One of my favorite passages of the New Testament is the passage in John 9 about Jesus healing a man born blind. To me it deals with two types of blindness: those who are blind and those who have been blinded. The difference is more than grammatical. The Pharisees, for all their knowledge, just couldn’t get Jesus into focus. They were trying hard to fit him into the mold of their own presuppositions—but failed miserably. Eventually they took him to the cross, saying then that they would believe in him if He came down from the cross. They demanded He come to them on their terms. That’s not something God does. The blind man himself was not sure what to make of Jesus he just knew that he was blind and he wanted to see. This was the kind of faith that “made him whole”, something the Pharisees missed out on. I suppose these TV faith healers are in the same boat. They’ve got faith mixed up with something else entirely. It could be desperation or avarice depending on your POV. The man born blind didn’t care—he just wanted to see. He wanted the use of his eyes so he could do something besides begging at the Temple. That was the only productive thing a blind person could do back then. They spent their day calling out for a scrap of food or a few coins to purchase a meal, always hungry, always desperate.
As I write this I cannot help but think of my own life as a church member. I am not surprised that I have been, in the past, so willing to snap up whatever new book or program came along. Spiritually starving, a Christian will take just about whatever comes along if it looks like it might nourish the spirit. If it sounds like the Word of God it must be OK—even if they’re not sure its exactly right. “It sounds right,” they say. Inside, though, its been so long since they’ve read the Word that they’re not sure but too afraid to admit it. They’ve been begging at the temple so long that when the real thing does come by, they might miss it.
The man born blind did not. John 9:1 (NASB) tells us: “1As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth.” Jesus had just turned down and invite to a Pharisaical stoning party at the end of John 8. As he passed by he saw the man born blind—and stopped. His disciples were quite happy to ask Jesus to confirm their tradition but He surprises them. Rather than affirm what they know is true he tells them the hard truth that bad things can happen for God’s glory. That the reason for the man’s blindness was “so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” And He healed him. My maps tell me that after Jesus put the mud on his eyes this blind man had to make his way across most of Jerusalem to wash it off in the pool of Siloam. It’s a long trip but the Bible tells us that he came back seeing—and in fact, the change was so obvious that those with whom he had grown up didn’t even recognize him.
That’s the way it works isn’t it? We go a long time blind before we encounter Jesus and he does something to open our eyes. It may take awhile even after that but once they’re open, though, there is no mistaking the change. The man born blind was blind no more. His eyes had been opened and everyone could tell.
I’ll save my favorite part for another post but it’s well worth the read.