Do you have a favorite book or movie that you never tire of? I have watched You’ve Got Mail, The Incredibles, Akeela and the Bee countless times. I read A Horse and His Boy annually. And then there are my favorite passages of Scripture. Chapter 9 of John’s Gospel is one I never grow weary of reading. It’s all about a blind man gaining sight. And the best part? This really happened. (Let that sink in.)
I recommend reading it in full here. But let me give a quick summary. One day Jesus and His disciples pass by a man who had been blind since birth. The disciples ask why the man had been afflicted in this way—did he sin or did his parents? (Aren’t we always trying to figure out who’s to blame for terrible things, as if we can then avoid such suffering by being smarter?) Jesus stops that faulty thinking right there; here’s what happened:
“It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.
When this man came back seeing, for the first time ever, people were astounded. The religious rulers didn’t like the commotion though, because it drew attention away from them and eroded their power. So they brought the man in for questioning. The man explained himself several times:
“The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed and received my sight.” (v. 11)
So the Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, “He put mud on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” (v. 15)
Despite the testimony of the man and proof of this miracle, the leaders did not like the answers, so they brought the man’s parents in for questioning:
“Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” His parents answered, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. But how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” (vv. 19–21)
That’s not what the leaders wanted to hear, so the brought the man back in again; the man’s story did not change, frustrating the leaders, who pressed him even more:
They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” (vv. 26–28)
Now that is what you call a zinger. (This guy is awesome.) Not surprisingly, the man’s comment enraged the leaders, leading to this final exchange:
And they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” The man answered, “Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out. (vv. 28–34)
I want to be this guy when I grow up. He held his ground, going toe-to-toe with the powerful people of the day, refusing to back down. That sort of confidence comes when your always-blind eyes suddenly start seeing.
The restoration of this man’s sight is in contrast to the leaders’ refusal to see the miracle in front of their eyes. Instead of rejoicing over the miracle this man experienced, they tried to shut it down. They didn’t want it to be true that Jesus healed this man. And this is the gist of spiritual blindness: a refusal to embrace evidence of God’s work and existence in the world.
Such blindness lives in each one of us. Jesus brought life to my spiritual eyes years ago, but since then, He’s brought waves of greater clarity. And when I’m suffering through a season of zombie-like faith, it’s my spiritual sight that’s gotten rather blurry. My heart is weary, and I’m dragging myself through the motions of life, and I can’t see that God’s at work all around me. I refuse to look for His miracles, His grace that brings life to dead eyes and dead hearts.
Have you seen Him working?