Blindness

30 06 2010
John Chapter 9 tells the story of a blind man whose blindness is healed by Jesus and the subsequent trouble it brought him with the religious establishment of the day. The Pharisees, displeased with the attention Jesus is getting, grill the formerly blind man as to how he was healed. As a result of the man’s inference that Jesus must be of God because of His ability to heal, the Pharisees become angry and “cast him out” (v. 34). Jesus then reveals Himself to the man, who subsequently believes and worships Him.

Afterward, Jesus says of the situation, “For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind” (v. 39 [KJV]). The Pharisees hear this and respond with a degree of surprise. The King James translates their response as “Are we blind also?” (v. 40); however, in the Concordant Literal New Testament (a literal translation created to be as accurate as possible; for more info visit here), the question reads, “Not we are also blind?” What is interesting about this is the fact that in the Concordant translation it is made evident (through the use of special punctuation and symbols) that the pronoun “we” in this question is emphasized in the original Greek. Also interesting is the fact that the negative “Not” is omitted in the KJV. It seems that something is lost in the KJV translation of this question that is made especially evident in the Concordant version; namely, that of the degree of incredulity expressed by the Pharisees. A sense of “Who are you calling blind?” is given in the Concordant version that is all but absent in the KJV, which almost seems to suggest honest questioning on the Pharisees’ part.

The Pharisees, then, are dumbstruck that Jesus would imply that they could possibly be blind in any way. They are so sure of their own rightness that they find it difficult, almost impossible, to see new truth. Jesus says to them in verse 41, “If you were blind, you would have had no sin. Yet now you are saying that ‘We are observing.’ Your sin, then, is remaining” (CLNT). Jesus seems to imply that their arrogance in proclaiming that they are the possessors of all truth is what is keeping them in their sinful state. Their stagnation is the direct result of their pridefulness.

The Pharisees were the protectors of the Orthodoxy of the day. Anyone who disagreed with them was proclaimed, in essence, to be a heretic. Jesus healed the blind man on the Sabbath, seeming to break a long-established law held by the Pharisees and the religiously devout of the day. It must have seemed to them that He was breaking one of the Ten Commandments and, perhaps, even questioning the authority of their scriptures.

Jesus makes it clear in verse 39 that He came to turn things upside-down. Those who are blind are made to see and those who see are made blind. If people are to be made to see and experience truth, it will not necessarily come from established religious leaders. Truth that is in conflict with the teachings of established religious leaders is not invalidated because it is in conflict with it. We as Christians (or anyone else for that matter) need to stop looking to others to tell us what truth is and find it for ourselves. If we take Jesus at his word, we will realize that even those with seemingly superior knowledge of God may be themselves blind. As for those of us who are Christian leaders, we need to stop assuming that all beliefs that seem to conflict with Scripture are automatically false. God and Scripture are not bound to our own personal thoughts about them. The Pharisees assumed that Jesus was contradicting the Scriptures by healing on the Sabbath. We as Christians should seek to avoid a Pharisaical way of thinking that precludes seeing truth in a new, possibly better, light. Christianity should not be a stagnant religion, should not be a religion that closes off any possibility of growth and acceptance of previously undiscovered truth.

None of us, whether we want to admit it or not, has a complete grasp of the truth. We need to be willing to learn from one another and grow through our relationships with God and each other. If we automatically shut down every person that challenges our conception of the truth out of fear, we will be stuck in a state of stagnation and run the risk of becoming spiritually blind.

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