Everyone has a list of heroes. We admire these men and women because of their achievements, nobility, or courage. We expect some people to be heroes, but occasionally, we find a hero in an unexpected place. This holds true with heroes of the faith as well.
Most of the time when we think of Bible heroes, we think of Moses or David. We may think of Jesus’ first disciples, the Apostle Paul, or anyone listed in Hebrews 11. They are certainly all heroes and worthy of our admiration, but I would like to bring to mind another hero. Though we do not know his name, we know enough about this gentleman to classify him a hero. His character and courage are impressive, and though he is only known as the man born blind, he leaves an iconic mark in history.
We are first introduced to this hero in John 9. “As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth” (John 9:1). Jesus’ disciples immediately judge the man. Either he or his parents had to be steeped in sin; otherwise, the man would have been born with his sight. How often this must have happened as the man begged to meet his daily needs. He received what he needed plus an abundance of judgement because of his vision loss. Passers-by would jump to conclusions about the man, his family, and his life. They automatically assumed things about the man based only on his eyesight. They did not take the time to find out more, or even get to know him. They knew he was a blind beggar, so everything else they thought had to be true.
Jesus, on the other hand, offers a different perspective, which truly shows the man’s heroism. Jesus uses the situation to magnify his glory. Notice how Jesus answers the disciples’ question in John 9:3. “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.” Jesus says this man’s life and vision loss can bring glory to God.
This is the first reason the man is a hero. He allows the Lord to be glorified through his life. To spite the judgment and criticism the man encounters, his life is still able to glorify the Lord. Just like the man born blind, our lives have been put in a unique position by the Lord to glorify him. In those moments when we feel helpless, when we feel as if we cannot do anything for the Lord, this hero reminds us we still have an abundance of opportunity to glorify God.
Glorifying God is only one reason this man is a champion. As the timeline of John 9 continues, we see this man demonstrate heroic resolve, courage, and character. His healing grabbed the community’s attention and was widely discussed. There were those who were grateful because the man could see, but more so, there were those who were upset because Jesus made mud on the Sabbath. They were upset and began asking several questions, which is where we again see the man’s heroism.
Again, and again, we see the man being questioned about his healing, and each time, he takes a firm stand for Jesus.
- When his neighbors ask how he was healed, “He told them, “The man they call Jesus made mud and spread it over my eyes and told me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash yourself.’ So, I went and washed, and now I can see!” (John 9:11).
- “The Pharisees asked the man all about it. So, he told them, “He put the mud over my eyes, and when I washed it away, I could see!” (John 9:15).
- “Then the Pharisees again questioned the man who had been blind and demanded, “What’s your opinion about this man who healed you?” The man replied, “I think he must be a prophet.” (John 9:17).
Each time the man is asked how he received his sight; he points to Jesus. He does not claim to fully understand, and he is undoubtedly aware of the divisiveness caused by crediting Jesus. But he knows the truth, and he is resolved to proclaim it. This is the mark of a true hero: someone who stands up for the truth in spite of the consequences. Taking such a firm stand for Jesus meant being kicked out of the synagogue. The man would no longer have access to the place he has been day after day for years; he would no longer be able to worship in these familiar surroundings. Our hero risked a lot by crediting Jesus for his healing, but he was determined to tell the truth. His resolve spurred on by his courage.
The final time the man is questioned, we see his courage fully displayed. “So, for the second time they called in the man who had been blind and told him, “God should get the glory for this, because we know this man Jesus is a sinner.”
“I don’t know whether he is a sinner,” the man replied. “But I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!”
“But what did he do?” they asked. “How did he heal you?”
“Look!” the man exclaimed. “I told you once. Didn’t you listen? Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?” (John 9:24-27).
The man’s question is inspiring. It is as if he is saying, “Look at what Jesus has done for me! Don’t you also want to come follow him?” With much courage the man presents the Gospel. The testimony of his life is a true picture of the Lord’s grace, and he is not afraid to share it. We find in this man’s story an example of courageously sharing the Good News.
Our lives are testimonies of the Lord’s grace, so we should be ready to share it. The Lord may put us in some unique places with opportunities to share the Gospel just as he did our hero. A neighbor’s curious question could easily turn into an opportunity to share our hope in Jesus Christ. When it does, we have the man’s example to follow. We can look to this icon to see what it is like to speak the truth with much courage. Scripture implores, “if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it” (1 Peter 3:15), so be ready to imitate this champ’s response.
The man’s character is another reason he is a hero. After the man endured much criticism and had been expelled from the synagogue, John tells us Jesus came to the man. He could have used this opportunity to complain. He could issue a complaint for a number of reasons; blindness, judgment from others, and being excluded from religious services just to name a few, but he did not display a grumbling attitude. Rather, the man pronounced faith in Jesus and worshiped. He was grateful for what the Lord had done. Life may have not been perfect, but the man realized the Lord had shown goodness to him. He displays a character worthy of modeling.
Our lives may not be perfect, and we can easily come up with a list of complaints to present to the Lord. But the Lord’s goodness is also prevalent in our lives. A gracious and merciful God is walking with us through each day. He is guiding our steps and directing our path, so we should strive to imitate our hero’s character: displaying an attitude of gratefulness for what the Lord has done.
“Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done,” instructs David in 1 Chronicles 16:4. We are also encouraged in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” Just as our champion did, we should concentrate on our blessings rather than our complaints.
He may not have a name and may only be in the Bible for one brief chapter, but the man born blind is truly a hero. As he responds to being healed, the man’s resolve, courage, and character are admirable. These qualities set him apart as a hero, and we should strive to model them in our own lives. This man may have come from an unexpected place, but he certainly left a heroic mark on history.
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