Healing through Blindness

Week 15 of The Way: a new series on the Book of Acts

Sunday Passage: 

Acts 13:1-12 (Listen to Tyler's Sermon HERE)

Reflection:

On Sunday Tyler preached on Acts 13; in this passage, Saul (later Paul) and Barnabas are commissioned by the church to go to the Greek-speaking island of Cyprus. While in the island’s administrative capital of Paphos, Barnabas and Saul encounter the false prophet Bar-Jesus preaching to the region's proconsul (a governor), Sergius Paulus. When Bar-Jesus tries to resist the apostles' entering to speak with the proconsul, Paul preforms a miracle conferring blindness upon Bar-Jesus. 

Hearing Tyler tell this story, I began to think about the significance of the miracle of blindness that is recorded here. One reading of this reveals a God who is seeking to strike down a false profit by publicly blinding him, stripping him of all his power and status. While this is most certainly an act demonstrating the power of God, another reading reveals a God who is full of mercy and compassion. 

Firstly, It is important to note that the person through which the Holy Spirit blinds Bar-Jesus is Paul. Paul’s own conversion story is remarkably similar to this encounter with Bar-Jesus. In Acts 9, God forcefully intervenes in Saul’s life by appearing to him on the road to Damascus. Paul’s encounter with the living God leaves him blinded and, like Bar-Jesus, “requiring someone to lead him by the hand” (Acts 13:11). This is certainly not coincidental. In the person of Bar-Jesus we see a Jewish man seated in a place of power who fervently believes that he knows the truth; a resume that is identical to Paul’s. Thus, this is a story not about Bar-Jesus, but rather; it is a story of God’s mercy through Saul as he faces a man who is the epitome of his pre-Christian self. 

When Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, blinds Bar-Jesus it is an act of compassion. Paul immediately sees that Bar-Jesus is in the exact same place as he himself had been when he was persecuting the early Christians. Saul knows exactly what Bar-Jesus needs in order to live: he needs the truth to be revealed to him. The truth was that Bar-Jesus was already blind. He was spiritually blind as opposed to physically blind. 

Paul too was spiritually blind as he walked the road to Damascus; he required a face-to-face encounter with the risen Lord in order to be cured of this. The symptom of physical blindness is just that, it is a side-effect pointing visibly to where the true problem lies, Saul and Bar-Jesus’ misunderstanding regarding the true identity of Christ. If Saul is forceful in this passage, it is because he sees whole heartedly the urgency of Bar-Jesus’s circumstances. 

This miracle, though appearing quite different from other healing miracles, is still ultimately a healing miracle because neither man is left in their state of sickness. Our God does not leave us in our spiritual blindness. He is a God who reveals to us the truth so that we do not live a life in the darkness! How great is our God!

-Andrew Nelson, ASC Partner and Blog Coordinator

Questions:

  • How has God moved in your life to bring you out of Spiritual Blindness?

  • How can you use your own story to share God's mercy with other people?

Please share how God is moving in your life by emailing us at story@aseattlechurch.com

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