He has had a miserable life.
To be born blind in first-century Jerusalem is a prison sentence. Dependent on his parents to guide him to the side of the road, he spend his days there begging. He is cut off from visual stimulation, but well able to hear the gossips’ confident affirmations that his sin has caused his condition. Or maybe it was his parents’ sin. He is deemed unclean.
And then the chance encounter, one ordinary weekend. The man who touches his face, actually touches him, where others have only shrunk away. The mist clears. He sees a tree, a wall, his house. He sees his mother and father for the first time. And everyone is incredulous, everyone is twittering, even the religious leaders are suddenly condescending to speak to him, asking him what happened? How were his eyes opened? Who is this Jesus who seems to have restored his sight?
And he is lost for an explanation. Has to admit he doesn’t know. But he is able to say: “One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”
The healing of the blind man in John 9 is a very creative miracle. Touching someone deemed unclean shows Jesus’ compassion, his identification with our problems. And to release someone from congenital blindness shows compassion in abundance, more grace than we can imagine. So compassionate is our God, that he makes the impossible possible.
The formerly blind man’s ‘now I see’ in verse 15 ushers in a new perspective. The neighbours may gossip, the Pharisees may fuss and control. But his perspective is changed forever. Now I see.
Jesus is still doing today what he did over two thousand years ago. Spend time in a Christian community, and you’ll see it everywhere. The drug user who has kicked his addiction. The lady who has just got up out of her wheelchair. The cancer that the doctor said was definitely going to take him away in three months – but didn’t. Even my son’s headache, just gone after a whispered prayer. Me, delivered from post-natal depression many years ago, not understanding what had happened, just that suddenly the impossible was possible. One thing we do know. We were blind – but now we see.