This is Day Seventeen of Christ Church Manchester’s lent devotionals, where we are breaking down the book of John. Written by Andrew Dowdeswell.
John 9: 1 – 41:
Perhaps one of the greatest Christian songs ever written is Amazing Grace. While the origins of the melody are unknown – there are a host of different theories, ranging from West African slaves to a Celtic folk song – the words are not. They are from John Newton.
His story is one that can only match the profoundly designed and sculptured opening verse that details the wonders of God’s ‘Amazing Grace’. As a slave ship owner, Newton was challenged, convicted and ultimately redeemed, receiving God’s grace in all its fullness, later becoming a key member of the abolitionists in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
It is in the detailing of this titular, Godly character trait that Newton penned one of the most beautiful and powerful lines in Christian music:
“I was blind but now I see.”
It is a line that we find in today’s passage. In John 9, we see the story of where Jesus heals the blind man thanks to a piece of mud. However, rather than focus on the healing, the majority of the passage centres on the reaction of the blind man and the questioning of him and his parents by the Pharisees.
What is so wonderful about the blind man’s response is that, even that he has no idea of who Jesus is, He still chooses to be grateful because of what He has done. In verse 25, we again see that Newton line:
“One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”
And yet, it is the Pharisees who are blind to Jesus’ greatness. It is they who doubt His power; it is they who doubt His mercy; it is they who doubt His actions; it is they who doubt His identity.
While we can read this story in awe of what Jesus does for this man, or with shame and slander for the vilification of the Pharisees towards the man, or with reverence and respect towards the abandoning reaction of the man who has been given sight, one way that I like to read it is as John Newton read it:
I was blind but now I see. And that truly is Amazing Grace.
Written by:Andy Dowdeswell