Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on July 24, 2016
Open your Bibles to John 9. Today we are going to re-read the section that I preached on last week, along with the rest of the chapter. This is a large portion of text, but it is the best way to get your bearings for what is transpiring. So this morning we are going to jump right in, pray, and then see what the Lord has for us this morning.
John 9:1-41 – “1As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. 5As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud 7and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.
8The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar were saying, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” 9Some said, “It is he.” Others said, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” 10So they said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 11He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed and received my sight.” 12They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”
13They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 14Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15So the Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, “He put mud on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” 16Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them. 17So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.”
18The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight, until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight 19and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” 20His parents answered, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. 21But how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” 22(His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.)23Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”
24So for the second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner.” 25He answered, “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” 26They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 27He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?”28And they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” 30The man answered, “Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. 32Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. 33If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” 34They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out.
35Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” 37Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” 38He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. 39Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” 40Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” 41Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.”
A New Creation
A we discussed last week, the purpose of healing he blind man is found in verse 3, “that the works of God might be displayed in him.” This was why Jesus set his gaze upon him, so that he might use him as a vessel for the Glory of God.
The glory of God that was being displayed had two layers to it. First there was the physical. As the blind man stated in verse 32, “Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind.” Jesus was doing something only God could do.
However, this physical miracle, pointed to a greater spiritual truth that Jesus desired to display. Specifically, that because of sin, all humanity is blind. And this is the reason why Jesus came, because he is the light of the world. In John 1:4 it says, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” This blind man was a vessel used by Jesus to display this wonderful spiritual reality.
For the blind man, this encounter with Jesus changed everything. I can’t imagine the joy he felt in when he knelt down beside the pool of Siloam, washed he eyes, and saw the world for the first time, colors, shapes faces, the sun. My guess is that he felt like he was on the top of the world. This was a new beginning for him. A fresh start. What lies before him was not just surviving, but abundant living.
And this, once again, speaks to a greater spiritual truth. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Christians are like the blind man. For when Christ comes into your life and pours out his grace upon you, and opens up your eyes, you are transformed. And this transformation is not subtle, it is dramatic; so dramatic that you are a different creature. You are no longer the same spiritual species that you once were. Prior to an encounter with Christ you were a Son of Disobedience a child of wrath, now you are a son of God and will inherit unmeasurable riches.
A New Response
As it relates to this blind man, his transformation does not occur in a bubble. He is transformed in the midst of the world. As a new creation, he caused new responses. Everyone who knew him as the blind beggar now had to re-orient themselves to this new creature. In our text we see three groups of people: the neighbors, his parents, and the Pharisees. Today, I want to spend time looking at each group.
1. The Neighbors
First, let us look at the neighbors, their reaction is found in verse 8-12. The first thing we see is that there is a dispute between the neighbors as to whether this man who now has sight, is the same man who was once blind. Verse 8, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some said, “It is he.” Others said, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.”
Why was there a dispute? Because of the radical transformation. The change in this man’s life was a dramatic one. He was now doing things that they had never seen him do before. My guess that this change in him was more than just seeing, but was a change in confidence, purpose, hope, joy. He was visibly different after his encounter with Jesus and those who lived life with him knew it. And if you recall this was the point of the miracle, so “that the works of God might be displayed in him.” He was to live out the miracle so that people could see the transformation.
And this is true for all who have had the light of Christ shine in their heart and become a new creation by the grace of God. If you are truly born again you will be different and people will notice. Jesus tells us in Matthew 7 that we can tell a true or false prophets by their fruit. What they produce in their life. We are told in Galatians 5:22, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control.” These fruits will be on display in the life of a Christian.
Jesus says these words in Matthew 5:16, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” This is exactly what the blind man was now doing, and this is what we should be doing.
Too many Christians, live as if they are still blind. They say things like, “My faith is personal.” Or “I don’t want to where my Christianity on my sleeve.” This is not why the light of Christ came in your life, to hide it under a bushel basket. No, the light of Christ is to be set upon a pedestal, not for you glory, but for God’s glory.
And what was the result of this blind man living out a transformed life? Verse 10, “So they said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 11He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed and received my sight.” 12They said to him, “Where is he?”
When we display the works of God, and bear the fruit of the Spirit, people will notice and they will ask questions. Questions such as, where does your joy come from? How can you have peace? How can you have hope? How can you endure? Your neighbors will ask questions when they see the transformation.
When we are asked, our answer should be the same as the blind man’s answer, “A man called Jesus.” He is the one who came into my life and changed everything. He is the one who gave me eyes to see. He is the one who gave me hope. He is the one who has given me life. He is the source of my joy.
2. The Parents
After the neighbors we see another group, the parents of the blind man. We see their reaction in verse 18-23. The Pharisees called the parents as witnesses to help explain the miracle of transformation. Their response is interesting. Verse 20, “His parents answered, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. 21But how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” 22(His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.)23Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”
The parents knew exactly how their son was received his site. They would have been just like the neighbors who asked how, and their son would have said the same “the man Jesus.” So why didn’t they confess Christ before the Pharisees? They were afraid.
The rulers had already decided that if anyone takes the side of Jesus, they are kicked out of the Synagogue. Which, as a Jew, was the highest level of being ostracized. The Synagogue was the center of their life. And the possibility of being kicked out of the Synagogue was just too much to risk. They had counted the cost of confessing Christ and they had determined He wasn't worth it. So instead of giving the glory of God, they exchanged it for the glory of man. They stood before clay and denied the Potter.
Do you know people like this? People who “know” the truth about Jesus Christ, but are too afraid to speak it. They claim to be Christians but you would never know it because they are too afraid to let the light of Christ shine because the risk is too great. Perhaps It is someone of you. Let me warn you about something, this is dangerous ground to be standing on for in Matthew 10:33, “but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.”
The mark of a born again Christian is not timidity, it is boldness. Look at the blind man, he is far from afraid. He spoke like a man who could care less about the institutions of man. He could care less about the ramifications of speaking the truth. Verse 27, “He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” Then again in verse 30, “The man answered, “Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes.” Why was this man so bold and his parents so timid? Because he had a personal encounter with Jesus, and his parents had not. They were living off the faith of their Son and had not been given the faith that comes from God. Therefore, their faith was a weak faith, a counterfeit faith, a false faith.
In this day in age we are seeing more and more people who have this type of faith. A faith that does not endure. It is a faith that cowers to culture. A faith that doesn’t want to rock the boat. A faith that yokes itself with Satan and tolerates the wickedness of sin. A faith that is dead. A faith that is not from God, but is from man.
True faith does not cower, it contends. Those who have true faith embrace the words of Hebrews 13:6 and “confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”
3. The Pharisees
Which leads us to our last group of people, the Pharisees. The irony of this last group of people is that they were the most religious and yet the most blind. Verse 39, “Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” 40Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” 41Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.”
What is Jesus saying? What Jesus is saying is very similar to what he said in Mark 2:17, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” The Pharisees, were blinded by their pride. They believed the Mosiac law would save them, the sacrafices, and the festivals, and the washings. But as Jesus says in other encounters with the Pharisees, they are merely white washed tombs. Clean on the outside, but dead on the inside. The light of Christ had not shown in their heart.
The Pharisees reaction to the blind man's transformation was substantially different then the other two groups. They stood in complete opposition to it. Even though the asked questions, they were not listening for answers. They were looking for arguing points. When they realized that they couldn't refute the obvious, they cast the blind man out of the temple. The light of Christ that was shining through this blind man was more than they could bear, so they removed it from their presence.
Once again, this is a reality, not just for this blind man, but for all Christians. Living as a new creation in this cursed world will bring persecution. Jesus said it very clearly in Matthew 10:22, “and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”
These people who hate you will be your co-workers, your neighbors, your friends, and even your family. In Luke 12:51 Jesus says, ”Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. 52For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three.53They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
Perhaps some of you have experience this rejection in your life from people who are very close to you. They don't understand what happened to you. They see your new life in Christ as a threat to their comforts and their dreams. Your presence reminds them of their sin, so they mock you as self-righteous, closed minded, intolerant, fools. If this hasn't happened, it will. So don't be surprised when it comes.
But you know what? They can push back against the miracle all they want, but they will never rob you of your joy. Because you were once blind and now you see. Your eyes have been open to the truth of the Universe and what you know have in Christ is better than anything this world has to offer.
After the neighbors argued about who he was, his family threw him under the bus, and the Pharisees cast him out, who came and found him? Jesus.
This is the greatest reality for all Christians. No matter what this world throws at you, you still have Jesus, and he is the greatest treasure. This world can take your job, take you social status, take you money, take your home, take your freedom, even take you life, but they can never take away Jesus. And as the Psalmist says in Psalm 63:3, “Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.”