The Fear

Rebecca Van Noord

We often don’t realize that we’re guilty of fearing others. At the time, it can feel definite and look legitimate. Fearing others can also take the form of a meticulous house, staying late at the office, or passing anxious, sleepless nights. When we hold someone else’s opinions higher than God’s, we suddenly find our world shaky and imbalanced.

Jesus’ healing of the blind man reveals that the fear of people is not a modern concept. The Pharisees had a stranglehold on Jewish life: “for the Jews had already decided that if anyone should confess him to be Christ, he would be expelled from the synagogue” (John 9:22). The blind man’s parents were victims of their mission, but they were willing victims. Even within the ruling ranks, though, opinions were divided, but the fear of people still ruled (John 9:16). John reports elsewhere that “many of the rulers believed in him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess it.… For they loved the praise of men more than praise from God” (John 12:42–43).

The blind man is the antithesis of all this. Perhaps, marginalized at birth, the opinions of others didn’t hold as much weight for him. Under interrogation, he is bold, quick-witted, and over-the-top incredulous. He is enraged that the Pharisees do not accept the basic facts of the story: “I told you already and you did not listen! Why do you want to hear it again? You do not want to become his disciples also, do you?” (John 9:27). While he has yet to confess in Jesus, he knows what he has experienced—he was blind, and now he sees. And as far as he can tell, only one sent by God could perform such a miracle.

Fearing people involves holding their opinions higher than God’s. At its heart, though, it’s an inflated opinion of our own selves—self-protection or self-esteem. But the blind man was willing to proclaim the truth about the Son of Man who healed him—physically, and then spiritually. He was willing to give up everything.

How are you guided by the opinions of others? How can you make decisions that are aimed at bringing glory to God?

This article was originally published in Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan.