Blind Man Reborn
13They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 14Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15So the Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, “He put mud on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” 16Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them. 17So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.” 18The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight, until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight 19and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” 20His parents answered, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. 21But 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.” 22(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.) 23Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.” 24So for the second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner.” 25He answered, “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” 26They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 27He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” 28And they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” 30The man answered, “Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. 32Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. 33If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” 34They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out. 35Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” 37Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” 38He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. 39Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” 40Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” 41Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.”
Our blind man from yesterday’s story now reemerges in the temple. He is brought to the Pharisees for questioning. A point that had not been made when the healing happened was that Jesus performed this miracle on the Sabbath. Of course He performed this miracle on the Sabbath. That was a sure and certain way to get the Pharisees attention once again. Had He healed the blind man on a Tuesday notice may have been taken but there was no cause for offense. Since Jesus has now “worked” on the Sabbath by making mud (!?!) He has broken their laws and must be dealt with for this crime.
The witness of the blind man is remarkable for a few reasons:
- Jesus approaches the blind man – not the other way around.
- The blind man’s parents want nothing to do with the whole affair.
- The blind man doesn’t fear the Pharisees or their ability to “put him out of the synagogue”
- The blind man has a sense of humor – “Do you also want to become His disciples?”
- The blind man sees past his physical need into his spiritual need
Let’s examine these reasons in more depth. Jesus starts this whole affair when He is asked by His disciples who sinned, the man or his parents. Jesus answers their question and then proceeds to further His lesson by healing the blind man. There is no call for help from the man but instead a compassion from Jesus that bring the man what he needs most – belief in Jesus as the Messiah.
The blind man’s parents are the sad victims of their culture. They fear the power of the Pharisees more than they cherish their relationship with their son. Should they be “put out of the synagogue” their lives in that community were forfeited. They would lose their jobs, their status, and their friends. It was a serious situation. They are basically forced to abandon their son. I believe they had probably already abandoned him long before these events take place. He was “broken” and a beggar. There would have been no room for the blind man in the temple or in the culture. Disabled people were seen as cursed by God and to be avoided and so his parents did just that.
The formerly blind man didn’t fear the Pharisees at all. He had never had a position in the temple and so being “cast out” wasn’t going to be a problem for him. He was going to lose nothing. Instead he follows Jesus and gains everything. His attitude is enviable.
While I doubt if the blind man was trying to be funny, he really is when he asks if the Pharisees want to become disciples of Jesus as he is clearly planning to do. I’m sure their response to this question was memorable. The Pharisees do indeed cast the blind man from the temple and he doesn’t seem to be terrible upset about that.
Finally, Jesus again goes looking for the blind man, finding him outside of the temple. We don’t know the name of the blind man so we cannot know if he became a giant in the spreading of the Gospel. What we can surmise is that he became an ardent follower of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ conversation with the man points us to the truth that our physical conditions are nothing compared to our spiritual condition. Jesus deals with both the man’s faith and the Pharisees chosen blindness with His last comment.
“If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.”
The Pharisees admit that they are unwilling to believe, not that they don’t have the information they need. Jesus reaches out to all of us, just as He did the blind man, meeting our deepest and most pressing need. The blind man fell to his knees and worshiped Jesus and we can do the same.