One of the fascinating dynamics of the story is: that the man born blind not only is healed of his physical blindness, but he also is able to see Spiritually. As the man is put on trial by some Pharisees, he becomes more and more courageous in his testimony of Jesus.
Notice that as the story unfolds, the blind man moves from calling Jesus: first a man; second, as a group of Jewish leaders pressure him more, he says that Jesus is a prophet; then, third, after he is expelled from the synagogue, Jesus comes to him, reveals his identity as the Son of Man, and believing, the blind man worships him and confesses his faith: "Lord, I believe."
That word "believe" in the Gospel of John is a loaded word. In this Gospel, it often refers to several things at the same time. It means: faith, trust, acceptance, obedience, commitment. It means believing in the Gospel message as well as Jesus, God's Special Messenger.
It often involves living one's life differently because of the Gospel and Christ. In John, the Greek word for believe is never in its noun form--it's always a verb, thus it always involves and implies action and response.
The tragic irony in our story today is that those steeped in religion and most expert and qualified in matters of believing, are really the most blind of all. They attempt to use their postitions of power and authority to discredit the blind man, his parents, the healing sign, and Jesus, the true Sign himself from God.
As the religious leaders become more aggressive, the blind man stands up to them by giving his testimony of his healing and Jesus the healer. The blind man's active believing in Jesus is an example of courage and faith to all Christians down through the ages, facing hostility and persecution.
This fascinating story causes us to look at ourselves and our believing. How important is our faith to us? Is ours an active faith? Are we prepared to live what we believe , like the blind man?
Paul Wharton, in his book, Stories and Parables for Preachers and Teachers, tells the following story: One year a rural community was suffering from a terrible
drought and their crops--their livlihood--were threatened. The pastor told his
flock, "There isn't anything that will save us except a special litany for rain.
Go to your homes, fast every day from sunrise to sunset, believe that God will
answer our prayers, and come on Sunday for the litany of rain."
The villagers heard him, fasted during the week, and went to church on
Sunday morning. But as soon as the pastor saw them, he was furious. He
said, "Go away! I will not do the rain litany. You do not believe."
"But Pastor," they protested, "we fasted and believed."
"Believe?" Then where are your umbrellas?"
We might ask, "Where are our umbrellas?" Do we act upon our believing like the blind man in our gospel? Whether we realize it or not, everything we do in life is directed by what we believe.
As Albert Stauderman puts it: Faith makes God's power and grace effective in
our lives. Where there is no faith, God cannot get through. Perhaps a good
example would be the radio waves that at this very moment are here, all
around you and even inside of you. They permeate everything, but without a
receiver that will catch these signals and permit you to hear them, they are un-
recognized and useless. Remember that in one place during his ministry, Jesus
could do no miracle because of their unbelief. If God is not as powerful in your
life as he should be, look within, Maybe your receiver is turned off. Faith can
make you filled with God's power; or, by its abscence, it can make you helpless
In our gospel story, the blind man's receiver is definately turned on, but tragically, those whom you would expect to have their receivers on are turned off. They who claim to know and see really do not know and see--while the man born blind sees and comes to know. Jesus, his love, his wisdom, his miracles, do not belong to an exclusive elite. Rather, he reaches out and offers his gifts to everyone who will receive them in faith.
As Jon Joyce once wrote: Children in Sunday School sing: "Jesus loves me,
this I know, for the Bible tells me so." To retain this simple belief all through life
is the kernal of Christian faith. In a sense we always remain "children" of the
heavenly Father. One time the world-renowned theologian Karl Barth was asked
what he would consider the greatest truth he had discovered in all his reading,
thinking and writing. His astonishing simple reply was, "The greatest truth I have
ever learned is 'Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.'" In
childhood and in the wisdom of maturity this is the great essential of Christian
faith. Like the man healed of blindness we, too, "see" that Jesus, who revealed
the power of God, loves us, and say to Christ, "Lord, I believe."
Today's gospel gives us a word of encouragement, for it reminds us that even in the face of hostility and persecution--when we are being put on trial and judged unfairly, we like the beggar born blind can keep our courage, putting our beliefs into action by confessing: "Lord, I believe you are the Son of Man, the Messiah."
Email me at: E-mail Me