They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. 14Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath. 15Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see.” 16Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others asked, “How can a sinner do such miraculous signs?” So they were divided. 17Finally they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” The man replied, “He is a prophet.”
Before I begin my thoughts today, I want to say how genuinely appreciative I am for all who have been reading—even those folks who have profoundly differing points of view as to Scripture, God, and Christianity in general are appreciated. All of you who read and reply are helping to sharpen my understanding and strengthen my resolve to remain focused on God’s Word.
I shall be brief today, as we are only looking at five verses.
Why was their first thought to bring the man to the Pharisees? Some say they had no ill-intent. I don’t know if I buy that or not. It’s always a strange thing that people automatically think that the people in charge, the smart ones, have the best ideas for how to interpret things. But the problem area seems not to be the man’s healing, but the day when it was done. This becomes the fighting point for the Pharisees and their criticism of Jesus this time: “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” I wonder what rules they broke that prevented them from being with God?
Why did Jesus put mud on the man’s eyes? Did the mud have healing capabilities? Was there special medicine in the mud? Did the mud, made with the saliva of Jesus, have some magical properties? Was the spit, used to make mud, of some special not-your-everyday-garden-variety spit? I don’t think any of these answers are satisfactory. Rather, I think it was a little less complex that that: It simply made the man’s world ‘darker’, made him ‘blinder’, made it a little more difficult to ‘see’ where he was going and what he was doing.
What’s amazing about this ‘story’ is what happens at this point: They ask the man healed of blindness what he thinks: “It was your eyes he opened; what do you think?” Why did they trust this man’s opinion at this point, but by the end of the ‘story’ they were beyond angry with him saying, “‘You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!’ And they threw him out”? I think it could have something to do with the man’s ongoing realization of who Jesus was. And the funny thing is, he never even saw Jesus until the very end of the episode when Jesus goes to find him! “Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’” Remember the mud? The mud had prevented any sort of vision whatsoever before he arrived at the place Jesus sent him.
But for some reason, this man’s faith increased as the Pharisees’ anger increased. He was a credible witness so long as he was ‘just a blind man from the hood who had been healed’ but as soon as he started showing any signs of being loyal to anyone but themselves, his credibility was shot. Why is that so? Why is it that anyone who shows an ounce of faith in Jesus is automatically an unreliable witness? And yet we are shown over and over again in Scripture that it is this very unreliability among humans that is treasured by God himself. We have treasures hidden in Jars of Clay. We are deemed by the world as fools. Here’s what Paul wrote:
18For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” 20Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength. 26Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29so that no one may boast before him. 30It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:18-31, NIV).
My point is this: God used this man born blind to show the utter blindness of these Pharisees. Here was a man, a blind beggar, probably couldn’t read or write, couldn’t hold a job or anything, and yet, God used this man to show how blind—may we say, how stupid—these smart ones were! It is quite remarkable how God uses commonplace things, simple folks, the fools of this world to undo those who are so confident in their wisdom and unbelief. “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” I never cease to be amazed at the sorts of people that God uses to get his message across. A woman by a well, a man born blind, a man paralyzed for 38 years, the apostles (like Peter & Paul). God even used the crucifixion to undo mankind—God did for the world in the death of Christ what the world could never do for itself.
This is why so many are offended at Christianity: they simply cannot come to terms with a God who did things exactly the opposite way that the world does things. He’s called the God who failed by many. But to those of us who are being saved: Christ the Power of God. And so with the man born blind. His opinion of Jesus has shifted twice already. First, he was ‘the man they call Jesus.’ This time, ‘he’s a prophet.’ We’ll see how much his faith develops under the persecution he is bound to face. Isn’t it strange that faith grows under pressure?
Soli Deo Gloria!