In this week’s gospel reading, Jesus healed a man born blind. As usual, the Pharisees had a conniption. Their anger was due partly to the fact that the miracle was done on the Sabbath, but mostly because, well, because it was Jesus.
The Pharisees had decided long before this event that Jesus was a threat to their power and prestige and so, no matter what the evidence, they had to stop Him. No matter how many things Jesus said or did to prove that He was sent by God, the Pharisees would not be persuaded. They had made up their minds.
On the other hand, the man born blind had nothing to lose. He survived by begging. Everyone assumed his blindness was punishment for some awful sin and treated him with disdain. He had no power or prestige. Therefore, his opinion about Jesus was not clouded by jealousy or selfishness or pride, like the Pharisees.
As this week’s rather long reading progresses, the blind man’s understanding about Jesus grows. First, he refers to Him as, “The man called Jesus.” He’s just a man. The blind man didn’t know Jesus from Adam. (That would be Adam Finklestein from Brooklyn.)
A little later when the Pharisees were grilling him about the healing, the man said of Jesus, “He is a prophet.” By making such a big deal about the whole thing, the Pharisees caused the man to think more about it, and he realized that Jesus was more than just that “man.”
Then, after the Pharisees insulted the blind man and threw him out of the synagogue, he recognized Jesus as the “Son of Man.”
Finally, we read: “He said (to Jesus), ‘I do believe, Lord,’ and he worshipped him.”
The man born blind called Jesus “Lord” and worshipped Him. The Pharisees, religious scholars supposedly devoted to serving God, called Jesus evil and plotted to kill Him.
At the end of this week’s reading, Jesus explained, “I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind.”
People who seem to have it all—looks, brains, wealth, power, prestige—are often blinded by their success. Everything is so wonderful, and they don’t realize their need for a savior.
People who are down and out—lacking acclaim, influence, or prosperity—often understand their weakness quite well, and know they need a savior.
Some years ago, I read that Bill Gates said going to church on Sunday mornings was an inefficient use of valuable time. Does Bill Gates think he needs a savior? I can’t say for sure, but if someone asked him that question, I suspect he would reply, “A savior from what? I’m a multi-billionaire.”
In Bill Gates’ world, it may be true that time is money. But it’s also true that time marches on. And at some point in time—a lot sooner than we usually expect—everyone, including Bill Gates, will reach his or her deathbed. At that moment, it won’t matter how many billions you’re worth. At that moment, your eternal fate will depend upon whether you were able to see your need for Jesus.
It really doesn’t take much to avoid spiritual blindness. Faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains, Jesus said.
Just before Jesus healed the man born blind, He proclaimed, “I am the light of the world.” For those who are spiritually blind, such as the Pharisees and some of our modern-day celebrity billionaires, this pronouncement makes no sense. All they can see is darkness.
But to those with spiritual vision, Jesus is like a 10,000-watt spotlight piercing the midnight darkness. Being able to see His light leads to eternal life.