“What if Your Greatest Prayer Was Answered?”

Notes & Transcripts

Series: “The ‘March’ to Easter”

"What if Your Greatest Prayer Was Answered?"

Mar 2, 2008

Bothwell & Clachan

Scriptures: Jn 9:1-41John 9:1-41 ; 1S 16:1-131 Samuel 16:1-13 ; Eph 5:8-14Ephesians 5:8-14


Over the last few Sundays as part of our “’March’ to Easter” we have looked at the costs involved in being a desperately determined follower of Jesus. Those have included the personal costs as reflected in Jesus’ Teachings from the Sermon on the Mount. In addition, with Paul’s help, we have also visited behind the scenes inside the Church of Corinth . There we have been able to consider the costs related to our wider life together as a part of the Church of Jesus .

But a few months ago when I sat down to flesh out the outline of this Sermon Series, I also wanted to end on a growing positive note. So both today and next Sunday we will look at two of Jesus’ most spectacular miracles. These are the two that truly set him apart from anyone else who has ever lived. No one else has ever healed someone who was born completely blind, with no hope of sight. And as for bringing back people from the dead, even within the Bible, there are very few accounts of that type of miracle.


Did you happen to see the TV show last Sunday evening that featured a young man that had been born blind? His parents decided that, rather than focus on his inabilities, they would focus on his abilities. As early as two years of age, it was quite obvious that this boy loved music. And although blind, he is now a very talented singer and musician. The family made many sacrifices in order for this young man to explore and use his talents. His father took a night job so that he could be his son’s eyes during the day and help him get around. His father even helped him become part of the marching band at his school, pushing him around in formation just so the young man could participate in something he may never see.

When we look at a situation like this, today’s sermon title may be most appropriate: “What if Your Greatest Prayer Was Answered?”  Their prayer was for an improved home so that it would be easier for that Dad to care for his son. They merely asked for relatively simple things like wider doors so that the wheelchair would not rub against the wall or pinch their fingers.

So “What if Your Greatest Prayer Was Answered?”  In the Life Application Commentary article that deals with this Bible story from John 9:1-41 of the Blind Man, there is an introduction to these Bible verses titled, “ULTIMATE ADVENTURE!” As it says there, this passage from John 9 would make a wonderful script for a play or movie. The innocent hero, a disabled victim, is expelled from his home and lives on the periphery of society. Religious people suspect his parents committed some heinous sin, possibly before he was even born!

Into our victim/hero’s life steps a remarkable stranger who heals his blindness. The blind man is asked to wash off some miracle mud and loses track of the one who gave him his sight.

But there are some very strange responses to this unbelievable miracle in this man’s life.

Strangely, no one recognizes the miracle that has happened to him or shares in his joy. Instead, they treat him as if he has contracted a new disease! Even his parents maintain their distance. Finally, as he explains over and over what happened and what he thinks about the man who healed him, he finds himself thrown into the street. It is only then that he finally meets Jesus face-to-face and believes.


Unfortunately, there were some problems with this miracle. Oh, not with the actual miracle itself, but with all of the resulting fall-out. First of all, it was in violation of the regulations of the Pharisees to make mud on the Sabbath day and to cover a person’s eyes with that mud. In addition, it was in violation of the Sabbath to practice healing in any way except in extreme cases, and healing a blind man would not be considered an extreme case — it could wait until the next day, in this case, Sunday.[1]  And finally, it was unlawful to take a journey of more than 2,000 cubits (1,000 yards) on the Sabbath. A trip to the well to Siloam and back from the nearest wall of the temple, for example, would be about 1,300 yards. It is perhaps likely that the trip to and from Siloam was further than was allowed, though we cannot be sure since we do not know where the healing took place. Jesus may be not just breaking the Sabbath, but trampling on it, at least according to the views of these legalistic opponents![2]

So, for all the thrill of having a son who has been given sight for the first time, this scene is full of tragedy. These parents are not allowed to give thanks to God for the great thing he has done for their son. They must have agonized over his blindness and the begging he was forced into. Now he has been miraculously healed, yet they must put aside the overwhelming parental joy and knuckle under to some religious goons.[3]

Curiously, the healed man is encouraged by these same religious “kill-joys” to “Give glory to God” (v. 24). But this was not an invitation to sing a hymn of praise for his healing! The expression means the man is being exhorted by the religious leaders to confess his guilt.[4]

These authorities tell him that Jesus is a sinner, but the man does not pick up on that. Instead he points to the one certain fact of the case—he was blind and now he sees (v. 25v. 25). And by asking if they want to become Jesus’ disciples too he reveals that he himself has such a desire. We see that the man has progressed even further in his understanding of who Jesus is, for he here implies “that Jesus is his master”.  Although the man may appear to be cheeky when he asks whether they want to become Jesus’ disciples, in effect he is doing the work of an evangelist.[5]

So why didn’t Jesus just heal him on the spot, as he did others? Why send a blind man, in particular, on such a journey? There must be something involved here that contributes to the revealing of God’s work. Perhaps the man’s obedience is significant, revealing that he shares a chief characteristic of Jesus’ true disciples. Perhaps you are reminded of the OT story of Naaman the Syrian, who suffered from leprosy. He obeyed Elisha’s command to wash in the Jordan River , and was healed ( 2 Kings 5:10-14 ). This blind man also obeys God’s command to go and wash and receives a healing. And like Naaman, he too is able to bear witness to God as a result ( 2 Kings 5:15 ).[6]  But we must always remember that this healing was not effected until the man obeyed Jesus’ command: Go … wash in the Pool of Siloam (John 9:7).


Jesus’ identity as the Messiah is revealed here by the very act of healing this blind man. It is quite striking that the only references to healing of blindness in the Bible other than in Jesus’ ministry is Paul ( Acts 9:8 , 17-19 ). In the case of Paul it was Jesus who both blinded and restored him. So Jesus’ healing of the blind stands out as a major sign of his identity and of the significance of his coming into our world.

But although the healing reveals Jesus as Messiah, the way Jesus goes about healing also suggests his identity as Messiah goes beyond anyone’s conception of the Messiah.  In More Jesus, Less Religion, Steve Arterburn writes:

Some time ago, I read about the work of a Wycliffe Bible translator in a remote village in Papua New Guinea . When the opening chapters of Genesis were first translated into the native language, the attitude toward women in the tribe changed overnight. They had not realized or understood that the woman had been specially formed out of the side of the man. Without even hearing this concept developed, these people immediately grasped the ideas of equality between the sexes and began adjusting their behavior. The people heard. They believed. They obeyed. They changed. Just like that.

That change doesn't mean everyone in the tribe immediately came to faith in Christ, however. While they immediately recognized the respect God has for both men and women, the members of this tribe had their own hard-to-abandon gods and superstitions. One of their practices was to spit on the wounds of the sick. Their medicine men were known as the spitters, and they did not want someone like Jesus to take away their status in the village.

However, the attitude changed as more of the Bible was translated into the tribe's dialect. When translators read the passage where Jesus cured a blind man in a most unusual way, the medicine men pricked up their ears. The Master spit on the ground, made a paste of mud, put it on the man's eyelids, told him to wash it off—and the man was healed. When these tribesmen heard this story in their own language, they saw that Jesus was not against them, but for them. They found one of their own, a Savior who was also a spitter! And they came to the Lord because of this connection.[7]

Faith and Medicine

This week I read of another situation, here in North America , which was also impacted by this story of Jesus healing the blind man.  It is told by a man named Steve who writes: 

My daughter, suffering from anorexia and bulimia, was undergoing treatment at Baptist Medical Center in Kansas City . On one particularly difficult day she was told to drink a glass of milk, but just couldn't. Her doctor was called in. He sat down beside her on the bed and said, "You are a Christian woman, correct?"

She answered yes, so he said, "Do you remember the man Jesus healed near the pool of Siloam? Jesus put mud on his eyes to bring about his healing. But what really healed him?"

She thought for a moment and then answered, "His faith."

"Good!" he said. "Now drink your mud."[8]


So what would happen if you were given your deepest desire? In the TV show last Sunday evening, the family of the blind man asked for relatively simple things. Yet you knew that it would not end there. As well as receiving a new home, there was another special prize. Within the area of the young man’s brand new bedroom, was a set-up, fully equipped recording studio. As well, a brand new practice field was built for the use of his Marching Band so that his friends could also benefit.   

If you were to receive a dream come true, what difference would it make? Would it affect you emotionally, financially or even spiritually?  What would your new world look like?  I found it interesting that as the TV show concluded, there was that young blind man, sitting at his piano, playing a very meaningful Christian song of praise and worship. If you were given your deepest desire might it also result in you becoming a spokesperson for Jesus, as it did for both of these blind men?

As we prepare now to take part in our Communion service, please join with me in singing the first 2 verses of Hymn #36 “Open My Eyes, That I May See.”


[1] Mrs. T. M. Constance, Explorer's Bible Study: Gospel of John (Dickson, TN: Explorer's Bible Study, 1988), 2:53.

[2] Rodney A. Whitacre, vol. 4, John , The IVP New Testament commentary series (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1999), 241.

[3] Rodney A. Whitacre, vol. 4, John , The IVP New Testament commentary series (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1999), 243.

[4] Rodney A. Whitacre, vol. 4, John , The IVP New Testament commentary series (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1999), 245.

[5] Rodney A. Whitacre, vol. 4, John , The IVP New Testament commentary series (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1999), 245.

[6] Rodney A. Whitacre, vol. 4, John , The IVP New Testament commentary series (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1999), 239.

[7] Steve Arterburn and Jack Felton, More Jesus, Less Religion (Sisters, Oregon : Waterbrook Press, 2000), p.116

[8] Steve T., Florence , Kansas

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