John 9 is known for a miracle Jesus performs when He heals a man born blind. It proves again that He truly is God incarnate. This passage is also an ideal example of spiritual direction. Here, Christ is the director, the disciples are the directees, and the blind man is not Christ’s focus here, but rather someone He simply uses to teach his disciples a lesson.
The spiritual direction portion of John 9 is in verses 1-5.
1As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
When they saw the man on the side of the road, the disciples quickly decided that they knew what the blind man’s problem was. Many people who come for spiritual direction believe that they know what the problem is. If they only help the director diagnose it, the problem should be solved.
The dah-ciples are like this. Though they think they know the problem, they don’t. They are students after all. Instead of ridiculing the blind man or his parents for their sins, Christ turns the tables and tells his students, “Stop pointing fingers! Nobody did anything wrong! This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.” (Verse 3)
As He often is with his students, Jesus was probably more then a little bit disappointed with their “lack of faith.” They were not doing their job. Instead of asking petty questions like these, their job was to carry out the tasks assigned to them by the one who sent their Teacher into this world. In the next verse, Jesus says, the night is coming when work ceases. While, I am here, I am the light you should live by. In other words, “Stop dilly-dallying, do this work quickly, and start now, because I won’t be here for long!”
As a spiritual director, Jesus might say, ‘before our next session, I would encourage you to start doing the work of God as you .have seen me do it.” And they returned for their next session, rejoicing because “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” (Luke 10:17)
In John 9:39-40 Jesus said, "I have come into this world so that the blind will see and those who [think they can] see will become blind." Some Pharisees heard him say this and asked, "What? Are we blind too?" The Pharisees and the disciples had the same problem. They were both spiritually blind. Once directees learn that they are “blind too” Jesus’ shows directors how to walk with them in their desire to understand more about Him.
Here, Jesus takes the initiative and finds the man, who has just received his sight, and asks him, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” (9:35) He had probably heard the crowds talk about Jesus before, but had not yet seen Him. “Who is he, sir? I want to believe in him.”
“I am him,” Jesus said.
“Yes, Lord, I believe!” And he worshiped Jesus.
Like many people, this man had a “seeing is believing” type of faith, but it had taken forty years for him to truly exercise it.
A spiritual director’s response to the question of “why” needs to be something like Christ’s, focused beyond the immediate situation. Maybe God wanted to teach the man a lesson. As many teachers in Jesus day thought, maybe God was paying the man back for some unbeknownst sin. Or, as Jesus said, maybe it was what God intended. If your challenge is something God desires, not to pay you back, but to make you more like Him, how would that make you feel?