The Responsibility of Seeing

35Jesus heard that they [the religious leaders] had thrown him [the man born blind whom Jesus had healed] out, and he found him and said to him, “Do you believe in the son of man?”

36He answered, “And who is he, sir, so I can believe in him?”

37Jesus said to him, “You have seen him! He is the one speaking to you!”

38He said, “I believe, Lord!” And he worshiped him.

39Jeus said to him, “I have come into this world for judgment, so that those who don’t see might see, and those who see might become blind.”

40Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard these things, and said to him, “We aren’t also blind, are we?” 41Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin. But because you say, ‘We see,’ Your sin remains.” — John 9:35-41

Once we’ve experienced something special with the Lord, we have a special responsibility for those who have not.

Why do I say that? Let’s look at these Pharisees and see. Jesus lets us know in this passage that this story of the man who was born blind—you can read the whole thing by reading John 9:1-41)–has much more to do with our spiritual sight than our physical sight. He’s interesting in spiritual blindness and its cure.

He tells the man born blind who the son of man is, that he is looking at the Messiah, the savior, and the man understands instantly.

On the other hand there are some Pharisees amongst those who follow him around. We often don’t think of the other people who followed Jesus around, but besides the twelve, we know that a number of others did, including, surprisingly, some women. It was difficult for these women to travel with an itinerant preacher in those days. There were also others, including some Pharisees who went around listening to Jesus.

These men now wonder if they are to be considered blind. I don’t think this is the question of Pharisees who had rejected Jesus. First, they had already shown they didn’t care about him. Second, they weren’t there when all this happened. These Pharisees know what has been going on. They want to know if Jesus thinks they are blind.

Jesus looks at them. They have two advantages. They are steeped in God’s word. They know the scriptures. Further, they have followed him around. They’ve seen something in Jesus that draws them. It has made them follow him around. Yet something else keeps them away.

Why weren’t they involved in the dispute with the religious leaders, those other Pharisees who had questioned the man? They would surely have known, and their testimony would be valuable. But though they knew, they hadn’t made a decision. They hadn’t decided to live in the light and testify about the light. They probably stood back because of the consequences of taking a stand.

I know so many Christians who have special knowledge, or who have experienced special outpourings of God’s Spirit, of God’s grace. They have something to live, they have something to share. Yet they are so often hiding out where nobody sees, or saying nothing, often because they are afraid of opposition. I have been guilty of this myself.

But listen to Jesus! When God lets you see something it gives you a responsibility. God gives you light so you can shine it on others. God gives you experience so you can testify.

Don’t stay silent!

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