- Book Reviews
- About me
Welcome to the online home of Tim Challies, blogger, author, and book reviewer.
You Have Seen Him
November 30, 2010
You’ll usually find the ninth chapter of John placed under a heading such as “Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind.” You know the story, I’m sure. It is the one where his disciples, as they passed a man who had been blind since birth, ask him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus replies “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” He then spits on the ground, makes mud, anoints the man’s eyes with it, and tells him to go and wash in the pool of Siloam. As soon as the man washes away the mud, he receives his sight and testifies to the work of God. As is so often the case, the religious leaders are furious and prove themselves to be the ones who are truly blind and ignorant haters of God.
Pause for a second and think about it. Can you imagine what it must have been like to so suddenly gain sight? Imagine what it must have been like to go from darkness, from nothingness, to suddenly seeing clearly and with crystal perfection. Imagine for the first time seeing your parents and friends and seeing the place you had sat and begged day after day. Imagine seeing your first plants and animals and gasping in wonder at the sheer beauty of creation. We tend to take these things for granted. Imagine seeing your own reflection and learning what you look like. Imagine suddenly becoming aware of all you had missed for so long. In the days and hours after the miracle, this man had seen so little. His mind must still have been reeling as he tried to make sense of so many new sights. It’s almost unimaginable.
At the close of the chapter there is once sentence and one phrase, really, that gives me a brief but glorious glimpse of the Lord’s work. It comes after the man returns from the pool at Siloam, and after he is interrogated by the Pharisees and cast out of the temple for testifying that only God could perform such a work as instantly and perfectly healing eyes that had never seen. Having heard the news, Jesus seeks out this man. When he finds Him he gets right to the point. “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” he asks him. The man replies, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” And here are the words that thrilled my heart. “You have seen him,” says Jesus. “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.”
“You have seen him.” What a delightful choice of words. An awesome choice. This man had seen so little, but one of the few things he had seen and experienced was the most important thing of all. He had seen the Lord. Had he seen his parents yet? We don’t know. Had he seen his own reflection or had he glimpsed his brothers and sisters? The Bible doesn’t tell us. But we do know that he had seen the Lord.
Do you remember that tacky old song (Aaron Neville, isn’t it?), “I Don’t Know Much?” I can’t help but think of that song, or the chorus to it at any rate (and do let me apologize in advance). The lyrics of the chorus say, “I don’t know much / but I know I love you / That may be all I need to know.” That man, born blind but miraculously healed, could testify, “I haven’t seen much, but I know I’ve seen you. And that may be all I need to see.” Though his eyes had been opened for so short a time, they had already beheld the Son of Man, the Son of God. He had seen the best thing of all and something so many had waited so long to see. Here was the hope of so many generations, standing before him. Here was the very son of God, the Savior, the Messiah. He had seen the one thing that matters most.
If you have been blessed by God with the gift of spiritual sight, you know what this man was feeling. When God opens the eyes of a person’s heart, suddenly he can see and perceive what before was hidden. I’ve seen this in my own life and I’ve seen it in the lives of those who have been saved and transformed. That new Christian does not know much—he is still a novice in the faith and still has so much to learn—but he knows the most important thing of all. And as that Christian grows in his knowledge of the Lord and as he becomes more familiar with God and His ways, he will understand that even the greatest amount of human knowledge is but a drop in the ocean, a grain of sand on a beach. He will know even better that he sees so little and knows so little. He will testify that he hasn’t seen much, but that, thanks to the miraculous, eye-opening, life-giving, heart-melting work of God, he has seen the most important thing of all.