The man born blind had gifts.
This is an underlying lesson in John 9 that we tend to forget in the midst of Jesus amazingly giving him physical and spiritual sight.
The disciples saw him and asked about what caused his condition. It seems that all they could see what his blindness. Since he was a beggar, we can assume his own community thought the same.
But once he was actually treated as a man we see his gifts emerge.
For example, he could see through bad arguments, refusing to be drawn into them. He didn’t allow his thinking to be swayed by the power or education of the Pharisees.
The Pharisees deride him, "Give glory to God. We know that [Jesus] is a sinner" (John 9:24).
The man who was blind replies, "Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see" (John 9:25).
And the more they used bad arguments, the bolder he became in pressing his own argument, building to a logical conclusion.
They come back, "We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from" (John 9:28-29).
Now he asserts: "You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing" (John 9:30-33).
Since the biblical account doesn’t include it, I cannot say for certain that he always had these gifts of boldness and articulation. It is possible that he wasn’t gifted at all, but was given what he needed “in that hour” (Matthew 10:19).
But the point remains: until the event of receiving his sight, no one cared about what this man had to say. He was a blind beggar to them. It was Jesus who saw a man.
How do we see the members of our church with disabilities? Are we limiting their opportunities to boldly proclaim the glory of God? Do we write them off like everyone did the man born blind — everyone but Jesus? Are we looking for the gifts, or just seeing the disability?
Lord, give us eyes to see every gift you have given your church!