They were too powerful and they were too many, yet a simple beggar stood alone before them answering their questions in a simple yet undisputable way. He was not as educated, or nearly as influential, yet he confounded the whole establishment so badly that they had no alternative but to throw him out as they were consumed by their seething rage. He was simply telling the truth. That is why he had that much confidence and that much power. Do you think you can muster that kind of courage? Mind you, courage is not something to brag about when you are sipping coffee with friends in a secure restaurant. Courage is more like standing up when that might cost you all you hold dear in your life. I shall ask you again; do you think you are brave?
I know some people who like to play it safe and will immediately admit, “forgive me but I am the most cowardly person in the lot…just let me be.” It was said that a brave man dies only once, while a coward dies several times each day. After all, what do you need courage for? Let me be a coward, and let me survive another day…? If that were the right recipe for survival, we would have no saints, no martyrs and no confessors. We would be no more than oversized rabbits and mice. A man, who was blind, believed otherwise.
Another question begs to be asked. Why did God pick that particular blind man to perform that particular miracle at that particular time? God never does anything haphazardly. The Lord knew what kind of man that was and that the gift he was about to receive would embolden him in such a way as to bear witness without fear. Sometimes you wonder why God bestows his gifts to this other person or that and not to you. Why does he favor one person over another? But the answer is simple, some will take the gift and it becomes a millstone around their necks, like the Iscariot who was given the gift of discipleship itself, as an equal to John, Thomas and all the others. Yet, he squandered it in a most atrocious manner, which catapulted him into the deepest bottom of hell.
Bear with me and let us follow that man – who was born blind – from the moment he met the Lord to the moment he worshiped him. That one day in his life represents a lifetime for you and me. He did not even know what was about to happen to him (like you and me). All he hoped for was a hand out… a crust of bread or a few coins…instead he got far more than he could even dream of (like you and me). In his wildest dreams, that man never had a glimpse of hope to be able to see. Even by twentieth century standards of vanity, the likes of him have no shred of hope to get what he got. Look at him becoming the subject of conversation and analysis while he did not even participate in the discussion. When the most ridiculous thing happened, that is having his face covered with mud, made of sputum and dirt…we do not hear him complain or object. He obediently, despite the hardship, went to the lake to wash as he was directed to do. Certainly, he must have asked someone to take him by the hand to the lake. He might have been the subject of ridicule and sarcasm on the way. Yet, when he received the wonderful gift, he rejoiced and glorified. He went to the temple…and when he finally met the Lord again, he humbly fell down and worshiped him.
He was interrogated, repeatedly…and never waned. He did not cozy or ingratiate himself to his antagonists and he did not compromise with them on the facts. His simple, honest and respectful answers were so brilliant. The dialogue that ran all through this miracle was divinely crafted and immensely loaded with profound edifying instruction. Look at them…the ignorant beggar versus the elite and educated Pharisees. It is truly fitting that at the end they condemned themselves, bragging that they “can see” wherefore the Lord declared, “you say you can see…therefore, your sin stays.”
Truly, this mere statement should give everyone pause before we say, “I see…I know…or I understand.” It is better to memorize what the psalmist declares, “were not that your law was my meditation, I would have perished in my humbleness” Because all knowledge and all wisdom is a gift from the Divine. He could make a donkey speak, while a prophet “Balaam” was unable to see. He could make a stutterer like Moses lead a nation while the mighty king Nebuchadnezzar, blinded by vanity, turn into a beast.
But wait a minute we were talking about courage. How did we get to wisdom and knowledge? The truth is that these two traits are intertwined. Courage without wisdom is folly. Meanwhile, there is no such thing as wisdom with cowardice. You see, the events surrounding the healing of the blind man are not just about a miracle…this is not merely a supernatural event to indicate glaringly the divinity of the Lord Christ. It is far more than that. It is a lesson of a lifetime. It is an encapsulation of the whole concept of Christianity. In short order, it tells us, humans had become blind after falling from grace, yet they receive the gift of sight when they are touched by Christ and go on to declare his glory and bear witness to him in a wise and courageous manner. Then, carrying the banner of the cross, they would be persecuted and thrown out as outcasts because the world around them cannot see the light they see or understand the grace they have obtained. This is how we come to carry the cross of Christ.
What happened that day with the man who was given sight, must always remind us of the Lord’s final prayer on our behalf to the Father in John 17. “They – meaning us – are not of this world…that is why the world will hate them…I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but to protect them from evil…” Indeed, if we are going to ingratiate ourselves to the world and copy its ways, how shall we be a light to the world. What good is the salt, if it has the same flavor as the food it is seasoning? May be we the elite and educated members of the twentieth century can learn a thing or two from a blind beggar who was found worthy to be touched by Grace.