Evangelism Part 7 Three Unexpected Evangelists #3: The Healed Blind Man
Continuing our discussion on evangelism, I turn now to the third unexpected evangelist in the gospels. Like the woman at the well in John 4 and the formerly demonized man in Mark 5, the man born blind in John 9 has a fantastic encounter with Jesus. The encounter is not necessarily in the miracle but in what happened after the miracle. The man’s interactions with his neighbors, family, and the religious elite set up a second encounter with Jesus that clearly defined who was blind and who had sight.
To set the scene up, Jesus and his disciples are coming from the Temple in Jerusalem when they encounter a ubiquitous site – beggars. These beggars were there because they had some deformity – blindness, lameness, deafness, etc. Because they had the afflictions, they were considered unclean and could not participate in society – leaving them destitute. The Temple area had much traffic going in and coming out, so this was a good spot for asking for financial assistance.
As Jesus and the disciples were leaving the Temple, they asked Jesus a critical question concerning one of the beggars they were passing by. Did this man sin, or did his parents sin and cause the man’s blindness? This belief was common in the first-century Jewish-Roman world. These kinds of hardships must result from evil deeds either by the person’s family or themselves. Our pantheist friends call this karma – evil deeds will result in bad things. However, Jesus had something else in mind. He told the disciples
“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” Jesus answered. “This came about so that God’s works might be displayed in him. We must do the works of him who sent me while it is day. Night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” John 9:3-5 CSB
Noted in this response are three critical items:
- Jesus rebuffs the karmic belief and instead states that the man’s blindness reveals God’s works.
- We (meaning Jesus AND the disciples) must do the work of God while Jesus was with them.
- Jesus cryptically refers to his crucifixion and three days in the tomb as “night.” He contrasts this “night” with his presence as “the light of the world.”
You can only assume that the disciples were baffled by this response. They were probably even more baffled when Jesus then spit on the ground, made mud, and then spread it over the man’s eyes. He then told the man to go to the pool of Siloam and wash off the mud. Why did he make this mud? Because vs. 1 reveals that the man was born blind; therefore, a creative miracle was needed – the man needed new eyes. The man did what Jesus told him to, and he received sight. But that is not the crux of the story. What is most important is what came afterward.
After the man was healed, he went home, and his neighbors were amazed and couldn’t believe that this man, whom they knew, was now seeing. To verify this miracle, they took him to the religious elite in the synagogue. These guys were not happy with what happened. Why? Because Jesus made mud, violating Sabbath Law on no work. They didn’t even believe that the man was born blind, so they hauled his parents in to verify what everybody already knew. They called the man in front of them a second time, and this is how it went:
So a second time they summoned the man who had been blind and told him, “Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner.”
He answered, “Whether or not he’s a sinner, I don’t know. One thing I do know: I was blind, and now I can see!”
Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”
“I already told you,” he said, “and you didn’t listen. Why do you want to hear it again? You don’t want to become his disciples too, do you?”
They ridiculed him: “You’re that man’s disciple, but we’re Moses’s disciples. 29 We know that God has spoken to Moses. But this man—we don’t know where he’s from.”
“This is an amazing thing!” the man told them. “You don’t know where he is from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but if anyone is God-fearing and does his will, he listens to him. Throughout history no one has ever heard of someone opening the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he wouldn’t be able to do anything.”
“You were born entirely in sin,” they replied, “and are you trying to teach us?” Then they threw him out. John 9:24-34 CSB
Even though the man was brought before a hostile audience, he testified about Jesus and told the Pharisees what had happened to him. He stuck to this basic fact – I was blind, I met Jesus, and now I can see. He was speaking the gospel to an audience that did not want to hear it. But the man was faithful nonetheless and risked all with his testimony. Being thrown out of the synagogue was the same as being blind – he was again an outcast in his own culture. He knew that would happen, but he spoke the truth regardless.
However, what happens next is even more remarkable:
Jesus heard that they had thrown the man out, and when he found him, he asked, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
“Who is he, Sir, that I may believe in him?” he asked.
Jesus answered, “You have seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.”
“I believe, Lord!” he said, and he worshiped him.
Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment, in order that those who do not see will see and those who do see will become blind.” John 9:35-39 CSB
So what can we take from this passage? First, God calls us to speak the gospel even to hostile audiences. We are not to have any fear when doing this because the Holy Spirit will be with us the whole time. Second, speaking the gospel will cost us something. We may be ridiculed, ignored, or met with anger. Millions of Christians in the world live under the threat of imprisonment and death for speaking the gospel. But they do it anyway. Third, this story lets us know that even though some would resist the gospel, Jesus came into the world so that all might see. Some who see – think they have the truth – are actually blind to that truth. Others, who are genuinely seeking truth and believe that they are blind, are actually the ones who can see. As Christ-followers, our calling is to speak the gospel to everyone at any time, regardless of the cost or the response.