10. Journey to the cross: He makes the blind to see!

Blindness. It’s a dark and frightening concept for most people. It terrifies me. Not in the physical sense — though if my sight were taken away, I’m sure I would struggle mightily. It’s “blindness” to what’s going on in the spiritual realm that is really scary to me. 

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s look at one situation (documented in John 9) in which Jesus not only healed physical blindness, he addressed spiritual blindness as well, as he journeyed to the cross …

“As [Jesus] went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’

“’Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ said Jesus, ‘but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.’

After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. ‘Go,’ [Jesus’ told him, ‘wash in the Pool of Siloam’ (this word means ‘Sent’). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.

His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, ‘Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?’  Some claimed that he was.

“Others said, ‘No, he only looks like him.’

“But he himself insisted, ‘I am the man.’

“‘How then were your eyes opened?’ they asked.

He replied, ‘The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.’

“’Where is this man?’ they asked him.

“I’ don’t know,’ he said.

They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind.  Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath. [Work was not allowed on the Sabbath.] Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. ‘He put mud on my eyes,’ the man replied, ‘and I washed, and now I see.’

Some of the Pharisees said, ‘This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.’

But others asked, ‘How can a sinner perform such signs?’ So they were divided.

Then they turned again to the blind man, ‘What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.’

“The man replied, ‘He is a prophet.’

They still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man’s parents. ‘Is this your son?’ they asked. ‘Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?’

“’We know he is our son,’ the parents answered, ‘and we know he was born blind. But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself.’ His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who already had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. That was why his parents said, ‘He is of age; ask him.’

A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. ‘Give glory to God by telling the truth,’ they said. ‘We know this man [Jesus] is a sinner.’

He replied, ‘Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!

Then they asked him, ‘What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?’

He answered, ‘I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?’

Then they hurled insults at him and said, ‘You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.’

The man answered, ‘Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will.  Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.

To this they replied, ‘You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!’ And they threw him out.

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.

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?’

Jesus said, ‘If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.'”

*   *   *
Jesus had some very important things to say about blindness. Some of them seem pretty obvious, but a lot of what he said held deeper meaning for those he was speaking to. Hear the words of the Lord, and dare to ponder what lies below the surface of his statements …
Jesus said:
  • “If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” (Matthew 15:14)
  • “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are. Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gold of the temple is bound by that oath.’  You blind fools! … “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?”
  • “Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.”

I’ve always found it interesting that Jesus never seemed upset with common people — everyday lay people with little education concerning the Scriptures. But he often laid into the teachers of the Law and the designated administration representatives. Why did he do that? Consider this:

Jesus quoted the prophet Isaiah, saying:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
   to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

(Luke 4:18-19 and Isaiah 61:1,2)

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT: How did the rabbi (teacher) Jesus differ from those who had been declared by other men to be worthy teachers of that day? Why do you think people looked up to those elevated men as the ultimate authorities on God’s will? How did Jesus’ words to the Pharisees move him closer to death by crucifixion?

 

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