The Gospel of John: Seeing is not Necessarily Believing.

“The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar were saying, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” Some said, “It is he.” Others said, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” So they said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed and received my sight.” They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.” (John 9:8-12).

How many times have you heard the old adage “seeing is believing?” The sense of the axiom is that one only has to see an event to acknowledge that it is a reality. However, this is often not the case.

Take for example the people who knew the man born blind. They saw him, perhaps each day, presumably begging at the Temple for money or alms. There was little else for a blind person to do in order to financially support themselves in this historical context (see Acts 3:1-7),

However, in spite of this obvious fact that this man was indeed the blind beggar they had seen so often, the people argued among themselves about whether this man was truly the man born blind who now could see. Here is the issue: it was not that they could not believe he had once been a blind beggar but rather that this one who had been a blind beggar could now see. There had to be some reasonable explanation as to how this man could see. One reasoning was he was not the man born blind. He only looked like him.

The former blind man continued to tell the people that he indeed was the blind beggar they had known. His testimony as to the circumstances leading to his healing is straightforward and truthful when the doubtful people asked him how we now able to see. He said, ““The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed and received my sight.”  The man did not even know where Jesus had gone nor what He looked life (John 9:35-37).

Dr. John MacArthur contributes some thoughtful insight regarding the circumstances surrounding the people’s reaction to what they were now seeing. “This section in the story of the healing of the blind man reveals some key characteristics of willful unbelief: 1) unbelief sets false standards; 2) unbelief always wants more evidence but never has enough; 3) unbelief does biased research on a purely subjective basis; 4) unbelief rejects the facts; and 5) unbelief is self-centered.”

I vividly recall my mom’s reaction to my testimony after I had received Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I shared how He had changed my life and its direction from one of sinful rebellion to one of dedicated service to Him. This would even include becoming a pastor. She responded, “You’re not giving yourself enough credit.” You see that she had to come up with an alternative explanation for the changes which occurred in my life. She couldn’t accept that my repentance and faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ was the reason my life had changed. For her, seeing the changes in my life did not result in her believing the reason for those changes was personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

As we will see later on in this text, people’s disbelief in what they knowingly see reveals their own inner blindness. It is a blindness of soul and spirit which can only be overcome by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps you recall the lyrics to the southern gospel song composed by the late Hank Williams.

[Verse 1]
I wandered so aimless life filled with sin
I wouldn’t let my dear savior in
Then Jesus came like a stranger in the night
Praise the Lord I saw the light.

[Verse 2]
Just like a blind man I wandered along
Worries and fears I claimed for my own
Then like the blind man that God gave back his sight
Praise the Lord I saw the light
.

[Verse 3]
I was a fool to wander and a-stray
Straight is the gate and narrow the way

Now I have traded the wrong for the right
Praise the Lord I saw the light.

[Chorus]
I saw the light I saw the light
No more darkness no more night
Now I’m so happy no sorrow in sight
Praise the Lord I saw the light.

Soli deo Gloria!

n like the blind man that God gave back his sight
Praise the Lord I saw the light
.

 

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