I heard a story that bears repeating of a man that was kicked out of a church. He was a poor man with holes in his cloths. He came into a church in the middle of the day for solace only to be kicked out for his bad appearance. Jesus shows up and asks him why he is crying. He responds that he was not allowed into Jesus’s house. Jesus responds, “That’s okay. I’ve been trying to get in there for years”.
Casualties happen in religious wars where the victim was not even on a fighting side. In what has already been written, there was a man born blind in a time where it was assumed that he or his parents sinned. Jesus saw a purpose far above either and healed him without seeking glory. The man is brought through the wringer for being healed by “that sinner” and thrown out. In the case of this struggle, Jesus is a party to the struggle that has provoked envy and resentment at times in the other side but for this man was only out to love. And for this man, being human, in his pain he must have been tempted to throw out all religion as it seemed to be God and His entourage. But Jesus comes on the scene and wants to have a personal relationship with him in his humble time of emptiness.
When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, he found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered and said, “Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him and the one speaking with you is he.” He said, “I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him. Then Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind.” Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not also blind, are we?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you are saying, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains (John 9: 35-41).
When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out- It is important to note with the constant view that Jesus does not change how he feels about spiritual abuse in the name of God. Jesus takes it personally in the gospels where the meek inherit chains from the elite rather than the earth he talks of in the Beatitudes. And for those in this modern world that are tempted to be cynics because of religious abuse I would submit that the compassion of Jesus invites you to sift through the mess of religious toxicity and truly seek him. Despite an experience of spiritual abuse, Jesus can be found. I know something about this very well.
Do you believe in the Son of Man?- This term is loaded. This title in the Old Testament is for several prophets but also to the coming Messiah as well as a forgiver of sins in the gospels. How to put it all phrased neatly together in a simple definition is a mystery but can be connected to in faith just the same. As I have written before, the “believe” term elicits a faith with wheels to it in action.
Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?- He must have heard the rumors already alluded to that there was a possible Messiah. His guess must have been that it could be this mysterious man who healed him. He suspected this but did not know fully yet but must have desperately wanted to.
You have seen him and the one speaking with you is he- This man was illuminated in seeing Jesus fresh from the miracle and then tested. Many Christian mystics in Church history have seen a pattern of illuminative, purgative and unitive in Christian growth. In this man one could see all three.
I do believe, Lord- This is one of the most beautiful confessions of faith in Jesus in all of the gospels. This man encounters Jesus in the most profound way possible: in grace. The work of grace is really the greatest work of God in this story. We have with Peter his longer confession “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” But this was after months of being with Jesus and being part of an articulated, apostolic structure. The healed man is responding to the grace in simplicity.
he worshiped him- He believed and expressed in some way from his heart as that man had said in his rookie, micro sermon to the Pharisees as “one is devout and does his will”. We cannot know if he kneeled, prostrated or jumped for joy and we do not have to. This man responded with the love he received.
I came into this world for judgment- In full context we can see that Jesus is still not saying that he would make in his first coming overt judgments but instead the context is described with passive language. Jesus sets the stage with the gospel that can always confuse the wise. His coming supports the role of clarity on who stands in righteousness and who does not. How should the wise respond or not respond? Jesus answers here next.
but now you are saying, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains- If you are drowning, let the lifeguard do his job or you both go down. This is a rough analogy to their pride here. One could say congratulations in part to these elite for memorizing the book of Leviticus. But that is not enough. In candor, as one who has been a student of the Old Testament and New Testament for a long time, the same could be said for the Bible centered Christian. The gospel is meant to shine the light of Jesus in your mind and your heart and your strength and any other part you cannot describe. The man born blind stood before Jesus in emptiness and received the kingdom. The Pharisees in their stuck-up fulness were still that day left with the message that they were receiving nothing.