We can see physically, most of us, but we cannot see spiritually when we are born. ‘Seeing’ is a metaphor for understanding. In our case it means we do not understand how the unseen spiritual world operates. Our understanding of the unseen spiritual world is about the same as a blind persons’ understanding of the physical world.
- With experience the blind person will develop understanding of the physical world just as with experience we can develop understanding of the spiritual world.
- At birth we know nothing. We are, as the Apostle Paul says “darkness” and “disobedient” (Ephesians 6.8, 12).
1. Spiritual blindness is worse than physical blindness
- Pharisees had religious ‘traditions
- Religious traditions are often based on false teachings.
- Essence of Protestant Reformation and Anglicanism is that religious practice was to be Bible-based as opposed to tradition-based
- Roman Catholic church had put the authority of Pope over the Bible
- Many people in England owned Bibles or most could read the Bible chained to a table in their church – they could read and see that salvation was based on faith and grace rather than blindly observing religious customs, including the Mass
- Protestant Reformation led to a long and bitter struggle – and a process of spiritual growth on both sides
- We all work hard to resist anything that challenges our traditions and religious beliefs – it is very hard to admit we have been wrong
- Lent is a good time to ask the Holy Spirit to help us examine our spiritual lives
- We do not want to be like the Pharisees who are always there. They always see physically what Jesus is doing, but they cannot overcome their spiritual blindness and see who Jesus is.
- Their spiritual blindness seems to be pushing them deeper into the same “deeds of darkness” that Paul warns us to avoid.
- Warning to all of us to study the Bible ourselves, have a living and growing faith and remain open to what God may be trying to teach us
It is important to note that the man did not ‘come to Jesus’. In this particular healing story it is Jesus who goes to the man. All the healing stories are different. In this case Jesus does not ask the man anything, he just puts a mud paste on his eyes and tells him to wash. This sets in motion a sequence of events that teach us how Jesus opens our eyes spiritually. The physical healing begins a process of spiritual growth. The first step is always conflict.
· People are in disagreement as to whether he really was healed or really was born blind. The Pharisees explore every possible argument to avoid facing the fact that they were wrong about Jesus.
· When the healing is proven effective, they doubt it because it was on the Sabbath. Making a mud paste is “work’ and so forbidden on the Sabbath. Their captivity to the darkness of “The Law” prevents them from seeing who Jesus is.
· When rational argument fails, the Pharisees try intimidation. They try to get both the parents and the man to change the story.
· Conflict leads to the man who was healed having his spiritual eyes opened as he sees how hard the Pharisees work to deny the truth. It is their efforts to avoid seeing the truth about Jesus that lead to the Epiphany moment when he realizes who Jesus is.
· When the man begins to stand up to the religious authorities he is “thrown out” of the church - and Jesus seeks him out to comfort him. This has been my own experience - I heard an audible voice telling me to stop feeling sorry for myself and get on with my new found freedom. It is the only time I have ever heard such a voice and it was very real. When Jesus finds the man, not only are his physical eyes opened but also his spiritual eyes..
3. Jesus came “for judgementThis contrast in personal responses to Jesus is what is meant by Jesus stating “I have come for judgement”. He forces people to reveal what is in their hearts by how they respond to what He says and does. By the end of the Chapter the roles are reversed. The blind man who was initially assumed to be a sinner becomes a follower of Jesus and teacher to the Pharisees. The Pharisees who were initially assumed to be the spiritual authority, have been revealed to be spiritually blind and in deep darkness. It is a Lenten warning.
The challenge is to become children of lightWe are challenged to “wake up”, to go to Jesus for the healing of our spiritual blindness, to risk a serious choice, to begin seeing spiritually and to “cast off the works of darkness”. Being a religious politician is incompatible with seeing spiritually. Politicians by definition practice deception – which separates them from Jesus and the Holy Spirit into darkness. The goal of personal spiritual life is to become transformed into active, proclaiming “Children of light”
- specifically, the light of Christ.