Thursday, February 17, 2011

Blindness in the Bible

blindness, sightlessness. It is God who has the power to make people blind (Exod. 4:11) as well as to restore them to sight (Ps. 146:8). In Gen. 19:11 the angels of God who visited Lot struck the evil men of Sodom with blindness. Through Elisha’s prayer God struck the Syrian army with blindness (2 Kings 6:18). In Isa. 42:7 God commissions his servant ‘to open the eyes that are blind.’ 
Blindness was one of the blemishes disqualifying descendants of Aaron from performing sacrifice to God (Lev. 21:16-24). Likewise, it was forbidden to offer blind animals in sacrifice (Lev. 22:22; Deut. 15:21; Mal. 1:8). The blind were to be protected in accord with God’s covenantal instructions: no stumbling block was to be placed in their way (Lev. 19:14); and anyone who misled a blind person was cursed (Deut. 21:18). Isaac (Gen. 27:1), Eli (1 Sam. 3:2), and Ahijah (1 Kings 14:4) suffered the blindness of old age. One of the expectations of the eschatological age was the opening of the eyes of the blind by God (Isa. 29:18; 35:5; lxx 61:1). 

In the NT Jesus’ healing of blindness was one of the ‘deeds of the Christ’ illustrating and bringing about the Kingdom of God (Matt. 11:2-6; 15:29-31; Luke 4:16-19; 7:18-23). There are several examples in which the blind had their sight restored by Jesus: the faith of two blind men enabled them to be healed by Jesus (Matt. 9:27-31); he healed a blind and dumb demoniac (Matt. 12:22); by healing the blind in the Temple Jesus restored them to the worshiping community (Matt. 21:10-17). 

Some of Jesus’ healings of the blind may function as symbolic characterizations of the revelation and recognition of Jesus’ profound identity. That may be the case in the healing of the blind man at Bethsaida in Mark 8:22-26. The painstaking, step-by-step manner in which Jesus performs this healing characterizes the way he is trying to bring his disciples to understand and ‘see’ his profound identity. This healing serves as a symbolic anticipation and transition to the confession of Jesus as ‘the Christ’ in Mark 8:29. Similarly, Bartimaeus, healed of his blindness, represents the insightful disciple who follows Jesus to Jerusalem, the place of his suffering and death (Mark 10:46-52). The healing of the man born blind in John 9 characterizes the spiritual ‘blindness’ of the Jews and indicates how Jesus is the ‘light of the world.’ 

The concept of blindness was particularly appropriate for metaphorical use; it often characterized spiritual ‘blindness’ or lack of insight into the revelation of God (Isa. 6:9-10; 42:16-19; 59:10; Matt. 15:14; Acts 28:26-27; Rom. 2:19; 11:8-10).

(Source : Logos Bible Study)

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