JOHN:The Book Of Heartfelt Belief
Blind But Now I Can See
Jerry A. Collins
One night last week I was helping Ruth pull weeds out of our garden. It was dark before we finished. In the darkness I was staking some of the transplanted flowers. I bent down to pick up another stake and as I did, a stake I had already placed there stabbed me just below my eye. Of course, I immediately grabbed my face and began gyrating all over the place. I did not know if it had poked my eye at that point. A few minutes later I was relieved to know that it had not. But what if it did? It would have been a serious eye injury.
The man we are about to meet had a serious eye problem. He was blind from birth. I cannot even imagine what that must have been like for him. Most blind people we have seen seem very helpless and if they live in poverty, like so many I have seen in third world countries, they are usually reduced to begging to survive since they are viewed as unproductive and dependent.
As Jesus passed by, He noticed a man who was blind vs 1. There is no indication that this man cried out to Jesus nor that anyone drew Jesus attention to this man. The whole incident is at the initiative of Jesus. The note that he was blind from birth points out the hopelessness and helplessness of this man. This illustrates manís spiritual blindness from birth as well (9:39-41; 2 Cor 4:4; Eph 2:1-3) which we will see displayed later on. This incident serves as a real-life illustration of the claim of Jesus in 8:12 that He is the Light of the World. This miracle Jesus is about to perform is a concrete example of the victory of light over darkness.
It will be clear shortly that what the disciples see is different from what Jesus saw. The disciples assumed that sin, regardless of who committed it, was the cause of the mans blindness vs 2. It was common Jewish teaching that sin directly caused all suffering. Since he was blind from birth, they reasoned that either his parents sin (Ex. 20:5) caused his blindness or this man must have sinned in his mothers womb (Eze 18:4).
Jesus answer in vs 3 reveals that neither of these assumptions caused his blindness. Jesus does not mean that this man and his parents were sinless because Romans 3:23 declares that all have sinned... Instead Jesus is saying that this mans blindness was not caused by some specific sin. Instead, we learn that the blindness existed so that the acts of God may be revealed through what happens to him vs 3. In other words, God is going to put Himself on display by means of this mans blindness. That is why this man was born blind.
Jesus reminds the disciples and us that the opportunity to display our Godís nature is limited by the time we have to serve him while we are here. For Jesus that meant until His coming death. Night refers to the limit we all have to do Godís work and glorify him vs 4. Jesus is about to demonstrate His claim to be the light of the world vs 5 by healing this blind man. Jesus was turning the disciples attention from human reasoning to divine purpose. To have real insight we must always be on the same page God is.
Jesus once again turns his attention to this blind man in vs 6. Spitting on the ground he makes mud and places some of it on each of the mans eyes. There is no indication that he is about to heal him. Interestingly, man was made from this same substance--the dust of the earth Gen 2:7. Here is another creative act about to take place. Jesus then sends him to the pool of Siloam to wash. Johns comment about Siloam meaning sent may imply both that the man was sent there and Jesus was the One sent by the Father. When the man did this he returned home seeing vs 7! The actual miracle took place away from Jesus which is what Jesus apparently intended given the hostile reactions later on by His opponents.
It did not take long for word to get out that something strange had happened to this blind beggar. The neighbors first noticed the change vs 8. People argued over his identity since it was incredible that this man could see vs 9. This man kept insisting who he was and was finally asked how this could be vs 10. He gave a simple and factual account of the miracle vs 11. A man named Jesus had done it and he did not know where he was vs 12.
1. SICKNESS AND SUFFERING CAN BE USED OF GOD FOR PURPOSES NOT KNOWN TO US AT THE TIME.
Maybe even in our lifetime. Jobs afflictions were part of a much bigger picture of which he was unaware. Jesus deliberately waited for his friend Lazarus to die rather than heal him for the glory of God John 11:4. Josephís suffering at hands of brothers was for his own good and good of his family Gen 50:20. Getting out from underneath suffering in our lives may be to get out of Gods will for our lives! While the Bible reveals the glory of suffering, we may tend to think that prosperity and health is due to our piety and when we or another are suffering may assume it is due to some sin. We will suffer the consequences of sinning since the Bible teaches we will reap what we sow Gal 6:7 but there is suffering that is not the consequence of our personal sin and that suffering is part of a larger picture God is painting. Being a Christian, then, does not make us immune to suffering.
2. GOD CAN USE WHAT SEEMS INSIGNIFICANT TO ACCOMPLISH HIS WILL.
While the Lord gave sight to a number of people, He only used spit and dust on this occasion. At least four times he opened blind eyes and He does it a different way each time. Matt 9 touches eyes of two blind men. Mark 8 spits in eyes of a blind man. Luke 18 after asking for mercy Jesus says receive your sight and he did. In this case, Jesus uses spit and dust. Jesus was never restricted in terms of His options but being omniscient and all-powerful, he has many different means at His disposal to accomplish his fathers will. There are an infinite variety of ways God can work in a specific situation, even if you have faced that situation before. We must not limit God to a specific remedy. God is God and He is not limited to doing what we expect him to do. He is not in the business of meeting our expectations but of accomplishing His will and purpose oftentimes by what seems insignificant to us!