Last week we saw Jesus make his testimony about himself. Now his attention goes to show himself to a man that was in desperate need.
This week’s chapter begins with a miracle. Jesus and his disciples come across a man who was born blind. The disciples naturally assumed someone had sinned and asked “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” (John 9:2, NASB). This assumption is made because seemingly the man had not done anything wrong, so the disciples want to know why God would punish this man and make him be born blind. This is still common today; if you experience trouble, clearly you sinned. Yet, Jesus responds to his disciples in an unexpected way, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him” (John9:3, NASB). So Jesu stooped down, made some mud, and rubbed it in the man’s eyes. He sent him to wash off in the pool of Siloam, and the man came back with the ability to see!
“Let this be thy whole Endeavour, this thy prayer, this thy desire, that thou mayest be stripped of all selfishness, and with entire simplicity follow Jesus only.”
— Thomas a Kempis
So the man was brought before the Pharisees. They asked all of the questions they could think of: who healed this man? was he really born blind? how is it that Jesus can do this? The Pharisees bring the man back to ask him for his testimony. The man responds with his experience of Jesus is, stating that he cannot speak to who Jesus is but instead says, “one thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see” (John 9:25, NASB). “Well, here is an amazing thing, that you do not know where He is from … If this man were not from God, He could do nothing” (John 9:30 & 33, NASB). The man is found again by Jesus, who tells him, “You have both seen [the Son of Man], and He is the one who is talking with you” (John 9:37, NASB). Yet, ultimately this man is set in contrast with the Pharisees. He tells him that the one’s who can see (the Pharisees who have knowledge of Scripture) will be made blind, pointing to the face they do not recognize Him.
“Men box God into the contents of personal experiences, and seek to define his attributes by this limited exposure to eternity.”
— RM Harrington
Continuing with John’s theme of testimonies in his Gospel, this chapter is another testimony. The difference was this one is what is included in the testimony. Previously, testimonies were claiming that Jesus was the Son of God by claiming it from proof of who he is. Here, the man’s testimony is only based on his experience of Jesus. The man does not have any of the words (especially theological ones) to describe Jesus. I think this man is included here because John wants us to see that we do not have to have a theological understanding to know Jesus; we simply have to be ready to experience him. Jesus meets us where we are and does not expect us to fully understand what is happening. This does not mean we shouldn’t try to learn, but sometimes we cannot form the words to express Jesus.
God is incomprehensible. Sometimes words are not enough to fully express what we know and experience. I know that we far too often want to only approach God in our words and what we can understand. Take a moment today to think about the experiences you have had that are indescribable. How did it make you feel? If you can, leave a comment below about it.