When Jesus heard what had happened, he found the man and asked, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” The man answered, “Who is he, sir? I want to believe in him.”
“You have seen him,” Jesus said, “and he is speaking to you!”
“Yes, Lord, I believe!” the man said. And he worshiped Jesus. Then Jesus told him, “I entered this world to render judgment—to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind.” Some Pharisees who were standing nearby heard him and asked, “Are you saying we’re blind?”
“If you were blind, you wouldn’t be guilty,” Jesus replied. “But you remain guilty because you claim you can see.” – John 9:35-41
Have you paused recently to stand in awe at the dignity, the splendour of this Jesus? In amongst these passages, which let’s face it we have read so many times before, we gain a picture into the very heart of God.
We see what he loves, even what he hates and how we might respond. The fact that he shows us is miraculous enough. Here, a simple, poor blind man, blind since birth is made to see. It is one of the Messianic miracles, miracles that only the Messiah would be able to do. You see, the Jews thought all disease was directly attributable to sin, but if you were born with such a defect then it became more difficult to lay the blame, and so find the cure. Only God is able to overcome.
After a grilling from the Pharisees, we see Jesus meet up again with this man, still on a high from being healed. No doubt he would have been confused with the response from the “men of God”, yet we see a simple, humble response to this Son of Man – I want to believe he responds, before he worships him.
Is that how we are with Jesus, you, me?
Recently I spoke of a young man whom we met and prayed with on Melbourne Cup day – Manny was his name. Well, I prayed about meeting him again, and we found him in Coles this week. He lives in a big, social housing complex near us. Manny is simple, yet in so many ways there is a piercing sharpness about him. He grasps the Gospel. Manny reminds me of this blind man, with his simplicity but also because somewhere along life’s journey, Jesus has opened the eyes of his heart.
This week we visited Manny and his family; in various degrees, they are at the bottom of life’s heap, ones for whom it may be difficult to say, “it could be worse.” Encounters with mental illness, addictions and just generally struggling to get out from under the crushing of life’s inexorable weight, we still managed to share tea and cake and the word of God. How eager they were to accept prayer, to listen to the Word being read, discussed, shared – who is this Jesus that might be able to help? We felt honoured, humbled. We were invited back even.
But, there is another side to their story as well, as there is here in this passage, and we best pay heed to what it says for the consequence are deadly. It says that there is a human arrogance wrapped in religion that is so insidious, it actually prevents others from coming to God. The very One who is able to solve life’s riddles, to relieve the pressure, is shut out by the very ones who loudly proclaim their own righteousness before others. If only you can be like me, they tell us. Here, Jesus proclaims them guilty.
As we learned, this family had come under a similar ‘named’ preacher, one who also proclaimed their own righteousness. He tells all before him that his own righteousness led to his success, and if they could only emulate him, their lives would change. The consequence? Simple math told the family that as they were not even in the same cosmos as the preacher, they must be guilty beyond all measure, unsalvageable even by God. “You’re a sinner since birth,” and they walk away believing the “men of God.”
Pray with us that this same carpenter who pronounced the blind to see, would set this family free. We feel certain that he wants to, and not just them, others as well – many, many others desperate for freedom. It will take time though, for them to believe that their guilt, their shame can ever be assuaged, yet we know of one who removes it as far as the East is from the West. They must get to know him, to realise his love for them. Such love is the only antidote to such human ugliness.
Have you looked into the face of this Jesus recently, have we listened to him, nodded our affirmation and then quietly gone about his business and shared him with another? Friends, he is a treasure too good to bury and we never know whom he might put our way. A blind person needing to see perhaps?
Let us hasten while the light is here, for darkness may soon be upon us.