For the past two weeks, Norma Jean and I have enjoyed seeing the beautiful Fall foliage in the Smoky Mountains. During our time here, the landscape has changed right before our eyes. It’s an incredible sight.
Can you imagine being born blind, unable to see the mountains and valleys ablaze with color? Or never seeing the hues of orange, red, purple and pink of a gorgeous sunset? Never seeing the town you live in? Never seeing the face of your mother, brother, or sister?
In our Bible reading today we encounter such a man in John 9. He was born blind. He was a beggar. And Jesus healed him.
However, there’s more to the story when you consider the cast of characters and their response to him and then to Jesus.
The disciples saw the man as a subject of theological analysis. “Rabbi, who sinned this man or his parents that he should be born blind?”
To the neighbors, he was just a beggar. Unproductive. Contributing nothing to the life of the community. And dependant on them for support. They weren’t unkind, but mainly indifferent.
To the Pharisees, the man was only a tool. They didn’t evidence the slightest interest in him. But were eager to employ him as a witness against Jesus. When he was not agreeable to their purposes, they contemptuously cast him off.
His parents cared about their son and didn’t want to hurt him. But they seemed to care more about their social and religious standing. When questioned by the Jews about his healing, they said, “We do not know.” They wouldn’t admit Jesus healed him because they “feared the Jews.”
To Jesus, this blind beggar was a man made in the image in God. One who needed his help. He presented an opportunity for Jesus to show compassion, do good and glorify God.
Just a casual look at each character in the narrative presents an obvious application for us to look into our hearts. To check our motives. And to evaluate our compassion toward others.
The honesty of the blind man and his progression of faith is an interesting study within itself. First, he simply identifies Him as “a man called Jesus” (v. 11). Then he called Him “a prophet” (v.17). Later he concluded, “If this man were not of God, he could do nothing” (v.33).
At one point, obviously weary of their endless interrogation, the man responded, “One thing I know, I was blind but now I see.”
After the Jews rejected him and cast him out of their fellowship, Jesus returned and asked, “Do you believe in the Son of God?”
“Who is he?” the man asked.
“You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you,” Jesus replied.
“Lord, I believe,” confessed the healed man.
Our challenge today is to really see Jesus. To see past issues that often cloud, not only His identity but our personal relationship with him.
Don’t be blinded to Jesus by theological discussions. If we’re not careful, we can miss seeing Jesus by arguing over issues that are really not pertinent to our faith. Like in this very chapter.
Why was the man born blind? Does sin cause physical deformities? Will God really hear the prayer of sinners? If we’re not careful our Bible classes can degenerate into discussions over these issues, and fail to see greatness and glory of Jesus.
Don’t be blinded to Jesus by traditionalism. This was part of the Pharisee’s problem. Confusing their interpretations of the law with the actual law itself. And elevating their oral traditions to the same level as God’s written Word.
Too many churches today have gotten so comfortable with the status quo, and their methods of ministry, that they think there is no other Scriptural method. Sometimes church change meeting times or outreach methods are criticized by those who say, “We’ve never done it that way.” Let’s not allow our traditions to obscure our eyes to Truth and to Jesus.
Don’t be blinded to Jesus by fear. Like the parents, we can be fearful of taking a stand, speaking up and acknowledging our faith in Christ because of some social or economic consequence.
Fear will always paralyze us from acting property. Fear is the great enemy of faith. It hinders our mission. Impedes our ministry. Obstructs our message. And prohibits new methods of Scriptural service.
Worse than being born blind, is being blinded to Truth and unable to clearly see who Jesus is.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman