given. They were spiritually blind and remained in sin.

In contrast, the man was a beggar who was born blind with no hope of change until he listened to a man who told him to simply “Go to Siloam and wash” (v. 7). One simple step of obedience changed his life and his testimony. Having heard the truth of the Scriptures, he knew that Jesus could only be from God. He then gained physical and spiritual sight and his sins were forgiven. Simple obedience, simple wisdom, simple truth.

Who are we? Are we like the Pharisees or the healed man? We have heard the truth of the gospel numerous times, yet do we have understanding? We can take theology courses, read a handful of Bible translations and paraphrases, go to church every week, but do we see? Are we aware of our spiritual condition? Do we follow the Lord in simple obedience?

Do not complicate the gospel message. Examine your heart. Talk to the Lord about it. Listen to what He says (for the Lord hears the prayers of God-fearing people who do His will- John 9:31). And do what He says.

May our eyes be opened to His truth.

 

©Lauren Heiligenthal

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