Lesson Forty Two
A BLIND MAN SEES
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There’s a sermon illustration circulating on the Internet credited to Dave McPherson, a pastor in Louisiana. He tells of a U.S. Air Force transport plane flying over Alaska in the 1950s. The captain and five crew members entered an unusually fierce snowstorm. The navigator contacted an air base only to be told that he had veered several hundred miles off course. Correct coordinates were given to the navigator, but he continued to insist that his own calculations couldn’t be that far off. They flew as directed by the navigator, but soon the plane was running low on fuel. The six men decided to abandon the plane and parachute to safety, but because of the -70° Fahrenheit temperature and winds that gusted up to 50 mph, they were frozen within minutes of hitting the ground. A friend of McPherson’s was part of the rescue team that discovered and retrieved the bodies three days later. The navigator’s pride and unwillingness to listen to the control tower caused five innocent people to go to their deaths.
This is a dramatic illustration, but I think it reveals something of what Jesus encountered as He ministered in and around Jerusalem. The Pharisees and other leaders chose not to follow Jesus no matter what He said. The more good He did, the more they dug in their heels to resist His message. And when they were faced with the young man who had his sight restored, their hatred was to the point that they couldn’t or wouldn’t acknowledge what this miracle implied.
Their hatred was to the point that they couldn’t or wouldn’t acknowledge what this miracle implied.
Jesus didn’t simply heal some broken eyes. It wasn’t a healing that could be explained away by some happenstance that suddenly made the man see clearly. This man had never seen. His ability to see was a miracle that could not be ignored. Only the One who created eyes could do this. Jesus, through this miracle, not only gave sight to the blind but it pointed to who He was—God, the Creator, the Redeemer, the Restorer.
I read Bible stories like this and marvel at the stubbornness and pride that caused the Jewish leaders to look past such a miracle until I recognize that I’ve met people like this—similar to the navigator who was so blinded by his own stubbornness and pride, it affected his decision. But I also know that I don’t need to look far because it’s also in me. We are sometimes no different than the blind Pharisees or the navigator who was sure he was on the right course.
We are sometimes no different than the blind Pharisees.
It’s a sobering moment to believe we are fully seeing when in reality we are blindly stumbling through life. Jesus is waiting to anoint our eyes as He did that blind man. Let us open our eyes and see Jesus. Then, and only then, will we really see as we should and be renewed.
The story of the blind man in John 9 is strongly linked to John 7 and 8. Jesus was in Jerusalem attending the Feast of Tabernacles. Each day of the feast the priests conducted a water ceremony that involved bringing water from the Pool of Siloam in a golden pitcher. The pitcher was then carried back to the temple. The priest would then pour the water onto the altar. On the seventh day of the festival, they did this procession seven times.
In addition, at the Feast of Tabernacles there was a light ceremony. Four large stands held four large golden bowls. The 16 bowls reached by ladders were filled with oil. The wicks in the bowl were made from worn undergarments of the priests. They were lit each night of the feast and illuminated all of Jerusalem.
On the seventh day of the feast as the water ceremony procession, Jesus cries out, “If anyone is thirsty come to me” (7:37-39). At the lighting of the lamps in the light ceremony He cries out, “I am the light of the world” (8:12). And now he demonstrates this same light versus darkness with the blind man sending him to the very pool where the priests drew their water. Interestingly, Siloam meant “sent,” and Jesus is known as “sent of God” (7:28).
Making it Real
Being blind is something that is hard for us to grasp. This week, take a scarf and wrap it around your eyes (or your child’s) so that you cannot see. If possible, do it also in a dark room. Try to move around the space without being able to see. If you set it up ahead of time, try pouring water into a cup (be around a sink!). Talk (or think) about what it means to be blind. Then remove the scarf and discuss how this is also compared to being blind spiritually.
Merle Poirier writes from Silver Spring, Maryland, where she works as the operation manager for Adventist Review and Adventist World magazines as well as the designer for KidsView, a magazine for 8-12-year-olds. She enjoys spending time with her family including being a grandmother to two active little boys, who greatly enjoy Starting With Jesus, and a granddaughter, born in 2023. She is blessed to have all three living close by, continually bringing joy and delight.