Read: John 9:35-41
John wraps up the story of the man who is no longer blind by showing the care and compassion that Jesus had not only for the man in the story but for all mankind.
The previous section concluded with the Pharisees kicking the man out of the synagogue. The shame that is associated with this action is hard for us to appreciate, but it was significant in their context and in their culture. The insult must have hurt deep. Just yesterday he was an outcast because he was blind and had to resort to begging for any hope of income. Now he can see and he’s rejected again because he simply tells the truth!
The conclusion begins with Jesus searching for the man. I don’t imagine it takes very long to locate him. Let’s pick up the story:
Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.” Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.” Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. John 9:35-38
I doubt seriously that the man expected this interaction. Perhaps he thought Jesus might put his arm on his shoulder and offer some sympathetic words or some sort of comfort to show he was sorry about all that happened so quickly. But that’s not Jesus’ idea at all. He offers the man far more than his eyesight. Jesus offers him eternal life.
As a Jew who must have been steeped in culture, he knew what the Son of Man was, this was the one they have been waiting for. The question is not about “what,” rather, it’s about “belief,” it’s about faith. Jesus asks him if he believes. Jesus then utters the words that must have made the earth stand still, “he is the one speaking with you.” Wow! This is more than amazing!! The man’s reply was edited by John for our benefit. I’m pretty sure he said more than “Lord, I believe,” but that’s just my active imagination. I’m pretty sure this guy was beside himself. I’m confident I would have been a mess, crying like a newborn baby, laughing, shouting, bowing, jumping, on and on. How could anyone just sit still?
We now come full circle in the story. The beginning of the chapter asks the question about why this man was born blind. The reality is, we are all born blind. It is only the work of Jesus that can heal us from our sickness and give us true vision.
Jesus clarifies for all those present, even the Pharisees who are hanging out watching the scene:
Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?” John 9:39-40
The Pharisees aren’t ignorant, they understand what Jesus is saying, they truly know the implication of His words, but they are offended by what Jesus is saying. The answer: leave them with a riddle.
Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.” John 9:39-41
I can see them mulling over the words, but the plain meaning is very clear. Right before their eyes, they see the Messiah–He’s right there. If they were not able to see Him, they would not be guilty of sin, but here He is and yet they deny Him. In their righteousness they claim to see, they claim to be the wise leaders of the Jewish people. It is because they are educated, that they know better, that they are completely guilty of sin. Faced with the truth, they choose to turn their backs.
Lord, may our eyes be opened to your truth and may we humbly accept that which is in plain sight. Open our eyes, Lord. Move our hearts. Break the walls that we’ve carefully constructed to hide from the guilt and shame that is clearly visible to you. We confess as this man did, Lord, I believe.