By Betsy St. Amant Haddox, Crosswalk.com
John 9 contains one of my favorite stories in the Bible. It’s not a parable, but a real account of a miracle Jesus performed during his earthly ministry. You probably know of it. Your Bible most likely has it captioned as “Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind.”
There’s so much in this passage, it’s almost overwhelming. Like a fine tapestry, you find yet another intricately woven thread every time you take a look.
I can’t address them all, but here are several important threads to notice in this miraculous account—and how you can use them to see clearly this Christmas:
1. The Crowds Were Wrong
This is probably not a surprise, but public opinion is not always right. People are generally quick to judge, quick to condemn, and quick to assume. Just look at how the chapter opens!
As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” John 9:1-2
Oh boy, where do I even start? First of all, the assumption that the man or his family must have sinned in order for the guy to be going through his trial is just… ::shakes fist in frustration:: Yes, he and his parents sinned. We all sin. But that wasn’t the reason. This man’s inability to see since birth was not a cosmic punishment. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Look at the next verse that contains Jesus’ explanation:
Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” John 9:3
That makes me think of another verse, one written long before John 9. These words were spoken by Joseph to his brothers after they sold him into slavery and created all manner of chaos in Joseph’s life:
"As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” Genesis 50:20
Which brings me to the next crucial thread...
2. God’s Purposes Are Greater Than We Could Ever Imagine
Just like Joseph had no idea while standing deep in the earth, staring up at a sliver of unreachable sky after his brothers abandoned him to death in a pit, that it was only the first step in a grand plan that had been formed since the beginning of time… neither did this blind man. But Christ said the purpose of the man’s blindness was so that the works of God would be displayed. It was all for God’s glory.
As a multi-published fiction author, I get this. I, too, (in a much sloppier, less effective way than the Lord!) write stories that contain characters with various roles to play. I understand that the story is always what the story is truly about, and the characters might not realize that along the way, but if it’s a good story, they figure it out by the end. All stories reflect back to something or someone greater, and our lives are no different. Our entire purpose is to bring God glory. Sometimes, this is accomplished through big struggles and hard seasons. But we can always trust that God has a point. Nothing he does is arbitrary. The Bible says he is good (Psalm 107:1), and he is unchanging (Hebrews 13:8). Therefore, we can trust that his goodness never changes, even when we walk through difficult seasons or scary storms.
I walked through a particularly scary storm about ten years ago, when my husband of almost a decade left me. I went from being a firefighter’s wife to being a single mom in a matter of moments. In the darkness of that pit, in the darkness of my blind spots, I never in a million years imagined the good God could have possibly intended. But oh, friend, there was (and is) so much good. He knows what he is doing. Ask me. Ask Joseph. Ask the blind man.
"'As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.' Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man's eyes with the mud and said to him, 'Go, wash in the pool of Siloam' (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing." John 9:5-7
The blind man received a miracle—one he didn’t even ask for. He was going about his daily life when this life-changing event occurred. He didn’t strive for it, plan it, or arrange it. He simply participated in it.
This Christmas, if you’re in a season of blindness, if all feels dark and lost—don’t lose hope. You have no idea what’s right around the corner! God often does his best work behind the scenes. So, pray. Press into him. Trust he is light even when you can’t see it yet. Remember, joy is always coming. Christmas is coming. Emmanuel…
3. Doubt Often Follows the Miraculous
Here’s another important note about public opinion—people are natural skeptics. There’s a balance between cautiously testing all things to discern them (1 John 4:1) and being flat-out stubborn.
"The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar were saying, 'Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?' Some said, 'It is he.' Others said, 'No, but he is like him.' He kept saying, 'I am the man.'”
Yikes. These people were literally denying that the blind man was the blind man. Talk about not being able to see! The Jews were so eager for the explanation of his healing to be anything but what it was that they were denying reality.
It’s easy to shake our heads at them, but deep down, we’re all like the Israelites, aren’t we? Scooping manna from the ground one day and stressing the next over how we’re going to be fed. Rushing through parted waters only to wonder how in the world God will provide the next way out.
It didn’t stop there, sadly. After the blind man assured the crowd it really was him and had given his statement, they took him to the Pharisees, where he gave his statement yet again. That still wasn’t enough.
"The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight, until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight and asked them, 'Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?' His parents answered, 'We know that this is our son and that he was born blind.'” John 9:18-20
Friend, don’t doubt in the dark what God showed you in the light. These people knew the truth but refused to see. The blind man wasn’t the only blind man in the crowd that day.
4. There Were Actually Two Miracles
A man born blind let a stranger put mud pies on his face and was able to see after washing it off. That’s a miracle! But another miracle occurred later in the story, one that far surpasses the first in value.
Look at what happens after the Pharisees revile and cast the formerly blind man out:
"Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, 'Do you believe in the Son of Man?' He answered, 'And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?' Jesus said to him, 'You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.' He said, 'Lord, I believe,' and he worshiped him." John 9:18-20
Second miracle—check. This man was rejected—even his own parents threw him under the proverbial bus out of fear of the Jews—but Jesus found him.
Go back to John 9:37. I dare you to read it again without tearing up:
"Jesus said to him, 'You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.'”
You have seen him. A few hours prior, maybe less, and that wasn’t the case. He hadn’t seen anybody. But he could see now, and not only that, his spiritual eyes were opened, too. Jesus healed his physical body and his soul, all in one glorious afternoon.
His ways are better, friend. His purposes, higher. His glory, greater.
This Christmas, let those truths sink in like a mudpie to your heart. You are seen. And because of Christ coming to earth, fully God and fully man, to live a sinless life and die as a substitute for our sins, we can see him. Because Jesus rose again and defeated death forever, we will one day get to see his face.
Because of Emmanuel—God with us—it won’t be dark forever.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/bluejayphoto
Betsy St. Amant Haddox is the author of over twenty romance novels and novellas. She resides in north Louisiana with her hubby, two daughters, an impressive stash of coffee mugs, and one furry Schnauzer-toddler. Betsy has a B.A. in Communications and a deep-rooted passion for seeing women restored to truth. When she’s not composing her next book or trying to prove unicorns are real, Betsy can be found somewhere in the vicinity of an iced coffee. She is a regular contributor to iBelieve.com and offers author coaching and editorial services via Storyside LLC.