And as He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. John 9:1
From Birth – Healing a man who has become blind is miraculous, but healing a man who was born blind is even more amazing. In order to see just how amazing this account is for first century Jews, we need to know a little more about John’s multiple layers of meaning.
One clear sign of the expected Messiah was the healing of the blind. Isaiah foretold it. The Jews believed it. But no one would have imagined that this sign applied to a man who was born blind. The reason stems from a faulty view of the connection between sin and punishment. According to the measure-for-measure principle of justice, the sinner could expect to pay a price for his sin. Therefore, a man who caused someone else to become blind could expect to lose his own eyesight. While the system of justice did everything possible to avoid such penalties, the Mosaic code set the upper limit for recompense – an eye for an eye, gracefully maybe less, but no more.
With this in mind, people assumed the reverse corollary also to be true. If sinners were punished with affliction, then those who were afflicted must have committed some sin that warranted the affliction. Anyone who suffered must suffer as a result of some individual transgression, or, since Judaism held a community view of sin, some communal sin. Many Christians loosely hold the same view. They believe that God intends life to be wonderful and full of blessings. If it isn’t, then that must mean that I have sinned, either consciously or unconsciously. This leads to the practice of writing out all my sins when I am suffering with some apparently unwarranted affliction, asking God to forgive each one. This is exactly what the disciples thought when they asked Jesus, “Whose fault is it that this man was born blind?” No one expected Jesus to heal this man. After all, he was blind as a result of some serious, unforgiven transgression. Why else would he be born blind?
Jesus healed him. What! Do you mean that he wasn’t paying for some sin? Do you mean that our view of sin and punishment was mixed up? Yes, says Jesus, you don’t see the purpose. You were only looking at the consequence. As if that weren’t enough, Jesus’ actions created another terrible dilemma. The only one able to heal a man born blind must be God. No rabbi, no great man of God, no leader would ever be able to do such a thing. In fact (and this is shockingly important), there was never a single previous example of anyone healing a man born blind. The problem with Jesus’ action, and John’s specific recounting of it, is that it opens the way over the rainbow. It shows us a new horizon, one where the Kingdom of God is dawning. This act signals the announcement of something entirely new in the world. The Messiah is here, among us, and His presence is more than we expected. He is God clothed in human form and He announces that His reign commences today. All of this can mean only one thing: we are the ones who are blind from birth. Yeshua heals the physically blind man and he sees, but all of those around Yeshua are thereby confronted with their spiritual blindness. They don’t see in spite of the fact that God stands in their midst. Jesus’ actions announce the end of darkness for those He heals and, at the same time, condemn to darkness those who will not be healed.
Do you see?
Topical Index: Miracles