John 9:35-41Problems Seeing

35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” 38 He said, “Lord, I believe”, and he worshipped him. 39 Jesus said, “For judgement I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see’, your guilt remains.

Problems Seeing

I have had problems seeing.  About a month ago when I came off caffeine I had a series of ocular migraines or migraines with aura.  From the left side of my vision to my right would become indistinct and wavy.  It was off-putting that I couldn’t trust my eyes.  I wondered what it would like to be blind.  I was scared that I didn’t have the power to see reality as it truly is.

My father was domineering and opinionated.  He needed to be in control to feel safe and so he wrested control of situations within the family with an iron fist.  I have grown up with a skepticism about my own ability to define reality because if my father thought I was wrong there was no room for debate.  A strength that grew out of this is that I entertain plurality.  Not that all things are right at the same time, but without certainty on an issue many possibilities exist that could answer a difficult questions.  I am quick to suggest possible answers, but I become a scared child if I have to define reality and stand by my definition.

Fortunately Jesus saw things with 20/20 vision.  He had the perspective of the Father and he knew that his Father, unlike mine, was indeed right about everything.  Jesus gives confidence to people like me who know their own limitations.  He gives sight to the blind.  This is not just the literal blind but the figurative also.  When I trust Jesus to define reality I see that his truth is proved in action.  This was the experience of the blind man who trusted Jesus when he received his sight. The question is for you, who do you rely on to define reality?


Jesus, I don’t view myself as a confident person, but I am confident in you.  I trust the scriptures.  However, I need to be less filled with fear when people have fixed views with which I don’t agree.  Help me work my way away from the patterns of my childhood.  Help me to jettison all fear and to be secure in your love.


  1. For whom does Jesus look?
  2. What does he ask?
  3. Why does John tell us the story about the blind man?
  4. Who do you really trust on a day-to-day basis to define reality?
  5. How can you live life with appropriate freedom and confidence?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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21 Responses to John 9:35-41Problems Seeing

  1. I take verse 41 to mean that the Pharisees were depending on their own (inaccurate) vision to save them. And Jesus is saying that they needed to humble themselves and let go of their way of seeing (become “blind”) in order to receive salvation through Him. Is this the sense? Am I understanding it correctly?

    Interesting passage to read today, especially given the subject matter of our retreat this weekend.

  2. Kathleen says:

    Jesus looks for the man that he healed from being blind. When he finds the man he asks the man if he believes in the Son of Man. I am striving to look at the world through a biblical worldview to define reality. Often my own perceptions can get in the way. I can live in freedom knowing that the Lord of the universe is right about everything. I know I can trust in him. I can live in confidence even if I feel blind to what the Lord is doing in my life.

  3. Jenna says:

    1. Jesus looks for the man who had been blind.
    2. He asks the man if he believes in Him.
    3. This story of Jesus healing the blind man shows how often the people who have it all together (the pharisees, who “see”) miss Jesus because of their focus on themselves. It also sets up the next two chapters – Jesus healing the man born blind or references to “blind” and “seeing” people are included in John 10 and 11.
    4. I can think things about my life and God that are not true, especially when I’m going through something hard. But, I know that the source of truth about God is not my experiences or thoughts, but God’s Word.
    5. Even when I feel like God isn’t faithful to His promises or is being unfair, I can have confidence in Him and His goodness because He has promised that He is good.

  4. Janice Lee says:

    1. Jesus looks for the man He healed.
    2. Jesus asks if he believes in the Son of Man.
    3. John tells us this story to show us our spiritual blindness and need for Jesus.
    4. I trust God to define reality because He is the source of life.
    5. I can live life with freedom and confidence by trusting Christ.

  5. karas says:

    This question of seeing reality properly and defining it accurately is such an important one. I tend to like to stay in the middle ground as well and not assume something is definite except for that which is in the Bible, and even then when there are multiple interpretations I will try to avoid sticking to one strict view. I don’t like to assume I am right. This causes problems, though, and that is why I am glad that I can be sure of what God says. If God says I can be saved, I can be saved. If He says He loves all people, He loves all people. I don’t understand all the details perfectly, but the Holy Spirit helps me in that, and in the meantime, I can trust completely in what He has revealed.

  6. Sara Cavitt says:

    1) Jesus was looking for the blind man that He had healed.
    2) Jesus asks if he believes in the Son of Man.
    3) I think he tells this story to illustrate that people can be spiritually blind and not realize their blindness.
    4) I trust God to define reality, because He is the truth.
    5) I live confidently and freely, because I know that God is directing and guiding my life. I trust that He has a plan for my life!

  7. Beth Coale says:

    1. the man He was concerned for – this man didn’t know who exactly Jesus was, but He had a heart willing to believe if someone would tell Him – especially Jesus Himself!!
    2. He was asking if he believed, but I think it was just really a way to see the man’s heart & a chance to introduce Himself.
    3. that we need redemption both physically AND spiritually
    4-5. I’m tempted to say I trust myself and family and friends – but I also really doubt all those things as well. I don’t know! To not give up on myself and other people but still trust them – but remember (whether they are proving themselves trustworthy or not) to still rely & look to Christ the most.

  8. Nick says:

    Jesus is looking for the former blind man that he had healed. I think that in my life, I often look to myself and my surroundings to define reality, but I know that I need to look to God to define reality for me, because he caused reality. In order to live my life with freedom and confidence, I need to first be confident in God in my life.

  9. Ashley says:

    1. Jesus looks for the blind man.
    2. He asks who the Son of Man is so that he may believe.
    3. Jesus tells this story to show us that we, too, are blind.
    4. You trust Jesus. His words alone are truth because he is Truth.
    5. The only way to live truly free and confident is to realize who God is and who you are and what the world is in light of that.

  10. nataliaria says:

    No doubt aware of the blind man’s conversation with the Pharisees, and his resulting expulsion from the temple, Jesus seeks the man out and asks him if he believes in the “Son of Man.”

    I believe that John includes this story in his gospel for many reasons, not the least of which being that it is a very fitting example of the interactions summarized in John 1; Jesus, the light, came to His own, but the Pharisees (leaders of the Jewish people) did not recognize Him (vs.11), yet all who did receive Him became in that moment children of God, just as the blind man does here (vs. 12).

    I have been talking with Holly Porter lately, and some of our discussions have centered upon the concept of building a “tower” around myself and my identity, and being less susceptible to taking on the (potentially flawed) views of those around me as pertaining to what is true, both about me and about the world. Thus, I am growing in trusting my own instinct and what I know to be the word of God as true. Additionally, there is a small circle of close friends and the occasional older mentor who I trust to speak into my life regarding what is true and what is worth believing.

    I think the idea of living with freedom and confidence relates very closely to the above; becoming confident in my own perceptions, beliefs, convictions, and agency is a result of intentionally creating space between those who might define truth differently, or falsely, and intentionally building a connection between myself and those who I identify to be reliable sources of truth, such as close friends, mentors, and of course, the living, breathing Word of God, as experienced through the Holy Spirit in Jesus and the Bible.

    (Yay! I’m caught up!)

  11. Amy McCashen says:

    1. The man whom he had healed.
    2. He asks him if he believes in the Son of Man.
    3. I think John tells us this story to show people that not only are some people in need of physical healing, but some people’s hearts also need to be healed.
    4. I trust in the Lord who has defined all that is reality.
    5. I can live in freedom because I know what Christ has done for me and what that means for my life. I am in Him!

  12. Ed says:

    Blind and seeing I’m doing both. Conviction and doubt I have both but it is God through Christ I move toward. The Spirit is leading me If I would only listen better. I have been in a holding pattern for a year. I need to learn more to move forward or wait for things to catch up to me by design in God. I’m sure I lack a Mentor. I see but am blinded by more truth from God.

  13. tim pruiett says:

    For whom does Jesus look? The blind man
    What does he ask? He asks if he believes in the Son of Man aka the Christ
    Who do you really trust on a day-to-day basis to define reality? Myself,Scripture, and God.
    How can you live life with appropriate freedom and confidence? Knowing i’m free in Christ but, at the same time He laid out rules for my own benefit to best benefit me and honor Him. Knowing I am a child of Him I can put all of my confidence in Him.

  14. Jessica Lewis says:

    Jesus came to seek out the man that was thrown out of the synagogue. He asked if he believed in the Son of Man. John tells us this story of the blind man, because we all, at one point were blind just like him. He has given us sight! Jesus came so that we may see and know him and the Father through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. What a beautiful thing! This IS reality, and the only way we can see this reality is because Jesus has invited us into it! On a day to day basis I define my reality based on the things that I must do and things that I have done. I am sinking in all this work that must get done and it dictates how I order the rest of my schedule. I must allow Christ to dictate my reality. He will show me the way and make me see again.

  15. Bethany says:

    I’ve never really thought about who i trust to define reality on a day to day basis. I think that I trust those around me and the opinions of those i view as smarter than me. I recognize the danger of this idea because it is how those who look at life with a worldly mindset would define their reality. I know the Sunday school answer that I am supposed to put all my trust and faith in Christ, because he is my reality, but that is often harder said than done. I think something that will help me with this would be to take time out of my hectic, busy daily schedule to be still and alone and spend quality time with the Lord.

  16. Mary says:

    Professor Worrall – I like your comment and call to reflect: “When I trust Jesus to define reality I see that his truth is proved in action…who do you rely on to define reality?

    Recently you and I had a conversation about fear and anxiety, and I am still whirling a little in distress, but I have also come to realize a couple things about myself and about what God is doing in my life. After spending considerable time in prayer and also hearing from Him at a conference I attended this weekend, I have realized the following:

    1) Moody is my wilderness – Just as Jesus was sent by the Spirit into the wilderness to be equipped for ministry, tempted vigorously by Satan, and then led out by the Spirit to begin his ministry; I too am sent, being equipped, being tested, and will (eventually) be led out of the wilderness.
    2) Common training grounds for growth (listed by a speaker at the conference): betrayal, financial hardship, past baggage, rejection, disillusionment with the church, loss, and envy of someone else’s blessing. I have experienced all of these, some while at Moody and some beforehand, and, as the speaker said, “You will not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord!” And so I have, and shall.
    3) My fears – being anything like my mother, especially her faith which is (in my opinion) legalistic and moralistic. This fear shows itself in associating my identity with the grades I receive, because it is a supposed gauge of my success/failure and determines my ability or lack thereof to teach. But that is only the surface. The real fear below the surface is misrepresenting God’s Word, dishonoring God, disappointing myself, being perceived as a fake, creating moralists and legalists, embarrassment, and failure in carrying out the work God has entrusted me with, doing damage to rather than building up of His precious little ones in the faith. I know these are all lies from the enemy, and I struggle sometimes to refute him.

    So, while it may seem arbitrary to worry over meeting deadlines and getting decent grades, there is much more going on below the surface. There is a spiritual battle going on; this is a wilderness, a training ground. Who defines reality? Jesus, and he DOES prove himself to be true. I am just a little slow to recognize it sometimes. So, I put on the armor and live to fight another day. I put my trust in Him because He is the only thing I know to be true without a shadow of a doubt. It is a continuous daily surrendering.

    Prayer – Lord, I know there will continue to be pain, trials, and temptations, even beyond this wilderness. But while I am here, provide streams in the desert as you have promised, encamp your angels around me, and minister to my soul. Give me strength when I have none. Help me keep my eyes fixed on you. Amen.

  17. Dylan says:

    1. Jesus looks for the blind man that he healed.
    2. Jesus asks if he knows the ‘Son of Man.’
    3. John tells us the story of the blind man to reflect our condition prior to being saved. In it, Jesus also points out that it is better to be ill and mourn over our sickness than to be ill and not recognize it. If we know our condition, God can heal us, maybe not physically but through giving us inner peace.
    4. I trust God on a day to day basis to define reality. However, it’s easy for me to accept worldly influences to my definitions. So many people speak in facts, even when they have little support. However, if they do have some support and I have nothing to counter it with, how can I defend a Christian world view? The Holy Spirit gives me strength in these times but it’s hard to evangelize when you can’t defend the faith. Still, it’s not impossible and our actions certainly speak louder than fancy definitions.
    5. If I keep reading the Word, I will learn my boundaries. Knowing my boundaries will give me true freedom. Having true freedom will give me confidence to press on.

  18. Sarah Deurbrouck says:

    1. For whom does Jesus look?
    He looks for the former blind man that was cast out.
    2. What does he ask?
    He asks if he believes in the Son of Man.
    3. Why does John tell us the story about the blind man?
    To show more of the miracles of Jesus, specifically this one being a messianic miracle, that we may believe in him.
    4. Who do you really trust on a day-to-day basis to define reality?
    Since moving into the city of Chicago (not just the dorms, but our apartment in Pilsen) I have seen a few things that have awakened me more to the terrible sin that is in this world. I suddenly felt afraid all the time, now aware of all the horrible things that could happen to me or someone else. I had to fight those feelings by forcing myself to trust in Jesus and know that the eternal realities of Scripture far surpass what lies out my doorstep. If I do not trust God to daily define what is reality, I am lost and a furry of worry and deep fear.
    5. How can you live life with appropriate freedom and confidence?
    Know what God has promised his children.

  19. Rebekah Thompson (Bekah) says:

    1. the man he healed
    2. If he believes in him
    3. To show us exactly how much we need Christ
    4. I trust in God, but many times i trust in other people in my life, like my friends and family. I want to trust in God first and always depend on him and sometimes i hope that if I am alone i only need to depend on God.
    5. You can’t live life without christ it isn’t living…it is only surviving without the thing…the person, the God you need most..the one who saves.

  20. Rachel says:

    I was just reading through some of these old posts and realized that I hadn’t replied to this one!
    Jesus here is asking the man he healed if he believes. I think John told us this story because through it, we are shown the importance of believing in Christ as the one who heals. Day-to-day, I usually try to trust God but end up blaming myself when something goes wrong and wondering if I ever trusted Him in the first place. God is teaching me that trusting him does not mean freedom from suffering- it quite possibly means the opposite.

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