18 The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight, until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight 19 and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” 20 His parents answered, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. 21 But how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” 22 (His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.) 23 Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”
How many of you are familiar with this story? It’s a fascinating one!
At the beginning of this chapter, we find Jesus going for a walk with his disciples. As they pass by a man born blind, the disciples asked Jesus a telling question about this man’s condition.
2“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
Though that question may seem insensitive to the modern-day reader, it is revelatory of biblical history and culture. Jews historically believed that a physical disability such as blindness must have been caused by sin – and in this case, the disciples were curious.
Here stands a man born blind. Who’s fault is it?
Jesus, per usual, completely shifts their paradigm.
3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.
In this statement, the Christ replaces the blame of man with the fame of God. He releases both the man and his parents from responsibility for the disability, and instead, offers an entirely new perspective.
What if this was no one’s fault? What if, instead, it was permitted to bring God glory?
See, the blind man sees this. Later on in the narrative, the blind man does not shy away from testifying about the truth of who Jesus is. He boldly makes his profession of faith in the assembly. He does not allow the Pharisees to pressure him into eschewing away the Savior. He is not paralyzed by fear of man – for once, he was blind; and now, he sees.
This God-man healed me, this man says. He is certain that Jesus is more than a man – so certain, that his faith comes back around to save Him. Jesus revisits him and allows him the opportunity to confess and believe in the son of man. Jesus saves him.
Not so for his parents.
Sadly, though his parents may have had faith in Jesus, their faith was not seen.
Put yourself in his parents’ shoes for a moment:
Imagine the mounting weight of blame for causing your son’s blindness. Imagine the cloud of guilt that hovers whenever he is seen with you in public. Picture the stares from folks walking by, men and women shaking their heads at you. Hear his parents’ thoughts: “We are bad. We brought a son into a world that hates him. Why did this happen? What evil could we have possibly done to bring this about? Will there ever be a way out?”
Yeah, there could have been.
Had they chosen to confess the Christ, they would be freed. They would have received a revelation of their situation that would completely alter their reality.
This perspective shift would say this:
No, your sin has not visited the next generation. God has visited His people.
Jesus, the sinless man who meets with sinners. The word made flesh. The Creator entered His creation and chose their son, of all people, in whom to display His glory. Just as Mary, they had indeed found favor with the Lord, and were called blessed enough to be the recipients of God’s glory.
For, as mentioned earlier,
“3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
But they feared man, so they did not confess Jesus as Christ.
Their fear of man kept them from their freedom.
In what ways does our fear of man keep us from confessing Jesus as Christ, thus keeping us in bondage?