In John 9 Jesus heals a man born blind. The man was not blind because of anything he or his parents had done, but that “the works of God might be displayed in him” (9:3). The man acted in faith and was able to see. God was made known. God’s glory was put on display as a result of one man’s blindness.
This reminds me of the famous hymn writer Fanny Crosby. Fanny went blind when she was just a baby. She was basically born blind. If anyone could complain to God or be called accursed, it was her. However, she didn’t turn her anger towards God. Instead she became a prolific hymn writer, writing over 8,000 hymns including “Blessed Assurance” among others. When she was older, a man noted how much more good she could have done had she been able to see. To this, Fanny replied, “When I get to heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Savior!” Her blindness displayed the glory of God. We all have known suffering. Fanny is not alone in that, neither is the blind man. And while sometimes God heals us (the blind man), sometimes we have to wait till heaven to be restored (Fanny).
But there’s something peculiar about the blind man. For one, he’s always called ‘the blind man’ or ‘the man born blind’. He is never named nor is his title changed. It focuses on the past, but in a way that shows what he has come out of. His blindness is always in the past tense, showing that somehow (by God’s glory) the impossible has happened. He can see.
But stranger yet is the absence of Jesus. This is the longest scene without Jesus in the entire gospel. And does this blind man even believe? He didn’t even see Jesus or know where he is when he is healed! How could he be anything but a bad disciple?
However, his actions follow that of a model disciple. He acts like Jesus in his trial. If you took out his title in the trial, you would almost hear Jesus speaking to the Pharisees! And he doesn’t stop there. He stands up for him, witnesses about him, and even believes in him at the end. He is not a bad disciple, but a model disciple! He may not have physically seen Jesus before, but he had seen him spiritually and believed.
This model disciple teaches us three things: to see, act, and believe. The blind man acted on the command of Jesus to clean himself, and he was able to see physically. He believed when the Pharisees put him on trial and acted like Christ. And finally he sees his Lord and worships him.
So do likewise: See. Act. Believe
See: Look around you physically at God’s creation. Where do you see God? Do you know where he is? Look at your spiritual walk right now. See and observe where you are right now. You don’t have to fix them. Where is God? Can you see him or are you blinded?
Act: Reflect on how the blind man acted. Have you witnessed or acted like Jesus lately? How can you act more like him? Read John 15:1-8 and reflect on how to act more like him.
Believe: The blind man believed and acted in obedience. His belief brought him sight and his God. Jesus’ call in John is to belief. Are you believing in God? Where could you use more belief? What do you believe about God? Be honest
*This devotional was given at an AS retreat in spring 2014.