Am I Free?
Am I Free?
We live in a country with many wonderful freedoms, and yet it seems that many people are far from free. In John Chapter 9 Jesus encounters a man who was born blind (9:1) and I want us to consider the attitudes that characterized him in contemplating whether or not we are truly free.
Not Easily Offended
When the disciples saw the blind man they blurted out the question, “Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” (John 9:1). The blind man is nearby (9:6), so I don’t know whether or not he heard what the disciples had said. If he did, the question did not drive him off. A person who really wants to be free is interested in the truth, even if the questions get very personal and hit close to home, he still wants the truth.
Willing to Take a Risk
The text says that Jesus spat on the ground, and made clay and applied the clay to the eyes of the blind man and then told him to go wash in the pool of Siloam. I am impressed that this man was willing to walk down to the pool, in front of anyone who might see him with eyes covered with clay. So a person desires freedom is willing to do something that may seem for many people to be silly or embarrassing in order to obey Jesus. Therefore, it isn’t embarrassing to confess Christ or come forward and be baptized in front of many people. By contrast, it will be incredibly painful to stand before God at the last day and admit you felt no obligation to obey your Creator.
Willing to Speak Up
After he was healed there were people who had known him who were amazed that he could now see (John 9:8). Yet there were others who said that it was only someone that seemed to resemble the blind man (9:9). Yet he kept saying, “I am the one”. A man intent on real freedom continues to stand for what is right and true even in the midst of opposition, and when he is outnumbered.
Willing to Follow the Evidence to the Logical Conclusion
The healing of this man caused a division among the Pharisees. Some were saying that since Jesus violated their interpretation of what constituted work on the Sabbath Day that such proved that He was not from God. When we are not intent upon real freedom, we can refuse to change when faced with clear evidence. It was clear that Jesus had healed this man. It was clear that Jesus had the Father’s approval and endorsement (John 3:2; Acts 2:22). Therefore, this segment of the Pharisees should have reconsidered their interpretation of the Sabbath Day. The other group was forced to follow the evidence to the logical conclusion, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs” (9:16). We see the same reasoning in John 10:21 “These are not the sayings of one demon-possessed. A demon cannot open the eyes of the blind, can he?”
Free of any Personal Agenda
When the blind man was asked about Jesus, who he thought Jesus was, he said, “A prophet” (9:17). By contrast, those questioning him were determined not to believe, in fact they initially will deny that the man had ever been blind (9:18).
Free to Have Your Position Examined
The blind man is repeatedly questioned about how Jesus healed him (9:15; 26). His parents are questioned (9:19-20). Every aspect of this healing is examined, yet when you are only interested in the truth you don’t mind people going over all the details with a fine tooth comb, because you know the truth will prevail. In fact, the more that people pour over, critically examine and delve into the truth, the more reinforced the truth becomes. For example, by examining the parents, and questioning this man’s former blindness, such an examination only reinforces the fact that the man had been truly blind and now he sees. So every argument against the existence of God, the reliability of the Bible, or the nature of Jesus and the reality of His resurrection only strengthens those positions in the long run. When unbelievers seek to provide every other alternative concerning what happened to the body of Jesus, instead of the truth, all those alternatives and their inherent contradictions and problems are then open for scrutiny in the clear light of day, and the reality that Jesus did indeed rise from dead is only highlighted when we realize that there is no other viable explanation for what happened to His body.
Free to Choose Your Family
When the parents are examined they are very cautious. They simply say that this man was indeed their son and he had been born blind (9:20). They keep their answers short and sweet because they were afraid of being put out of the synagogue which would involve a serious social and economic hardship for them (9:22). Yet the blind man does not seem to fear this. At the end of the scrutiny he experienced before the Pharisees, they “put him out” (9:34). Nothing in the text suggests that he thinks his life is over or is feeling sorry for himself. Jesus noted that the truth will bring about divisions at times in families (Matthew 10:34-38). The man or woman who is free realizes that there is family and then there is the family that you chose.
The Freedom to Resist the Experts
After the parents are questioned, and since they cannot deny the facts that he was born blind and he now sees, the Pharisees tell him, ”Give glory to God; we know this man is a sinner” (9:24). Now the men telling him this were probably more educated then he was, and yet a man determined to be free and who loves the truth is not intimidated by self-proclaimed experts. Basically they are telling him, “We know what we are talking about, trust us, we are the experts, Jesus is a sinner”.
A Free Man – Sticks to the Facts
The man freely admits that he does not know everything about Jesus (9:25). Yet he does know that he had been blind, he know sees and Jesus is the one who had healed him. Those are the facts, and facts do not change with pressure or time.
A Free Man – Sees the Inconsistencies
There are many people in our society who hold contradictory positions on various subjects. I was recently reminded of this when trying to make sense of the fact that many liberal-minded progressives in our country are against the nation of Israel, even though the nation of Israel is very progressive, supports women’s rights, is a rare democracy in the Middle East and is surrounded by countries that stand for everything that progressives claim to be against. It just doesn’t make any sense. The Pharisees boast that they are disciples of Moses (9:28), which is not actually true. If they had been carefully reading Moses they would have realized that Moses had spoken of another Law Giver to come (Deuteronomy 18:15-17; John 5:45-46). Then right after telling the former blind man that they knew Jesus was a sinner (9:24), they turn around and admit that there is a lot about Jesus that they don’t know, for example, where He is from (9:29). The former blind man immediately sees and jumps on this glaring inconsistency.
A Free Man – Speaks the Truth
The former blind man simply must state the facts of the case:
- Since Jesus opened his eyes, maybe they should find out where Jesus is from (9:30). The fact that Jesus can heal the blind, definitely answers the question of where He is from.
- We know that God does not hear sinners (much less give them miraculous power). Yet He always hears those who are God-fearing and obedient. If Jesus is working miracles, then the necessary conclusion is that He is God-fearing and obedient.
- From the beginning of time a miracle such as this has never happened (9:32).
- If He was not from God, He would do nothing (9:33).
A Free Man is Not Afraid of Faith
After the Pharisees had insulted him and put him out, Jesus finds him and says, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” The blind man says, “Who is He… that I may believe in Him?” (9:35). Men and women who want to be free are not afraid of a close relationship with God. They are not afraid of confessing that Jesus is Lord. All they want to do is bow before the real Lord.
A Free Man Bows
When Jesus said that He was the Son of Man, the man immediately says, “I believe” and then he worshipped Jesus. A free man is not afraid of giving God the glory, of putting himself in second or third place.
The Blind Claim to See
“If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see’, your sin remains” (John 9:41). The Pharisees were claiming to “see” in the sense that they claimed to be right about the Sabbath, right about Jesus, right with God, and thus did not need to change. By contrast, the former blind man had the attitude, “Lord, just tell me what I need to do, and I will do it”. Am I free. What about you?
Mark Dunagan | firstname.lastname@example.org
Beaverton Church of Christ | 503-644-9017