A second time they [the Pharisees] summoned the man who had been born blind. ‘Give glory to God by telling the truth,’ they said. ‘We know this man is a sinner.’ He replied, ‘whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!’
Jesus has always divided opinion – both now and in the first century. This story shows a clear example of this. Even though Jesus’ action changed the life of the man in question for the better, it leads to an investigation by the religious leaders of the time.
When the Pharisees question the man born blind about his healing, they do not take seriously his reply and treat his confidence in Jesus with scepticism. Were we to read on in the story, we would see how the Pharisees persistently refuse to trust the man and evade a fair inquiry into who Jesus is, until finally they became abusive and their suspicion turns to outright scorn – ‘you were steeped in sin at birth’ (9.34).
But the man remains sure. He refuses to descend into abstract speculation over whether or not Jesus was a ‘sinner’ for healing on the Sabbath, and is apparently unphased by the opposition he receives. Instead, the man challenges the Pharisees with the simplicity of his testimony: ‘One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see.’
From the man born blind we learn the power of a simple testimony. The man encounters Jesus, his life is transformed, and though his story is met with suspicion he nevertheless remains confident in who Jesus is. Ultimately, the man’s encounter leads him to worship: ‘Then the man said “Lord, I believe,” and he worshipped him’ (9.38).
If you are a Christian, you too have a testimony. You too have encountered Jesus and had your life transformed as a result. You might not have been physically blind, like the man in our story, but you may have received healing and transformation nonetheless. Perhaps, for instance, prior to encountering Jesus you were ‘blind’ to those around you, stressed and self-absorbed, but now having met him can take better notice and care of your colleagues, your friends and relatives, or your spouse and children.
You too have a testimony, and you too can share it. There might be some who meet you with suspicion; indeed, in our increasingly post-Christian society perhaps this is to be expected. But sometimes the only thing required of us is to share our own story confidently—though gracefully—in all its simplicity.
What is your testimony of encountering Jesus? Who can you share it with this week?
Alex is a student at Durham University, and soon to begin graduate study in New Testament at Oxford. He blogs at The Coffeehouse Cleric