by Charissa Andrews
St. Charles, MO
“And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him…”
This morning in my Bible time I read of this true account. Here is what we know of this man:
- He was born blind. He had been blind from the very beginning. We don’t know exactly how many years that was, the Bible doesn’t say. However we know he was considered “of age”. The Bible says that he was a “man” and verse 23 says, “Therefore said his parents, ‘he is of age; ask him’”. At the very LEAST we are reading of a person that could not see for 12 years. More likely, we are reading of a person who had spent anywhere from 20-40 years in darkness. Never seeing a sunrise, never seeing a rose in full bloom. Never seeing his mother smile. Never seeing a rainbow. Never seeing a hummingbird or spring robin. Never watching a summer evening sky turn into a delightful canvas of pink. Never. Not one. Single. Time.
- Because of his blindness, he suffered greatly. In all probability, he was lonely. He could not provide, protect, or care for a wife or family. Men are created with an inner desire to be, to do, to create, to build. I live with 5 amazing guys. From the time my boys could crawl to the blocks and trucks they started building. Their play was often that of imitation and preparation of one day being a man. Building things, making things, creating things. Just like the little 1 year old girls I care for, who love their baby dolls and love rocking and “feeding” them. Boys are created with a natural desire to provide, create, build, make a difference, leave their mark. This young blind man was no exception. Those desires would be naturally born inside of his chest as much as is in my own 4 sons. He never felt the pride of a job well done. My boys enjoy working hard and then being able to stand back and admire their work. The pride of a job well done. It brings them fulfillment. This man never experienced that. The Bible says of this man in verse 8, “The neighbours therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind, said, ‘Is not this he that sat and begged?’” This man was reduced to sitting along side the road and begging. You know, the man you see at the stop light with the sign that reads, “I’m hungry, will you help me?”. That was THIS man.
- This is the part that the Holy Spirit really yanked on my heart this morning. “…Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” There are times that we suffer because of our own poor choices. There are times that our finances, health, even children suffer because of sinful or selfish choices. But this wasn’t the case here. Not at all. Jesus made it as clear as crystal. This man was born blind for one purpose: to magnify God. He hadn’t caused his blindness. It wasn’t a punishment. It wasn’t a consequence. It wasn’t even “just one of those things”. It was on purpose. It was planned. The purpose that this man would spend years of his life never seeing, not having a family of his own, not feeling fulfilled as a man, being a beggar – so that God would be glorified.
At first this sounds, or feels harsh. When we really take the time to experience God’s Word instead of just reading it…when we try to “live” this story in our minds, the magnitude of it becomes so real. One more thing I want to point out about what the Bible teaches us of this blind man.
- Once the blind man was healed, notice his response. He was questioned greatly by the Pharisees. They asked him how his eyes were opened. He explained that a man named Jesus made clay and anointed his eyes. The Pharisees asked him several more times how he received his sight, where was the Man that had healed him. They even went to his parents and neighbors. The blind man just kept pointing them back to Jesus. When the Pharisees scolded the blind man and told him to give God the praise instead of Jesus (silly Pharisees) and even went so far as to call Jesus a sinner, this young blind man schooled them a bit. I LOVE this part of the story, “…one thing I know, that whereas I was blind, now I see”. The Pharisees were relentless and asked one more time, WHAT DID HE DO TO THEE? HOW OPENED HE THINE EYES?? Can you just see them getting angry. Jealous. Seething. And the blind man tells them basically, “I’ve already answered your questions. I’ve told you numerous times and you haven’t listened. Do you really want me to tell you again? Are you interested in becoming one of His followers? (Boy oh boy did that set them off!!) The Pharisees try to belittle our Jesus, calling Him, “some fellow”, as if He were just any other man on the street. Yet this man who was a blind beggar says to the very scholarly, self-righteous and lofty Pharisees, “…why herein is a marvelous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes”. He goes on to teach them a thing or two about exactly whose prayers God will answer. Standing up for Jesus. He even challenges them by asking them who else they know of personally or ever heard of since the beginning of time that was born blind and then was healed?? Anyone?? In my mind’s eye I can just see the looks on those pompous faces and can hear the crickets chirping. It’s at this point I want to run up to that now seeing man and give him a fist bump!! He finishes by saying, “If this man were not of God, he could do nothing”. The Pharisees are not great students. They love to teach and have authority. However, learning is not something they enjoy so much. Notice their response, “They answered and said unto him, Thou was altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out”. Now to be cast out of the temple was a huge thing. It was not just being removed from a building. He was an outcast now. This had a whole huge set of consequences that we won’t look into right now. Remember, he had suffered many things already. Now being cast out. What does he do? How does he respond? How would he deal with another huge blow? Would he get bitter? Would he quit? Would he shake an angry fist at God or accuse Him of not really caring? Verse 35-38 tells us the answer. Jesus finds him and asks if he believes on the Son of God. The blind man asks Who is He? Jesus tells him, “…it is He that talketh with thee”. And now is when I’m jumping up and down and shouting at the awesomeness of this true account. The once blind-now seeing man says, “Lord, I believe. And he worshiped Him.” Do you get what happened here? It was so much more than just a man that was born blind and then healed. So much more than a man that stood up to scoffers and was then persecuted and kicked out of town. This is a man that suffered for years. He gets healed & the joy he must have felt to see. But wait…he finds out he was blind for one purpose. He had suffered so that God could get glory on this very day that Jesus touched him! He could have gotten angry. “Wait a minute Jesus, this isn’t fair. I didn’t do anything to deserve my blindness. You said so Yourself. Do you know how I have longed to see? Do you know how many tears I cried as a boy because I was so different? Do you understand the deep, deep wounds because I never felt that I mattered. I never felt that I had a purpose. My parents grieved and worried what would happen to me when they were no longer around. My mother wept wondering who would care for me. And this was all for You? So that You could get glory?” Ah…he could have. But he didn’t!! He fell down and worshiped Jesus!! All of a sudden he realized he WAS fulfilling the very purpose for which he was created – to bring glory to God. And what an amazing purpose to have, to bring joy and glory to the God of the Universe.
Have you ever held up a string in the air and blown on it? Even just lightly. What does the string do? It moves easily, willingly. Try that with a thick stick, or piece of metal. Non moving. This man was a string. He let the winds of God blow, and whatever that meant for his life, for his string, he would worship, love and serve God. How about you? Maybe you recognize some of your own hurts and sufferings in this account. Have you suffered physically? Do you suffer from an illness that doesn’t make sense to you? Do you sometimes question why God would allow __________ to happen to you? Perhaps you’ve been “kicked out of town” so to speak when you were doing nothing other than trying to live for Christ. It could be that you were given a diagnoses, or a “pink slip”, or have suffered the severance of a friendship. Would you, like this once blind-now seeing man, be willing to just be a string? You see, God does love us. Even when we suffer. Especially when we suffer. Sometimes we can live as though it were, “God’s glory for my life” instead of “my life for God’s glory”. Let’s be a string. Let the winds of God blow. Let’s allow God to use our lives totally and completely. For our good. For His glory.