Especially in a western culture mindset to make sense of everything it is assumed often that spirituality must help with every question. If someone has that as a focus in exploring Christianity then they could read the verse where Paul wrote as something to be fulfilled in this life completely, “until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the extent of the full stature of Christ (Ephesians 4:13). Ignorance of the right answers may seem like a black mark. As we read on about the man born blind and healed on the sabath, only to be hassled by religious people, remember that his conversion experience is not only that of healing but of the dignity of the human person and this did not come with complete spiritual clarity. When Jesus would lift up the downtrodden or any other encounters it was always for a higher purpose. Sometimes it was to comfort the afflicted while other times it was to afflict the comfortable like the Pharisees.
Having interrogated the blind man and then his parents only to find the healing to be inconveniently true, they now try to “get ahead of the story” like a political spin room. The parents qualified their answers to stay in their good graces, while the questions of the elite were to finish Jesus off.
So a second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give God the praise! We know that this man is a sinner.” He replied, “If he is a sinner, I do not know. One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see.” So they said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered them, “I told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?” They ridiculed him and said, “You are that man’s disciple; we are disciples of Moses! We know that God spoke to Moses, but we do not know where this one is from.” The man answered and said to them, “This is what is so amazing, that you do not know where he is from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if one is devout and does his will, he listens to him. It is unheard of that anyone ever opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he would not be able to do anything.” They answered and said to him, “You were born totally in sin, and are you trying to teach us?” Then they threw him out (John 9:24-34).
Give God the praise!- We know from looking at the narrative for earlier this week that there were some that were among their elite number who were “done for” in that they came to believe in Jesus. Perhaps there are some rays of light permeating into the ruling perception that God was still active on the earth.
We know that this man is a sinner- Then again, maybe not. Here is the assumption of placing a label on what Jesus is fundamentally. This could be considered a fundamental attribution error. Also it is telling that they presume in the “we” that they are in a place to judge in any way that is special just because they are “disciples of Moses”. So they must “know”— even if they don’t.
If he is a sinner, I do not know. – How ones connection to knowledge is perceived is important in this passage but more broadly in the Bible starting with the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. This man starts making the unforgivable sin of admitting that he does not know. Being humble in the temple? How dare he!.Really, he is humble and thus more wise than the questioners.
What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?- He is making them desperate again. For them, when in doubt, sow more doubt. Surely there must be something logical since the mysteries are for them always to discern. When one loses wonder, one loses hope for powers beyond ones self.
I told you already and you did not listen.— The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and aiming for a different result. One could say that he is growing comfortable in his own skin, with humility, to show the elite up for their insanity. He maintains his humility and wonder but another miracle of Jesus is now emerging: with his sight and under inquisition is coming a sense of dignity as person.
We know that God spoke to Moses, but we do not know where this one is from- A bold statement would be to the know-it-all’s then and now is that God is able and willing to do things without your permission all the time.
you do not know where he is from, yet he opened my eyes- Translation is that God will do things despite you and not always through you.
God does not listen to sinners, but if one is devout and does his will, he listens to him- For this blind man to not have a formal education, he says a mouthful. He shows here that God is near to the ones who are near in heart and deeds and not just ones that are in places of honor.
You were born totally in sin, and are you trying to teach us?- For the elite, religious or otherwise, the paradigm is about the cursed and who gets to rule them. Ironically, one could see their tradition made of man to be a pseudo-caste system in ascribing a hierarchy of holiness based on membership of the degrees or have’s and have not’s.
Then they threw him out- In a way, the rulers of the temple threw Jesus out. The irony is that though this man was no apostle, he was apostolic in the sense that he was sent out into the world with a testimony of healing that went against the rules based on man. Jesus said “if they receive you, they receive me (Matthew 10:40). To deny the message of Christ is to deny Christ.
This man, is in his simplicity and yet “getting it” in what heart God wants. He is like a model for those of use who take baby steps in knowing Christ at the next level: know what we know, say what we don’t and allow Jesus to bring in the clarity on all the rest. And despite the spiritual abuse of that day, Jesus is about to bring clarity on what he needs to show next what he wants to for you, dear reader, if you are willing to open your eyes. In this post-modern culture where the word “religious” is like a bad word, the casualties are many with much confusion. But this confusion can be addressed when there is a clarity of who Jesus really is.