John 9:1–41: The Sight of Jesus
As a culture, we believe that education transforms people. Therefore, we often lean on two very powerful tools as we try to rally people to the causes we believe to be important: (1) providing an opportunity for people to see a problem firsthand, or (2) teaching people to give them secondhand knowledge when (1) isn’t a possibility. As a culture, we take for granted the assumption that virtually every problem has ignorance at its root, with education (whether firsthand or secondhand) as the most powerful solution. So, we struggle to know what to do when we encounter people who know something, but yet refuse to act on that knowledge. While there are certainly times where the problem lies in the head so that more information is the solution, there are countless other times where the problem lies in the will and desires of the heart. In such cases, no amount of training, classes, books, lectures, discussions, coaching, or teaching will make a difference.
This divide between head knowledge and heart desires fundamentally characterizes the way that people interact with Jesus, too. For those who truly love Jesus, they find no shortage of opportunities to grow in their knowledge of him throughout their lifetimes. But for those who do not love Jesus, no amount of education is enough to push them to faith, even when they witness the power of his miracles firsthand. In the previous passage, Jesus taught that those who do not believe in him live as slaves to their sin, and in this passage we see a concrete example of that principle. Even in the face of the overwhelming proof of Jesus’ healing of a man born blind, neither sight nor knowledge can overcome spiritual blindness.
1. Brainstorm of a list of all of the problems in your life that you have attempted to tackle by arming yourself with more education, whether firsthand or secondhand. How many ways have you sought to learn more about work? Personal habits? Relationship dynamics (as a child, as a sibling, as a spouse, as a parent, as a friend)? Faith? Home repairs? Foreign languages? Financial matters? What does all of this say about your view of education as a solution to life’s problems?
2. What does this story of the man born blind teach us about suffering? Jesus refuses to explain the cause of this man’s birth, so how can we trust the goodness of God without having clear principles to explain why certain things happen in our lives or the lives of others?
3. What does healthy humility look like in what we claim to know? What does false humility look like, when we decline to believe the things that we can know? Do you need to increase or decrease the strength of any of your own convictions?
4. To what degree do our hearts and our wills play a role in what we believe, in comparison to the role of our minds? Do you need to repent of willfully refusing to believe something that you know to be true about Jesus?