Sometimes when I’m driving, I get cranky with other drivers on the road with me and I want to yell at them, “Are you blind?!?!??” I also know that a driver can get cranky with me when I don’t see them in my blind spot. The whole blind topic reminds me, with a playful chuckle, of basketball refs in high school when my friends and I would watch a game. If I thought some refs were particularly awful, I’d loudly sing “Two Blind Mice;” my variation on the children’s sing-along, “Three Blind Mice.” I understand that I was being disrespectful and at that time, I didn’t care. The whole subject of blindness can include being blind-sided, having blind spots, color blindness and sometimes we use the word, “blind” to mean oblivious or clueless, being unaware.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently because of some dialogue between Jesus and some Pharisees at the end of John 9. For all practical purposes, all of John 9 revolves around a blind man getting healed and the Jewish leaders being prickly about his healing because Jesus did it on the Sabbath. At the end of the chapter, some of the Pharisees who were listening to Jesus asked Him, “We are not blind too, are we?”
I find Jesus’ answer to them to be really thought provoking. “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains” (v. 41). When we read Jesus’ words, we need to remember that He was talking to Pharisees who prided themselves on being less sinful than other people because of their rigorous and meticulous adherence to Mosaic Law. So, when Jesus tells them that their sin remains because they claim to see or have vision, it was kind of a slap in the face or maybe a wakeup call of sorts.
This makes me wonder about our modern existence and the possibility that I might have some blind spots in my life, related to following Jesus and how I “see” other people. When I’m at a stoplight and I “see” a homeless person holding a sign and asking for money, what do I think? How do I see that person? Do I immediately think that the homeless person is a drug addict or poor at managing money, so that’s how they got themselves in this jam?
In a different perspective, do I look at someone who’s nicely dressed and driving an expensive car, so I see that person as “successful” or accomplished? Or maybe my lens for seeing people is rooted in religious compliance and upstanding living. No doubt that these perceptions have some validity and importance. And I wonder how often we’re inclined to “see” someone without first considering our own lens or filter.
But at the end of John 9, Jesus was directing His comments to the Jewish leaders. Jesus’ words required them to think about their interior filters and biases. Perhaps Jesus was saying that their internal blind spots were drastically more sinful than the blind man’s actual blindness. Maybe the best way to keep our vision or perspective aligned with Jesus is to ask that we “see” people through the lens of genuine love and not just my background, insecurities, distortions or failures. Let’s keep genuine love as central lens.