In our lesson today we get to see three different blind groups.
The first group, the neighbors, suffered from a blindness many of us possess as well. Here was a man who had grown up near them and with them. He lived in their presence every day. Yet, all they know him as was “the blind man,” “the man who sits and begs.” No one calls him by name. Many do not recognize him at all since the only identity he had to them was “the blind man.” They appear to be in awe and inquisitive, but not neighborly. They don’t celebrate with him. They don’t rejoice. He is an oddity, something they don’t know what to do with. So, like they would someone who comes down with a strange skin disease, they take him to the Pharisees for examination.
How many of your neighbors do you not see? How many could have a major life event occur and you not even know? Who do you pass each day that you know only superficially? The guy with the big dog. The lady with a hat. The man who mows every Sunday. The Broncos fan. What would it take to see them differently, or to just see them?
The second group are the Pharisees. These guys were blind to God’s love, since they had walled themselves into a dark corner by God’s law. The fact that this work was done on the Sabbath was, under their interpretation of the law, a grievous sin. It was like the teacher who is handed a 40 page term paper, but on page 16 there is a period that smeared slightly so it looks a bit like a comma, so they throw the entire paper out. To them, grace and mercy are things you earn through fastidious adherence to ever dot and tittle of the law. They have zoomed in so close to the picture of God that they see only the dots that make up the picture and they are blind to God Himself.
What automatically rejects someone from you showing them grace and mercy? What box do you wall Christianity into? Is it only people that look like you? Act like you? Speak like you? Do you throw someone away because of certain infractions? (remembering that one of the last people Jesus spoke to from the cross was a condemned murderer to whom He promised paradise). Do you see God’s grace and mercy as something earned/deserved or as the free gifts that they are?
The third group, and to me the most touching, are the parents. We can be very quick to see the parents as weak. They speak the truth, but very cautiously and, to a degree, they throw even their own adult child under the bus rather than face the wrath of the Pharisees. But, in fairness, I think we need to look back to the opening of this chapter. Even the followers of Jesus assumed the blindness of their son was the result of either his sin or their sin. These innuendos and rumors and outright charges had followed them since his birth. They may have even believed it themselves, punishing themselves for what they might have done to cause this. We can assume they have been “beaten up” over this from every front for years and years. Should we then be surprised that they are timid and afraid? Their blind son would not have ever been welcomed into the temple as a cripple, but they would have been allowed, but only under great suspicion and constant rumor and admonition. All of that baggage weighed them down and made them blind to the miracle and freedom that had come. Not only was their son healed, but that should have stopped all the accusations that followed them. (although the Pharisees always seemed to have more accusations they could muster).
What past wounds from those in the church do you still carry that make you blind to the glory of God? What looks, words and actions reveal the accusations you have for others in your heart? Who have you “beat up” with the bible? What baggage have you put upon yourself to carry? It is difficult to be bold and testify, when we shrink back from fear of attack or burdened with baggage of past hurt.
Isn’t it somewhat funny that the only 2 people in John 9 that don’t suffer from a form of blindness in the story are Jesus and the person we know only as “the blind man”?
Neighbors were mixed in their approach/questioning but none committal. Brought him to Pharisees who were aggressive and attacking and very judgmental. Parents were honest but restrained (didn’t want to be thrown out of the temple). They didn’t investigate, they searched for things to support their conclusions and attacked anyone who didn’t support them. The Pharisees acted a lot like our modern day political pundits!
At first he just came home seeing. Next he spoke factually about the healing but with no witness about the healer, then he spoke factually and identified Jesus as a prophet. Then he said factually, “whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know: I was blind but now I see!” Then he asked if the pharisees wanted to be Jesus’ disciples, when rebuked, He states, If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.
Faith grows through attacks and challenges. It also grows by knowing the Word of God. My has grown as I’ve relied on God in prayer to step in and bring peace in the midst of being under attack.
I speak the truth. I am not called to convict or convince others – that is the work of the Holy Spirit. My job is to be honest witness, to speak the truth and be bold. I am more confident today than ever before because I know that I deserve none of the credit and it is all God’s glory.