Chapter 9 brings us to a man born in blindness and his healing encounter with Jesus. Although I wouldn’t want to push the causal implications of v3, Jesus indicates that the man’s condition is occasion for God’s power to be demonstrated. The elements of this healing are pretty ordinary: saliva, mud, water. But it is this man’s obedience — the sign of true vision — that restores his sight. This blind man can see what the Pharisees can not; he “sees” who Jesus is, even without the aid of his eyes.
The Pharisees seem to only be looking for reasons NOT to believe. In this case, despite the once-was-blind-but-now-I-see man right in front of them, they decide Jesus can’t be a prophet because the healing occurred on a Sabbath. Their fear-mongering is effective; the man’s own parents are afraid of testifying about Jesus for fear of being put out of the synagogue (v22). The Pharisees’ refusal to both see and listen (v27) point to their need for Jesus. (John is careful, though, to give us the example of Nicodemus, a Jewish leader who seems open to understanding Jesus on His own terms.) The story ends with the healed man being thrown out of the synagogue (v34).
I love what happens next: Jesus seeks out the man again. He asks, “Do you believe in the Son of Man? (v35)” and the man replies, “Lord, I believe” (v38). Through faith, this man experiences the full healing Christ comes to extend to blind humanity. Through his humble reception of Jesus, this man — displaced, rejected by his own faith community — is received hospitably by Jesus.
Praise God that through Jesus He has taken us in as well! He receives us in our spiritual blindness and gives us Jesus, the lenses we need to see the world and ourselves properly. Remember Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5.3). The first step to receiving the Kingdom is a posture of humility: recognizing our need for what only Christ can provide. Jesus’ words to the Pharisees serve as a warning against spiritual haughtiness: “If you were blind, you would not be guilty; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.” (9.41)
Jesus seeks those with humility to recognize the blindness of their own lives. Jesus seeks those who are willing to admit they can’t make it on their own. And Jesus promises a place for those who experience rejection for His sake, culminating in a home of eternal life with God.