Follow Me... Seeing What God Sees

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It was the end of the fall festival in Jerusalem, on a special Sabbath day, with the normally clamorous street stilled of commotion. There was a man here, blind from birth, who was able to hear the relaxing sounds of the Sabbath in a way those who see do not. His hearing was naturally acute to compensate for lack of seeing eyes.

As he listened, he could now hear a group of people coming his way—disciples accompanying their teacher, from the sound of them. Little did he realize that his life was about to change forever.

But that the works of God might be fulfilled

Scripture tells us what happened next in John 9:1 John 9:1And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.
American King James Version×
: “As Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth.” The time had come for a special and extraordinary teaching moment.

Jesus’ disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” The common assumption of that day was that such a disability was a curse due to sin.

Jesus responded, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.” Yes, Jesus knew exactly what he was going to do with this man to glorify God.

At this point, Jesus bent over and spat on the ground and made a little mud with his saliva, then smoothed it over the man’s eyes. Then He told the blind man to go to the Pool of Siloam south of the temple to wash himself. So often when Christ begins to work with people, He gives them an assignment—something they can do after He performs what only He can do. And we see this here. The man obeyed, washed himself and miraculously came back seeing.

How did this come to be?

The man’s neighbors had a hard time processing this life-changing moment when he got home. “Is this the beggar?” they asked. Some thought it was him, but others said, “It looks like him.” So he announced to them, “It’s me!”

Naturally, they asked, “How did this come to be?” The man explained: “A man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash. So I went and washed and received sight’ ” (John 9:11 John 9:11He answered and said, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes, and said to me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash: and I went and washed, and I received sight.
American King James Version×
). The now-seeing man knew that a wonderful man had done something beautiful and miraculous for him and gave him full credit.

But this was only the beginning of a story that would powerfully affect the formerly blind man’s life.

The amazed neighbors got the man to come with them to share his story with the Pharisees, religious teachers who ran the synagogues. But the reaction of these authorities no doubt shocked the man. They belittled the miraculous healing, sneering that this couldn’t be of God because it was done on a Sabbath day.

At that time, man-made religious codes prevented care for the disabled on the Sabbath other than making them comfortable in their plight. In mixing the spittle with the clay, Jesus had knowingly snapped a trip wire of dos and don’ts that thwarted doing good on the Sabbath. Even so, the now-healed man simply repeated his story: “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.”

The authorities put another squeeze play on him, demanding, “What do you say about Him because He opened your eyes?” The man responded with an answer obvious to him, but which the others couldn’t see: “He is a prophet.”

The disbelieving authorities then pulled the man’s parents into this drama, demanding that they explain how their son could now see. The parents, realizing that a wrong answer could immediately bring severe consequences, carefully shifted the question, saying, “Ask him; he’s an adult and can speak for himself.”

Though I was blind, now I see!

The religious authorities continued to badger the man, now isolated from parental and neighbor support, to break him of his story. They scornfully depicted Jesus as a sinner and one apart from God. The formerly blind man replied, “Whether He is a sinner or not I do not know. One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.”

They continued to bully and belittle the man, but he refused to back down. His final statement proclaimed, “If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing.” His religious persecutors roared back, “You were completely born in sins and you are teaching us?”

John 9:34 John 9:34They answered and said to him, You were altogether born in sins, and do you teach us? And they cast him out.
American King James Version×
tells us, “And they cast him out.” They left him where they thought they had found him before Jesus touched his eyes. In their warped form of religious superiority they saw him as a man born in sin unable to break free. And, now those thinking they were doing God a favor “cast him out” from the synagogue, the place of community worship (compare John 9:22 John 9:22These words spoke his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.
American King James Version×
). It was easier to brand the man a sinner and liar than accept the uncomfortable truth.

It’s here that one man’s story, every man’s story, plays out to full and complete measure. When others have failed to stand by him—be it natural family, neighbors or religious community—it’s here where we find Jesus Christ doing His most intimate work.

Remember, Christ had departed the scene much earlier. Now, John records, “Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him …” (John 9:35 John 9:35Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said to him, Do you believe on the Son of God?
American King James Version×
). It’s here that we once again have revealed a God who literally seeks after us. He not only saw the blind man at the beginning of the story, but now He searched him out and looked on his needs. When the man was cast out of the Lord’s place of worship, the Lord Himself came to his rescue!

Simple truths and practical steps

But now a question follows from Jesus. It’s the same inquiry made of each of us that face Him: “Do you believe in the Son of God?” The man answered, “Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?”

Jesus responded, “You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you.”

The man exclaimed, “I believe!” and worshipped Jesus (John 9:36-39 John 9:36-39 [36] He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? [37] And Jesus said to him, You have both seen him, and it is he that talks with you. [38] And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him. [39] And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.
American King James Version×
). Beautiful!

This story displays the marvelous and realistic pathway of how to respond to Christ’s invitation to “Follow Me.” This divine request and requirement is neither ethereal nor mystical but rather has simple truths and practical steps as revealed in this example.

As we step forward on our personal pilgrimage, let’s be reminded first of all that God the Father and Jesus saw us first, even in our blinded spiritual state, and chose to specifically deal one-on-one with us just like the blind man.

God doesn’t care what the rest of the world thinks about us, but remembers what Christ did at Golgotha for each of us He is calling today (John 6:44 John 6:44No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
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). The reality is that all of us at times have brought issues to the fore that seem hopeless or cursed. And yet, God says through Christ that He can take our current plight—be it physical, emotional or spiritual—and, as with the blind man of our story, use it to bring Him glory and honor.

Secondly, remember that each of us has a story—the story of how God has worked in our lives. It may not be as dramatic as the story of the blind man or Paul being struck blind on the road to Damascus, but we have a story. We don’t need to embellish it—just simply remember it and hold tightly to it at all costs.

The blind man was challenged three specific times about his story, but it always came back to the same simple facts. Never denying God’s entrance into his personal darkness, he told it like it was.

As we hold firmly to what we know, be prepared to grow in awareness of just whom it is we follow. John 9 isn’t just about a healing. It explores what it means to experience God at new levels. The healed man started by calling Jesus “a Man” in John 9:11 John 9:11He answered and said, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes, and said to me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash: and I went and washed, and I received sight.
American King James Version×
. When pressed, he progressed to a new level as he called Jesus “a prophet” in John 9:17 John 9:17They say to the blind man again, What say you of him, that he has opened your eyes? He said, He is a prophet.
American King James Version×
. By John9:38, he is proclaiming Jesus as Lord and worshipping Him.

God’s intervention in our lives and our corresponding conversion is not simply an event. It includes a growing awareness and appreciation of just who has entered our lives—or, again, just whom it is we follow.

Thirdly, let’s remember that Jesus “saw a man who was blind.” It reminds us that God the Father and Christ will come into our lives and continue to work in our lives in Their way and in Their perfect timing—often when we least expect it.

When He does intervene, He will at times do things we don’t necessarily understand —like using the equivalent of spit and mud and then telling us to go where He tells us to go and do what He tells us to do. There is a figurative Pool of Siloam waiting out there for each of us. When God speaks to us through His Word, obey it! And leave the consequences to Him.

Prepare to answer one simple question

Fourth and finally, let’s understand that following God in our day can be a lonely business. When God begins to guide us by His Spirit (Romans 8:14 Romans 8:14For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
American King James Version×
) don’t for one moment think everyone is going to be thrilled. They won’t be. But remember: The Good Shepherd knows where every member of the flock is!

We worship a God unknown in all other religions—the true Shepherd who loves His flock and actually seeks after us for our good. Let’s embrace and grow in the reality that God’s Spirit will never lead us to where God’s grace will not keep and uphold us.

As we strive to continue on the journey laid out before us by the One we follow, let us prepare for one basic spiritual reality: We will continue to be challenged at various times and ways throughout our lives with the same simple question Jesus asked the man He had healed—”Do you believe in the Son of God?”

Our answer will be evident by our actions, person by person and deed by deed.

Nearly 100 years ago, the remarkable deaf and blind author and activist Helen Keller uttered a simple truth when asked, “What is the greatest calamity?” She answered, “To have eyes and not see.” The story of the blind man of John 9 gives us eyes to see what God sees as we continue the quest of responding to Jesus’ invitation of “Follow Me.” 

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