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John32 – sight to the blind (3)

Jesus heard that they had out-placed him outside, and, finding him, he said, “Do you believe into the Son of Man?” (John 9: 35)
 
In John30 and John31, the previous extracts in this series from John’s first century eye-witness biography of Jesus, we left a born-blind man – seeing – in Jerusalem. He is an interesting character in that he had his sight given to him by Jesus (not restored – he was born-blind) without actually knowing Jesus’ name. His physical blindness had been restored but his metaphorical blindness remained.

In addition, the Pharisees - members of a religious political party there - had physical sight but, in blindness, were strongly resisting Jesus when he said, “Truly, truly I state to you, before Abraham ever came to be, I am!” To assert their authority, they threw the now-seeing man out of the Temple, effectively, as far as they could “see” excommunicating him from all God’s blessings.

Not so this Jesus. He finds him (outside the Temple precincts). He wants him, metaphorically, to “see”.

That one answered and said, “And who is he, Lord, in order that I may believe into him?” Jesus said to him, “You have discerned him, and also that one is the one speaking with you.” 

 
When Jesus said to him, “you have discerned him” – that is, discerned the true identity of the Son of Man – Jesus knew that to be the case because the man had been thrown out of the Temple. 
“There are none so blind as those who will not see.” (English Proverb) “Understanding cannot be forced on someone who chooses to be ignorant.”
See John31 where the man had told the Pharisees, “the astonishing is in this: that you do not discern where he is from, and he opened my eyes! … From eternity it has not been heard that someone opened the eyes of a born-blind. If this man were not from God, he would be able to do nothing.” 

In fact he was declaring, “I do believe, Lord!” and he worshiped him. 

Yes, it was the blind-from-birth man’s persecution by the religious unbelievers that enabled him to “declare” what he had earlier “discerned” when Jesus gave him the sight that he had never ever had before – who Jesus is. 

And Jesus said, “Into judgment I myself came into this world, in order that those not seeing may see, and those seeing may come to be blind.”  

This is an unusual thing to say. Like some of the other statements of Jesus this one is ambiguous. By saying “I myself came into this world” “into judgment”, he may mean that he came to be judged – to be declared guilty by the religious authorities, to be crucified as a substitute, so as to be able to provide forgiveness to those who, unless they believe into him, would themselves suffer judgment.

Or he may mean that he “came into this world” for “judgment” – as a judge. If so, he would be separating the sheep from the goats in a very specific way. The sheep would be those who were blind but, by seeing Jesus, actually see truth. The goats would be those who, seeing Jesus, would be determined not to see him, determined to become blind as to who he is, and stay that way.

Faced with two possibilities it may be sensible to agree with both possibilities. After all, neither precludes the other. He came into the world both “into judgment” and for “judgment”.

Of the Pharisees being with him, some heard these things and said to him, “We ourselves are not also blind?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. In fact, now you state that, ‘we see,’ your sin stays."

 
Something wrong here, surely? Some (only) of the Pharisees begin to worry. In effect, they ask Jesus to confirm that they are not blind. That’s because they are fully convinced that they see. 

“Lord, who once came to bring, / On your redeeming wing, / Healing and sight, / Health to the sick in mind, / Sight to the inly blind:/ Oh, now to mankind/ Let there be light!” (John Marriott, English poet, 1780-1829)
Unfortunately, it’s because they see that they are, in fact, blind. Jesus confirms that, if they continue to say, “we see”, they will remain blind.
 
Sinner Syvret

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