I love reading the different exchanges between the disciples and Jesus. He constantly tried to show them what this new life is all about, how God works, and how to look at things in a different way. I read these stories trying to understand what Jesus said and trying to understand why, sometimes, the disciples didn’t understand.
One exchange between the disciples and Jesus that I find interesting is found in John 9. The group of men passed a man who was born blind and they asked Jesus:
“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” -John 9:2
That was how things worked back then. Sin, either the sin of a parent or the sin of a person, could be the cause of bad things happening to people. Many religions still believe this. They call it karma.
Jesus answered them, showing them that bad things happen for a bigger purpose. It’s about God, not about the sin.
“It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” -John 9:3
Jesus made people think outside the box.
Jesus said that ‘the works of God’ would be displayed in him. More than the miraculous healing happened in this story.
When the Pharisees found out that Jesus healed him, they said that He couldn’t be from God because He sinned in order to heal the man. He healed Him on the Sabbath.
Jesus defied religious tradition.
Almost everyone doubted the man’s healing.
The religious leaders questioned everyone, including the healed man’s parents. His parents believed what happened, they had no choice, but they were too afraid to go against the religious grain to say it was true.
“We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. But how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” (His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.)” -John 9:20-22
They were afraid of being kicked out of their church if they admitted to what they knew Jesus did.
The religious leaders went back to the healed man and told him that in order to give glory to God, he had to change his story.
“Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner.” -John 9:24
They called Jesus a sinner because he did things out of their order. They were the authority on what is of God and what wasn’t and they deemed the way Jesus did things as ‘not of God.’
They questioned him about how, exactly Jesus healed him. And the man did his best to answer them. They were pretentious and arrogant toward him. He shared what Jesus did for him, but was not able to make them get it.
“If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” -John 9:33
While he was trying to use their own understanding of how God works, they belittled him saying:
“You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out. -John 9:34
They didn’t like what he had to say. It contradicted their authority. It contradicted their religion. It contradicted the very thing that set them above everyone else, so they ‘cast him out’.
When Jesus heard what the religious leaders did to him, He found him and asked:
“Do you believe in the Son of Man?” -John 9:35
All this man knew is that Jesus was from God and He healed Him. He didn’t know who ‘the Son of Man’ was, but if the healer believed in Him, then he would, too.
“And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” -John 9:36
This is my favorite part. Did he already know? How could every part of his body not be ripping from him and leaning in to this flesh and blood manifestation of his creator?
“You have seen him,” answered Jesus, “and it is he who is speaking to you.” (John 9:37)
“Lord, I believe.” (John 9:38)
How could he not? Jesus made it impossible to deny.
“For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” -John 9:39
That’s an interesting twist. He made a point to reveal the Great Reversal. The least greatest, the greatest least; the last first and the first last. He ‘sinned’ to reveal Himself to the blind and utterly blinded the one’s who usually see.
The Pharisees were like gnats, always hanging around the fruit, trying to speed up the spoil with their constant cynical and antagonistic questioning.
Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” -John 9:40
Yes. Yes, you are.
If you actually heard the words of God as though you had something new to learn, you wouldn’t be in the wrong even though the newly revealed truth puts you in the wrong. The fact that you think you know everything well enough to not have anything new to learn makes you blind. Do you think it’s some coincidence that the truth comes from someone you don’t respect or even like? It’s almost like Someone is using every side of the grater to either shred your pride or make you fight with your own self-righteousness. It’s not just to mess with you, it’s a thermometer. Are you boiling? If so, then you need the medicine.
Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.” -John 9:41
All of this happened to ‘display the works of God.’ It shows how things happen.
- Jesus defied religious tradition to the point of being called a ‘sinner’.
- Many people will doubt the healing.
- Some people are too afraid to speak up when it goes against the grain.
- Those who do, stand a chance of being kicked out of their church.
- Self-righteous people will use God’s name and your desire to glorify Him to manipulate you into submission to them.
- God uses the most unlikely (unworthy?) to reveal His truth.
- Self-righteous people will belittle you if you don’t cave in to their version.
- Jesus made the blind man see before he believed in Him.
- If you know you have more to learn, you’re guiltless.
- If you think you know it all, you’re guilty of what you don’t know.
You have to admit that you are blind. If you’re blind, He can make you see. If you think you’re not blind, then you’ll always be blind. Only crazy people don’t think they’re crazy.