John 9:25 He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”
I have always loved this story, and though the reading stopped with this verse, I read to the end of the chapter. We have no record, but I would not be in the least surprised if this man were one of the 120 present in the Upper Room at Pentecost. I have no doubt that he was a firm believer to end of his days on earth, and I’ll be able to talk with him in heaven. (No language barriers there!) As has been said, the person with an experience is never at the mercy of a person with an argument. The very fact that he was being grilled by the Pharisees confirmed and solidified his faith. He may well have heard stories about Jesus before this encounter, but this was the first time to actually meet Him, and still by verse 27 he is already describing himself as a disciple. There is no question that he had a transforming experience. I can’t imagine what it was like to have been born blind physically and suddenly be able to see, but countless people have experienced this spiritually. Paul speaks of that spiritual experience as a veil being removed. (2 Corinthians 3:14-18) That happens when someone repents and believes, just as Jesus said. (Mark 1:15) The devil will come quickly and try to convince us that was an illusion, and sadly, some people are deceived. However, when we hang onto our experience of Jesus, just as this man born blind did, we cannot be shaken.
This is an important thing for me to remember, because as someone with Teacher gifting, I tend to come down on the side of the argument, feeling that facts trump experience. I tend to spout truth at people and expect them to change, and get discouraged when they seldom do. That doesn’t make the things I say any less true, it just shows that such things have to happen on a deeper level. One of the strongest believers in this church is that way not because of theological training, but because they have experienced God lifting them out of debilitating clinical depression. They believe God can do anything, and their faith is contagious. I cannot generate genuine spiritual experiences for others, but I can be available for the Holy Spirit to use me in doing so. I’m grateful that I was involved in that believer’s recovery from depression, for example. There are no “tricks of the trade,” just faithful obedience. I am to be consistent in speaking the truth in love, but be careful to walk alongside people rather than talking at them. My focus must be on application of truth, for myself and for others, rather than simply acquiring knowledge. The man born blind had very little knowledge of Jesus, but what he knew, he applied 100%, even though it led to his being thrown out. (verse 34)
Father, thank You for this story. As Jesus said in verse 3, it certainly displays Your work. Help me likewise be a demonstration of Your grace, love, and power, so that more and more people may experience You themselves, and so repent and believe for their salvation. Thank You. Hallelujah!