In John 9, Jesus responds to the disciples questioning about why a man was born blind:
John 9 (NKJV)
1 Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. 2 And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
3 Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.
The blind man may have had this question himself from time to time over the years. Strikingly, Jesus states that the man was born blind so that the works of God could be revealed in him.
While Jesus was physically in the world, God purposed to reveal he was the light of the world through signs such as this, as Jesus then explains:
4 I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
Sometimes God takes what we consider to be evil and makes it work together for good. Paul declares this principle in Romans 8:28:
28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
This theme is particularly well illustrated in the life of Jacob’s son Joseph who was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. Years later when he was co-regent with the Pharaoh in Egypt, his repentant brothers came to him after their father’s death to plead for mercy. Joseph famously responds:
19 Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God?
20 But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.
The way God sets things up for His purpose to be fulfilled is also clearly seen in the book of Esther. When Mordecai urges her to intercede for her Jewish people by going before the king unasked at the risk of her life, he declares, “… Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14) She consents, declaring, “… if I perish, I perish”, and the rest is history. (Esther 4:16)
The man born blind may not have known he was called by God for this special purpose, but later looking back at his healing by Jesus he most likely understood. God’s purposes override our own because our lives on earth are meant to glorify Him, not us. Like this blind man healed by Jesus, we too have the joy and privilege of living for God’s glory and letting His light shine through us. (See Matthew 5:14-16)
Upon being healed, this man realized Jesus was sent from God. When asked, he answers, “He is a prophet.” He testifies repeatedly of what he had just experienced: “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” Still being pressed by his questioners, he exposes the error in their perspective:
30 The man answered and said to them, “Why, this is a marvelous thing, that you do not know where He is from; yet He has opened my eyes! 31 Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him. 32 Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind. 33 If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing.”
Jesus finds the man to let him know exactly who he is:
35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him, He said to him, “Do you believe in the Son of God?”
36 He answered and said, “Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?”
37 And Jesus said to him, “You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you.”
38 Then he said, “Lord, I believe!” And he worshiped Him.
Jesus explains that those who are spiritually blind but think they see need to recognize that they are spiritually blind in order to be healed:
39 And Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.”
40 Then some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words, and said to Him, “Are we blind also?”
41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains.
Several of the Beatitudes in Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount” likewise point to the blessedness of knowing we are poor in spirit without Him, of hungering and thirsting for righteousness, and having a pure heart focused on seeing God:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they shall be filled.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they shall see God.
What Jesus desired the healed man, and all others to see is that true fruitfulness can only come through being connected to Him, as he later explains:
“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
Jesus invites all who sense the need for the help that only He can give, to come to him to learn and find rest for our souls:
28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”