The Expository Files


"Are We Blind Also?"

John 9

That was the question that the Pharisees asked Jesus after He healed the blind man (Jn. 9:40). A careful study of John 9 reveals that there were several "blind" people in this story.

The blind man was physically blind. However, he moves from physical blindness to physical sight to spiritual insight. In the beginning he knew that "a man called Jesus" had healed him (v. 11). When the Pharisees questioned him, he declared his belief that Jesus must be "a prophet" (v. 17). Later on he implies that Jesus must be a man from God (vv. 31-33). Finally he comes to see Jesus as "the Son of God" and as "Lord" (vv. 35-38), and he worships Jesus. What about you? Have you come to see Jesus as, not just a prophet or a man from God, but as the Son of God and Lord?

The apostles were blinded by their own preconceived ideas. When they saw the blind man, they didn't ask "Why was this man born blind?" Instead they asked "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" (v. 2). Their question was based on the presupposition that all suffering is the direct result of sin. Now, it is certainly true that all suffering is the indirect result of sin (i.e. Adam and Eve's sin in the very beginning). It is also true that much of the suffering in this world is the direct result of sin (cf. Pr. 23:29-35). However, it is not true that all suffering is the direct result of sin, and Jesus' response, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned..." (v. 3), confirms this truth. It is perhaps impossible for us to be completely unbiased, but we all need to recognize the fact that preconceived ideas can blind us to the truth. "ARE WE BLIND ALSO?"

Some of the neighbors were blinded by an anti-supernatural bias. Even though they had seen the blind man countless times, some had trouble recognizing him after he was healed (Jn. 9:8-9). Why? Evidently they didn't believe in miracles. This is still a problem today. The British evolutionist, Sir Arthur Keith admitted perhaps more than he realized when he said: "Evolution is unproved and unprovable. We believe it because the only alternative is special creation, and that is unthinkable!" What about you? Have you thrown the miraculous out the window before you even begin to investigate the claims of Jesus? "ARE WE BLIND ALSO?"

The Pharisees were blinded by their own man-made traditions (Jn. 9:13-34). Because Jesus had healed the blind man on the Sabbath, the Pharisees just knew He couldn't be from God. However, it was not God's law concerning the Sabbath that Jesus had broken, but their man-made traditions. Yes, God had forbidden work on the Sabbath (Ex. 20:8-10), but the Pharisees went to ridiculous extremes in defining just what activities constituted work. Yet even they believed that some activity was permitted on the Sabbath, like rescuing an animal from a pit (Mt. 12:11-12; Lk. 14:5) or circumcising a male baby (Jn. 7:22-23). Furthermore, it was certainly right to do good on the Sabbath (Mt. 12:12). What about you? Do you have religious traditions that come from men and not God? "ARE WE BLIND ALSO?"

The parents were blinded by fear (Jn. 9:19-23). When the Pharisees interviewed the blind man's parents, they admitted that he was their son and that he had been born blind, but they refused to admit anything about his healing. John explains that they did this because they were afraid of being "put out of the synagogue." What about you? Are you ever blinded by fear? Do you ever do things (that you really don't want to do) or fail to do things (that you know you really should do), because you're afraid of being "kicked out of the church"? "ARE WE BLIND ALSO?"

The Pharisees were further blinded by arrogant certainty. They refused to believe that the blind man had been healed, simply because it didn't fit their man-made traditions (Jn. 9:13-16a), and they interviewed the blind man's parents and the blind man once again (Jn. 9:18-34), hoping to find some plausible way to explain away an obvious miracle. Their arrogant certainty is evidenced by the following statements: "We know that this Man is a sinner!" (Jn. 9:24b); "You are His disciple, but we are Moses disciples" (Jn. 9:28); "We know that God spoke to Moses; as for this fellow, we do not know where He is from" (Jn. 9:29); "You were completely born in sins, and are you teaching us?" (Jn. 9:34). What about you? Could you be blinded by arrogant certainty? Do you ever dismiss the teaching of others without even giving it a fair hearing, because you know that you're right and you couldn't possibly be wrong? "ARE WE BLIND ALSO?"

By Kevin Kay
From Expository Files 14.3; March 2007