In my personal Bible reading, I’ve been working my way through the book of John. In the time of his ministry, Jesus interacted with so many people who at a first glance may seem like one-off meetings. But sometimes these meetings showcase an even greater depth of these people’s character and
Jesus comes across a blind man along the road. We can tend to take this man’s blindness with a touch of too much ease in modern readings. His blindness reads to us as an inconvenience and a disability, but nothing more. The reality is much more sobering. Blindness in the time of Jesus was a one-way ticket to a life of isolation. Unable to support himself or a family, our blind had no options that could include him as a member of society. This man has lived his whole life as a beggar and an outsider. He is unable to take part in society and lives as an outcast amongst his own people.
So when Jesus finds this man and heals him, he is giving him much more than just his sight. He’s giving him the chance to be everything that he’s never had the chance to be. No wonder this man goes skipping away full of joy.
But unlike a lot of accounts of Jesus’ miracles, our time with this formerly blind man is not over. John tells us that the man’s neighbors were astonished to find the beggar healed, some to the point of actually doubting that it was really him. They begin to question him and they don’t much like what they hear or the man’s enthusiasm about his healing. When they are unable to get Jesus’ location from him, they take him to the Pharisees for questioning.
The Pharisees grill him relentlessly and the more they try to pull information out of him, the more he points them to Jesus’ authority, which is a stance they don’t take well too. When they can’t get what they want from him, they pull his parents in to question, to which his parents respond: “We know this is our son and that he was born blind, but we don’t know how he can see or who healed him. Ask him. He is old enough to speak for himself.” (John 9: 20-21) This may not seem like the image of parental love, but their fears (while unkind) were not unfounded because the Pharisees had declared that anyone claiming Jesus as the Messiah would be expelled from the synagogue.
Now we see the nastiness and harshness of the Pharisees. These parents are throwing their son back under the bus out of fear of being completely ostracized from their community. Instead of leading with love and intelligence, the Pharisees are desperately trying to protect their status and rules and it’s broadcasting the ugliness of their hearts for all to see.
They pull the healed man in for one last round of questioning and they are not pulling any punches with their threats. So here’s a man who had just gained everything he’d been missing out on in his life and then immediately finds himself in a position to lose it all again. And what does he choose? He lets it all go. All of it. All of those things he could only dream about for years and years when he sat on the side of the road begging and he lets all of it go to follow Jesus. He sacrifices everything he could have ever hoped for, for everything he could ever need.
This story might not be as far removed from our own personal lives as we might think. We often like to focus on the long term results of following Christ, and well we should! But not at the risk of embracing ignorance for the world we still find ourselves in.
Following Christ is the single greatest choice you can possibly make, but it will cost you. What exactly, I cannot say, but it will cost you. Some have lost friends. Others have been rejected by their families. Still more have lost their very lives. Our healed blind man lost the society he’d only just gained back. What makes us so special that the world won’t treat us the exact same way for our decision?
If you’re going to make a conscious decision to belong to Christ, we have to prepare ourselves to lose some of the things we thought were important. We have to know where to rank those losses from the perspective of eternity. Because if we try to hang on to those fleeting, temporary treasure, we run the risk of costing ourselves a closer relationship with our savior.
So yes, following the author of eternity will cost you some of the things you cherish in the world and that won’t be changing anytime soon. I don’t say this to pour salt on a wound. I believe that the best way to soothe a harsh truth is to be prepared for it when it comes. We are going to lose worldly treasure if we want to follow God. The decision we have to make is if He is worth it. I firmly believe that He is. It is so much more worth it to be part of God’s eternal story with some brief trials than to have all the things you could have possibly wanted in your temporary, solo story.
What if our blind man had staked all his hopes on being included in his town? What if he rejected Jesus just so the Pharisees wouldn’t expel him from the synagogue? He may have lived a long, happy peaceful life. But that’s all he would have lived. That would be the end.
We must never forget that as Christians we live for an eternal purpose, not worldly. When we live with the glory of the kingdom in mind, the losses of this world are nothing more than a blip on the radar. If we truly believe and live that, a loss will sting, but not end us. It will smart but not destroy. We will be ready for far greater things that are worth more than any earthly value. In the end, our loss will be our gain.
Let’s find some joy,