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Beautiful Messes: The Blind Man

“Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”1

John 9 tells the story of a man who had been born blind. In the eyes of many in those days, sin and suffering were connected, so when Jesus and his disciples come across him the first question the disciples ask is “Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”2 Suffering was seen as punishment for making God mad in doing what was wrong. Yet Jesus’ reply to his disciples in the next verse not only challenges this erroneous view but gives us a new way to look at suffering. Jesus said, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.3 Jesus challenged his disciples to look for God amid the suffering.

It’s interesting to see the reaction the blind man got from others after being healed. When his neighbors see him, they ask him what happened that now he can see, so he tells them all that Jesus had him do. But instead of being happy for him and celebrating the healing work of God, they bring him to the Pharisees to see if they can make some sense of all this. And what is the first thing the some of the Pharisees say? “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” I feel like Jesus intentionally liked healing people on the Sabbath because he knew how much it bothered the Pharisees!

The Pharisees questioned the blind man, his parents, and then called for the blind man a second time trying to get him to confess to Jesus being a sinner, which is where we see his reply in today’s main scripture verse. All this man knew was that he was blind and now he could see! This man gets brave and in verse 30 tells the Pharisees, “This is amazing! You claim to know nothing about him, but the fact is, he opened my eyes! It’s well known that God isn’t at the beck and call of sinners but listens carefully to anyone who lives in reverence and does his will… if this man didn’t come from God, he wouldn’t be able to do anything.” Wow! I would have loved to be there to witness this. The Pharisees got so mad after that, they threw him out into the street!

The Pharisees were so knowledgeable when it came to the law of Moses, but they were completely blind to the love and grace of God. They were so set in their ways, that they could not begin to comprehend the amazing work of God among them. However, this blind man had most likely been judged all his life because of the “sin” he or his parents had done to deserve his punishment. He didn’t know all the law, but he was able to see Jesus clearly and experience the grace of God in such an amazing way.

If you are experiencing suffering right now, look for God in the midst of it. It is not easy to do, but trust that God is working. And if you are an observer of someone’s suffering, remember that God’s grace and love go beyond our understanding. Be an encourager and be like Jesus to those around you. Let’s not let our own knowledge get in the way of the work God wants us to be part of.

Suggested prayer: Dear God, at times it is easy to view things through our limited understanding and miss out on the larger plan you are working. We see other people’s messiness and immediately feel the need to make sense of it or fix it. Open my eyes to your will in every situation. And when suffering comes to my life, help me look for you in the midst of it and trust that you love me and walk with me always. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. In Jesus’ name, amen.

  1. John 9:25 (NIV).

  2. John 9:2.

  3. John 9:3.

All articles on this website are written by
Richard (Dick) Innes unless otherwise stated.