Theme: Two Contrasting Reactions
In this week’s lessons, we look at the story of the man born blind, and learn that Jesus not only heals physical blindness, but spiritual blindness as well.
Scripture: John 9:1-41
Yesterday, we were tracing the man’s increasing understanding of Jesus. We now want to continue to discover what the man goes on to conclude about who Jesus really is.
But you go along a little further and you find him saying in verse 33, “If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” Now he’s getting even closer to the real identity of Jesus, isn’t he? This man is from God. Nobody can do this unless God is working in him and God has sent him. And then finally at the very end of the story, in verse 38, we see the conclusion the man draws about Jesus. The man has been excommunicated from the synagogue, and Jesus now has appeared to him again. The man said, “‘Lord, I believe.’ And he worshiped him.”
Now you don’t worship a mere man. The only person you worship is God. So this is the blind man’s equivalent of what Thomas says after the resurrection. When Thomas finally saw Jesus after his resurrection, Thomas fell in worship at Jesus’ feet and exclaimed, “My Lord and my God.” If Jesus Christ is working in your life so that you pass out of darkness into light and are given spiritual sight, then you are going to come to the point in your perception of him that you fall at his feet. This man went on growing throughout the rest of his life, undoubtedly becoming part of that nuclear church there in Jerusalem, and entered into all the understanding of the doctrine that was later taught by the apostles. He was the very kind of person that you and I are called to be, if Jesus Christ has indeed called us to faith.
There’s another thing we have to see in this. We’ve seen the man as a blind beggar before he was saved by Jesus, and we’ve seen what happened to him as a result of Jesus’ work in his life. What we have to see yet is what happened to the Pharisees. That’s really the other half of this story. We’ve got the light shining upon this man and causing the faith that God himself had planted there to grow. You can clearly see in the course of the story how he’s growing in his knowledge of Christ.
At the same time, this light of Jesus Christ continues to shine upon the Pharisees, and the effect on them is quite the opposite. What happens to them? Their hearts are hardened, just as the sun will harden the ground, or make mud become like rock. That’s what’s happening to them spiritually. They didn’t like this matter of Jesus’ healing on the Sabbath. That happened before in John 5, where he healed the man at the pool of Bethesda. So they certainly didn’t like when he again healed someone on the Sabbath. They say that this man can’t be from God because he’s breaking the Sabbath by performing an activity that is unlawful, as they defined it. In their strict view of the Sabbath and how it was to be observed, they said that Jesus was not keeping the Sabbath and so he cannot therefore be from God.
I find it interesting the ways in which they’re trying to escape from what’s happening. Here is the light of the world, the very Son of God, doing miracles that are meant to reveal who he is. You’re able to see him as the one who brings spiritual light, and they’re trying to run away from that as fast as they can. There are four different things they do in this story to try to escape the consequences that emerge from who Jesus really is.
The first thing they try to do is to discredit the miracle. That’s what the interrogation is all about. They’re trying to say, “Well, he wasn’t really blind.” They’re trying to get around this fact. They even ask the man’s parents if this really is their son and if he really was born blind. When they answer yes to both questions, they don’t know what to do because there is no way for them to get around the healing. The more they investigated, the more obvious it was that the man had really been healed. People do the same thing today. People are converted, as Jesus Christ works in their lives, and what other people try to do is discredit it. They say, “Well, that’s not the reason the person has changed.” Or they say, “It won’t last—it’s only an emotional thing or a religious phase.”
But then as time goes by you see the proof that a genuine conversion really has occurred. Spiritual light is there and the growth takes place. Sometimes the change is so dramatic and so sudden that any attempt to discredit the spiritual miracle of the new birth fails. Something very significant has happened that could only come from God.
This is the first thing the Pharisees do. Tomorrow, we will look at the other approaches they use to try to explain away or deny what Jesus has really done for this blind man.
As the story continues, what does the man go on to conclude about Jesus?
Contrast the blind man’s response to Jesus’ revelation of himself with that of the Pharisees’ response.
Reflection: When you became a Christian, what changes took place as evidence of God’s working to bring about spiritual sight?