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I Was Blind, But Now I See

Stonebrook Community Church https://www.stonebrook.org

Gospel of John: Life in Jesus’ Name
John 9 – I Was Blind But Now I See

This week I was having a conversation with a man. He’s a good friend. Most days I love the guy. He has some wonderful qualities.

But may I be honest? Some days I find him to be one of the most annoying people on the planet. He can be proud. Stubborn. Full of himself. Selfish. Not wanting to serve or give. On those days I simply don’t want to be around him.

Do you want to know who he is? He’s actually here in this room this morning. It might not be kind to say who he is, but I will.

He’s the Man in the Mirror. He’s the one I stare at every morning in the mirror.
On those days when I really annoy myself, it’s because I have qualities that are anti-God. Qualities that reflect the opposite of the beauty and glory and goodness of God. Particularly qualities of pride. Arrogance. Even a spiritual blindness.

In the Bible is a man who was one of the wisest men ever to live. His name was Solomon. Here is what he said about such pride and blindness.
Proverbs 26:12 ESV “Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.”
Those words sting. A man who is “wise in his own eyes.” A man who thinks he is very wise, but in reality he is wise only to himself. In that state, he is hopeless. In fact, Solomon says that there is more hope for a fool than for him. That’s a bad, bad place to be.

These words relate to our passage today.
We are in a sermon series reading through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, penned by his disciple, John. Our passage today is John 9. In this passage we are going to encounter two very different types of people. One of them is blind but gains his sight.
The other has sight, but is really blind. And it is THAT blindness that is reminiscent of Solomon’s words in Proverbs 26. “A man wise in his own eyes.” A man who thinks he can see, but actually is blind and won’t admit it.

This chapter is such a joy to read. I believe GOD has something for us here this morning. And I’ve been praying for us all week.

John 9

While you are turning there, I will introduce myself to those whom I have not yet met. I am Brad, one of the pastors here. One of my primary responsibilities is teaching. As for my personal life, I have a wonderful wife who has put up with me for 33 years, so that says a lot about her patience and perseverance. And we have four grown daughters, 3 of whom are married. And 5 grandchildren. Some people have told me I don’t look old enough to have grandkids. Well, trust me, I am old enough. And I like to say that being a grandpa is more fun than a human should be allowed to have.

Vs. 1-3
1 As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth.

That he has been blind from birth is going to be a significant issue in this chapter.

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.

This is an age-old question. Every generation has asked a question like this: “Is my suffering because I have sinned? Is God punishing me?” When my father-in-law was near the end of his life, he was suffering from Alzheimers. And on his better days, he knew he was losing his mind. I clearly remember one day with him. He was frustrated, sad, and angry that he was fading. And he wept and asked me, “What did I do wrong against God that I am suffering like this?” Now in his case, I was confident that his suffering was not because of some unrepentant sin.

Now the topic of sin and suffering is a vast one. And while there are biblical examples of sin connected to suffering, our focus here is on this situation. Jesus is saying, “This man is not blind because he sinned. He is not blind because his parents sinned.” Then he points to a purpose involved in this situation: God is going to display some beautiful, powerful, glorious works in this man.

Vs. 4-5
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.”

First note Jesus says, “We,” implying not just him but also his disciples. Together they will “work the works” of the Father in heaven who sent his Son.
Second, Jesus speaks of some sense of urgency: “As long as it is day, we must work…”What he may be referring to is his short time on earth. After his death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven, he as the light of the world is no longer present physically. So in that sense, Jesus may be speaking of night.

And he just spoke of being the light of the world back in Chapter 8. But he says it again here knowing what he is about to do:
The light of the world is about to give eyesight to a man who was born blind.

The remainder of the chapter centers on this.

Vs. 6-7
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 mud
7 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.

Jesus spit on the ground and made mud. And he placed the “spitty mud” on the man’s eyes. From my un-scientific observations, men like to spit more than women. So we might not be that surprised or grossed out that Jesus spit and made mud. Yet what an odd way for a miracle. Why did he do it this way?

What is fascinating is that when you examine all the miracles of Jesus, no two are exactly alike.
• Some miracles happened by simply speaking a word, like when he calmed the storm.
• Others happened when others touched his clothes, like the woman who had been hemorrhaging for 12 years.
• Another time, he simply told the Roman soldier that his servant back home miles away would be healed. And it happened.
For whatever reason, the Lord’s methods vary, while his power and his heart remain unchanged. Perhaps that is so we trust in him, not in some “magical” method or technique.

Now let’s consider this miracle. This is astonishing. A man who was born blind….20, 30, 40 years ago…was given sight.
Nowhere else in the Bible or anywhere else I have ever heard has someone born blind miraculously been given sight.
And what is just as remarkable as the miracle is how little fanfare is described by John. Simply the statement, “He went and washed and came back seeing.”

We’re not even told the man’s reaction to the miracle. We can’t imagine him not being ecstatic. Leaping and dancing and shouting with joy. We can’t imagine him not smiling and laughing. He had a whole new world to take in with his sight, a world he had never seen before. Green trees. Blue sky. White clouds. Faces of family and neighbors.

Although this is thrilling news, and we are extraordinarily happy for this man, John has another purpose in telling this story. His purpose centers on the word, “SIGNS.”

In this Gospel, John never uses the word “miracles.” He called them “signs.” They were signs. Markers. Proof. Proof that Jesus was who he said he was.

In fact, the purpose of this book is about that.
John 20:30–31 ESV “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
This book was written so that we may believe.
If we are lost and seeking answers about this life and eternal life, we can read this and believe.
If we have already believed and found those answers, John wrote this so that our faith—our BELIEF—may be strengthened and our worship will increase.

This particular sign…. this miracle… is the sixth of seven signs recorded in John.

Vs. 8-12
Now the man is healed, and he is meeting people he has known before.

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.”

It seems surprising that these neighbors and others weren’t even sure if this was the same man.
But I think it’s because none of them could really believe someone born blind could have his sight restored.
That never happens. So surely this must be another man. They were skeptical. Unbelieving. And astonished.

Vs. 13-17
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.

Why did they take him to the Pharisees? We aren’t told.
We do know from earlier stories in John that the Pharisees hated Jesus, and one of the primary reasons was that he performed miracles on the Sabbath. The 7th day. Saturday. The Law of Moses forbade the Jews from doing normal work on the Sabbath. They were to rest physically and spiritually.
But there was no Law against doing good for someone who was in need.
And I think we would all agree that a man who has been blind since birth is in serious need. To survive, this man had to beg for money.
The Pharisees had many manmade laws that prohibited all kinds of activities, so while Jesus broke no law of Moses, he broke the Pharisees’ so-called laws. Their rules. This infuriated them.

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.”

Now the Pharisees debated among themselves:

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.

Some of these Pharisees were so blinded by their manmade rules, calling him a sinner for violating their rules, that they simply couldn’t acknowledge even the possibility that Jesus was sent from heaven to do God’s work. Others rightly wondered, “Well, this is obviously a miracle. How could a sinner who is opposed to God do such a thing?”

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.”

They continue to grill this former blind man.

Vs. 18-23
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 sight
19 and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?”

I find this humorous. In vs. 16 they seem to know Jesus did this sign. But they simply are unwilling to believe the story. So they bring Mom and Dad in.
They’re hoping the parents say, “No, he wasn’t born blind. In fact, he has always been able to see.”
They really would like to prove this is all a hoax, and that Jesus did not really produce this miracle, for Jesus brings a lot of headaches into their lives.

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.”

Mom and Dad are very intimidated. Very afraid. These Pharisees have much religious power, even the power to excommunicate them from the synagogue. From Jewish religious society. This is a tremendous social pressure.
So the parents played dumb, hoping simply to get out of there. They caved in to their fears, and were unwilling to defend their son and defend Jesus.

Vs. 24-34

Now begins my favorite part of the story.

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.”

They try to pressure the former blind man into saying that Jesus is a sinner. That is their conclusion, and they want him to agree. Then the Pharisees can proclaim throughout Jerusalem, “Pay no attention to this sinner Jesus.”

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.”

This is one of the most beautiful and simple statements ever uttered. He didn’t care how much they interrogated him. He had been unable to see his entire life, but now he could. And he refused to deny that.

26 They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”

They simply refuse to believe the obvious evidence. They are so stubborn, so they continue to press him and to argue.
The former blind man’s answers get even better:

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?”

I find myself cheering this man on. He’s going toe-to-toe with these stubborn, arrogant religious leaders, and he is not going to back down from what is true.
So he says the obvious thing: “Why do you want me to tell you again? Are you trying to become a follower of Jesus?”
Now they really get angry.

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.”

Now they are furious. They defend themselves. And they denounce Jesus again.

Now here is the best part of the story:

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.

That is an amazing statement.

33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”

This man has a good heart and a large quantity of common sense. If he and the religious leaders were in a college debate competition, this uneducated former blind man and beggar just crushed these pompous leaders.

34 They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out.

They have nothing sensible to say. He has obviously won the argument. So being the proud, arrogant men they are, they have only one option left: They bash his character and excommunicate him from the Jewish community.
What an exchange! This story is so beautiful. So compelling. Jesus performed this astonishing miracle…this SIGN…and these religious leaders simply can’t find a way to show it is false. A hoax.

There is more to the story. We’ve not reached the climax yet.

Vs. 35-38
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?”

He had never seen Jesus with his own eyes, so he didn’t recognize 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.

Oh my. Such a beautiful heart. Such a simple faith. This is so inspiring. Jesus, the light of the world, gave him a great gift.
And the man valued the gift so much that he worshiped the Giver of the gift. You see, the Giver is always greater than the gift.

And an important point here: the man worshiped Jesus. We know from all over the Scriptures, we are to worship only the Lord God. He worships Jesus, and Jesus receives the worship.
So there are only two possibilities:
1. Either both the man and Jesus are blaspheming God by giving and receiving worship, if Jesus is a mere mortal like us.
2. Or Jesus truly is Deity and worthy of worship. And he has been sent from heaven as God the Father’s agent to bring light to the world.

Vs. 39-41
Now Jesus is going to make a profound, attention-getting point.

He is going to tell us the purpose of this great work of God…this healing of a man born blind.

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.”

What does this mean? Jesus is not speaking now of physical sight and blindness. He is speaking of a spiritual sight and blindness. This former blind man was somewhat ignorant of who Jesus really was, but he ended up believing. He was blind, but then he saw… in both the physical and spiritual realm. The Jews, on the other hand, claimed they could see—they claimed to be followers of Moses. And they were sure Jesus was a sinner. And so was this former blind man and beggar.
Yet they were the ones who were truly 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.

If they, like the man born blind, had been prepared to acknowledge their blindness and ignorance, they, like him, would not be guilty of sin. The light of the world, Jesus, would grant forgiveness and life.
Because they insisted they could see just fine…. That they had true knowledge … their guilt remained. Their pride and arrogance kept them from seeing the truth….that they were truly blind.

They were like the Proverb.
Proverbs 26:12 ESV “Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.”
The Pharisees were guilty the great sin in John’s Gospel: Unbelief.

Jesus came into a world of sinners. People who had sinned against their Creator. People who resisted God’s authority in their lives. People who ignored God.

Jesus came as the Light of the world to shine in the darkness. Remember what Jesus said back in Chapter 8 last week?
John 8:12 ESV “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Here in vs. 41, he is speaking plainly. To those who acknowledge their blindness and sin and guilt before God, the Light of the world gives them spiritual sight and eternal life.
But to those who refuse to acknowledge their blindness, the brilliant shining of the true light only blinds them further. Their guilt remains.

Vs. 41 serves as both a Promise and a Warning.
It is a promise that if we humble ourselves and admit our spiritual blindness, we will find the light. We will find forgiveness.
But it is also a warning. If we continue to harden our hearts and refuse to admit we are in darkness… if we insist we are in the light and Jesus is not the light and we do not desperately need him… if we continue to do that, we will not escape our guilt before God. We will become more blind, unable to see the Light of the World.

Let me wrap up this morning with a few possible applications. In other words, we read this amazing story. Now what do we do with it?

1. BE HUMBLE, for we need to recognize our blindness.

The summer after my freshman year at Iowa State I was confronted with Jesus. I was more like the Pharisees. I was proud. I didn’t want to admit I was a sinner. I was blind. But over the course of that summer, God graciously began humbling me. He softened my heart. Finally, I broke before him and believed that Jesus is the Light of the World. I found eternal life. That was 40 years ago next Saturday. August 25th is what I call my 40th spiritual birthday. Like the blind man said in Chapter 9, “I was blind, but now I see.”

Humble ourselves and not be fools who are wise in our own eyes.
Proverbs 26:12 ESV “Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.”
The irony of the story:
• The blind man ends up seeing, truly seeing.
• The sight men end up blind, truly blind.
The light of the world is light for the blind, but blindness to the seeing.
May we humble ourselves before Him.

2. WORSHIP the light of the world
I love the simplicity of this man’s faith. He said to Jesus, “Show me who is the Son of Man, and I will believe.”
When he realized it was Jesus, he worshiped. The word “worship” means to bow the knee. To bow in reverence and worship.
In just a few minutes we will sing the old hymn, “Amazing Grace.” In the first verse, we will sing, “I once was lost but now am found. Was blind but now I see.”

That is amazing. And that is God’s grace. He humbles us, shines light into the darkness of our souls, and gives us spiritual sight and eternal life. What a glory! May we worship. And celebrate. And rejoice.

3. BOLDLY STAND for Jesus.

This beggar and blind man was so convinced of what happened to him that he was not going to be pressured into a lie. And into denying the reality of what had happened to him. He stood boldly for Jesus and for the truth.

His parents on the other hand, let their fears dominate them. They didn’t marvel at what Jesus had done for their son, and so they caved in to the pressures of the religious authorities.

Like the blind man, the more we remember what we have been set free from, the more bold we will become, even if others attack us and harass us.