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If you boil down Jesus’ ministry, there are two basic things he came to do. First, He came to offer himself as the perfect sacrifice for the sins OF THE WORLD. Second, he came to show individual people that he was THEIR Savior.
To put it in banking terms, first the bank account has to be filled. Then individuals have to be attached to the account so that they can draw from it.
Through Christ’s suffering and death, the account is filled. Forgiveness for every sin is there for the taking, for everyone. In his teaching ministry, Jesus used the Gospel message to connect individual people to this forgiveness—by faith in him.
In our sermon reading for today, Jesus doesn’t use the analogy of a divine bank account that sinners must be connected to. Instead he uses the idea of darkness and light, blindness and sight.
As sinners, we are born into this world spiritually blind. We are unaware of God’s love for us, and the forgiveness he provides through his Son. Jesus’ greatest desire is to help us acknowledge our spiritual blindness, so he can give us spiritual sight—through faith in him.
We see this desire of Christ in our reading for today.
John 9 (NKJV)
9 Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. 2 And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
3 Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him. 4 I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
6 When He had said these things, He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. 7 And He said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated, Sent). So he went and washed, and came back seeing.
8 Therefore the neighbors and those who previously had seen that he was blind said, “Is not this he who sat and begged?”
9 Some said, “This is he.” Others said, “He is like him.”
He said, “I am he.”
10 Therefore they said to him, “How were your eyes opened?”
11 He answered and said, “A Man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed, and I received sight.”
12 Then they said to him, “Where is He?”
He said, “I do not know.”
13 They brought him who formerly was blind to the Pharisees. 14 Now it was a Sabbath when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes. 15 Then the Pharisees also asked him again how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.”
16 Therefore some of the Pharisees said, “This Man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.”
Others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them.
17 They said to the blind man again, “What do you say about Him because He opened your eyes?”
He said, “He is a prophet.”
18 But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind and received his sight, until they called the parents of him who had received his sight. 19 And they asked them, saying, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?”
20 His parents answered them and said, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; 21 but by what means he now sees we do not know, or who opened his eyes we do not know. He is of age; ask him. He will speak for himself.” 22 His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had agreed already that if anyone confessed that He was Christ, he would be put out of the synagogue. 23 Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”
24 So they again called the man who was blind, and said to him, “Give God the glory! We know that this Man is a sinner.”
25 He answered and said, “Whether He is a sinner or not I do not know. One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.”
26 Then they said to him again, “What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?”
27 He answered them, “I told you already, and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become His disciples?”
28 Then they reviled him and said, “You are His disciple, but we are Moses’ disciples. 29 We know that God spoke to Moses; as for this fellow, we do not know where He is from.”
30 The man answered and said to them, “Why, this is a marvelous thing, that you do not know where He is from; yet He has opened my eyes! 31 Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him. 32 Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind. 33 If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing.”
34 They answered and said to him, “You were completely born in sins, and are you teaching us?” And they cast him out.
35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him, He said to him, “Do you believe in the Son of God?”
36 He answered and said, “Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?”
37 And Jesus said to him, “You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you.”
38 Then he said, “Lord, I believe!” And he worshiped Him.
39 And Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.”
40 Then some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words, and said to Him, “Are we blind also?”
41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains.
Jesus often used earthly stories to teach people about spiritual things. Parables. But here Jesus uses an actual miracle to teach about spiritual sight, and how it is obtained.
Human beings have long sensed that there is more to the world than what we can see with our eyes. Through philosophy and science the human race has attempted to discover wisdom and knowledge that goes beyond the surface. But try as we may, philosophy and science can only take us so far. They are tools, but tools which can only do so much to teach us about who we are, where we came from, and what the purpose of life truly is.
By saying, “I am the light of the world,” Jesus claims that he is greater than philosophy and science. He is the light which make ALL THINGS visible, even those things which we cannot see with our eyes. Jesus is the light which reveals the thoughts and purposes of God.
Ironically, to the blind man in this account, everything was quite clear. A man named Jesus had approached him. He had smeared mud on his eyes and had told him to go wash it off in the pool of Siloam. Upon doing this, the blind man experienced something he had never known before. Color. Light. People moving around him. The leaves of trees quivering in the breeze. It was astounding.
But greater than physical sight, the blind man also was given the gift of spiritual sight. Everyone around him was puzzled, and confused. How could this be? This man had been blind from birth! How in the world could he now see?! And what did this all mean?
But the blind man wasn’t puzzled. It was obvious to him that this wasn’t the work of some brilliant doctor. This was a gift from God. Who else could have done it? It was unheard of to restore the sight of someone who had been blind from birth! Both then and now this is impossible. But it happened to this man. And so he very logically concluded, “This man is from God.”
When Jesus later approached this man a second time, the man listened CAREFULLY to what Jesus had to say. You’re the Son of God? Well, I believe it! I believe in YOU, Jesus. And he worshipped him.
The man who had been physically and spiritually blind, could now see—both physically and spiritually. He now knew Jesus as his Savior, and was connected to all that Jesus would do for him on the cross.
Mission accomplished. Another sinner connected to grace.
But there is another storyline here that we have to address. And that is the story of the Pharisees. These were men who could see just fine with their eyes, and who also thought they had some pretty clear spiritual sight as well. And that was their problem.
The Pharisees were self-righteous men. They believed that their own personal bank account before God was already full. Their righteous actions made them acceptable to the Almighty. The things they said and did would be enough when they faced God’s judgment in the end.
But they were wrong. In truth, they were spiritually blind. They were unable to see God’s things. Blind to God’s way of saving them.
We can see from this account that the Pharisees had already passed judgment on Jesus. He didn’t obey all the rules and regulations they had placed on the Sabbath day. And when Jesus healed people on the Day of Rest, sent cripples home carrying their mats, or sent blind men to wash their eyes, all the Pharisees could see was a violation of their precious rules. This man wasn’t keeping the Sabbath in their view. So, they reasoned that he must be a sinner with a capital “S”—a man who didn’t listen to God.
In fact, this account informs us that the Pharisees had already decided that if ANYONE ELSE claimed that Jesus was the Christ, that person would be kicked out of the synagogue. The blind man’s parents knew this very well, and so they were careful how they replied when the Pharisees questioned them about their son.
Their blindness to all things spiritual makes the Pharisees look quite foolish in this account. They keep searching for an explanation to Jesus’ miracle. How did he do it? Tell us the secret. Come on, tell us again, we’ll figure it out eventually.
We see this today also. Just turn on the Discovery Channel sometime and watch one of their shows that deals with miracles found in the Bible. They just can’t believe that miracles can happen, that God is active in the world. So, they go to great lengths to find some naturalistic reason for what the Bible says.
A friend of mine once told me about a show that dealt with Moses dividing the Red Sea. The show tried to say that it wasn’t the “Red Sea”, but the “Reed Sea.” Not a deep channel, but a shallow, reed infested section of swampy water. And it wasn’t God who divided the sea so the Israelites could escape the Egyptian army, it was an unusually powerful wind phenomenon which pushed the shallow waters to the side.
That’s the way it is with sinful mankind. We just can’t accept what God says. We have to find some explanation other than simply accepting God’s Word. And this is what God’s own Word tell us to expect from our sinful nature. In First Corinthians 2, it says…
“14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14 ESV).
Only through the Holy Spirit can sinners understand God’s things, including the message of sins forgiven through Christ. In First Corinthians 2, we also find this verse…
“12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God” (1 Corinthians 2:12 NKJV).
Only the Holy Spirit can lead us to see that we are born in sin, spiritually blind, and incapable of pleasing God. Only the Holy Spirit can open our eyes, through the Gospel of Christ, so we can see that in Jesus all our sins have been washed away.
But the Pharisees thought they knew it all. They thought they had no need of Christ’s teachings, or his salvation. And so they were offended and insulted when the man-born-blind tried to teach them that Jesus was obviously from God, and should be listened to.
Ultimately, the Pharisees ended up excommunicating the man from the synagogue. But that was alright. He didn’t need their teaching. He had come to know God’s light to the world. He had come to know Jesus his Savior.
Look at the final words of our text once more. Verse 39 and following.
“39 And Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.”
40 Then some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words, and said to Him, “Are we blind also?”
41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains” (John 9:39-41 NKJV).
Jesus had healed the physical eyes of a blind man, but here he’s not talking about physical sight at all. He came into this world to shine the light of forgiveness on sinners. He came into this world to give spiritual insight to people stumbling around in the darkness of sin and unbelief. But those who insisted they were already learned spiritual teachers, well, they couldn’t receive this light. They felt no need of it, and so they remained in darkness and sin.
Jesus’ wanted those Pharisees to be made blind. That is, he wanted them to realize that they were spiritually blind, and in need of his grace. THEN Jesus could help them. But until they were convinced of their need of salvation, their sin would remain on them.
I imagine that the man-born-blind remembered the day he got excommunicated from the synagogue as the best day of his life. And not just because it was the day that he received his sight for the first time. I imagine this day was his fondest memory because it was on this day that he met his Savior.
This is the same joy we should take away from this account. We too were born blind. Blind to God. Blind to God’s love. Blind to all things truly important. But somewhere along the way we met Jesus. And through him we can now see clearly. We can see our sin. We can see our Savior from sin. We can see the God who created all things, and we see him as a Father who loves us dearly.
As long as Jesus was in the world, he was the light of the world. And now, we are the light of the world. He lives in his followers, and speaks the message of grace and forgiveness through us.
May the Holy Spirit continue to work through the Gospel we hold dear. And may we always enjoy the peace and power of having Christ as our light. The light which illuminates our hearts and minds, and the light which we get to share with those around us.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts, and your minds, in Christ Jesus.