Neil Vimalkumar B is Senior Apologist and Trainer with RZIM Life Focus Society.
It is called the festival of lights. Arguably, ‘sounds’ as well. The popular story of Diwali is a celebration of the victory of good over evil and the narratives vary from one geography to another.
Jesus Christ once announced: “I am the Light of the world” and the narrative is followed up with the healing of a man born blind (John 9). The man whose eyesight was restored proclaimed jubilantly– “I was blind, but now I see”.
An ancient advice that is often repeated is ‘He [she] who has eyes to see, let him [her] see’. In the conversation that ensued with the religious leaders who took offense at the healing done on a particular day, Jesus confronted them with ‘real blindness’. He said, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see’, your sin remains”. Physical blindness is bad enough, but Jesus appears to hint at a deadlier form of blindness – spiritual blindness.
Helen Keller, a champion of the differently-abled, was herself hearing impaired and visually challenged from the age of 6, yet she perceptively observed: “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision”.
As we seek enlightenment, an age-old piece of Scriptural advice worth pondering over is to recognize the darkness within the human soul. The greater enemy is not external evil, but the wickedness within. Jesus came to save people from this condition, which the Bible calls Sin.
Announcing the coming of the Saviour, Isaiah prophesied: “The people who sat in darkness had seen a great light”. Luke presents the words of Simeon as he held baby Jesus in his arms and seeing Him burst out in praise– “…For my eyes have seen your salvation,which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation…”.This is breathtakingly illustrated by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, the skilled Dutch artist, a specialist at light and shadow. He depicts baby Jesus, the light of the world, illuminating the scene, at the temple where He was dedicated – ‘Simeon’s song of praise’ (1631).
To the initiated in hearing, God has spoken. The Word became flesh and lived as a human being 2000 years ago. We therefore know not just the sound bites, but the Person behind. No wonder Scripture teems with this additional warning as well, “He who has ears, let him hear”.
The writer to the Hebrews captures the voice of God over the centuries. “In the past, God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son (Jesus)”.
In a remarkable development in the blind man’s life, the miracle of restoration of sight was outshone by a greater miracle of his spiritual eyes being opened, as Jesus disclosed: “You have now seen Him [‘Son of Man’,- a title that belongs to God]; in fact, He is the one speaking with you”. The ‘seeing’ and the ‘hearing’ make all the difference. No wonder elsewhere, Jesus reproved His own disciples for their unbelief: “Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear?”
Paul writing to the Corinthian Church sums up how our hungers are fulfilled in Jesus Christ: “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’, made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ”.
Now, let there be light!