In John 9 there is a story of a blind man, who has spent his life begging. One of Jesus’ disciples sees him and asks Jesus why he has been born to such a life? A question we often phrase today as “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Or in this disciples case, phrased more like, “Was he a bad person, is that why this happened to him?”
Jesus answers that the man is not blind because of sin, but rather he was born blind “that the works of God should be revealed in him. (John 9:3)”
This answer might seem a little odd right now, but keep it in mind, because this statement becomes the backdrop to an incredibly powerful moment between Jesus and this man.
Jesus turns to the blind man, spits in the dirt to make clay, puts this clay on the eyes of the man, and then tells him to go wash in the pool of Siloam.
I don’t know about you, but I find it’s rather amazing that this blind man doesn’t get angry and ask Jesus why He’s just put mud in his face. He also doesn’t ask why he should go wash in this pool; rather he does something rather remarkable. He gets up and goes. He abandons his money making opportunities for the day and he does what Jesus told him. He goes to the pool, washes his eyes, and can see.
Picture it, this guy whose been sitting on a street corner begging for the last who-knows-how-long, someone probably everyone in the area knows, and he comes strolling back into town exclaiming over all the things he can now see.
And those around him, people who have seen all their lives, don’t believe they are really seeing him. He tells them “a Man called Jesus” anointed his eyes and told him to go wash. And when he did, he could see. The people bring him to the Pharisees, and they too asked him how he is able to see.
So he tells his story again.
Now, maybe another time and maybe if Jesus hadn’t been the one doing the healing and perhaps these Pharisees might have just celebrated his sight with him, but not on this day and not when it involved Jesus. See, Jesus had this interesting habit of healing people on the Sabbath, and it tended to make the Pharisee mad. Besides, they’re still trying to figure out who Jesus is and why He can heal and they can’t. So they start this debate: reasoning that Jesus couldn’t be a good guy because He’s healing on the Sabbath. But then that doesn’t work out logically, because how would He be able to heal if he was a bad guy? And unable to reconcile their perspective of the Law with the miracles of the Man, they end up in an argument, unable to decide, so they ask the previously blind man, who he things this Jesus is.
Keep this in mind: The Pharisees ask him who he thinks Jesus is.
He says, “He is a prophet.” (John 9:17)
Here is this previously blind man, having a pretty insane day already, and it only gets more insane. The Jews say they don’t believe that he was blind at all. Now you’d think there’d be enough people in the town to vouch for him, but apparently no one was willing because they go call in his parents, who do indeed confirm that he was in fact blind at birth. But they, seeing the Jew’s are upset, don’t really want to be in the middle of it and point the people back to their son. “He is of age; ask him. He will speak for himself. (John 9:19)”
Now, the Jews previously agreed to kick out of the Synagogue anyone who acknowledges Jesus as the Christ, so they are in a bit of a predicament. This man was blind and now he most undoubtedly sees. Meaning, Jesus really did do a miracle, and on the Sabbath no less.
Trying to fix their problems, they call the man and tell him to “Give God the glory! We know that this Man is a sinner. (John 9:24)” I think they were hoping he’d change his story, but he doesn’t. So, they ask him to tell his story again.
The man, seemingly unaware of current politics in the Synagogue, says, “I told you already, and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become His disciples? (John 9:27)”
They get angry and make this statement. “You are His disciple, but we are Moses’ disciples. We know that God spoke to Moses; as for this fellow, we do not know where He is from. (Jhn 9:29)”
What these men are unwilling to acknowledge, this previously blind bagger sees and confesses. “…if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him.… If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing. (John 9:30-33)”
He tells them who he thinks Jesus is.
“They answered…him, ‘You were completely born in sins, and are you teaching us?’ And they cast him out. (John 9:34)”
They judge him because of his previous condition, assuming his blindness was a result of sin, and they revile him because he is willing to speak the truth by which they feel judged.
These men are supposedly followers of the Law yet they respond by throwing him out all because he said something they didn’t want to hear.
Yet, the best part of this story is that this man’s insane day doesn’t end there.
“Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him, He said to him, ‘Do you believe in the Son of God?’”
“He answered and said, ‘Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?’”
“And Jesus said to him, ‘You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you.’” “Then he said, ‘Lord, I believe!’ And he worshiped Him.” (John 9:35-39)
Remember that passage from earlier, John 9:3? This man was born blind “so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
This one man, out of all of those around him, was the only one willing to confess Jesus as the Son of God. The previously blind man sees.
Challenge: Don’t ever think someone is insignificant or unimportant to God just because their life at that time doesn’t look good or seem to be profiting God. Maybe He’s just waiting for the right moment for Him to be displayed in them.
For all Ellerslie students: Even old work gloves have a purpose, if only they’re willing to become invisible that He might be made visible.