Believing is Seeing

John 9

What does it mean to say, “I see”?

My dad and I used to play a game on road trips. He has eagle eyes, you know; eyes that can spot things far away, usually before anyone else—oftentimes long before—things like an airplane in the sky, a prairie dog on a field, or a dolphin in the water.

So we’d play this game. “Watch for the mileage signs,” he’d say; “as soon as you can make out the number, shout it out. Let’s see who spots it first.”

So, game on.

He usually won. But as I got older, I remember, it was on a trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco, I shouted out the number before he did. “307,” I said; and as we drew a little closer, Dad said, “Ah, I see; you’re right.”

Do you see?

So, in this brief story, I’ve used the word “see” in a few different ways.

There’s the, “Ah, I see,” that my dad said when he could see the number clearly on the mileage sign.

But he also said, “Let’s see who spots it first.” Here the word “see” doesn’t quite mean the same thing, does it?

And even as the story concluded, I asked, “Do you see?” This is a different meaning of the word still, like, “Do you understand?”

The word “see” can mean many different things.

Jesus knows this: that there are many different ways of seeing. And he plays with this idea.

Did you catch his statements towards the end of the story? The man who had been blind came to Jesus and said, “Tell me who the Son of Man is so that I may believe in him.”

And Jesus says, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.”

Only then does the man truly see, right? For only then, after seeing Jesus in this way, does the man say, “Lord, I believe.”

And did you notice? Every other character in this story can see. That is, every other character in this story has sight. They see Jesus walk up to the blind man. They see Jesus stoop down, spit on the dirt, and turn it into mud. They see Jesus wipe the mud on the blind man’s eyes. They see the blind man wash his eyes in the Pool of Siloam. And they see him come back, with his own sight restored.

And yet, even though every one of these characters can see, not one of them believes.

The neighbors don’t believe: “Surely this isn’t the same blind guy who used to beg, is it?”

The religious leaders don’t believe either. They demand from the poor guy three times, “Tell us who did this to you.”

Even his parents are too fearful to believe it. “Go ask him,” they say; “he is of age.” He can answer for himself.

You see, with Jesus, it’s not like that old saying, “Seeing is believing.” Rather, it’s the other way around: “Believing is seeing.”

Now I want to show you something.

<Flashlight and prism demonstration>

Let me explain what we just saw.

When I first shone the flashlight on the wall, what color was the light? White, that’s right! But then what happened when I passed the prism in front of the light? Yeah, we saw a rainbow! Now do you know why this is?

What colors are in the rainbow? I like to remember it as a name: there’s this friend of my named Roy G. Biv. His name spells out all the colors of the rainbow: Red-Orange-Yellow-Green-Blue-Indigo-Violet.

Now there are a lot of colors I didn’t name, yeah? Like turquoise. Like fuchsia. Like magenta. What about these colors? They come from combining the seven colors of the rainbow in various ways.

But I also didn’t mention white. Where do we get white light from? Yes, it’s a combination of all these other colors, as we saw in the demonstration with the flashlight and prism.

Now here’s what I want you to learn from this: not everything is what it looks like. The white light is really the combination of lots of different colors of light. It is the same with Jesus. In the story we read today, Jesus looks to almost everyone like just another guy. But then he gives sight to a blind man. And no one in the story except the blind man can believe it!

Remember, with Jesus, it’s not “seeing is believing,” as we might think; but “believing is seeing.”

Do you believe?


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