I was reading this morning in John Chapter 9 and was struck by the assumptions made by various people in the interactions surrounding Jesus’ healing of the man blind from birth. Among the assumptions was a belief, common at the time this was occurring, that negative circumstances were the direct result of sin in the lives of those involved.
When Jesus and his disciples first see the man born blind, because of this assumption, his disciples ask him if the man’s blindness is the result of his sin or his parents. Jesus immediately sets them straight and explains that the man’s blindness is not the result of sin, but rather so that the power of God could be seen in him.
Which brings me to my first observation – how many times have I bemoaned some perceived deficit in my life or the lives of those around me, when the God-intended purpose of the handicap or shortcoming was to reveal the power of God through it?
Later in the account, the Pharisees are questioning the man who can now see and are asking him how Jesus was able to give him sight. The man gets frustrated with their repeated questions and says:
“Look!” the man exclaimed. “I told you once. Didn’t you listen? Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?”
At this, the Pharisees are outraged – they take offense to what he’s said and get defensive, cursing the man and saying that they are disciples of Moses and they don’t even know where Jesus comes from.
I feel like at this point, the man who can now see is so annoyed at the Pharisees’ unwillingness to see what is in front of them that he doesn’t even think about who he’s talking to – his parents were afraid to say much when they were questioned because the Pharisees had the power to expel people from the synagogue, effectively cutting them off from normal Jewish life. He comes back with the following, slightly smart-alecky reply:
“Why, that’s very strange!” the man replied. “He healed my eyes, and yet you don’t know where he comes from? 31 We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but he is ready to hear those who worship him and do his will. 32 Ever since the world began, no one has been able to open the eyes of someone born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he couldn’t have done it.”
Their reply brings me to my next observation:
“You were born a total sinner!” they answered. “Are you trying to teach us?” And they threw him out of the synagogue.
Their arrogance and misconceptions made them unable to see what was plain to see for the man who once was blind, but could now see (what a cool layer of meaning!). Jesus was fulfilling prophecy right before their eyes and they refused to see him for what he was. Was it because they honestly didn’t see and believe? Did they willfully choose not to believe because it would threaten their way of life and cause them to lose the things they held dear, like their place of power and honor in Jewish society?
All of this is speculation, but it does point to things that I can relate to, questions I ask myself:
What misconceptions do I have in my life about the way things work? How do they cause me to see things differently than I should? Do I arrogantly assume that I know God’s motivations in my life and the lives of those around me? Do I think that I see clearly, but I’m really blind to the truth of what God is trying to show me?
God, help me to let go of assumptions and arrogance, believing that I know and understand more than I do. Keep me humble and always seeking to see your truth, eyes wide open to see what challenges and troubles have to show me of your power and glory. Thank you for your gentle correction and guidance, and especially for your patience with this foolish daughter of yours. I am thankful for your love and care in my everyday life and in awe of your concern for me, I surely don’t deserve it.