God’s People, part 225: Born Blind

Read John 9:1-41

“In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  (John 1:1, NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

004-jesus-blind-man-phariseesPart 225: Born Blind. It doesn’t take a Biblical scholar to figure out that the Gospel of John is remarkably different from Matthew, Mark and Luke. Those three, called the Synoptic Gospels, follow the same chronology, style and patterns as the other. Many of the parables, miracles and events in Jesus’ life can be found, if not word for word, in similar form to the other Synoptic Gospels.

John, on the other hand, does not follow the same chronology, patterns or style. Instead, it presents the account of Jesus’ life, teachings, death, and resurrection in prose and theological discourse. Most of Jesus’ teachings are a discourse on his own identity as the Word of God made flesh, the Light of the World, the sacrificial Lamb of God, the Bread of Life, the Vine, the Good Shepherd, the Great I AM who existed before Abraham, etc.

What’s more, it is important to distinguish the “signs” we have in John, from the miracles we see in Matthew, Mark, Luke. John presents the miraculous deeds as a way of pointing to Jesus’ divine identity. Thus, they are signs that point the way to the Word of God, who was in the beginning with God, and was God (John 1:1-5). Thus, this account of the healing of the man who was born blind was a sign that pointed to who Jesus was. When understood this way, it makes perfect sense as to Jesus response to his disciples when they asked if the man’s blindness was due to his own sin or the sin of his parents. “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins…This happened so the power of God could be seen in him. We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work. But while I am here in the world, I am the light of the world” (John 9:3-5, NLT).

But this account also does something out. Like Matthew 25:31-46, the account of the man born blind separates the true believers out of God’s people from those who merely claim to believe. This sign points not just to ONE way; rather, it points in two directions. The first direction is the one who realizes her/his need for God and believes in and submits to God’s self-revelation. The other direction points to the one who claims to be a believer and to have sight of who God is; however, in reality, they are the ones who are SPIRITUALLY BLIND due to their sin. Thus, Jesus is the Light of the World, shining light in the darkness for those who can see, all the while revealing who are truly blind and cannot see the light.

This is not judgmental, but observational. The one’s who cannot see are given a change to soften their hearts and open their eyes. So, there is no room to judge such people and those who do find themselves out in the darkness as well. In the parable, Jesus points out the flaws of the Pharisees not to judge them, but in the hope that they would soften their hearts and turn from their blindness.

This should challenge us to reflect on multiple fronts. First, are we the ones who think we can see but are really blind? Or are we the ones who were once blind but now can see? Also, if Jesus is the Light of the World who brought us out of our blindness, what is our response to that. Does it mirror that of the blind man’s in this account. Do we stand before a dark, cruel and cynical world and point to the Light that has come to save it from the darkness? Are we, like the man born blind, willing to do this, regardless of the cost? Or are we like his parents who, out of fear, choose to keep quiet for fear that we too might suffer the consequences? Let us all pray that we might be like the man born blind and witness to the Light of the World, Jesus Christ.

“I am unjust, but I can strive for justice. My life’s unkind, but I can vote for kindness. I, the unloving, say life should be lovely. I, that am blind, cry out against my blindness.” – Vachel Lindsay

Lord, in my blindness give me sight. In my sight, prevent me from falling into blindness. Amen.

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