As human beings we are right to have sympathy for those who are blind and it is within us to reach out and guide a blind person and stop him from falling in the ditch or smashing into an obstacle. We take great exception to the mistreatment of blind people for on the whole we do not blame blind people for their blindness even although we know that illegal drugs and a corrosive lifestyle are contributing factors in some cases. We tend generally to see blindness as plainly unfortunate and an affliction over which the blind person has no control. This is unquestioningly true in the case of congenital blindness.
Wilful blindness is quite a different matter for this pestilential disease that is very much with us is not due to some birth defect or some degenerative malady but is the result of deliberate choice and for which we move heaven and earth to defend. This kind of blindness can be so powerful that in its defence all kinds of mental gymnastics are used and logic and truth inverted in order to maintain that blindness.
Elsewhere I have written that truth and reality are not the refuge of the prejudiced. When people are wilfully blind they do not crave to know the truth, rather they reach instinctively for their comforting bottle of myths and drink from it copiously. Their mantra seems to be that the truth is fine so long as it does not require them to put away their prejudice or alter their assessment or worse; rethink their long-held position.
I was reminded of this when I recalled the incident of Jesus clashing with the Pharisees over the healing of the blind man on the Sabbath day as recorded in John Chapter 9. The Pharisees’ dilemma was that for centuries they were looking for a Messiah, a Biblical Messiah no less but they were corrupted in their thinking as to the type of person he would be. Every prophetic announcement about the coming Messiah indicated that he was NOT a military figure, NOT some superman fighting-machine that would subjugate and enslave their enemies and give them world leadership, NOT someone from the established and revered families in Palestine and NOT someone who would arrive with great pomp and ceremony. Yet this is exactly what the Jews believed when Jesus was born. This is the very reason why it took foreigners from the East, the three wise men that tradition says were Persians (modern day Iranians) to identify who Jesus was and the vast Jewish population among whom he was born were clueless.
It all began with the fall of Adam and Eve when, as a result of their failure to maintain their esteemed position as the blameless head of the human family, God promised them a redeemer, “And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:14-15) This simple statement was the first promise of the Messiah but from it you could not decipher what kind of Messiah he would be.
Then along came Moses, a man chosen by God to lead Israel out of bondage from the Egyptians and whom we recognize as the first prophet, and he said, “The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken.” (Deuteronomy 18:15) Notice very carefully the words “like unto me” for these words give a clue to who Moses was referring to. Here is what the Bible says as regards prophets like unto Moses, “And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face.” (Deuteronomy 34:10)
Isaiah, the major prophet who prophesied some seven hundred and fifty years before the birth of Christ described the Messiah like this, “For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:1-5) As can be seen here this description of the Messiah did not fit the profile of a military super-hero nor have any other description from any of the prophets.
When Jesus was born the Jews were battered witless by the imperious Romans who were hated with a passion. The Jewish leadership was submissive and cowed by the Romans but Jewish gangs terrorized the Romans at every turn, prominent among them a group called the Zealots. It is therefore understandable that the Jews wanted someone to lift their load and remove the hated Romans from their lives. Their culture, their tradition and their hopes coalesce around having a military super-hero and in their minds he was to be so mighty and fearsome that no one could withstand him.
Jesus therefore stood no chance of being accepted as the Messiah sent from God because he was the quintessential Messiah of the Scriptures but not of their fraudulent imaginations. He was humble and kind, poor and compassionate, non-judgmental and pacifist and above all taught truths about God’s kingdom; no the Jews thought he can never be our Messiah.
Yet Jesus did not deviate from the path of the Biblical Messiah to get their endorsement but rather consolidated it with a number of infallible proofs. The common man seeing the mighty miracles Jesus did could assert, “Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.” (John 6:14) The common man could reason for himself and without the dread of the hierarchy besetting his soul and could declare, “Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.” (Matthew 27:54)
People are going to perish everlastingly not because they were never presented with the truth that would set them free but because in their quest to cling to their prejudices they regard the truth first as an inconvenience and then as a lethal threat. The same people that could assert “This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world” (John 6:14) and “Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with” (John 3:2) and, “If this man were not of God, he could do nothing” (John 9:33) could put all this aside and shout, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.” (John 19:15) This is wilful blindness par excellence and is mighty baffling.
Jesus warned the Jews and by extension us, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matthew 11:15) and Paul counsels, “…because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie” (2 Thessalonians 2:10-11)
The first Rodney King trial jury found nothing wrong with the actions of the police in spite of the overwhelming evidence of police brutality on video. This is wilful blindness.
Millions still think that President Bush was right that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction in spite of the overwhelming evidence from the CIA that it had none. This is wilful blindness.
Those people who push for God to be taken out of the schools, out of the curriculum, out of all government concerns, out of the life of the community and yet not acknowledge the inevitable consequences. This is wilful blindness.
Millions are hoodwinked into supporting decadence and debauchery and abominable behaviour, and in particular homosexuality and abortion, all in the name of freedom of choice and still regard themselves as paragons of virtue. This is wilful blindness.
All around us are those who are frenetically pursuing material goals without a care for moral and spiritual wellbeing and yet do not see the linkage to their unhappiness. This is wilful blindness.
To the many that will not contemplate missing a single church service and yet find neither love nor compassion in their hearts for each other and still consider themselves good Christians. This is wilful blindness.
You do not have to be perfect to acknowledge truth when you see it or to accept that your jaundiced view is unjust and unwarranted. All it requires is simple honesty. We all need to jettison some things from our minds and hearts and go on to Christian perfection. When truth troubles you, when you are unable to look truth in the face with a welcoming smile, when to embrace truth cause you great alarm and discomfort then know that the greatest truth is not part of your life for it is recorded, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) The truth ALWAYS sets you free and one of the greatest freedoms is the freedom from willful blindness and that is something that Jesus Christ specializes in.
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