Truth is true, no matter who speaks it. Humility allows us to receive lessons even from the least likely of teachers. Yet what we see from the Pharisees in the ninth chapter of John’s Gospel is anything but humility. Their response to the logical statements of the man born blind is “You were born totally in sin, and are you trying to teach us?”
Leaving behind for a moment their assumption that physical illness or defect must be the result of sin, we must ask: what was it that made the Pharisees feel self-righteous enough to dismiss the arguments of this miraculous witness? There are several answers. First, they had rejected Jesus as a false prophet, so anything miraculous associated with Jesus also had to be dismissed. More importantly, they were willfully blind. It was not that they could not see the miracle that Jesus had worked, it was that they did not want to see it as an act of God.
They did not want God to act through anyone other than themselves. In a sense, they wanted to be the only intercessors between God and man. They knew they were not truly priests nor prophets, but they had assumed a sort of authority for themselves so that they might control others. They had reduced prayer to politics and formality. They no longer had a real relationship with God, so they could not recognize Jesus either.
The lesson for us here is clear: “Surely we are not also blind, are we?” Humility is necessary for all who would live in right relationship with God. We can never assume that we have learned enough or are too good to be taught by another. Humility is doubly necessary for those who would lead others in God’s name. So we, who bear the name of Christian, must be humble enough to accept the lessons in faith that God grants to us, even those lessons that come from unlikely teachers. Humility will allow us to see ourselves honestly, including our faults. We will grow in wisdom and holiness as we receive God’s truth, no matter who the messenger might be.