And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.…
This graphic and dramatic narrative begins with the healing of a bodily privation by the exercise el Christ's miraculous power. But its chief interest lies in the spiritual process which it unfolds. It relates how a young man, poor and blind, but intelligent, candid, and brave, received spiritual as well as bodily illumination, and how he displayed insight in apprehending Christ's character, courage in resisting Christ's adversaries, and gratitude in acknowledging Christ's claims. The several steps of this process deserve attentive study.
I. THE COMMENCEMENT AND THE REAL EXPLANATION OF THE WHOLE PROCESS IS TO BE FOUND IN THE MERCY OF GOD. Our Lord gives what may be called the final cause of this man's blindness when he instructs his disciples that the intention of the Creator was to be found in the opportunity afforded for the manifestation of the Divine energy and grace in the work of restoration. It is well to look for human explanations, but it is better to receive, when they are afforded, such as are Divine. In studying the transformations of human character the wise man will look for the deepest reasons in the purposes of the Eternal.
II. THE ATTENTION AND INTEREST OF THIS MAN WERE EXCITED BY JESUS' COMPASSION AND BENEFICENCE. Himself receiving a signal proof of Christ's pity in the exercise on his behalf of Christ's healing power, the man could not fail to feel the charm of his Benefactor's character. In this the experience of many has been parallel with his. There are ever those who, seeing what Christ has effected for the benefit of humanity, and reflecting upon the advantages which have accrued to themselves through the work of Christ upon earth, are led to inquire into the gospel, and to ask what there is in the Savior to account for the influence he has exerted over human society. What he has done naturally leads to the inquiry, "Who is he?"
III. THE REFLECTION OF THIS MAN UPON THE MISSION OF CHRIST WAS FURTHER PROMOTED BY THE INQUIRIES OF HIS NEIGHBORS. Those who had long been acquainted with him asked him of his own experience, asked him of his healer; and such inquiries naturally led him to form more definite convictions.
"Truth, like a torch, the more 'tis shook it shines." Seasons of religious interest and inquiry often serve the purpose of compelling the unsettled and undecided to endeavor at least to understand and to justify their own position.
IV. THIS MAN'S CONVICTIONS WERE CLEARED AND HIS FAITH STRENGTHENED BY OPPOSITION AND PERSECUTION. The fire that burns the dross purifies the gold. A weak nature may be harmed by adversity, terrified by threats, coerced by violence. But this man's best nature was brought out by contact with opposition. He was not to be browbeaten. He turned round upon his persecutors, and put them in the wrong. Even their injustice in excommunicating him was unavailing; he was gaining a spiritual standing from which he could smile at the threats and actions which were intended to dismay him. Often has it happened in the history of Christianity that times of persecution have strengthened and steadied the faith of true believers. Some of the noblest characters that have adorned the Church have been cradled in the storm.
V. CIRCUMSTANCES AND DIVINE TEACHING LED THIS MAN FROM STAGE TO STAGE OF CHRISTIAN BELIEF. This appears in a very marked manner from the view he gradually came to take of his Benefactor. First he spoke of him as "a Man called Jesus;" then he pronounced him to be "a Prophet;" later on he asserted him to be "from God." He was following the light he had, and this is ever the way to fuller and clearer light. Thus he was led to take the final step, the natural result of those preceding.
VI. THIS MAN'S ARDENT FAITH AND PROFOUND WORSHIP WERE CALLED FORTH BY THE INTERVIEW HE HAD WITH JESUS HIMSELF. There was already a candid and teachable disposition; there was already an affectionate gratitude towards Jesus. It was only needed that Christ should fully declare himself. And when he did this, it is observable that the man restored to sight saw spiritually as well as physically. He beheld the Son of God standing before him; he believed and worshipped. All that had gone before led up to this, and without this would have been incomplete. Now at length this once blind soul passed into the clearness and the fullness of the light of heaven, Now he could say with reference to his spiritual state what he had before said of his earthly vision, "Whereas I was blind, now I see." - T.
Parallel VersesKJV: And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.