Healing of the Man Born Blind, by El Greco, Dresden

After healing a man born physically blind, the Savior took the opportunity to teach about spiritual blindness.

The Pharisees, rejecting the obvious conclusion that Jesus was a man of God, tied themselves up in knots trying to prove that He was a sinner. First, they pointed out that Jesus had performed this miracle on the Sabbath Day. Then, they spoke with the formerly blind man’s parents, trying to determine whether he really was born blind. Finally, they questioned the man again, asking him to declare that Jesus was a sinner, requesting that he describe again how he was healed, perhaps looking for a contradiction in the story, and finally ridiculing him for defending Jesus. (See John 9:13-34.)

So many ways to avoid seeing the truth! Jacob must have had this kind of thing in mind when he wrote about people falling “because of their blindness, which blindness came by looking beyond the mark” (Jacob 4:14).

Occam’s razor, also known as the principle of parsimony, is a problem-solving method. It recommends that, when you have to choose between multiple interpretations of the facts, the simplest interpretation is usually the right one. This makes sense. How often do we jump through hoops, trying to prove something we want to believe, instead of accepting the way things really are. The simplest explanation may not be what we want to hear, but it is probably right.

After declaring to the man that He was the Son of God, Jesus said, “For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind” (John 9:39). The Pharisees must have perceived that they were implicated by this statement, and they asked, “Are we blind also?” Jesus responded, “If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth” (John 9:40-41). In other words, don’t use spiritual blindness as an excuse. Unlike the man I healed, your blindness is willful.

The word “blind” appears 30 times in the Book of Mormon, most often referring to a lack of spiritual perception. Nephi wondered how his brothers could be so hard in their hearts and blind in their minds (1 Nephi 7:8). Zeezrom felt guilty that he had blinded the minds of the people by telling lies (Alma 14:6). And Moroni urged us to “rend that veil of unbelief” which causes us to “remain in [an] awful state of wickedness, and hardness of heart, and blindness of mind” (Ether 4:15).

Today, I will strive to overcome my blindness and to see things as they really are. I will remember that Jesus can help the blind to see, and I will ask God to help me see more clearly.

2 thoughts on “Blind

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  1. Thanks Paul. I was thinking about John 9:39 recently. If you set aside the last clause, which I’m not sure I fully understand, and read the remainder with John 3:17 in mind (For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see)…it’s easy to see how Christ’s motive when judging is not to condemn. Instead, he uses judgment to identify a need (i.e. blindness) and then provide the good needed (i.e. sight). This strikes me as something we often forget…His mission was to heal, not condemn…to exercise judgment always with our best interests in mind. What a truth that we must remember in our own discipleship!


    1. I love that thought. His judgment is more like a medical diagnosis than a courtroom verdict: How do we need to be healed?
      Incidentally, here’s how I read the last phrase of that verse (the words in brackets are my own):
      “…and that they which [think they] see may [realize they are] blind.”
      I realize I’m taking some liberties with that interpretation, but I think it’s consistent with the spirit of the passage.


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