John 9:35 – 41

35 When Jesus heard what had happened, he went and found the man. Then Jesus asked, “Do you have faith in the Son of Man?” 36 He replied, “Sir, if you will tell me who he is, I will put my faith in him.” 37 “You have already seen him,” Jesus answered, “and right now he is talking with you.” 38 The man said, “Lord, I put my faith in you!” Then he worshiped Jesus.

39 Jesus told him, “I came to judge the people of this world. I am here to give sight to the blind and to make blind everyone who can see.” 40 When the Pharisees heard Jesus say this, they asked, “Are we blind?” 41 Jesus answered, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty. But now that you claim to see, you will keep on being guilty.”

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We now reach the climax of the story about  when Jesus healed a man who had been blind since birth.  There have been four stages to this story.  First, there was the healing event as recorded in vv. 1-12.  Next, we see the confusion of the Jewish leaders as they wrestled with the miracle which had been performed on the Jewish Sabbath day.  Some leaders were amazed by the miracle, but others who held tightly to their religious ritualism could not accept the idea that Jesus was a man sent by God.

In the third part of the story, the religious leaders questioned the man intently, to find out for sure that he had in fact been blind to begin with, and then to find out what the man thought concerning Jesus.  At this point, the man boldly proclaimed that Jesus must come from God, for never before had this kind of miracle been done among them.  Only a man of God could do such a thing.

It was at this point that the religious leaders “threw him out of the synagogue”.  Now they didn’t literally throw him out of the building.  What this means is that they were cutting him off, excommunicating him, from ever being able to enter back into the synagogue.  That might not mean much to us today, but for that period back then, it was a huge thing.  Let me explain.

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In the Jewish culture of the 1st century, the synagogue was the very center of a person’s life.  It was a wonderful thing when a Jew was able to travel up to the Temple in Jerusalem for one of the main festivals during any given year.  But week by week, Jews would gather on the Sabbath at the local synagogue to worship God, to hear the Word of God (Old Testament) spoken, and then to hear an explanation or teaching on the passage.

The local synagogue was much more though than just a place to gather for weekly worship.  Young children would be educated in the Torah (the five books of Moses), the other parts of Scripture, as well as practical knowledge for every day living.  The synagogues were the educational system of the Jewish people.

And more than that, every important event in a person’s life would most likely have occurred at one’s local synagogue.  For both boys (Bar Mitzvah) and for girls (Bat Mitzvah) there was a public ceremony celebrating the passage of life from childhood to adulthood.  Later, there would be marriage ceremonies and finally funeral events, and many other social activities that would be held at the local synagogue.

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For this young man to then be excommunicated from the synagogue by the religious leaders was to cut him off from every important social and religious event of life.  He would become both socially and religiously an orphan within the community.  No wonder that Jesus went to see him immediately after he had heard that the leaders had cast him out of the synagogue.

And Jesus’ question then holds much more importance in light of all this.  We don’t know how old this man was, but probably he was a young adult of about 20 years or more.  For all of his life, he had put his faith in the religious Jewish system.  But that system had cast him aside.  Now what was he to do about the spiritual needs of his life.

Jesus then asked him such a crucial question: “Do you have faith in the Son of Man?” (This was Jesus’ favorite title for himself.  It speaks of his humanity and his divinity at the same time.)  When this young man fully realized that Jesus, the Son of Man, was the One who had healed him, he knew that he had found the one person in life in whom he could fully put his trust and faith.

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What about you my friend?  Have you been putting your trust in human rituals and human institutions?  At the end of this whole passage, Jesus said that he came “to judge people”.  Within the context, what this means is that he came to reveal to people where they stood.  The message of the Gospel is that we are all guilty of sin in our lives.  But what do we do about that now that we know that or can “see the truth” of that.

Either we can try to hide from that truth, yet still be found guilty of our sins in God’s eyes?  Or we can own up to them, and come to Jesus, the only One who has the authority and right to forgive sins based on the sacrifice of his life upon the Cross.  The religious leaders would not accept that and will be held accountable for that.  We have the chance though to come to Jesus and put our faith in him like the young man.  Only He can heal our bodies and our souls for all eternity.

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