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Sight

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SIGHT[1]

12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”                                                                    John 8 12

The healing of the man born blind

John Chapter 9

Jesus has already informed the people that He is the LIGHT OF THE WORLD – and following the discussion of chapter 8, John moves on to record the story of the man born blind.

This chapter is very remarkable because of the extended dialogue that runs through it.  It is arguably the fifth sign that John refers to in his Gospel.

The passage naturally breaks up into three narratives:

v    Verses 1 – 12   The blind man is healed and quizzed by his neighbours

 

v    Verses 13 – 34 The man who was blind is the subject of an official enquiry

 

v    Verses 35 – 41 Jesus finds the man and introduces Himself – the man worships

In each of these sections I want to focus on the man himself – there is too much material for an exhaustive study – even though the chapter raises many issues that are worthy of such study.

If you look at these sections – and they are broken up for us in that way in the NIV – you will see the distinct stages in the spiritual pilgrimage of the man who was born blind.

You should also be aware that the man’s healing was at great cost to him.  In words which are easily passed over in our times  (verse 34)  you will see how that the man – having been grilled by the Pharisees – is excommunicated by them.

This would have a very profound effect upon his life.  Synagogue membership was the key to all other social benefits.

PART ONE – THE MAN THEY CALL JESUS

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. 4 As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no-one can work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

6 Having said this, he spat on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. 7 “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means Sent). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.

8 His neighbours and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some claimed that he was.

Others said, “No, he only looks like him.”

But he himself insisted, “I am the man.”

10 “How then were your eyes opened?” they demanded.

11 He replied, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.”

12 “Where is this man?” they asked him.

“I don’t know,” he said.

It seems to me almost certain that the blind man would have overheard the conversation of Jesus and His disciples.    Imagine him there the subject of theological discussion.

So the first thing I notice about this man – is that he is aware that some are suggesting his condition was caused by sin.   Jesus explains that this is not the case and that it is an opportunity for “the work of God to be displayed in his life”.

The second thing I notice is that Jesus dealt with him in a way that prevented him from knowing who he was – at first.

He went and washed – and came home seeing.

This causes the first debate about him – his identity and how he comes to be healed.

The key words are :  “I am the man”

And  “The man they call Jesus …”

Regarding the whereabouts of Jesus he has no idea. (v12)

v    JESUS INTERVENES IN HIS LIFE

v    HE HEARS THE DISCUSSION ABOUT SIN AND BLINDNESS

v    HE GOES AND RETURNS SEEING

v    HE KNOWS JESUS SIMPLY AS   “The man they call Jesus…”

Those are some very obvious factors in the life that is being transformed – not only in terms of physical blindness – but spiritual blindness too.

There are here – on the very surface of the narrative – certain truths about finding Christ – about becoming a believer.

1.     Jesus takes the intitiative

 

2.     There are deeper issues here concerning God’s plan – and human         need  -  God’s plan and human sin.

 

3.     Jesus – when obeyed – is able to totally transform your life.

 

4.     The first stage of RECOGNISING JESUS is often in terms of His         humanity:

“The man they call Jesus…”

That is a good place to begin.

                                                                                <SECOND READING>

PART TWO -  HE IS A PROPHET    13-34   especially 17

13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. 14 Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath. 15 Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see.”

16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.”

But others asked, “How can a sinner do such miraculous signs?” So they were divided.

17 Finally they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.”

The man replied, “He is a prophet.”

The man born blind had the misfortune ??? to be healed on the Sabbath – so he becomes the subject of an extended enquiry. 

His parents are called – but they are too frightened of the consequences to support their son.

As we listen to the dialogue we are aware that the man is moving on in terms of his understanding of Jesus.

“I washed and now I see”             v15

 

“He is a prophet”                             v17

 

1.     The man has become the subject of a religious investigation

If Jesus enters your life – then you should be aware that there will be those who will question your experience.

Sometimes it is a quite natural curiosity.

They want to know what’s happened.

Can you explain it?  Can you tell them simply and directly what Jesus means to you?

At this stage the man knows (a) he is healed (b) the one who instructed him must be a prophet – a representative of God.

When questioning the parents produces no evidence they question the man again.

2.     Now he becomes the focus of some very unpleasant suggestions

 

24 A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.”

25 He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”

26 Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”

27 He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?”

28 Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! 29 We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.”

30 The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will. 32 Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”

34 To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out.

I am always struck by the forcefulness of this man’s conviction.  He must be aware as his parents are – that this enquiry can result in some really unpleasant consequences.

BUT HE HAS BEEN HEALED – HE WILL NOT DENY IT

HE IS BOLD ENOUGH TO SUGGEST THEY HAVE MIXED MOTIVES (27)

And when the discussion turns into a shouting match:

THE MAN SHOWS THAT HE UNDERSTANDS WHAT A PROPHET IS:

“Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will. 32 Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”

THIS MAN IS FROM GOD.

There is a very simple but very profound lesson to be drawn from this part of the story:

TO EXPERIENCE THE POWER OF JESUS IS TO KNOW HE IS FROM GOD

Yes – this business of sin and sinners keeps on turning up – and that is understandable – because that is at the root of the lesson John wants us to learn about REAL SEEING -  Jesus has come as the Light into the world – this will REVEAL SIN and DEAL WITH IT TOO

BUT THOSE WHO EXPERIENCE THE HEALING AND SAVING WORK OF JESUS MOVE ON FROM ONE STAGE OF KNOWING HIM TO ANOTHER

From “The man they call Jesus”

To “The prophet”

From other peoples ideas

To an emerging understanding or a remarkable Lord:

“Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will. 32 Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”

SUCH AN EXPERIENCE LEADS TO MISUNDERSTANDING, CRITICISM AND WORSE

Again the S-word features:

34 To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out.

The world still has its religious experts – and many of them are hypocrites too.

It has those whose view of Christ is coloured by legalism or other ideas of what pleases God – so that they cannot SEE WHO JESUS IS

This is at the root of the passage in John’s Gospel – the man SEES – the Pharisees are BLIND.

This comes out in the LAST SECTION                            <THIRD READING>

PART THREE -  “LORD, I BELIEVE” 35-41   especially 38

35 Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”

36 “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.”

37 Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.”

38 Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshipped him.

 

39 Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”

40 Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?”

41 Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.

THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP FOR THIS MAN WAS HIGH INDEED

He had been excommunicated!

It is important to recognise this when you listen to  or read this narrative.

This man – for all his wonderful experience of the healing power of Jesus – is now an outcast.  He can never participate in the community again.  That is a high price to pay for his act of allegiance.  But there is no doubting which way he intends to go.

For some of you here today the cost of being a disciple of Jesus may not seem very high – but for others it is.

To be ostracised and ignored – shut out and isolated – simply because you believe that Jesus has changed your life and that He is the prophet sent by God – The messiah – is a price you should weigh up.

JESUS COMES TO SEAL THE MAN’S FAITH

Surely our Lord did everything well!!

He speaks to him and draws him on to a position where he can truly put all his faith in Him – and worship him.

This is the ULTIMATE HEALING OF BLINDNESS!

37 Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.”

38 Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshipped him.

The man has already demonstrated that other requirement of all who follow Jesus – he has testified before others – at great risk to himself – of his experience of Jesus and his conviction that He is the Christ.

Now he BELIEVES

Now he WORSHIPS

Those are the three marks of faith in our Lord:

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT BEFORE OTHERS                (yes, it involves being seen as

                                                                        A sinner!)

FAITH in the LORD JESUS HIMSELF

And

WORSHIP          - the ongoing purpose of our relationship with God.

Have you met this Jesus?


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[1]Fifth Sign of John’s Gospel

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