A Man Born Blind!
Reading … John 9: 1-11
In my Sermon today, which I have entitled “A MAN BORN BLIND” rather than taking the usual text and preaching on it,
I wish instead to exegete, or examine and explain, each of the verses which we read earlier from Johns Gospel in Chapter 9. We usually refer to this passage as the story of the healing of the man born blind. While it certainly is a striking story, there is more to the Gospel narrative than usually meets the eye. (no pun intended!) So today we will examine these verses in the hope that they will reveal those hidden or sometimes lost themes.
We read in verse 1, ….
9:1 And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth…
… and John tells us that Jesus was “passing by this way”. It was clearly not a location where Jesus was staying, nor a location that he was visiting, but rather he was “passing” or passing through, or passing by this location. I mean to imply that opportunity for a miracle is sometimes fleeting, sometimes passing, and when we need a miracle from God, we need to be sensitive to his presence, for without his presence there can be no miracle. Now John continues that “he saw a man which was blind from his birth.”
From this statement we know that obviously the man did not see him, but that Jesus saw the man. God always sees us, even when we cannot see him. Tragically there are many “Blind” men, and women around us today, I am not speaking of optical or physical blindness, rather a Spiritual Blindness, unable to see God, unable to see their need of him, and as the apostle Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 4:4
“…..the god of this world (Satan) hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of
Christ, which is the image of God, should shine unto them.”
Satan has blinded many from understanding and seeing their spiritual need, their eternal need, and their inherited need, for like the man in the Gospel narrative, they were born that way, born spiritually blind. This man had never seen the light of day, never seen the stars at night, never seen the face of his Mother or Father, never seen another human being, born in a darkened world, and with no point of reference had no imagination to substitute like for like. To someone who has become blind, they will remember and refer back to things as they once saw them, – but to one born blind, there is no ability
to conjure up any image! That is why the world laughs at the Christian, they have no ability to understand why we go to Church, why we pay our tithes to God, why we pray for others, why we love and live for Jesus! Such behaviour is foreign and strange, and is beyond them, indeed many have simply said “I can’t see it” without fully understanding the truth of that statement.
So as Jesus passed by he saw this Blind Man, and in verse 2 we read
9:2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?
Automatically the world seeing that which was out of the ordinary, out of the normal, out of place, will ask……”who is to blame” Hence the question “who sinned, this man or his parents?” The world will look for someone to blame. The world supposes that one cannot just be born blind, someone is to blame, someone is at fault, someone must have messed up big time! There are those around us who consider that the conditions that result in disability, barrenness, illegitimacy, homosexuality, and the like are someone’s fault, someone is to blame, we must throw stones at someone. It is interesting that
these comments came from the disciples – not from the local by-standers, or the watching crowd. Christians too can often take pleasure in the fall of others, and delight to join in their condemnation, but this is wrong, for the Bible says, “let him that stands take heed lest he fall.” 1 Corinthians 10:12
But Jesus was quick to put the record straight,
he says in verse 3 …
9:3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.
In other words, this is not about someone’s sin, not about someone’s fault, but that the purposes of God for this person might be fulfilled at this time. Jesus knew, although the Blind man did not yet know, that there was about to be a change in his life, that this was the turning point, the beginning of a new chapter, the true beginning of life for the man.
It is easy for any and all of us to concentrate on the wrongs of others, (that is part of our old fleshy nature) instead we should be concentrating on how we can turn around a negative situation and make it positive, for the person involved. We are often quick to throw stones at the offender, but Jesus said, “let him that is without sin, cast the first stone.” When I look into my own sinful heart, I am in no position to throw stones at you or anyone else!
Instead of concentrating on this mans awful condition, they should have been delighting in the fact that Jesus noticed Him. Do you know that if Jesus notices you, your life will never be the same. This mans life would never be the same. You may never take any notice of Jesus, ….. for you, the Church may be a closed up shop, the Bible a sealed up book, the Pastor or Priest, a stuck-up Interference, the Christian a hung-up idiot, and Prayer
a shut-up activity! But Jesus notices you, indeed he will be praying for you, long before you will ever be praying to Him!
Jesus responds in verse 4 …..
9:4 I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
Jesus makes the most of every opportunity to reach into your home and heart with his love. He confidently takes notice of your life’s circumstances and so orders them that you might look up, and see Him! I have been visiting Hospital wards and ministering to the sick and praying for their healing for more than 35 years. I firmly believe that God has placed many a man and women on their backs in a Hospital bed, just so that they might look up and take notice of him! What is God going to need to do to get your attention? Jesus said, there is a night coming, the day and time of opportunity will end, the clock is ticking, the moments are passing, the mid-night approaches. But all is not lost, just as all was not lost for the man born Blind!
Jesus continues in verse 5, …
9:5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.
Into our darkened world some two Thousand years ago, there came a light, Jesus was and is that light, the light that has shone in the heart of every man. John 1:9 but men love darkness rather than light, and have turned away from Jesus and many still stumble aimlessly through a darkened world and a bleak existence without Jesus, without God, without Life and without Sight. In Matthew 6, and Luke 11, Jesus says that “the light of the body is the eye” and just as that is true in the physical so it is true in the spiritual. When by Gods grace we “see” Jesus as our Saviour, and accept Him as such, then our whole lives are transformed, and we walk out of that darkness into his glorious light.
Let’s read on, verses 6 and 7 …..
9:6 When he had thus spoken, Jesus spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay,
9:7 And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.
This is the first time we read of the “blind” being healed in this way. Jesus healed others who were blind, but nowhere else do we read that he made this clay and spit compound to do it. It may seem a little unusual, to say the least, – but it was obviously effective, and achieved the desired result. There are several important issues apparent here and it is vital that we do not overlook them. Notice with me if you will the WORD to the Blind Man. Paul says in Romans 10:17 “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Before Faith could be inspired or expected in this man, there needed first to be a word from Jesus. Jesus said unto him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” There was dirt in his face and dirt in his eyes, and he needed to wash. The world has left dirt on the lives of us all, and we all need to be washed. Sin has soiled and spoiled our lives, and there is only one way to be clean.
The hymn writer wrote:
“What can wash away my stain, nothing but the blood of Jesus
What can make me whole again, nothing but the blood of Jesus
Oh Precious is the flow, that makes me white as Snow
No other fount I know, nothing but the blood of Jesus”
Without the cleaning of Blood, there can be no remission for sin. Gods word to Naaman the leper was “Wash and be clean” and his word to this Blind man was the same! … Throughout the Old Testament the Blood Sacrifice of Bulls and Goats, Lambs and Kids, was sufficient to COVER the sins of the people, but when Jesus came, Gods way of Salvation is by the washing in
His blood that flowed from Calvary. The Old Testament Blood Sacrifices COVERED UP the Sins of the people, but the New Testament Blood of Jesus CLEANSES from every Sin and Stain.
Secondly I note in these verses the Obedience of the man. Verse 7 reads, “He went his way therefore, and washed”
Without any question, without any delay, without seeking the advise or counsel of others, ….. he knew what he needed, and he went to get it! I believe that God often has miracles for his children, but we can be so hesitant in obedience to God, so afraid of the opinions of others, and so hung-up on the theology of the Church, that our delay costs us our deliverance! This instant obedience was prompted I believe by Faith. Faith accepts what God says and acts upon it! Again we read …
“He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing“.
The work of God had become manifest, or clearly visible in his life, and from that moment on, his life would take a new direction. Gone was the darkness, gone were the fears that accompany blindness, gone was the old way of life, and now “everything was made new” This is exactly what happens to the man or woman, boy or girl who trusts in Jesus as Savour, and becomes a new creation in Christ Jesus.
As the Apostle Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:17
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things have become new”.
I don’t expect that when that Blind man got out of his bed that morning that he expected the change that would so radically transform his life? Jesus is still in the “life transforming” business, – have you allowed him to change your life yet?
Now let us continue to read on in the chapter, verse 8 says …
9:8 The neighbours therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged?
9:9 Some said, This is he: others said, He is like him: but he said, I am he.
The world is often slow to accept that the New Christian is in possession of the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. Many of the Babes in Christ, the Lambs of the Flock have been discouraged in their early hours of faith, by the taunts and accusations of the ill-intentioned world around them. Notice that his neighbours were keen to perpetuate the idea of his former life.
… Is not this he that sat and begged? they said. They could not grasp the transformation that had taken place, they could only see him as the “Blind Beggar” not as someone transformed! After your conversion to Jesus, the world may still see you, as the alcoholic, the drug addict, the jail bird, the car thief, the joy rider, the school bully, and much worse, but God will see you differently, God will see you as a “Son” or as a “Daughter” of the King. He will call you “His own” you will be “A Jewel” in his crown! You will be the apple of his eye, the object of his great love, and the vessel of his re-making. Don’t be alarmed if even the Christian Church folk are slow to accept you into their number, God is still dealing with the “Old Nature” in their lives too, as he will have to deal with it, in you!
So the man, aware of this confusion answered boldly,
I am he. (or I am the man) v9
Sometimes we have to defend ourselves against the onslaught of the enemy. But there is a very significant issue here in the personal confession of the Transformed life. While it is true that our Salvation, is of God, and what had to be done has been done on the cross, and there is nothing that you or I need to or can do, to add to it, the work of grace will not be confirmed within us unless and until we are willing to testify to it.
Note again what Paul says about this in Romans 10:10
“For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation“
There is something about your “confession” – your giving testimony to it, that seals the matter and brings you the assurance. There is no such thing as a Private Christian. I have said before in this programme that “a Christian that does not give testimony to the grace and power of God in their lives, is like a river that does not flow, or a fire that will not burn”.
Now there comes a question in verse 10, ….
9:10 Therefore said they unto him, How were thine eyes opened?
Once the world has noticed the changes that have occurred in the life of the believer, the world will start to ask questions. If you are a Christian, and look no different, act no differently, speak no differently, frequent the same places as the world, listen to the same conversations as the world, laugh at the same jokes, engage in the same activities, hold on to the same habits, cherish the same ideals as the world, then no-one, will ever believe that you are a Christian. In fact, I don’t believe you are! You cannot be a Christian and not be different in some way to those around you who are not. These differences will not be self-imposed changes, but rather will be changes that God will make over time to you as a person, to your character, to your personality, and outwardly the world will take note that you have been with Jesus, and have undergone a transformation. The Blind Mans neighbours were keen to learn who had wrought these changes in his life and in particular who had miraculously given him his sight? If you so exemplify the transforming Grace of God in your life, your neighbours, in your street, in your work-place, in your school, in your family will want to ask “who did this for you?”
Lastly verse 11, reads…
9:11 He answered and said, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash: and I went and washed, and I received sight.
I am particularly moved by the words, “A man that is called Jesus” for you see I don’t know how He knew Jesus’ name?
We do not read that he asked Jesus who he was, nor that Jesus announced or introduced himself. What is important, it seems to me, was that he had discovered who it was and his name, who had transformed his life, and given him his sight and a new lease on life! I could preach a sermon just on that one phrase, “A man that is called Jesus” for in him, and him only is the hope of all the blind, all the crippled, all the weak, all the fearful, all the lonely, all the depressed, all the suicidal, all the abused, all the orphans, all the sick, all the lost, all the forgotten, all the oppressed, indeed …. all the world!
“A man that is called Jesus”
He began His ministry by being hungry, yet He is the Bread of Life.
Jesus ended His earthly ministry by being thirsty, yet He is the Living Water.
Jesus was weary, yet He is our rest. Jesus paid tribute, yet He is the King.
Jesus was accused of having a demon, yet He cast out demons.
Jesus wept, yet He wipes away our tears.
Jesus was sold for thirty pieces of silver, yet He redeemed the world.
Jesus was brought as a lamb to the slaughter, yet He is the Good Shepherd.
Jesus died, yet by His death He destroyed the power of death.
“A man that is called Jesus”
There was never a man that lived like this man, never a man that loved like this man, never a man that looked like this man, his glance melted the hardest heart, his love moved the bravest heart and his ministry mended the breaking heart. Jesus who was passing by a Blind Man, stopped and transformed his entire life.
Now this final word.
Fanny Crosby was probably the most prolific hymn writer in history.
Amongst her best known Hymns are Blessed Assurance, He Hideth my Soul, Pass me not Oh Gentle Saviour, To God Be the Glory and one of my favourites Safe in the arms of Jesus.
Though blinded by an incompetent doctor when she was just six weeks old, she wrote over 8,000 hymns. About her blindness, she said:
“It seemed intended by the blessed providence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank him for the dispensation. If perfect earthly sight were offered me tomorrow I would not accept it. I might not have sung hymns to the praise of God if I had been distracted by the beautiful and interesting things about me”.
In her lifetime, Fanny Crosby was one of the best known women in the United States. To this day, the vast majority of American hymnals contain her work.
When Fanny died, her tombstone carried the words, “Aunt Fanny” and “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine. Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine.”
Blindness in her case, was a blessing that brought her into a deep and meaningful relationship with Jesus Christ.
Your Spiritual Blindness, if corrected can do the same. If this message has helped open your eyes, then you can come into a deep loving and personal relationship with Jesus too. He longs to have your love, your life and your loyalty!
God Bless You – Amen.