Are You Blind Too?
Gospel Reading John 9
Emphasis of: John 9:35-41 Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?" "Who is he, sir?" the man asked. "Tell me so that I may believe in him." Jesus said, "You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you." Then the man said, "Lord, I believe," and he worshiped him. Jesus said, "For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind." Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, "What? Are we blind too?" Jesus said, "If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.
Our Gospel reading this morning, while longer than most, is nevertheless a favorite of most Christians throughout the world. It is the account of the work of Christ, which created a simple faith, but not simplistic faith in the life of a poor, uneducated man who was born blind. On a day not of his own choosing, he would receive sight for the first time, meet Jesus and come to know Him as His Savior and his God! Because of this encounter, we along with the man born blind, can understand a whole new meaning to the words we heard and sang, “I was blind but now I see!”
Illustration: By way of illustration, allow me to tell the story of John Newton. John Newton was a man who by all accounts lived a hideous life; that is until he encountered our Savior’s Word and was given a whole new way of seeing all things through the gift of eternal life. John Newton was born in 1725 and after the death of his mother at age 11; he began life as a merchant seaman. By his own account, His life was one continuous round of rebellion and sin after another. For a while he worked on the West African coast enslaving Africans and selling them to visiting traders. Eventually Newton became a captain of his own slave ship. The capturing, selling and transporting of humans to the plantations in the West Indies and America was a lucrative yet cruel and vicious way of life.
On March 10, 1748, while Newton was returning to England from Africa on large storm hit his ship. Everyone thought the ship would be lost, so Newton began reading a Bible that was a gift from a friend. Out of nowhere, the Holy Spirit opened his heart and by grace Jesus spoke to him through the Word.
After Newton’s encounter with Jesus, he left the slaving business and led a strong crusade against slavery. Eventually, Newton became a minister and preached powerfully about Jesus. He also wrote one of the most-loved hymns of all time, "Amazing Grace." At the age of 82 just before he died Newton proclaimed, "My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things: That I am a great sinner and that Christ is a great Savior!"
I. The Personalities and What We May Learn From Them -As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth.
A. Blind man- This was not a man who became blind due to an accident or illness, but scripture tells us he was a man blind from birth. He knew no other life other than darkness. He couldn’t work so he had to rely on the charity of others. There was nothing special or extraordinary about this man that in the world’s opinion should attract the attention of Jesus, yet Jesus went out of his way to notice him. Do you sometimes sell your Savior short by thinking that He does not care about you? Do you sometimes think that God has abandoned you? Then let these words offer you hope. Jesus noticed the blind man and He notices you!
B. Disciples-Jesus’ Disciples noticed the blind beggar also, and they asked Him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" Now this was a ridiculous question coming from 3rd year Seminary students (but I have asked a few of those myself). What was Jesus response? Did he point out how ridiculous their question was? Did he point out that they were giving superstition priority over scripture? No, his response was simply that no one had sinned to cause this man’s blindness, but rather watch and see now how this man’s blindness will be used to glorify God! Through this man, Jesus would take the opportunity to display the love and work of God. Jesus would teach them about the power of God’s Word and the simple means through which His Word is put into action. Through a little water and mud, Jesus Word would become the fulfillment of Messianic prophecy found in Isaiah 42, which is our Old Testament lesson for this morning. Now when the beggar was given his sight, Jesus and his disciples quickly left, leaving the man alone with his neighbors. I have to wonder if the disciples realized what they had just witnessed and the fact that it was the beginning of and even greater miracle. Maybe they had seen Jesus perform so many wonders that they had grown somewhat indifferent to the grace of God. Do you sometimes fail to recognize the many blessings of God that He allows you witness in your life? Do you take them for granted, busily moving on with life?
C. The Neighbors and acquaintances- The neighbors and acquaintances of the blind man certainly weren’t taking this miracle for granted. They could hardly believe what they had just witnessed. Did Was this really a miracle they just witnessed, or was this man an imposter, someone who just looks and sounds like their blind neighbor? They approached him and asked "How were your eyes opened?" They wanted to know the “how” but the beggar changed the question to who: He replied to them, "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." The neighbors listened in awe. This guy certainly seems like our neighbor, but look how his life has dramatically changed. Not only can he see, but his whole outlook on life seems different, and now he is even worshiping someone named Jesus! What is your life like? Do people take notice that you worship someone named Jesus? Do you stand out in a crowd?
D. The Pharisees-The neighbors must not have been as convinced as the man born blind that Jesus was a great prophet, because after the excitement wore off, they took the man to the Pharisees to find out what there assessment of the situation would be. The Pharisees immediate reaction was to doubt and ridicule the miracle and the miracle worker: "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. 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 Pharisees refused to accept the miracle because it would mean that Jesus might just be who he says that He is. They wanted to keep God in a box. They had to disprove the miracle to protect their future. Who needs a judge when all the criminals have a pardon! Are you uncomfortable with the way God works? Do the means that He chooses to bring faith bother you? Are you bothered by the idea that simple water Baptism brings the gift of eternal life? Are you uncomfortable with the fact that simple bread and wine are also the body and blood of your Savior, and that through the eating and drinking of these elements you can receive grace? Are you offended by Jesus Words that no one can come to the Father accept through Him?
E. The Parents-In a last ditch effort, the Pharisees sent for the parents of the man born blind: “"Is this your son?" they asked. "Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?" "We know he is our son," the parents answered, "and we know he was born blind. But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don't know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself." The parents certainly saw a change in their son’s life, and they believed that it was because of Jesus. However, they were afraid of the consequences of confessing faith in the presence of the Pharisees. They would have been kicked out of the synagogue, excommunicated. The parents did not have a courageous faith, but they had faith nonetheless. This still happens with Christians today, and we need to be careful not to label them as “non-Christians” simply because they may not be as courageous as others in their service to Jesus. But Jesus ALWAYS follows up his work of Salvation by providing the means of grace to persevere and continue our walk until we are forever safe at His side in Heaven. Let us listen how He did this for the man who was blind and learn how he does this for us.
II. The Work of Jesus as the Servant of God who was sent to open the eyes of the spiritual blind. 35 Jesus heard that they had put him out; and finding him, He said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?" 36 He answered and said, "And who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?" 37 Jesus said to him, "You have both seen Him, and He is the one who is talking with you." 38 And he said, "Lord, I believe." And he worshiped Him.
A. Jesus opened our spiritually blind eyes in Baptism. We now fix our eyes on Jesus. As the blind man’s life was changed eternally, so also are our lives have been changed as well. Because of Jesus, we now live lives of hope and assurance through the promise of His Word, which was applied to us with the holy waters of your Baptism. But you may ask, ‘How can I be sure that these Words are for me as well? Maybe if I was the blind beggar, God would have past me by. Certainly there must have been something special that made the blind beggar stand out? Surely his sins were at a lesser degree of “evil” than my sins and those hurtful Pharisee? No my friends, scripture is clear on this, the poor beggar's heart was as dark in sin as his eyes were before he met His Lord. He deserved nothing. That is what the "mud" was all about. There was nothing good in him, only the darkness of sin and death. Nothing in him but brokenness ... a poor know-nothing of a man, without help or hope. There was absolutely nothing he could do about it. Nothing at all.
B. As Jesus obediently walked that lonely, painful trek to the cross he had the worst of sinners on his mind-he had you on his mind! Jesus did not come to "call the righteous, but sinners." He is calling to you now! He is the one talking to your heart through His Word. He says simply, ‘Remember the promise that was found in the water and the Word!’ Your proper response to God’s call is the very same as the blind beggar, simply say through faith, “Lord, I believe” and worship Him.
III. Are You Blind Too?-And Jesus said, "”For Judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see; and that those who see may become blind.” Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things and said to Him, “We are not blind too, are we?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say ‘We see,’ your sin remains.”
A. Now we come to the question that is posed in the title of the sermon; it is the same question that the Pharisees posed to Jesus: “Are We Blind Too?” The short answer to the question, no matter who asks it is “YES,” but there are two different types of blindness. The Pharisees were blind to the truth of their own sinfulness and their need for a Savior. We should not be too hard on them however, because all of us have been tricked by the same mindset. It is a mind set that suggests that perhaps we are a sinner of a more deserving kind ... usually not too bad; better than most. You watch your life style and you minimize your sins. Most of the time you think that you’re walking on the strait and narrow. You’ve seen Jesus do some pretty wonderful things in people who had really messed up lives and you stand in awe, but you don’t really need that kind of miracle because you’re doing pretty good most of the time. But then, if that is the case, then you are like the Pharisees in that, you have chosen not to see the truth, which is your own sin. You have chosen to be blind and thereby excluded yourself from those whom Jesus suffered, died and rose for! You cannot see because you will not see!
B. As Christians, we have been given the gift of spiritual sight, but we need to seek blindness too! Does that surprise you? You see there is a need for blindness when we walk by faith. It is how God blesses us with His gifts of grace. God calls out to us in His Word and says “Do not be afraid! I shall lead you down a path you do not know. Follow me. Close your eyes to all distractions and I will fix My eyes on you. Just close your eyes and follow me. Have faith in me and worship me alone!” Close your eyes to the world that says “How can simple water save?” Turn your heart away from a world that laughs at your faith in mere bread and wine.” Close your eyes to the ways of the world and have faith in my promises and My Word shall be a light to your path.”
CONCLUSION Dear Christian friends, let’s learn from the man born blind and blindly follow the promises of Jesus. Let’s continue to follow the light of His Word so that we may not only be able to see in a world darkened by sin, but so that we may through Christ be a light to others. What a wonderful opportunity we have to witness to others this Lenten season and our up-coming Holy Week. Let your friends see you worship the one who has given you that marvelous gift of eternal life. Tell them, come worship the One who has saved me. When they ask you how did he save you, you can answer, “I was blind but now I see!? IN JESUS NAME~AMEN!