“Being spiritually blind doesn’t mean that you can’t see,” says Sophia, 10. “It means that you don’t believe in God.”
When Jesus gave sight to a man born blind, it started a debate among Jerusalem’s religious establishment. After cross-examining the healed man and his parents, religious leaders couldn’t deny the miracle. Because Jesus healed the man on the Sabbath, he broke one of their most sacred rules (John 9:24-41).
Jesus kept God’s law perfectly, but he intentionally broke the oral tradition that the religious establishment built around the 613 commandments (called Torah) that God gave to Moses. Yes, God told the Israelites to rest on the Sabbath (Saturday), but Torah didn’t go into great detail on how to rest.
In their oral tradition, Jewish rabbis created 39 categories of prohibited Sabbath work. Making clay was one of them. When Jesus spit into dirt to make a paste to put on the blind man’s eyes, the rabbis could say that he made clay, and therefore he worked on the Sabbath.
Jesus purposely and often healed on the Sabbath. Rabbi Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath,” (Mark 2:27-28).
Jesus taught that God created the Sabbath to help people rather than burden them. Instead of being refreshed by truly resting on the Sabbath, rabbinic oral tradition turned it into a worrisome burden of rules upon rules. Jesus went beyond rest by healing on the Sabbath.
In another confrontation with Jerusalem’s religious elite, Jesus had probably shouted in righteous anger: “Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” (Matthew 23:24).
Don’t major on the minor! Religious leaders carefully strained a gnat from their drink (Jesus healing on the Sabbath), but failed to see the camel they were about to devour when they rejected Jesus as the prophet of whom Moses wrote in Deuteronomy 18:18. They missed the big picture, but they’re not the only ones.
Swallowing camels while straining at gnats is a favorite pastime for those who try to earn God’s favor through observing religious rules and traditions. Trying to earn God’s favor by observing religious rituals doesn’t make you a Christian.
After religious leaders questioned the ex-blind man several times, they got frustrated when he disrespected them by asking them if they wanted to become Jesus’ disciples (John 9:27). After throwing the ex-blind man out from their midst, Jesus found him and asked, “Do you believe in the Son of God?” (John 9:35).
When Jesus told him that he was the Son of God, he said, “Lord I believe.”
Next Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind,” (John 9:39).
Think about this: It’s a paradox. Those who are straining at the gnats of keeping their religious rules to earn favor with God are spiritually blind. Those who are desperate like the ex-blind man will readily trust the Son of God as their savior.