Bob Edens, a Columbia, South Carolina, man, lived 51 years without sight. He was born blind.
But through a complicated surgery for a detached retina and a corneal transplant, Bob gradually began to receive sight.
‘I never would have dreamed that yellow was so … so yellow. I don’t have the words. I am amazed by yellow,” Bob said.
“But red is my favorite color. I just can’t believe red,’ said Edens, who related the first thing he ever saw was an eyedropper in the hands of a nurse.
In an interview, Bob further described his amazement at seeing the sun, the moon, and the stars. Simple things we daily take for granted, Bob found exciting. Blades of grass. Birds flying through the air. The vapor trail of a jet plane. And a falling leaf.
Today’s text offers a similar story. The case of a man born blind who received his sight. This narrative, however, contains several layers we need to peal back that are worthy of our reflection. And spiritual application.
The Cast of Characters.
Consider how each of those mentioned in the narrative saw the blind man.
The Disciples. They saw the man as a subject of theological analysis. “Rabbi, who sinned this man or his parents that he should be born blind?”
The Neighbors. To them, 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.
The Pharisees. To these conservative religious leaders, 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.
The Parents. They 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.”
Jesus. He viewed this blind beggar as 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.
So, Jesus, the Great Physician, restored the unnamed man’s sight. His healing was immediate and complete. And no doubt just as amazing, if not more so than Bob’s Eden’s experience.
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.”
Later when Jesus returned, He 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
As a result of his newfound faith in Christ, the man was rejected, and abandoned by the religious leaders whose blinded eyes had no use for him. Such is sometimes the situation when we confess Christ. Those opposed to Him have no regard for us either.
The Charge to Us
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.
1. 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. Or our daily walk with Christ.
2. 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.
3. 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