Letters to the Prison - Week 101

Hello, everyone!  Thank you for studying the gospel of John with us.  If you need a Bible, ask for one!  Last week, we saw Jesus having this profound conversation with the man born blind:
•“Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” 38 He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. -John 9:35-38
That Jesus refers to himself as the “Son of Man” is not new.  This is his favorite way of declaring that he is at once the Messiah predicted by the Old Testament and a human being.  Fully God and fully man.  That’s a tough reality to wrap our heads around.  Anyway, Jesus’ question (do you believe?) is the main question we’ve been discussing all along.  Only it seems a little strange here since Jesus is referring to himself in the third person (which he does often).  The man (we’re never told his name) born blind’s answer is as blunt as his testimony was to the Pharisees a few verses earlier.  He’s not messing around.  Something profound has happened to him.  He's ready to believe in Jesus right away and at all costs… just show him the way to the Son of Man and he will believe…  Is that like us?  Or not?  Tough question… .
When Jesus identifies himself, in that odd third-person way (“you have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you”), there’s no “prove it” moment for the man born blind.  We don’t see him asking Jesus for some sort of ID… or questioning him at all.  Why?  In our modern skepticism where people often (understatement) lie about themselves and misrepresent themselves, we might wonder about this.  If some random guy came up to the man born blind and said, “here I am!  The one who restored your sight!  Worship me!”  What would be worse?  A man who maliciously pretends to be God or the man who worships him without question?
The point here, though, is that when Jesus says, “you have seen him,” he’s not simply talking about physical sight.  There is a spiritual meaning, also.  The man born blind’s physical sight was restored, yes.  But so was his spiritual sight.  His new spiritual eyes recognized Jesus, the God of the universe long before his new physical eyes beheld Jesus the man.  And when Jesus says, “it is he who is speaking to you,” he doesn’t just mean right then and there physically speaking to the man born blind, either.  There is a spiritual meaning, also.  Jesus’ Spirit had been speaking to the man’s spirit long before his ears physically heard Jesus’ voice.  This very thing is spoken of in numerous places elsewhere in Scripture.  Here are a few examples:
•Deuteronomy 29:2-4; Ezekiel 12:2; Luke 8:4-8 “ears to hear…” “eyes to see”
•Psalm 95:7-9 and Hebrews 3:7-19 “Today, if you hear his voice…”
One other utterly, hugely important thing to consider about this conversation between Jesus and the man born blind:  It’s not just about what the man says (“Lord, I believe”)…  look what the man born blind does…  he worshipped Jesus.  Is this what we do?  Does our belief follow through into action?  Or are we just saying words?  Even more, consider that the man born blind has already lost much because of Jesus…  he’s been kicked out of the synagogue… shunned and ostracized by “powerful,” “respectable” people… and yet here we see him worshipping Jesus anyway!  Is that like us?  Or not?  Of course, when we consider what the man born blind gained when he met Jesus, we see why he worshipped anyway…  Paul knows this (Philippians 3:8).  So should we.  Consider what it looks like for us to truly worship Jesus.  We love you!

Dean A.

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