Discerning Church Learning to discern the movement of God's Spirit

Becoming Blind

We are studying the healing of the blind man in John 9 this week. I reflected a bit on the church blog here. But as I consider this story, I find tremendous implications for discernment.

The main point of the story is not the healing of the blind man. We read this story and celebrate a life transformed. Certainly gaining vision has powerful implications for him. He no longer has to sit by the gate and beg. He can walk, work, and live life. However, John seems to focus on the subsequent conflict that the healing produces. We feel the tension as the religious leaders debate Jesus’ identity. The man’s parents are summoned to testify. They insist on remaining neutral (I can’t figure out why they don’t seek Jesus out). The healed man is pressured to confess that Jesus is a sinner. He does not buy in; he refuses to discredit Jesus. He was blind; now he sees. That is all he knows. When he refuses to dishonor Jesus, he is booted from the synagogue.

It might be worth pausing a minute to here to consider the absurdity of these events. A beggar is healed; a blind man now sees. You would think that the community would throw a party, his parents would host a celebration dinner. Yet the result of the matter is a healed man booted out of church.

Jesus does not leave the guy in this place. His work is not yet complete. Jesus seeks him out and questions him.

Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36) “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.” 37) Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.” (John 9:35–37 NIV)

Jesus is not only concerned with his physical condition, he desires to make him spiritually whole. How will the man respond?

Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. (John 9:38 NIV)

The twist in the story is the blind now sees (physically and spiritually). But it does not end there. The story is also about the seeing becoming blind. The religious leaders refuse to see what God is clearly doing. They ignore truth to protect their system. Jesus threatens to upset their way of life; so they close their eyes (they become blind). Jesus reflects on this reality.

Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” (John 9:39 NIV)

As we read this story, we often focus on the blind seeing. And we should; we should celebrate the freedom that comes from Jesus. Yet, we should also consider the other side. The story is also about the seeing becoming blind. Are we at risk of blindness? Could we also miss what God might be doing in our midst? As I read this text, I am challenged by the reaction of the religious leaders and the parents of the blind man. Both are only concerned with protecting their own interests. Both are closed to working of God in their midst.

May we be ever open to the movement of the Holy Spirit among us. May we see as we are blind to our own interests. May we be blind to our own interests and see God. May we not be guilty of ignoring the work of God in our midst, building our own kingdoms. May we discern, believe, and worship as we encounter Jesus.