35 Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ 36He answered, ‘And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.’ 37Jesus said to him, ‘You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.’ 38He said, ‘Lord, I believe.’ And he worshipped him. 39Jesus said, ‘I came into this world for judgement so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.’ 40Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, ‘Surely we are not blind, are we?’ 41Jesus said to them, ‘If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, “We see”, your sin remains.
We pick up the story later, when Jesus hears about what had gone on with the man who had been blind, how they had thrown him out of the synagogue. Now Jesus finds the man – and asks him, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” The response is as classic as the rest of this man’s answers have been, “Who is he?” When Jesus replies that he is the one, the man worships him, saying “Lord, I believe.” He was blind, and now he sees – he believes in the one who brought him sight.
Now Jesus speaks of spiritual blindness – he restores sight to those who are blind, but to those who think they see, they are blind. John Wesley spoke of the awakening of our spiritual senses, when the Holy Spirit is born within us (when we accept God’s gift of grace); it is a part of our growth in the Spirit, our growth in grace. He says it is like a baby being born and suddenly it is able to see light. So, we, when we are awakened spiritually, we begin to see with spiritual eyes, or, as the song goes, “Open the eyes of my heart, Lord.” We see the work of the Lord all around us; we see people as his beloved; we see life and hope.
But the Pharisees do not see – they challenge Jesus, scornfully asking if he is implying that they are blind. Yes, he is. Again, they are speaking of physical blindness and he of spiritual blindness. They believe they have all the answers; they refuse to see God’s work before them. Because they claim to know, to see, they will be held responsible for what they refuse to see.
And so – this story ends with the man who was blind believing in and following Jesus, and the conflict with the spiritually blind Pharisees continuing to escalate. The question, of course, is: Are we seeing? Are we looking with the eyes of our heart upon all around us?