“Hey Larry, did you get a haircut? Lose weight? Is that a new tunic?”
“Well, something’s different. What is it?”
“I was blind, but now I can see!”
Okay, perhaps that exchange did not take place for the man born blind from John 9, but I like to think that it did. Unique among all of the gospel accounts, this one relates a large amount of the “after story.” It doesn’t take much imagination to recognize that those experiencing the most amazing miracles would have had interesting encounters afterward. What was life like in the Lazarus household after the man walked out of that tomb? Did Mary and Martha break out in tears every time they looked at their brother? Did Lazarus ever feel tempted to use his unique experience to get out of work? “Yeah, I guess I could clean the gutters. Of course I was dead for a while.”
In the case of this “man born blind,” we get at least a glimmer of the repercussions that came for this man and the people around him. There are people who knew him or who at least had been around him who struggled with the whole thing. Some of them assumed that it was just somebody who looked like him, while others were just confused. “He was blind from birth.”
When the (formerly) blind man wound up in front of the Pharisees, they didn’t quite know how to process the situation. John’s account presents some pretty good critical thinking for at least some of them.
Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, because he doesn’t keep the Sabbath.” But others were saying, “How can a sinful man perform such signs?” And there was a division among them.–John 9:16
After that division, perhaps, someone came up with a possibility that could reconcile the parties. What if this guy is just faking it? Maybe he wasn’t blind at all, which would allow Jesus to be a fraud rather than powerful and theologically difficult. That’s when they summoned the man’s parents in 9:18.
The best that we can tell is that only one person–the man born blind–came to faith in Jesus out of this encounter. Presumably it changed his life as he, upon hearing that Jesus is the Messiah, refers to Him, for the first time, as “Lord” and worships Him. That’s the best part of the after story.
This after-story effect suggests the effect of the gospel as a whole. If we experience the miracle of salvation, if we allow Jesus to transform our blindness into sight, if we trot off to wash in the pool, and no ripples or giant waves come from the splash, then did we really encounter a miracle?
I ask that because I know that many people within the church are living lives similar to those “blind” Pharisees. They do religious things and know religious knowledge, but they don’t all fall down and worship Jesus as Lord. They don’t always react to what they can see right before their eyes. That’s a shame for them.
It’s a shame for me at times as well.