John 9:32-33 – “Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind. If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing.” NKJV
If you read my previous blog, “A Bold Example”, you will remember that I wrote that this is one of my favorite accounts of Jesus performing a miracle in the Bible. I can really “see” what happened during this encounter and it gives me a greater picture of humanity’s response to Jesus.
The situation before the miracle: A man born blind is sitting near the temple, and according to later statements, we find out that he was begging. The passage continues by stating that the disciples asked Jesus who did sin? Can you imagine sitting near the church and the church people are coming out the door and they begin to ask the pastor what he thought about your life? That would be pretty embarrassing to be the one sitting there. After all, he was blind, not deaf! They had to be near the man because Jesus spat on the ground, made clay, and anointed the man eyes all without moving! Today, in a similar situation, the person would think the church people were so rude and feel justified in the fact that they don’t go to church!
But Jesus is a special kind of shepherd. He never gets involved in a situation with people that He doesn’t have a plan to impact their lives for the greater good! Where the disciples saw a person living out the consequences of sin, Jesus saw someone in whom God could reveal His works! Lord, help me to be just like You! I know I want to be!
This man is healed of whatever caused congenital blindness in his life. And even greater, he can see for the first time. Can you imagine his joy, his wonder at the world around him. He can now put color and images to the things he only knew by touch, sound, and smell! He is probably wide mouthed and big eyed at the bigness of what has happened to him, then he hear whispers around him, “Is not this he who sat blind and begged?” Then he heard someone else say, “He is like him.” He probably very reverently stated, “I am.”
Then they begin to question as to how his eyes were opened? “He answered and said, “A Man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed, and I received sight.” How did the blind man know it was Jesus? Did the disciples use His name or was the man familiar with Jesus but had never encountered Him? Many are familiar with Jesus, but have never had their own personal encounter with Him! Somehow he knew Jesus was responsible for his having sight. When asked where Jesus was, he didn’t know. He was still marveling at the fact that he could see! And instead of a huge celebration of this wondrous work in their midst, the people take him to the Pharisees.
The Pharisees question him as to how he received his sight and he replied, “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” The commentator that I used yesterday from Logos stated that here the man toned down his version of what happened because it was against the Law to knead on the sabbath (which is what Jesus did with the clay) or that he was sent to wash in the pool of Siloam (because it was a pool of ceremonial waters). It could be!
Some of the Pharisees begin to argue, “This Man is not from God because He does not keep the Sabbath.” I could bring up a whole lot of sacred cows we currently have in the church that if someone did or didn’t do we wouldn’t think they were “saved”. But others asked, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” These are not questions they put to the man born blind who was now healed, but they questioned amongst themselves. Finally they ask him, “What do you say about Him because He opened your eyes?” He bears witness to the fact that Jesus is a prophet! Probably because in the Old Testament prophets like Elisha and Elijah performed great miracles for God.
In their attempt to discredit his witness of Jesus and to prove that this is not true, they call his parents. I could have a field day with his parents! Why is he begging when he has parents? I’m confused! His parents are afraid that they will be put out of fellowship so they are careful with their response. (What kind of nonsense is this? Who would rather have a blind son and be in a church, then have a son who could see and go worship somewhere else?) I’m just saying! They are asked if this is their son who was born blind and if so, how was he healed? Their response was that this was their son born blind, but they don’t know how he was healed. They told the Pharisees to ask him because he was old enough to speak for himself. (A Jewish boy becomes of age at 13, and we are told that he is a man. They knew he could speak for himself).
Here is where we see the boldness of his witness. He knows that to disagree with the Pharisees and to speak highly of Jesus will get him kicked out of synagogue; but this was probably no real threat to him, since he was probably not really allowed to go into the synagogue anyway. He tells the Pharisees, “Whether He is a sinner, I do not know. One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see!”
They begin badgering him to see if his testimony will change. They ask again, what did He do to you, how were your eyes open? But instead of answering again he replies, “I told you already, and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear again. Do you also want to become His disciples?” And the Pharisees attack him with their words. But he replies again when they say that they don’t know where Jesus came from, “Why, this is a marvelous thing, that you don not know where He is from, yet He has opened my eyes!…If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing.” At this point they cast him out of the synagogue reminding him that he was born in his sins and in no place to teach them! Well! He actually was, because experiencing Jesus is a much more powerful witness and lesson than a seminary degree!
I told you that this was a lot of information. I couldn’t share how his witness of Jesus was so powerful, without going into some details. As the religious leaders heaped insults and threats upon him, he didn’t cower down and change his testimony. He actually got bolder and begin to insult them by saying that he thought it was amazing that they didn’t know where Jesus came from or how He could perform a miracle! This part of his testimony is more powerful to me than the part we all know and say, “I once was blind, but now I see!” Although that is pretty impactful in its own right! This man was so affected by this miracle in his life that he refused to allow anyone to dishonor it or the one who performed it.
I’ve been too long, but I want to end with this thought, when did you last stand strong for the Lord in the presence of those who ridicule Him? When did you last set the record straight when someone tried to belittle Him or His impact in your life or the life of someone you know or love? When did you last rise up and just “BE” a witness to the reality of Him in your life? The environment in which we find ourselves today is the perfect time to be a bold witness for the Lord! Wonderful Jesus!