This Week's Focus Passage

‘And as he passed by, he saw a man blind from his birth.’

Focus Passage: John 9:1

‘And as he passed by, he saw a man blind from his birth.’

It is not all that uncommon for a sighted individual to lose their ability to see, whether through accident, disease, or even old age. Most of us using prescription lenses to enable us to read the fine print can recall the time when a friend or co-worker said to us, in seeming amazement, ‘how in the world can you manage to read that small print?’ And yet our time has come for searching through the house for our ‘half-eyes’ in order even to read ‘regular’ print. Some among us that never thought about ever needing eye-glasses, now are required by the Department of Motor Vehicles to be wearing such in order to obtain the proper driving license. We really cannot truly imagine what it must be like for someone to be born without sight; to be born blind. What are their thoughts when hearing sighted people speaking of colors, or other things too large or distant to be capable of being gauged by the feel of the hands? They may recognize the presence of a skunk by the pungent odor, yet not be able to know what that animal looks like—unless someone were to place a skunk in their hands for them to learn by feel; a questionable privilege. But we simply can have no way of knowing what that is like. There have been folks that attempted this knowing by living blindfolded for a month, or some given time, yet this comes nowhere near experiencing just what it would be like to be born blind; to have never seen at all. This is, of course, the condition of the man in this week’s focus passage. Our text informs us that he was blind from his birth.

Assuming the reason for his being born blind, even the very disciples of Jesus asked him, saying, Rabbi, who sinned, this man, or his parents, that he should be born blind? Their assumption, conspicuously, was that someone must have sinned for this man to have been born blind; it simply must be the judicious response to sin. Is there not much of this false understanding yet in our world today? Does not much of that unbiblical presumption continue even in many of the churches in our own land? Yea, it surely and sadly does. Was it not those closest to Jesus who first raised this question; those among the ‘churched’ as it were? This recalls to mind the very sad history of a young couple in a church a few decades ago. This young man and this young woman, by the grace of God, met and married in an ostensibly ‘reformed’ Baptist church. Together, they came to recognize a serious abuse of proper authority emanating from the pastor. Being unable to convince the man of his errors they left that assembly. They began, of necessity, traveling a distance to worship at another church which also revered and taught the doctrines of grace. The pastor of the church which they had conscientiously left was, not surprisingly, very unhappy with them. Several months later, this couple was traveling home the distance from their new church—the young wife now a new mother, with a babe in arms—when they were involved in an awful wreck—the baby died in this terrible crash. The former pastor made it known to this couple that the death of their child was punishment for their having left his church. How awful; how terrible; how presumptuous; how unbiblical! This account is presented only as an example of how we so easily and so often make incorrect assessments about God’s providential dealings with men. We do not know why it pleased God to take this infant, but we are convinced that it had nothing to do with their having left the authoritarian church, even as this man’s blindness had nothing to do with any real or supposed sin in himself or his parents. This is a terrible usurpation of God’s prerogative in granting understanding of His Providence. More often than not, we are never given instruction as to God’s reasons for doing this or that, or the next thing. These things belong unto the Lord. Deuteronomy 29:29, The secret things belong unto the Lord.

Actually, a much greater aspect of this truth surrounds those who are born spiritually blind, which includes every one of us; Christ excepted. And while it strains our thought capacities to put ourselves in the place of the man born physically blind from his birth, we may each of us, remember the time in our lives when we were spiritually blind—unless of course we were regenerated at a very young age. Mankind is born blind because of the sin of our federal head, Adam. Well may we ask ourselves regarding our coming to Christ; ‘why did I pick up that book on that particular day?’ And why did I begin to wonder about the claims of the Bible when so many others cared nothing for them? Why was I made to hear His voice; why was I made to see His grace and love in the Book when I had read it for years without any effect whatever? Truly, we can say with old John Newton, and this blind beggar, I once was blind, but now I see. But why do I see while vast multitudes still wander about in blindness? Is the answer not the very same as Jesus gave to His disciples, that the works of God should be made manifest?

The prophets testified of the coming of the Christ for centuries. They spoke of this Messiah being One who would give sight to the blind. When John the Baptist was in prison, he sent his disciples to ask Jesus if He was the one that cometh, or look we for another. The response that Jesus sent back to John was this:

Go and tell John the things which ye have seen and heard; the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good tidings preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall find no occasion of stumbling in me.—Luke 7:22, 23

It is asserted here that, even as David avers in Psalm 51, we have all been born in sin and conceived in iniquity, we all came forth from our mother’s wombs speaking lies. In other words, we have each of us been born as blind, deaf, lame, and dead lepers standing in need of sovereign grace to give us sight, hearing, uncrippled, and brought to new life through the blood of the Lamb of God. The same One who gave sight to the blind man of John 9, must also spit on the ground, make clay of spittle, and anoint our eyes if ever we are going to see. Himself has said, For judgment came I into this world, that they that see not may see, and that they that see may become blind.

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church

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