The Lord's Day Evening
August 2, 2009
“A Blind Man”
Reverend Billy Joseph
Now if you’ll turn with me tonight to John chapter 9. As we come to this particular passage, let's look to the Lord in prayer. Let's pray.
Father in heaven, before You again we come and plead with You for Your Spirit. We plead with You for Your Spirit because we cannot even read Your Word and understand it without Your Spirit to teach us and open our hearts and minds. We can't remember it without Your Spirit, for He is the one that reminds us of what You have said. And Father we certainly cannot even begin to live it out unless Your Spirit works in us. So as those who have been saved by Your grace, as those who have been brought here by Your Spirit, as those who come seeking to know, we ask that You would teach us. And we ask these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
As we come to this passage there are some passages in the Scripture in which there is humor. This is one of them. And so what I'm challenging you young folks to do tonight as we read this is to see if you can figure out what's funny. The adults might figure it out, but let's read it, because we're really not here to laugh, we're here to see the Lord Jesus and to encounter Him. Hear the Word of God from John chapter 9 beginning at verse 1:
“As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of Him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.’ Having said these things, He spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then He anointed the man's eyes with the mud and said to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’ (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.
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?’ Some said, ‘It is he.’ Others said, ‘No, but he is like him.’ He kept saying, ‘I am the man.’ So they said to him, ‘Then how were your eyes opened?’ 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.’ They said to him, ‘Where is He?’ He said, ‘I do not know.’
They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 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.’ 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. 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.’
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 and asked them, ‘Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?’ His parents answered, ‘We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. 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.’ (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.) Therefore, his parents said, ‘He is of age; ask him.’
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.’ He answered, ‘Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.’ They said to him, ‘What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?’ 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?’ And they reviled him, saying, ‘You are His disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where He comes from.’ The man answered, ‘Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where He comes from, and yet He opened my eyes. 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. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, He could do nothing.’ They answered him, ‘You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?’ And they cast him out.
Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him He said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ He answered, ‘And who is He, Sir, that I may believe in Him?’ Jesus said to him, ‘You have seen Him, and it is He who is speaking to you.’ He said, ‘Lord, I believe,’ and he worshiped Him. Jesus said, ‘For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.’ Some of the Pharisees near Him heard these things, and said to Him, ‘Are we also blind?’ Jesus said to them, ‘If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.’”
I'm gonna start this off with a test and you have to be honest. Does anybody here know what a gump is…G-U-M-P? Oh man, and I always thought I was the illiterate one on this staff around here. Have any of you read any of the Oz series, or are all of you just stuck on the television Wizard of Oz book that was made into a movie? In about the third book, the characters, who have this magic dust of life, are stuck in an upper room of a castle and they take a — now remember, none of you have seen a gump, okay, and none of you knew what a gump was — they take a sofa, put a moose head on it, and palm branches on it, and they sprinkle the powder of life on it and it comes to life. And the whole rest of the book it's called a gump — G-U-M-P. Some of you didn't even know there was more than one Oz book, but yes there are eleven by the original author and he creates some of the most interesting characters. But if you've ever read any of the books that are illustrated you've seen what a gump looks like — but none of you have seen a gump! You’re as blind as this man! You've never seen the light of the Wizard of Oz in its entirety. Haha — I can't believe I'm the only one here who's seen a gump. Isn't that amazing? You didn't raise your hand back there, did you? Haha.
Blindness. Blindness from birth. No one had been healed from blindness from birth. Jesus comes along and He meets this man. He passes by, the Scripture says, He saw a man blind from birth and His disciples raise a theological question right off the bat: Who sinned - this man or his family? And Jesus answering and teaching His disciples tells them what? He tells them that this man hasn't sinned nor his parents. No, this has occurred so that God may be glorified. Doesn't that fit well with what Derek preached this morning? That even the most horrendous thing that could happen to a couple — to have a baby born blind — that even that is going to be for God's glory in some way, form, or fashion. That's the setting here. Jesus in chapter eight ends by talking about that He was before Abraham. Before Abraham was I AM. Then in John chapter 10 He's going to continue by saying that He is the Good Shepherd and knows His own and His own know Him. But in this chapter we're going to see how Jesus, in a real brief encounter, changes a man who can do absolutely nothing for himself. Absolutely nothing. Here is a man who has never seen anything.
If you go to Mark chapter eight you’ll read about the healing of a blind man and the blind man says this, when Jesus spits on his eyes and begins to heal his eyes, the blind man says, “I see men, but they look like trees walking.” Now how would that blind man have known what trees looked like to say that they were trees walking? - Because he was not born blind. This man has nothing at all to compare what it means to see. No idea at all — never has seen. Helen Keller — great story to read about a fellow Alabamian. She had seen at some point. She had heard. But a person born blind has no idea what it means to see, no idea what light is like, no idea what Jesus looked like when this discussion occurs around him. Put yourself in his place. You are minding your own business, you have never known anything but life the way it is for a blind man — a man born blind - and suddenly when you are sitting begging alms which is what you've been doing, as you’re sitting there you hear these folks passing by and they get into a discussion about you and your value — whether or not you sinned or your parents sinned. I don't know what the blind man was thinking, but it had to be an interesting observing on his part. Because that's what we're gonna do — we're gonna look at this blind man and how Jesus, in healing him, affects him.
First of all, we're gonna be guided by his responses to questions. Because here's a man that didn't know anything and suddenly sees. How does he see? What does he see? What is going on as he has had an encounter with Jesus and now he can see? Is he saved? Does he know Christ? Let's look.
Beginning at verse eight you’ll notice there — after Jesus had sent him to the Pool of Siloam, after He had spat on the ground and made mud out of saliva and said, “Go and wash,” he went to wash and he came back seeing, and immediately there is an effect on those around him. When Jesus operates in someone's life, there is an obvious effect quickly; not when Jesus just influences them, not when Jesus is just around, but when Jesus does something to someone. When He begins to work on somebody, even their neighbors say, “Is this — isn't this the man that was blind? Isn't this him?” And some of course are saying, “No, it's not him.” There's a question about this man's identify. And look at the man's simple, basic answer: “I am the man.” He's not afraid. Why? - Because he can see now. It's so apparent. He can see things that before were not there, and when people around him begin to say, “Is this the man? Isn't this the man? That's not the man. Are you sure that's the guy that was sitting? Are you sure that's the guy born blind?” Without hesitating, without training, without teaching, oh yes, “I am he!” And then what does he say? They start asking, “Well then how were your eyes opened?” And look at his answer, look at his simple answer — “He answered, ‘The man called Jesus anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash’ so I went and washed and I received my sight.’” He doesn't describe theological conversations that went on around him. He doesn't describe what Jesus looked like. Folks, he doesn't know what Jesus looks like, remember? He was blind when Jesus did this. He went away from Jesus and washes. He came back seeing and Jesus is not around when he comes back. He has no idea what Jesus looks like. All he knows is this simple fact — what does he say? “The man called Jesus.”
Some of you who may not be believers that are here. You've heard about Jesus. You’re here because a friend has brought you, or you've stumbled into First Presbyterian Church tonight out of curiosity, or it's close by and so you come, and you know Christians have something to do with this man named Jesus, but that's all you know. That's all this man knows — that Jesus is a man. Yeah, it's a man that did something really weird and strange, but that's all they know and that's all this man confesses. But look how the circumstances change his understanding. Notice how he begins to grow — how he begins to find out more. Look what happens — “They said to him, ‘Where is He?’ He said to them, ‘I don't know.’” You know, it's so amazing how honest this guy is and his simple witness to what he does know.
What happens next? Well, he gets mixed up with the Pharisees. So the Pharisees asked him how he received his sight. And he says what to them? - “He put mud on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” And then they asked him this moral question - This man's not from God because He does not keep the Sabbath. But some of them were saying what? How can a man even do this — be a sinner do such things. In other words, his simple testimony about what Jesus did throws the Pharisees into a theological discussion. They get into a theological discussion, there's division among them simply because this man says “He put mud on my eyes, I washed, and I see.” He is affecting them.
But notice, to solve their theological dilemma they ask the blind man to solve their theological dilemma. Look there at verse 7 — “So they said again to the blind man, ‘What do you say about Him since He opened your eyes?’” Now, the man, he knows that Jesus was a man, but notice his answer - he says what? “He is a prophet.” See, he's starting to figure out that this man, Jesus, who has caused him to see, couldn't have been just a man. He was a man, but there had to be more. Now in those days you've got to understand that when you started talking about “more” you didn't have athletes to compare Him to, you didn't have soldiers and television to tell him what a “mighty man” was, but he was a good Jew and he knew that anybody that could do this could only be a prophet. His theological understanding of Jesus is beginning to expand and it's beginning to expand because there's opposition to what he's saying. It's beginning to expand because people don't accept what he says and they want to know more. And he simply says, “Jesus is a prophet.” He's learning. He knows more than he did. He's beginning to see Jesus better and better — better than the Pharisees. Here He is right in front of them and they still can't see.
But notice the next major response that the man gives. It's interesting — this is where the funny part happens. Boys and girls. You know, I don't know about you, but I was raised when children were seen and not heard. That's not as true anymore — maybe it should be but we won't get into that theological discussion at all. Here for the first time in this man's life, his parents don't have to help him. He's finally an adult.
When I left the University of Alabama after 22 years of being a campus minister, my mother and daddy were in Europe at the time and they called us up and I said, “Mama, I have to tell you something. I resigned from RUF — uh — finally.” She said, “Finally! My son has graduated!” (laughter) Here's a man who has been taken care of all his life and suddenly his parents are throwing him out there. He gets to walk on his own. “Look, ask him, he's an adult. He's an adult, ask him!” It's amazing.
Verse 25 — he answers - “Give glory to God” they say. “Whether He is a sinner I do not know, but one thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” You see, he's beginning to say more. He's beginning to understand. He's beginning to understand that Jesus is not just a man, that Jesus is not just a prophet. Look at what the Pharisees say to him in verse 26 — “What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?” He answers, “I told you already and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become His disciples?” And I love how the New American Standard says, “Do you also want to become His disciples too? Do you?” He has gone to witnessing. He has gone to bringing in disciples. This man doesn't know a whole lot. They get mad at him. And then look at his answer in verse 30 — “Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where He comes from and yet He opened my eyes? 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. Never since the world began has this been heard, that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, He could do nothing.” You see where he's gone? He's gone from Jesus being a man, to Jesus being a “superman” if you want - a prophet, to uh-huh, this man must be from God.
You know we spend lots of time around unbelievers and we don't know what they understand. And unbelievers, as you spend time around Christians, you think that becoming a Christians is - all of a sudden you understand something, and immediately you understand it, and you’re a Christian. Sometimes it doesn't work that way. Sometimes it takes a long time. Sometimes it takes asking lots of questions. Look at all the questions that are asked in this passage — over and over and over. Look at the play, back and forth, that says to people, “Think about it. Reason it through. Understand.” When you encounter Jesus Christ, it's not just something that happens to you inside and doesn't affect your mind. No. The Scripture says we are to love God with all of our heart, with all our soul, and all our strength, and all our mind. Here you have a man struggling to understand who God is and what God has done. To him, yes, but how that affects others.
Christian, you and I are to give testimony about what we do understand about God to the unbelievers around us, but we are also to ask each other questions. We are to probe, we are to understand, we are to change and mature in our understanding. And yet, guess what? Even at this point, this man does not know Jesus Christ. They cast him out, they throw him out, they answered and said to him, “You were born entirely in sin and would you teach us? And they cast him out.” They threw him out of the synagogue.
Gosh, he looks like a Christian, he smells like a Christian, he talks like a Christian, but is a Christian a Christian because they know all the right answers? No. A Christian is a Christian because, look at verse 35 — “Jesus heard that they had put him out and finding him, He said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’” Okay, get the picture, this man has never seen Jesus! Jesus finds him. Jesus knows what he looks like. He has no idea what Jesus looks like. He knows whoever Jesus is, He was a man. Whoever Jesus is, He was a prophet. Whoever Jesus is, He must be God. Jesus finds him and says, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered and said, “Who is He Lord, that I may believe in Him?” I mean — that is — it's funny to me — now I don't notice any of y’all laughing but maybe you’re trying to catch on to what I'm saying, but it's still funny. It's funny in the great, gracious way of Christ. Because Christ has come to a man who cannot see and he does not know Him from Adam's housecat. He comes to this man and what does He say? “You have both seen Him” — past tense. In other words your knowledge of Him as a man, your knowledge of Him as a prophet, your knowledge of a prophet, a man prophet, He is of God. You’re right on. “You have seen Him, and He is the one who is talking with you. And he said, ‘Lord I believe.’”
Notice, he doesn't just say “Lord I believe.” Did you notice what he does? He worships. His whole focus is this man that he used to know only as a man Jesus, as the prophet Jesus, as obviously a man from God Jesus, but now as Jesus has come to me, I see Him. I belong to Him. All that I am is His, and all that I will ever be will be His.
Folks, if you’re an unbeliever and you’re encountering Jesus, He will change what you worship, by revealing Himself to you - and the process may take awhile until your eyes open. If you’re hanging around Christians and you've got lots of questions, keep asking the questions! Christians should not be afraid of questions that are asked. Why? - Because it may be a man coming to the place where he sees Jesus.
But notice Jesus’ response to the Pharisees, and this is important, because the Pharisees knew the Word of God, folks. They knew, they knew their Catechism, but they could not see Jesus standing right there in front of them. You may have been in this church all your life. You may have walked in this church for the first time tonight. You may have never heard of Jesus. Some of you have heard about Jesus all your life, but until Jesus comes and reveals Himself to you, even the information you have about Him won't be enough. We’re not saved because we know enough, Presbyterians. We’re not saved because we understand enough. We’re saved because Jesus finds us and reveals Himself graciously to us, who cannot see even beyond the tip of our nose unless He comes and He grabs us and He glorifies God by causing us to see.
Can you see Jesus? You who've been in the church for all your life? You who’re just here tonight? Can you see Jesus? Or are we still blind? Let's pray.
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