Sight and Light.

E. L. Bevir.

Christian Friend vol. 14, 1887, p. 267.

The man came back from the pool of Siloam seeing, and the world that had tolerated his presence in Jerusalem as a blind beggar could never forgive his having received his sight. Some said, "It is be;" others, "No, but it is like him;" but he said, "It is I myself."

The circumstances of the miracle have often been remarked, but perhaps few have really understood the Lord's teaching in it. The clay made with the spittle no doubt represents the blessed Lord's incarnation - Jesus Christ come in the flesh; and the sightless eyes were blind more than ever until the washing in Siloam. It is a solemn fact, that the "human understanding" (compare it to an eye, if you like) can comprehend nothing at all of the mystery of godliness: solemn beyond measure, and the more important, in that we live in days when Christians themselves seem to be led away to reason upon subjects that are only understood by reverent submission to the Word. Man's mind looking at Jesus is compared by the Holy Ghost to blind eyes covered with clay.

But to return to the subject. The blessed Lord, who did the works of Him who had sent Him while it was day, had healed the man after His own divine way, showing us what man's mind is worth in the things of God, and giving sight in connection with the sent One, and the world becomes at once hostile. We may ask ourselves by the way, Do we really understand that we are sent into the world with a divine perception of what it is worth, and of the glory of Jesus? Let us look at the examination or trial the poor man had to undergo, and the religious world's verdict, and then the manner in which the Son of God met him.

In verse 13 they bring him to the Pharisees to be judged by them. That is, we have a seeing man brought before a company of stone-blind judges to pronounce upon his sight. What should you say if a committee composed entirely of persons born blind were called together to decide upon some question as to the rainbow? It has been proved, by those who have studied the question, that if a sense be wanting, no other senses can supply what is deficient. Morally speaking, all is wanting in the natural man; he is as deaf to the words of Jesus as he is blind to His beauty. But notice one or two things in the man's replies, in the face of the pretended religious zeal in the blind Pharisees. "What sayest thou?" etc. (v. 17), "He is a prophet." A prophet is one who brings the soul into God's presence, and such a ministry is rarely well received. The prophets (beaten, stoned, sawn asunder) were not exactly popular preachers.* It is a solemn thing to be brought into the presence of God, and, as we see here, this always accompanies the reception of sight. The man had been brought before God as under the power of His word; and one can never have been really brought to this without having smaller thoughts of self and greater thoughts of God. To quote one no longer amongst us: "The word judges the vanity of all mere human thoughts, and leaves the spirit tranquil and unpretending." Oh, blessed portion, though one's very friends may disown one (see vv. 18-23), to be brought to hear God's Word, and to learn "the stability of His unchangeable perfection," in the midst of a blind, pretentious world!

*How little was Noah appreciated - a preacher of righteousness for 120 years. Very few entered the ark, and Ham seems to have profited very little by his father's preaching.

But the poor man has to undergo a second examination. (v. 24 et seq.). Called the second time before a tribunal, or select committee of blind Jews (as we see ever in this world, men seem never to be discouraged in consulting the blind on the question of optics), he gives a fuller proof of the capacity conferred on him by grace; and with touching simplicity, and language learned in no human school of logic, he gives to his judges the most convincing proof of the divine mission of the sent One. (See vv. 30-33.) It is not for me to dwell on this beautiful passage, so often explained; but notice the steps of proof in these verses - proof that must have been undeniable, though resisted by the wilfully blind.

There can be but one course for such judges, and the sentence of excommunication is pronounced by them upon the one whose only crime was to have received his sight, and to have insisted that he possessed it, notwithstanding all their efforts to make him contradict his senses. Do we, dear brethren, esteem sufficiently this gift of sight, and enter into the Lord's words, "This is life eternal, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent"?

But if one is excommunicated from the synagogue, one is no longer a Jew. "What religion have you now?" would be the question. And, indeed, we may well ask, "What is our religion? "You are no longer a Jew, because the Jews have excommunicated you. What are you?

We come now to the second part of this wonderful story; that is, the revelation made by the Son of God to the excommunicated beggar, blind no longer. In verse 35, Jesus, having found him, says, "Believest thou on the Son of God?" What a preparation there had already been in the man's soul before this moment came when the Son of God drew nigh to him! The Son, whose infinite glory is presented to us in John 1:1-18, was now before a poor man excommunicated by the "religion" of the day, but who had eyes to see. (Compare chap. 1:18 of this gospel.) "Who is He, Lord, that I might believe on Him? … Thou hast both seen Him, and it is He that talketh with Thee." The eternal Son was there, not in that dazzling glory that would have destroyed all men by one single ray, but there, seen and heard, seen by eyes given expressly to see the Light, seen thus in all His grace and power. The man worshipped; that is, he had now a divine religion.

May the Lord give to us, in the present day, to understand these things. It is written, in 1 John 5:4-5: "And this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?" Notice that in this passage Jesus Christ is presented as the Son of God. It is not merely the fact of being born of God, as in the preceding verses, but it speaks of overcoming the world. To overcome the world is far more than is generally supposed, and for this we must know the Son of God, Jesus in His supreme power and might, in such a way that, walking by faith in true communion with Him, we, the weakest of beggars, once blind, but now seeing, may adore Him and glorify His name in true dependence upon Him. Not merely be good and exemplary in our duties, and diligent in meetings, but overcomers of the world through faith of the Son of God. Thus we also have a divine religion, and may we be found walking thus in the midst of this blind world, that every day grows more pretentious; may we know more of the power and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and learn to adore with more and more reverence the Son of God. E. L. B.