25 September 2009

one thing i do know

I was reading in John 9 this morning about Jesus healing a man born blind. The Pharisees doubt and closely scrutinize the claim of healing: Is it the same man? Was he really blind from his birth? How is it that he sees now? If it was Jesus, how did He do it?

The blind man states simply: it was Jesus who healed me. The Pharisees vehemently disagree with this man's assessment and retort that this is impossible, as "We know that man is a sinner" (v. 24). The blind man sidesteps their presumption and replies: "Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see" (v. 25).

The statement "One thing I do know" grabbed me. I have had much on my mind lately, relating both to impending decisions in my personal life and discussions of a theological or philosophical nature: intelligent design and evolution, theories of time, historical revisionism, and what it really means to worship in spirit and in truth (just to name a few). It is more frequently the case than not that during or after these discussions, my neural pathways are overloaded and my head starts to hurt. Ow.

I think those discussions are good and important; I know that they have their places. But I also think it's good to return to and be astonished by the simple truth of: One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see. However others may doubt, whatever lofty intellectual issues remain unresolved, whatever theological issues are not clear or within our grasp, this is something I can return to and know for sure.

I was blind. Now I see. What a miraculous and incredible mercy!


  1. I appreciate the simplicity of coming back to the things we know deep in our bones, beyond rational realization or even emotional affectation.

    This reminds me of a story I was reading yesterday in a book called The Transforming Friendship by Leslie Weatherhead. It's the basis of a work project I'm doing right now (the one I've been telling you about), and it's a truly incredible, beautiful book written almost 100 years ago.

    Anyway, yesterday for one of the blog posts I was writing for my client about this book, I was typing out a story the author, Weatherhead, shared about a dream he had. It was about a university student who has an encounter with Jesus. I'll share the story here because I think it adds to what you're saying about the knowing that becomes enough so that all the unresolved issues begin to fall away, at least in the measure of the importance we had previously given them before we realize that what we know -- namely, Jesus present in our lives -- is enough.

    Here's the story Weatherhead shares in his book:

    In my third dream I saw a young man who was a university student. He was seated alone in his own small room, with his books on the table before him. He was of magnificent physique, but he was very lonely and his heart was disconsolate. There was almost a haunted look on his face. And as I looked into his mind I saw that it was in a state of war. The good was fighting the evil, and the issue was still uncertain. His room was a symbol of the state of his mind. The walls were covered with vulgar pictures cut from cheap magazines. And yet, on a little shelf away in a corner, was a photograph of his mother.

    I do not remember that I heard the door open, in my dream. I became aware that Jesus was sitting opposite the student in the bare little room. The knowledge came to me as one becomes aware of the light of some lovely dawn amid the baleful glittering lights of some belated orgy. 'You thought of Me,' said the quiet voice which I had learned in my dreams to love, 'and so I am here.'

    I knew also that Jesus could see the battle that was raging in the young man's mind. I knew that the fiery temptations of youth, the rash impetuousness, the desire to 'see life,' were battling with an ideal of a clean, manly life. And the look in Jesus' face made me think of those words, 'Jesus looking upon him, loved him.'

    Then there came to me a strange impression. It seemed as though there emanated from Jesus a spirit of belief in the possibilities of the man before Him. And he held up his head at once. Indeed, any man may well hold up his head if Jesus believes in him. And although no question had been asked, the student said very quietly, 'I will begin again.' And Jesus smiled.

    That is another strange thing about Jesus. He has the power to see below the surface into the very depths of the heart. He sees the seeds of lovely flowers where others see only the ugly brown soil that hides them. It is not so true to say that He loves the unlovable as to say that in every one He sees something lovable. And, when the student saw that Jesus believed in him, he believed in himself, and goodness sprang into quickened growth.

    Feeling that Jesus was near as never before, there flashed into the student's mind an impetuous wish to ask Him about some of the intellectual religious difficulties that were troubling him. And Jesus, reading his thoughts, said, 'Have you not seen enough?' And with a great light on his face the student said, 'Yes, it is enough.' He felt that he wanted no proof. The questions of Jesus' birth and the manner of His resurrection seemed remote and irrelevant. The student felt quite sure of Jesus. And, indeed, Jesus needs no credentials except Himself.

  2. I've always loved that story. I had to speak on it once. And it stayed with me so deeply it made it onto the pages of Stone Crossings. (We are talking about the same blind man, aren't we? :)

  3. Amen, and amen! And blessings to you in your decisions and conversations.

  4. good post. keep up the good work. making it simple is a key in life!!!!!!