Red Letter Year: 11/11

John 9.35-41

Healing the blind man by Edy-Legrand

35 When Jesus heard what had happened, he found the man and asked, “Do you trust the Son of Man?”

36 The man answered, “Who is he, Lord? I want to trust him.”

37 “You have seen him,” Jesus said, “and he is speaking to you!”

38 “Yes, Lord, I trust!” the man said. And he worshiped Jesus.

39 Then Jesus told him, “I entered this world to render judgment — to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind.”

40 Some Pharisees who were standing nearby heard him and asked, “Are you saying we’re blind?”

41 “If you were blind, you wouldn’t be guilty,” Jesus replied. “But you remain guilty because you claim you can see.”


In the final part of this story, Jesus finds the man again. Jesus found him once blind and a second time after he was thrown out of the synagogue. Twice this man was an outsider, a reject, and both times Jesus found him. Jesus always find us. Not the other way around.

Notice how the man is so honest, we won’t agree with Jesus just to be polite or out of gratitude for his healing, he admits he does not know who this Son of Man is. At the same time, he already trusts Jesus. He calls Jesus Lord (twice, once before Jesus reveals himself, once after) and shows he is willing to accept whoever Jesus recommends.

When Jesus reveals himself to be the Son of Man, the healed man’s journey toward faith finds fulfillment. The healed man has moved in his view of Jesus, note the progression:

  • some man named Jesus (9.11)
  • a prophet (9.17)
  • a man sent from God (9.33)
  • Lord (9.33)
  • One to be worshipped (9.38)

As a Jewish person, this man would have reserved worship for God alone. He demonstrates a deeper and higher understanding of Jesus than anyone so far in John’s Gospel. He goes beyond simply accepting Jesus as Messiah to worshipping one he regards as on par with Yahweh.

Finally, we have the exchange at the end between Jesus and the religious leaders. They are so wrapped up in all they know and in preserving their pious image that they are blind to the spiritual reality occurring right before them. Unlike the healed man’s blindness which had not been caused by him or his parents, the blindness of the religious leaders is of their own making. The frustrating part is that if they could admit their blindness, they would be healed of it.

As Martin Luther once explained: “Beware of ever aspiring to such purity that you do not want to seem to yourself, or to be, a sinner. For Christ dwells only in sinners.”

You may have been taught that Jesus can only live in a purified heart, that our sin creates a barrier, keeping Jesus out, that God cannot tolerate being in the presence of sin. Luther says the opposite and I think the warning here supports Luther. Chasing after purity is a fool’s errand that blinds us to our persistent sinfulness. You may think I’m arguing against sanctification, but the blindness Jesus warns about here prevents any spiritual growth from occurring. We become blind both to our need (our sinfulness) and blind to our only hope for real change (the Holy Spirit, not our own effort).

Christ dwells only in sinners. I sure am glad of that.

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale HousePublishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.