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Physical Sight and Spiritual Blindness

Jesus and his disciples are walking in Jerusalem when his disciples expose a cause-and-effect theology they are holding on to when it comes to sin and suffering. They pass a blind man who John indicates has been blind since birth and the disciples proceed to ask Jesus if it was this man or his parents who had sinned to cause his current state. Their question is matter-of-fact without any hesitance as to the reality of their assumption.

The disciples have exposed their deeply held theology - the unideal state of a man is directly linked to some kind of sin. This was certainly not only the theology held by the disciples but would have been the theology held by many of the religious leaders at the time. Think about the ramifications this would have had for this man and his parents. Whether walking the city streets or going to the synagogue on Sabbath, the suspicious eye of the people would have been on them and the stigma of "sin" would have plagued them on a regular basis.

Keep in mind that there is nothing in the Law or Prophets that indicates that blindness was the punishment for sin. Therefore, this theology was created by man-made tradition - who knows when it began.

It is at this point that Jesus makes a definitive statement that debunks the disciples false theology. Jesus tells his disciples that the blindness this man was born with was not because of a sin that he or his parents committed. Rather, the blindness was in the providence of God so that the works of God might be displayed.

In the next few verses, Jesus puts mud on the blind mans eyes and heals his blindness. This creates shock-waves throughout the city and sends the religious leaders into a tizzy.

In the end, many of the religious leaders refuse to accept what has happened to the blind man and throw him out of the synagogue (John 9:34). In a spiritual sense, the religious leaders remain blind to who Jesus is. The man who was blind instantly is changed (physically and spiritually) and believes in Jesus (John 9:38).

This account demonstrates the contrast between physical sight and spiritual blindness. The religious leaders could physically see but had a spiritual blindness because they refused to believe that Jesus was God. The blind man was physically blind, but spiritually he could see.

In the end, the healing of the blind man accomplished many things. First, it debunked a false theology about sin and suffering. Second, it exposed the refusal of the religious leaders to "see" the works of God. Third, it highlighted the faith of the blind man to believe. Fourth, it accomplished what Jesus intended in that the works of God were displayed.


First, there are theologies that I hold on to that I must be willing to part with if they do not match up with the truth of Jesus. One thing that I take as a caution from this account is that some of my deeply held theologies might be built on man-made tradition or personal experience. If they are based on this and not founded in the truth of God's Word than I might be building up a false theology.

Second, I think this story demonstrates that those who might seem "weak" or "unlikely" to receive the truth of Jesus might actually be the people most likely to accept and receive him. While those who seem like they have it all together might be further from full reliance on Jesus. I do not want to dismiss anyone as being outside of God's purview nor do I want to think that I have it all together.

Third, humility before God is the only posture that is acceptable. In the last part of this chapter the religious leaders ask Jesus this question, "Are we also blind?" Jesus responds, "If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, 'We see,' your guilt remains" (John 9:41). I think the heart of what Jesus is getting at is a posture of humility before God. The religious leaders thought that they could "see" and had a haughty view of themselves. Jesus challenges this and proves to them that those who think they see are actually blind and those who are blind are in the best position to see. I think this relates to humility. A humility to confess that I do no have all the answers. A humility to see myself in a right perspective. A humility to be constantly reliant and dependent upon God.

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