In John 9:1 Jesus sees a man blind from birth. In verse 2, “His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
Jesus replies in verse 3, “Neither this man or his parents sinned, but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in his life.” So a man was born blind to be a witness to the work of God. Or as Jesus explains in verse 5, “While I (Jesus) am in the world, I am the light of the world,” so this incident is really about the blind man being a witness to Jesus.
But how was the blind man a witness to Jesus? The blind man answers that himself, when he says in verse 25, “One thing I do know. I was blind and now I see.” This was his simple and rather blunt answer to the Pharisees who refused to accept that Jesus had healed him of his blindness.
What clearer witness to Jesus could there be than that? One minute the man is blind, the next minute he isn’t. And the reason it happened is because Jesus stopped by, spat in the dust, placed the mud he formed over the man’s eyes and told him to wash his face in a nearby pool. So the blind man did exactly what Jesus said. He headed straight for the pool and as he washed the mud off his eyes his blindness totally disappeared. For the first time in his life he could see.
To some of the Pharisees, however, all this spitting and making mud and healing people was a blatant breaking of their Sabbath rules, and anyone breaking the Sabbath could not be a man of God (verse 16). And when other Pharisees asked, “But how can a sinner do such miraculous signs?” – which seems like an obvious question – no answer is given.
Faced with an obvious miracle, those claiming to be religious leaders turned out to be the ones who were blind, but by choice rather than by being born blind. They even told the man to “Give glory to God” in verse 24, as though they were the ones truly witnessing to God by telling the man, “We know this man is a sinner.” Forget the obvious miracle. Forget that a man blind from birth had been healed. It was all just make believe in their minds because men who are sinners don’t perform miracles.
The man’s reply to the Pharisees is priceless, when he says in verse 25, “Whether this fellow is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind and now I see.” In other words, “You can say what you like about the man who healed me, but there’s no denying that when he turned up and did what he did, I’m no longer blind.”
The Pharisees come up with a lame excuse in verse 29, that “as for this fellow we don’t even know where he comes from,” but how does that answer the obvious question as to how a man can do such miracles if he isn’t a man of God?
No wonder Jesus tells the healed man later, in verse 39, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” The first great witness that Jesus is real and he came from God is blind people being able to see. People miraculously have their eyes opened to who Jesus is – that he truly is the man God sent to heal us. They can clearly see it, when at one time they couldn’t. It happened to the blind man. Not only was his eyesight restored, he also recognized who Jesus was and he believed it (verses 35-38).
The second great witness to Jesus being real and sent by God is the amazing blindness in those who claim to know about God and what truth is but can’t see it when it’s staring them in the face. They refuse to accept the obvious facts. And nothing gets through to them, either, despite their intelligence. And the reason Jesus gives for that happening is that he has blinded them.
So blind people who simply couldn’t see, do see because of Jesus, and people who could see, don’t see because of Jesus. Both are witness to Jesus being real and the “Son of Man” that God is working through (verses 35-38).
So which one of those two types of witness am I? Can I say, “Well, of course Jesus is real because I admit to being totally blind to who he is, but now I see?” Or do I come up with some lame excuse for not believing Jesus is a man sent by God, despite clear evidence that he is?
Well, I admit to being totally blind, and still totally blind at times to who Jesus is and how much I can trust him to heal me. But it’s those occasions when suddenly I do see, that tell me Jesus is now doing through me too what he did for the blind man, “so that,” verse 3, “the work of God might be displayed” in my life too. Or even better put – so that I can be a witness to Jesus.