It was a Tuesday, about 5 years ago. A few of us were gathered in a friend’s apartment, anticipating what was sure to be an all-out taco smorgasbord. This had become a semi-regular tradition of ours. In preparation for our feast, each of us took on a different job. Some of us were prepping and cooking fish and chicken, others were frying up the tortillas, and a few of us (myself included) were chopping the veggies.
Lost in conversation and laughter, I diced the onions, tomatoes, and jalapeno peppers. But somewhere along the way, my laughter was cut short. That’s because my face and eyes felt like they were on fire. Note well: a jalapeno seed or two in the eye will pretty much ruin your day.
No matter how much water or milk I flushed through my eyes, I couldn’t see a single thing; there was only tears and stinging. Man, I was so frustrated. That Taco Tuesday was undoubtedly ruined for me.
It’s difficult for me to fathom the isolation and frustration that must come with blindness. I hesitate to even compare the temporary suffering I experienced that evening with the true difficulty the man in John 9 had faced his entire life. But I will say that even being temporarily without the use of my eyes was completely disorienting. My experience of that entire night was changed, and through no fault of their own, I really felt disconnected from my friends.
Many in Jesus’ day assumed that the blind man in today’s text was blind because either he or his parents had sinned (John 9:1-2). While I was certainly to blame for not paying attention while chopping that jalapeno, this man had done nothing to cause the blindness he was experiencing. Jesus certainly knew that and wanted to set the record straight (John 9:3).
What’s really interesting about this account is that, so far as we can tell, Jesus chose to heal the blind man without his request or a direct confession of faith. Many other times in the Gospels we see Jesus bring miraculous healing to someone who cries out for it, or someone who confesses a deep faith in Him. But that’s not the case here. I think we witness this healing for another reason altogether.
The text tells us this miracle was performed first and foremost “that the works of God might be displayed” (John 9:3). It’s no coincidence that just a few verses earlier, we see Jesus boldly proclaiming His own divinity: “Before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:58). The very next thing He does is demonstrate His divine power through this miraculous healing.
Certainly Jesus cared deeply for the blind man, as He cares for all of us. However, in addition to setting aright that which is upside down or broken in our lives, miracles also remind us of the power and goodness of God. This is why the blind man couldn’t help but confess, “I believe, Lord” (John 9:38).
Miracles are moments when God breaks into our dying world and sets things right. They are evidence that Jesus’ power and status are equal with the Father’s. They give us hope for belief and fresh eyes with which to see the world.
When we encounter miracles, no matter how big or how small, they are moments for us to declare again, “I believe, Lord! I believe.”
Written by Andrew Stoddard