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Grown-Up Bible Stories

Dealing with the Evidence

He sat in perpetual darkness as he plied his trade. It probably wasn’t his trade of choice, but his life offered few options. He was blind. He lived in an economy dominated by agriculture, and farming didn’t come easily for blind men. The technology that allows sightless people to pursue commercial careers today hadn’t been invented yet. Even living in a city famed for scholarship, he couldn’t pursue a scholastic career as Braille hadn’t been invented either, and scholars weren’t particularly interested in making a way for the blind. He lived in the ancient Middle East, and even such basic aids as dark glasses and white canes lay far in the future. This particular man really had one career choice. He could sit on the street and beg for handouts.

Obviously, a man with his disability would be held in higher esteem than the vagrant begging for enough change to finance his next drinking binge. Jerusalem, the place this man called home, would have provided an excellent place to catch people at their most generous moments. It was a city built on religion, and religion, then as now, encouraged helping the poor. Still, there were drawbacks. For one thing, very few people really enjoy being asked for money. The selfishness that is part of human nature ensures this reluctance. Another problem was prejudice. In this particular blind man’s world, bad things didn’t happen to good people. Well, yes they did, just as they do today, but the popular mindset was that such tragedies as blindness represented God’s judgment.

He knew all about popular theology. He seems to have been associated with a synagogue, the religious gathering place of the Jewish faithful when they weren’t worshipping in the temple. Somewhat similar to a Christian church, the synagogue is a place where people gather for Bible reading, teaching, and religious discussion. He would have known all about the idea that blindness represented God’s judgment. Sure it’s possible that his friends watched what they said when he was around. But they couldn’t have kept him from what seemed to them all common knowledge--blindness meant punishment from God

What we don’t know is how he understood the situation. Did he spend hour after hour sitting on the hot street wondering just which sin had brought him blindness? Since he was born that way, did he wonder if God had singled out something he would do later in life and judge him in advance? Did he wonder if maybe his parents had goofed up? His grandparents? Did he in his inner heart know that he—and they—weren’t a whole lot worse than anyone else and just leave the reason for his blindness an unexplained mystery? After all, he didn't have a lot of science or medical technology to suggest other possibilities.

Then, one day a group of people came down the street. At the center of their attention was a famous rabbi, or religious teacher. Jesus of Nazareth had just gotten run out of the temple by jealous officials. He lived up to the religion these officials taught, and they didn’t. He was disinterested in politics, despite enough popularity to start something big. Political power was one of the things they’d traded their souls for, and they didn’t like popular people from outside the machine. Secretly, these outwardly religious men planned to eliminate the rabbi from a backcountry town called Nazareth. They’d almost managed to start a riot against Him in the temple this day, but Jesus had slipped out and gone His way.

Now, as He walked along surrounded by a crowd of admiring and curious people, He passed the blind man who sat begging. One of the crowd asked a theological question. "Who sinned--this man or his parents for him to have been born blind?" [Quotations are not necessarily exactly from Scripture unless accompanied by a Scripture reference.]

Did the questioner have the sense to lower his voice, or did he just assume that a blind man couldn’t hear either? History doesn’t tell us.

History does, however, give us Jesus’ response to the question. "Neither this man sinned nor his parents." Now Jesus wasn’t teaching sinless perfection. He knew all too well the human bent for failing to live up to God’s expectations. What he did mean was that neither the blind man nor his parents were exceptionally worse than anyone else. The blindness was not God’s judgment. Then, Jesus added, "He is blind so the work of God can be shown in his life."

Again, assuming the blind man heard, it is interesting to ponder his response. Did he suddenly feel a great love for a holy man who refused to condemn him? Did hearing that somehow his misery helped glorify God make the blindness seem almost good? Did the idea that God would make him blind on purpose leave him frustrated? We aren’t told.

But Jesus wasn’t playing the fatalistic games people sometimes play when they shrug off suffering as the "will of God." He knew God’s glory to be a good thing and not just in some vague heavenly sense. He intended that the glory of God would bring joy to the life of the blind man. Famous for showing God’s power through supernatural actions, Jesus proceeded to cure the man on the spot.

As much as we study the life of Jesus Christ, we still aren’t big enough to comprehend Him. He raised the dead by merely speaking to them. He had been known to heal the sick by proclaiming them well from a distance. Why He chose to spit in the dust, use the liquid to mix mud, rub that mud on the man’s eyes, and then send the man to wash it away is something we don’t understand. Maybe he was reminding the man that even people who aren’t particularly sinful—morally dirty as it were—still need to be forgiven—or spiritually washed. Maybe the extraordinary method of healing was a way of telling the man that he needed to identify with the One Who was healing him. Maybe sending him to wash was a test of faith.

In any event, the man did what he was told and suddenly found that he could see. Never before had he seen. He’d been born blind. He didn’t know what sight was. Now he could see!

In modern times, surgeons have given sight to blind people. Often the first experience of sight hurts. Babies begin life with rather blurry, uncomprehending vision and learn to interpret what they see. When started in adulthood, this process is distracting, even painful. But Jesus wasn’t a surgeon, and the man was given instant ability to see as if he’d grown up normally. It wasn’t a medical or surgical cure. It was a miracle done by a Man Who claimed to have come from Heaven. It was totally beyond the work of ancient medicine, and actually beyond the work of modern medicine. Assuming that it really happened, this miracle not only made the blind man see, but it made an enormous statement about the One Who performed it.

Did it really happen? The question naturally spread through the neighborhood. After all, miracles have never been common. First, people debated among themselves. Was this guy really the blind beggar they all knew, or were those who claimed a healing jumping to conclusions? Finally, the man Jesus had healed set the record straight. "I’m the man." When the neighbors accepted the reality that indeed the impossible had occurred, they asked, "What happened?"

"A man named Jesus made mud, rubbed it on my eyes, and told me to go wash in the pool of Siloam. I went and washed and received sight."

The neighbors took the seeing man to some of the religious leadership, the group who were hostile to Jesus. The leaders in question were of a political-religious party called the Pharisees. Some likely held official office, but all Pharisees were leaders of sorts. Specialist in religious law and tradition they were the kind of people that left everyone else feeling below par spiritually. They represented the religious elite.

And even the Pharisees struggled with that question: did it really happen? They saw the reported miracle not as a wonderful gift to a handicapped person, but as a threat to the status quo. If Jesus had done the impossible in God’s name, they as religious people, had to take Him seriously. Taking Him seriously was something they didn’t want to do.

They started out at a theoretical level. Jesus had cured the man on the Sabbath day. No good Jew did any work on the Sabbath. Some argued that since Jesus had cured a man on that day, he couldn’t be empowered by God. God didn’t support sin. Others argued that since he’d done the obviously impossible, he had to be of God. God, after all, had done the work. God wasn’t subject to the law about the Sabbath.

They asked the formerly blind man what he thought of this Jesus.

"He is a prophet," came the response. Prophets, of course were the special spokesmen of God. Jewish history was rich with stories of men like Moses and Elijah who spoke for God and performed an occasional miracle.

But the elite refused to believe. Jesus wasn’t on their list of acceptable people; therefore, he couldn’t have the power of God. They decided the whole thing had been a fraud. Either the blind man had been a carefully planted actor or the seeing man was.

But the issue was too compelling. They couldn’t just make their official statements of unbelief and end the matter. Too many people had seen, and besides, the man who’d been born blind was a local resident. It was just too hard to scream a few doubts and make it all go away. They had to prove their point. Determined, they called in the man’s parents.

His parents, too, belonged to the synagogue. They were also aware of ecclesiastical politics. It was no secret to them that the local leaders had already agreed: "If anyone admits to believing that this Jesus is the Christ (the Son of God among other things) we are going to excommunicate him from our synagogue." The parents knew and feared the rejection.

The Pharisees asked, "Is this your son who was born blind?"

They responded. "This is our son who was born blind. We know that. We also know that he can see now. That is all we know. How it happened is beyond us. He is of age. Ask him." There. They had mostly told the truth, stretching it only in their professed ignorance. They were still members of the synagogue.

So the clergy called in the formerly blind man. There was a difference in the recent beggar and the local dignitaries. He had come into contact with Jesus of Nazareth. His life was changed, and he was a believer. They, of course, were doubters and doubters by choice. Doubters by choice can be obnoxious. "Give God the credit," they told the blind man. "The man who healed you is a sinner."

"Whether he’s a sinner or not, I know one thing," came the response. "I was blind. Now I see."

"What did He do?"

His patience grew thin. "I already told you. Do you want to be His followers too?"

The dignitaries responded. "You are His follower. We are Moses’ followers. We know Moses came from God. Where this guy comes from, we don’t know."

The former beggar grew bold in the face of his superiors. "Why, this is marvelous! You don’t know where Jesus came from? He healed my eyes. Never in history has anyone cured a man who was born blind. He could work this miracle—we all know that God doesn’t do miracles for sinners—and you don’t know where He came from?"

But loyalty to his Benefactor carried its price. He’d admitted to believing that Jesus was a servant of God. "You were altogether born in sin," they declared. "And you’re teaching us?" They excommunicated him.

But he’d identified with Jesus Christ, the One Who promises not to forsake His friends. Jesus came and found him. Jesus soon raised a question: "Do you believe on the Son of God?"

The man He’d healed answered. "Who is He, Lord, that I might believe on him?"

"You have seen Him, and He is talking with you."

Jesus had claimed to be the Son of God. In that setting, it was the same as claiming to be the long-promised national deliverer, the Christ; the rightful king; and yes, God Himself. It was now up to the formerly blind man. He had a choice.

The experts refused to believe that God had worked the special miracle of his sight through Jesus Christ. They’d suggested that no miracle had occurred. When that suggestion failed, they’d labeled the event beyond explanation. One thing was constant. The people in the know chose not to believe in the One Who called Himself "the Son of God." They’d also chosen to reject anyone who did believe. The best of expert testimony demanded that he answer that question "Do you believe on the Son of God?" with an educated "No."

But something else demanded a different answer. He had been hopelessly and permanently blind. Jesus, in the name of God, had caused him to see. He’d experienced the kind of goodness and power that could only come from the Son of God. He’d experienced them in his own life, and the newness of that experience hadn’t even had time to wear off. Whatever the experts said, his inner being had come into contact with a force that could only be described with that phrase "the Son of God."

"Do you believe on the Son of God?" If Jesus is the Son of God, believing means more healing, more life, and in the end, to be considered also a child of God. Not believing will keep the neighborhood off his case. It’s a choice. The evidence is already in hand. It is, in part, a question of surrender. Is Jesus merely a mysterious miracle worker, or is He the Son of God? There are big implications to this choice, and he—as does each of us—must decide.

"Do you believe on the Son of God?"

He answered. "Lord, I believe."


What about you? Only the radical or uninformed will deny that Jesus Christ was an actual, historical person. But what to make of that history is filled with controversy. Some may just shrug it all off. They barely believe in God, why push it with belief in a man who was also God come to earth? Others are embarrassed by scholarly doubts. Whatever they know about Jesus Christ, they can’t break free of the ideas spouted by some religious professionals. Still others are repulsed by the realization that the Son of God has the right to tell them how to live.

Yet, the evidence is all around. Millions of people claim to have received spiritual life from Jesus Christ. While they aren’t perfect, the difference is real. The very teachings of Jesus resonate with what we know to be right and good. The fact that He remains a powerful force around the world two thousand years after his death tells us that this is no ordinary man.

Ever since Jesus died, was buried, and stepped out of His grave alive, people have been confronted with that same question. "Do you believe on the Son of God?"

You probably weren’t born blind. You probably didn’t get your sight back as a miracle. But the question, and the evidence are still before you. "Do you believe on the Son of God?"

Will you believe?

And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. (John 20:30-31)

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

For information on how you can believe on the Son of God, click here: How to Have a Relationship with God

This work is in the pubic domain and may be copied and distributed freely.


How to Have a Relationship with God

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