This is the second of two blogs from John 9 with the healing of the blind man discussing the difficulty the Pharisees had in embracing this miracle because of their own religious paradigms. You might want to read or reread Part One in order to better understand the flow for this article. The purpose is for us to “learn” from the Pharisees and embrace what Jesus does rather than allow our paradigms to keep us from seeing, experiencing, and doing the works as He did.
The Pharisees attempted to disprove the healing of the blind man and discredit him simply because they would not believe. Even the man’s own parents would not celebrate the healing of their son when the Pharisees asked if this man was their son and was “really” born blind. Their response is found in John 9: 20-21 “He is our son. He was born blind. We do not know how he sees. And we don’t know Who opened his eyes. He is old enough to speak for himself, ask him your questions.” How sad they could not even enjoy their son’s miracle because religion blinded them and fear bound them. The Jews had agreed anyone confessing Jesus as Christ would be thrown out of the synagogue. These parents did not even know Jesus as the Christ so would not have been thrown out thus their fear was completely unfounded. They could have proclaimed Jesus as Healer and been overjoyed but chose to defer.
What do we learn?
Fear of man keeps us from professing faith in Jesus and from celebrating and rejoicing when God shows Himself strong on our behalf. We do not need nor should we be disrespectful to our leaders, but we certainly should give testimony and be glad in what we experience from God.
In the Church today, people know Jesus can heal, but rarely are we hearing these praise reports on a regular basis. Usually when we proclaim a healing there are doubters quick to quibble about the healing and oftentimes this silences the recipient of the miracle. Are we like these parents?
The Healed Man
The Pharisees would not give up their quest to write off this healing but continued to call Jesus’ reputation into disrepute. John 9:24 “So a second time they called the man who had been blind, and said to him, ‘Give glory to God; we know that this man is a sinner.’” The healed man cannot do what the Pharisees ask. He basically says “Look guys, I do not know anything about this man who healed me, but I do know one thing – Before this man, Jesus saw me I was blind. Then He made clay, anointed my eyes, and said to go and wash at Siloam. I did what He said and now I see! I do not know what else to tell you to make you understand.” (paraphrase vs. 11 & 25)
We can almost “feel” the frustration of the Pharisees growing as they cry out in verse 26 “What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?” This former blind man finally seems unable to hold back his own irritation with the “righteous” Pharisees as they continue to banter even after he has answered their questions. This time he challenges them. “He answered them, I told you already, and you did NOT listen; why do you want to hear it again? You do not want to become His disciples too do you?” (John 9:27)
This is an interesting question because of the little word “too”. The man would have known what the Pharisees believed, so it is likely he was goading them so they would back off. In his weariness of their barrage of questions and unwillingness to “hear” his answers, he turned their assault back at them. This only created more animosity as the Pharisees now reviled and insulted the man, accusing him of being a disciple of Jesus. “You are His disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses; but as for this man, we do not know where He is from.” A disciple is someone who follows another, so this man could not have been a disciple of Jesus since he did not even know who He was much less follow Him. The exasperation of the Pharisees is compounded as the man continues.
John 9:30-33 “Well, here is an amazing thing, that you do not know where He is from, and yet He opened my eyes. We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing, and does His will He hears him. Since the beginning of time it has never been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, He could do nothing.” Their unbelief astounded him which is what he meant by “amazing”. He was surprised such learned men were not aware of Jesus who returned sight to the blind. The truth is they had every opportunity to know where Jesus was from and what He did, but they chose to ignore the facts.
Earlier the Pharisees had demanded the man give glory to God and said “we know this man is a sinner.” The truth is they did NOT know he was a sinner, so the man addresses their ignorance by reminding them of what they DID know. And he uses the words “we know” identifying himself with the Pharisees.
- They DID know God does not hear sinners. This speaks of habitual sin, people who are rebellious, refusing to do His will. We all sin and fall short of the glory of God, but through repentance we are forgiven and set free from our sinful nature and He hears. In Isaiah 1:15 God addresses people who turn from Him. “So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you. Yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen..”
- They DID know God-fearing people do His will and He hears them. Psalm 34:15 “The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and His ears are open to their cry.” Psalm 145:19 “He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He will also hear their cry and will save them.” Proverbs 15:29 “The Lord is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the righteous.” 1 John 5:14-15 “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us, and if we know that He hears us whatever we ask, we know we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”
- They DID know if a man were not of God, He could do nothing. Luke 18:27 “But He said, ‘The things impossible with men are possible with God.’”
What do we learn?
This is a Word for the Church today. Christians must be careful to stay true to the Word of God in these last days. We can get off base very quickly defending our “perception” of truth, our own theology rather than Truth itself. We may proclaim we “know” when in fact, we only have opinions. What do we know? More importantly, Who do we know?
Pharisees were known to be hypocritical, fashioning themselves as holy, observing outward ceremony but unconcerned with authentic piety. At this point in the story the Pharisees were irate. Not only could they not prove Jesus wrong and get this man to agree with them, now an uneducated man was teaching them. Their hypocrisy comes full circle in verse 34 “They answered and said to him, ‘You were born entirely in sins, and are you teaching us?’ And they put him out.” Their anger and need to be “right” led them to insult this man by calling him a sinner, and placing themselves “above” him while exiling him from the synagogue.
What do we learn?
We must choose not to be hypocritical. Do what we say and say what we do. This will bring validity and authenticity to our faith for those not yet in a living relationship with God.
This unlearned man taught the Pharisees out of a living, dynamic experience with the Christ, not out of his “knowledge” or theology. He gave His testimony and then told them what he knew as well. We must do the same. Talk about what Jesus had done for you, not what you have done for Jesus!
The Pharisees spent their lives telling others what they knew with no experience to back it up. We must be people sharing from our experience of Who we know. Then the why’s, what’s, and how’s become important and people will listen to us because of our authenticity.
This man was “put out” of religion and “brought into” relationship with Jesus. We must desire and pursue relationship with God, study His Word “because” of our love relationship with Him not because we “have” to.
This man proclaimed what he knew and later Who he knew. We must proclaim Jesus, depend on Jesus, trust Jesus, and live for Jesus. We cannot teach one thing and live another way. Nor should we live according to our own guidelines and then pretend to follow Christ.
We must be certain we share Jesus with others, not simply our knowledge about Jesus. This means we must encounter Jesus! We must be very careful of what we “think” we really KNOW. The Pharisees were stuck in a paradigm, unwilling and unable to hear therefore based everything off of what they “knew”. Let us not fall into that same paradigm. If we do, we may think we are right, closing ourselves completely to truth even though the evidence might be right before us in the form of a miracle, a person, or even the Word of God!
If we ever believe we have “reached” the peak of faith; if we ever believe our knowledge gains an advantage over others; if we ever find ourselves defending what we believe instead of Who we believe in; we are far worse sinners than any of these Pharisees.
Can we still believe for miracles? Let us open our hearts and minds to more of God! Let us learn how to follow and welcome the things of God into our lives through the living Word! Then we can be quick to answer “YES, Lord, I can still believe for miracles!”