So That Those Who See May Become Blind
We have here the moving account of Jesus healing a blind man, that man’s declaration of who Jesus must be as a result, and the persecution he endured for that declaration. Jesus heals the man because, as he said, “I am the light of the world,” reminding us once again that Jesus’ healings, though they met human need, were first and foremost signs testifying to who he was, and is. Using his own saliva and dirt (reminding us of where we come from), he “anoints” the man’s eyes and tells him to wash in the pool of Siloam. I suppose it was nearby or else someone led him there, but anyway, he does so – and suddenly, he sees.
The main part of the passage concerns the reaction of “the Jews” (that is, the religious leaders) to this man’s healing. And they can’t figure it out. It is obvious that they don’t want to admit that Jesus did this. They ask the man how it came about; then they interrogate his parents. Is this your son? Was he really born blind? How then does he see? The leaders seem desperate to prove that it was all some kind of hoax. Finally, they approach the (formerly blind) man again. More than anything else, they seem interested in what he has to say about Jesus – which is really their only concern. That this man has just experienced the wonder of recovering his sight is completely lost on them. They could care less! But what really sends them over the edge is when this man, who was “born in utter sin” (as if they weren’t), gives them a theology lesson about what this sign must mean about the man who performed it. That was too much!
And so the irony of all of this is that this man, who only moments before was blind, is the one who sees, and these religious leaders, who could quote Moses backwards and forwards, are the ones who are blind. And the climax is when Jesus says, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” (Jesus said he did not come to judge in 8:15; yet, his very presence is, in itself, an unavoidable judgment on those around him.) These scribes and Pharisees were sure they saw all things clearly, but without Christ no one does; while the “ignorant” people did see matters clearly, because they saw Christ. Now this is not an argument for ignorance, nor is it an argument that all religious leaders are blind, hypocritical fools, and even less that religious leaders should shun studying the Scriptures. But it is a lesson that we should be humble with what we know, and always be willing to listen with discernment. Not everything is of the devil; but that doesn’t make it of the Lord, either.