I once was blind, but now I see...
John 9 As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6 Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man's eyes with the mud7 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.
8 The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar were saying, “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.” 10 So they said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 11 He 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.” 12 They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”
13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind.14 Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15 So 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.” 16 Some 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. 17 So 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.”
18 The 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 sight19 and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” 20 His parents answered, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. 21 But 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.)23 Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”
24 So 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.” 25 He answered, “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” 26 They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 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?” 28 And they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29 We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” 30 The man answered, “Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him.32 Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” 34 They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out
35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” 38 He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. 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.”40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.
Jesus is a light to the blind
Why have no aliens ever visited our galaxy? Because according to reviews, there’s only 1 star. Jokes aside, the fact of the matter is that the Sun is at the centre of the galaxy. And life would not be possible without the Sun but at the same time, the Sun can just as easily wipe out everything you see. It gives light so we can see, but the same light can blind you.
That is exactly the picture of Jesus here in our passage.
There’s two things the passage wants us to look at. First is the blind man, and second is the religious leaders.
The Light That Heals
Look at verse 9.
9 As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.
What do you guys think of when you hear of a baby born with a severe congenital defect? We all want to ask why and perhaps question why, God? If there’s someone to blame, surely, it’s not the baby because babies are innocent right. Where did we get that idea? How did we arrive at the conclusion that it’s not your fault if you were born a certain way?
Because this has not been the case throughout history. Not in Asian cultures – I know. Not back in the ancient near east because look at the disciples’ question. Who sinned? Straightaway their assumption was either this man did something deserving of this punishment or his parents did. No culture that I know of ever came up with the idea that babies with birth defects are innocent. Until Jesus and the Bible.
And what you’ll find when you come to Jesus with that question of suffering is there are no easy answers. Because the issue is complex. On one hand, suffering is real. We are not mystics who say it’s all just an illusion. The guy is blind. Cancer does suck. But on the other hand, suffering has more than a physiological component. There’s more going on than cell division and DNA error. Jesus tells us, that the works of God might be displayed.
We’re not talking about suffering today but if you want to know more you can always ask a question later. But look at how Jesus sees the blind man? He doesn’t immediately assume you must have done something wrong, maybe in your past life, or your parents or whatever. What does he see? Someone whom God is working in. Look at what Jesus says in verse 4.
4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6 Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man's eyes with the mud7 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.
Just try and put yourself in this blind beggar’s shoes. There you are in your usual spot, bowl in hand and you hear a crowd coming and people start talking about you. Here we go again. Except this time someone doesn’t look at you as blind beggar. Jesus doesn’t define you by what you lack or how flawed and broken you are. He sees a work of God.
And remember if you’re the blind beggar, you have no idea what Jesus is doing for you. When he spat on the ground, you had no idea. When he made the mud, you had no idea. When he anointed your eyes, you didn’t even know what it was for. Notice Jesus didn’t tell the beggar now I know this is a bit gross, but it’s so you can be cured. He didn’t say anything except go and wash. So he went and washed and came back seeing. It’s literally blind obedience.
And it doesn’t stop there. Because this thing has gone viral. You’re being interviewed and interrogated. Brought before the courts to testify in a criminal case, got kicked out because they didn’t believe you. Then brought back in again and then got cast out again. All of that happens in between verse 7 and verse 35. Until verse 35.
35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” 38 He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.
It’s easy for us to read this and not notice that this blind guy has undergone a massive transformation. His entire identity has been changed. He’s a changed man. And I’m not talking about going from being blind to seeing. Or even being a beggar to semi-celebrity status. It’s going from believing that there is only one God who made the world, to believing in a man and worshipping a man as God.
And that’s who Jesus is. To the blind, he is a light. This is what Christianity is about. It’s not a lifestyle choice. Nobody here is blind, but even if you are, Jesus doesn’t offer to heal your eyes. The message of the Bible is do you believe in the Son of Man? Do you believe in Jesus Christ and so worship Him?
The Light That Blinds
But secondly, to the religious leaders, Jesus is a light that blinds. Look at verse 39.
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.”40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.
One of the crimes that the religious leaders charged Jesus with was breaking the Sabbath. Why? Because Jesus made mud with dirt. Which was technically kneading and not allowed. They’ve focussed in on the one thing that doesn’t fit their worldview as an excuse to completely disregard and discredit Jesus.
Ok be honest, what was your reaction to what Jesus did – spitting on the ground, taking the mud and smearing it on the blind guy? No matter how you look at it, it’s off-putting. It’s even perhaps gross. It’s offensive right? If the blind man could see, I actually wonder if he will recoil and pull back from Jesus. Can you still heal me but maybe just leave out your saliva?
You hear people say, I’m a Christian but I really cannot stand what Jesus says about sex and homosexuality. What’s wrong with us having sex before marriage? I’m a Christian but I don’t go to church because I can’t stand their view towards women. Why can’t women be pastors in some churches?
What are we doing when do that? We’re just like the Pharisees! We let the one thing that is offensive to our worldview blind us to what Jesus is offering. We’ve let ourselves be blinded to the bigger picture of who Jesus is. And this is the surprise in this passage. Jesus doesn’t just open the eyes of the blind, he blinds those who can see but refuse to believe. On one hand, this is an open invitation for anyone to come and be restored in a way that’s completely life changing. But on the other hand, this is a warning to those who claim to see. Jesus says, for judgment I came so that those who see may become blind.
As we close, ask yourself this: how much are you willing to put up with in order to believe in Jesus and worship Him? Will you give up your convictions about your own sexuality? Will you change your stance on abortion or marriage? Will you prioritize your church over your career? Will you let Jesus anoint your eyes with mud?
CS Lewis who is perhaps the greatest Christian author writes this: I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it but because by it I see everything else.