Part 39 – John 9:38
A journey to faith
This chapter 9 contains the wonderful story of the blind man’s journey to faith. It gives us one of the best of all the stories of the Gospels rated as stories and he stands out as one of the most interesting people of all those that Jesus met. It is too long a passage for me to read it all out so do find a Bible and read it for yourself.
He is quite a character this blind man. Being able to see for the first time will have been quite a difficult experience. Mark tells us about another man who saw for the first time and says that at first he confused men and trees. Only a day or two later this man John tells us about gets hauled in front of a group of learned men who try to trip him up with their questions. But he is having none of it. He answers back in a very clever but straightforward, blunt and truthful way. He is careful not to say anything that can make matters worse for Jesus. He minimizes the number of things that Jesus did on the Sabbath as much as possible. He does not implicate him in anything he thought to be dangerous.
Through it all he comes to faith. Like many people he comes through a journey taking several days. There is a tendency in many quarters to think that coming to faith ought to happen in an instant, on one occasion, but it is not so for many people. Like this guy we may get there only in days, or weeks, months or even years. Our faith is no less valid for that; in fact it may even be stronger.
We can trace where he had got to on his journey by the things he calls Jesus. In verse 11 he says ‘the man called Jesus’. In verse 17 he says ‘he is a prophet’. In verse 33 he is ‘ this man from God’. In verse 38, having been told that Jesus is ‘the Son of Man’ he says ‘Lord, I believe’.
In it all he demonstrates three of the major things Jesus said about himself. These are: I am the light of the world; I am the way, the truth and the life; and I am the resurrection and the life.
The most obvious of these is the first – with a twist. It is all very well Jesus being the light of the world, but what about us? Is he also the light of the individual believer? Yes, he is, and never more so than to this blind man to whom he gave sight. That will have been light flooding into his life not only spiritually but also very physically. And, of course, that is a picture for us, for you, for me. John has recorded how Jesus brought light to the lives of Nicodemus, the learned man, to the woman at the well, the country woman, to the cripple by the Bethesda pool, and to many people on a hillside in Galilee. But this one trumps them all. No one got more light and made better use of it than this guy.
The second thing this story illustrates is the value of truth. In the often forgotten verses that follow 3:16 John says “For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” This guy came to the light, willingly and eagerly. We don’t know what his background was but the way he carried himself after he entered the light suggests it was very good. He pursued the truth. I think we can assume that he was also good at finding the way and the life in the days and years after this encounter he had with the Lord of the Universe.
The third thing is perhaps a little more difficult to see. When challenged about the things he was saying he said, “Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. … Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” That is he said, “look at the facts; he opened my eyes; you can argue all you like but I know what is what because he opened my eyes.” Ultimately if we are challenged about our faith we too must go back to the facts. Two in particular are important. One is the resurrection of Jesus. It stands there in history, a better attested fact than the existence of Julius Caesar, or 1066 (sorry, those of you who are not British – it is the date of the defeat of the Old English by the Normans, the last successful invasion of these islands by a conqueror). But the resurrection can be challenged and is challenged by many people because it seems so unlikely and happened so long ago. The other fact that stands in our history – if we have set out to follow Jesus – is the effect it has had in our lives.
A lovely story is told of a Welsh miner who was converted and began to follow Jesus. Some of his fellow workers teased him rather mercilessly. One day they asked him in jest, “you don’t really believe that Jesus changed water into wine, do you?” The man’s reply was, “ I don’t really know whether Jesus turned water into wine,; I wasn’t there. But this I do know, in my house Jesus changed beer into furniture.” That refers to the second half of what Jesus said. If we can’t be convincing enough about the resurrection before an unbeliever we can be about the second part. Jesus said, “I am the life” and that ‘life’ can be demonstrated in our life.
Jesus was light, truth and life to the man who had been blind. He is still light, truth and life to us if we let him.
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