Walking by Faith: A Contemplation on the Man Born Blind
Transcribed sermon by Marc Bastawrous
Passage: John 9:1-38
When we read the story of the man born blind, we notice that Christ does something unusual compared to His other miracles. He puts the healing in the hands of the healed. He doesn’t immediately restore his sight, but asks the man born blind to go and wash in the pool of Siloam.
What is noteworthy in Christ’s words is that at no point did He say, “wash and you will be healed.” There were no guarantees made. In this moment, Christ had picked up some mud, threw it in the man’s face and told him to walk through the town, past all the townspeople, to wash his face for no suspected purpose except to get the mud off his face. The pool was outside the walls of the old city of Jerusalem, approximately 2 km away from where the temple was thought to be. It would take the average person 15 minutes to walk this distance, not to mention he had to navigate through the city without being able to see where he was going.
How would you feel if you were the blind man in this situation? You had sat at the temple for most of your life, you were ignored by the people, you were judged sinner by those that didn’t know you. But then, you hear a Man. You hear a Man say to His disciples, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (John 9:5). What does this mean? Who is this Man, and could He be the One that you have waited your entire life to hear? This quite possibly could’ve sparked a small glimmer of hope that he would be just like everyone else, that there was hope that he would be able to see.
Alternatively, he could have been at a point where he had lost hope entirely. He had lived his entire life sitting outside the temple, being ignore and judge by the most religious people. At the words of Christ, he could’ve thought to himself, “please don’t. Don’t give me false. Just leave some money and be on your way.”
Still, Jesus draws near to him. To which the blind man may still be wondering if He would mock him. Jesus comes to him and spits on the ground before him. At this point, his heart would have sunk – another mocker. He could’ve been at his lowest and thought, “Ideserve this. I deserve to be shamed. But just leave me alone.”
Jesus takes one step closer and picks up the mud and anoints his eyes. Imagine the heartache he would’ve felt. He would’ve felt like Christ was making fun of him. In case people didn’t realise he didn’t have eyes, he now had mud where his eyes should be.
After all this, our Lord makes a request. “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (John 9:7). I can only imagine what I would have done in this man’s shoes. A beggar that had endured abuse, humiliation and was then told to walk a considerate distance with mud on his face so he could wash with no indication as to what would happen after he washed. It makes sense in hindsight that he would wash and receive his sight, but in the moment, he had no idea.
Something compelled him to walk through the crowds and get out of the city. All logic would have told him to stay where he was and avoid further humiliation. This man thought, “even if I can’t see, I will walk.” He probably tripped a few times along the way but he continued, for he had a goal. You can imagine as he bumped into the crowds, there would have been people that yelled abuse and told him to watch where he was going, yet he continued. He blocked out the noise of the world and remained on the path the Lord had paved. He could’ve stayed at the temple where he was comfortable. But where there is no risk, there is little reward, and had the man born blind man not chosen to take the risk, his story would not have been remembered for generations to come. Despite how the people saw him, there was something in him that knew he wasn’t the product of his parents’ sin; he was fearfully and wonderfully made and the glory of God was about to be revealed in him.
When he finally arrived to Siloam, he would have been tired, bruised even. Logic would tell him that washing his face would only get the mud off. Yet he washed and hoped. In our own lives, there are oftentimes that we cannot see, but we strive to imitate the man born blind, to wash and hope. When we cannot see, logic tells us to grumble, complain and become frustrated. We lose sight of the fact that God is in complete control.
In despair, we say to our Creator;
“Why are you letting me suffer? Why are you putting me through all this pain and anguish and hurt? Why couldn’t you just leave me where I was comfortable?”
I don’t always need to see the road ahead but I am walking with the One who paved the road before me. The story of Job explains this same concept in the most profound way. Job went through tribulation, unlike anyone has ever seen. He lost his children, his livestock, his wealth and his servants and was left with nothing. Through his suffering, he never cursed God. After 38 chapters of agony, he finally questions God and why He would allow him to suffer and why He would allow his closest friends to think that God was punishing him. God finally responds, but He doesn’t answer Job’s questions but instead asks some of His own.
“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?”(Job 38:4)
Had Job not been through enough? Is God not meant to heal him at this point, alleviate all his pains? But it was through God’s rebuke that Job was able to say, “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You” (Job 42:5).
Job had heard of God’s comfort before, but it was through his deepest despair that he felt God and he could see that He was sufficient for all his needs. This is what sustains us during times of suffering and it is through our suffering that we are given revelation of God, for it is enough to see Him.
“For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7). To truly exemplify this verse, we cannot look past the man born blind as he stumbled to the pool, being led by faith alone. We can only pray that on our own spiritual journeys, we can continue to walk, even when we cannot see. No matter the tribulation, we keep walking along the path, knowing that God is our eyes. If we hold on to our faith, no tribulation can take it away. This is our strength in all difficulties alike.
Faith is the one thing we can hold on to in this life. No matter what happens in my life, no matter what is taken away from me, if I walk by faith, nothing can harm me. All of it can be used as a catalyst to strengthen my faith. When I stop doubting and remember that my resting place is in the palms of the hands of the Maker of Heaven and Earth, nothing in this world can move me. Even though we cannot see, we are called to walk by faith and look for the glory of God at each new day.