John 9 “Can You See Your Blindness?”

John 9 “Can You See Your Blindness?”
Preached @ Harambee Church by
Caleb Mayberry on March 18th, 2007

Intro
Have you ever felt like you’ve been dealt a bad hand? Have you ever asked the question, why me, why this, or why now? Have you ever felt that you’ve been given an unfair deal in life and God is nowhere to be found? We come to a story here in John Chapter 9, where we find man who was dealt a bad hand in life. We’re going to take a look at this man. And what this story will help us to understand is, what is God’s purpose in our struggles? How should we react? We’re going to see a couple of ways that people in general react to the purposes of God. One of them brings life and the other brings death.

Context
In the last part of Chapter 8 Jesus had just escaped from Jews that wanted to stone him because he declared himself to be God. He has already broken the law of God in the minds of many of the Pharisees because he healed on the Sabbath and he equated himself to God. And so, you might think that Jesus would lay low for bit. Stay out of the limelight until things cool down. As you’ll see Jesus does anything but that.

God’s Sovereignty – Jesus walks by and singles out the blind man. This man did not call out to Jesus. He was just minding his own business, but Jesus decided to enter into this guy’s life. It is also interesting to note the method by which he heals this man. He chooses something that is by its very nature unclear, namely mud, to bring forth clarity and sight to this man’s eyes. This further highlights that is it not ultimately about methodology, but about the power of God to bring forth healing even in what appears to be foolish means.

God’s Glory – The disciples assume that the blind man is in his condition due to sin in his life or in his parents. Like Job’s friends they come to the wrong conclusion. Jesus shatters their world view and says that in this case is isn’t about punishment for sin but solely about the works of God being displayed in this man. Our problem is that too often we think like Jesus’ disciples. We tend to have a very limited view of cause and effect because we often we fail to see things from God’s perspective. In our own limited perspective we understand that sin brings negative consequences and obedience brings positive outcomes. And while this is generally true, such a short-sighted view does not account for situations in which God’s purpose is not to punish but reveal his glory. This is difficult for us because our limited view of cause and effect is easily understood and managed by us. With this simple equation of sin = bad things happening and obedience = good things happening we feel like we can maintain some sense of control. But this story throws our thinking completely out of whack. If God can allow us to suffer for merely for the purposes of his glory, then the control we thought we had melts away in the mysterious will of God. It is not longer about us, but about God.

Reaction: Open to Solutions – The man born blind was open to solutions to his blindness. The method by which Jesus chose to heal him was very peculiar. The blind man could have laughed that off as ridiculous and wiped his eyes off and continue to begging. But he did not. In humility and in recognition of his need he was willing to take Jesus at his word.

Reaction: Closed to solutions – Once again we have Jesus working on the Sabbath and thus breaking the law of the Pharisees. The Pharisees, who are already seeking to kill Jesus, begin to investigate this miracle. They listen to his testimony but some immediately discount it based on their hatred for Jesus. In their mind Jesus has already proven himself to be a blasphemer of God and so this claim of such a good work could surely have not come from him. After all, a Godly man would have healed on Monday instead. Some understood that they could not just discount this, for the miracle was too great. How could a sinner perform such a sign?

Reaction: Rejecting the Truth
The Pharisees did not believe that he was truly blind and so they called his parents. The blind man’s testimony was not enough. They needed further proof. The parent’s testify that this is their son who was blind! At this point, if you didn’t know the story, you would think that any reasonable person, even a skeptic would at this point rejoice with the man who was once blind. Every piece of evidence given has indicated that an amazing miracle has just occurred. But for these Pharisee’s evidence is not what this is really about. This is about finding some way to discredit Jesus, despite the evidence that is obviously in front of them. They latch on to the one piece of “incriminating” evidence that they can find, namely the fact that he healed on the Sabbath, and they harden their hearts against Jesus and against this man. They reject the truth out of self-righteousness and pride.

Reaction: Accepting the Truth
Here we see the man who was blind come to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. He had an accurate assessment of his situation. He knew he was blind and that he needed help. He was open to the power of God healing him. He knew there was no self-help book out there that could cure him. It would only be the power of God. Though his healing began in Christ it worked through faith. Why didn’t Jesus just instantly heal his eyes? Why did he go through a strange method and tell him to go wash? I believe Jesus wanted this man to act in faith. And throughout this miracle, this man comes to the realization that Jesus is from God. And so when Jesus finally explains to him the fullness of who he is, he bows down in worship. All the evidence points to Jesus as being the Son of God who has come to save the world. And by God’s grace, he is able to accept this truth on the basis of the works of God done in him.

Judgment

To clarify the judgment that he speaks of is not the final judgment or condemnation. (John 3:17) This judgment really has to do with the works of God being displayed and how people will react to them. In God’s sovereignty some people will respond in faith, some will respond in disbelief. Some will recognize their spiritual blindness and need for healing; others will harden their hearts and proclaim that they are already healthy or that they can fix themselves. (see John 12:37-40 regarding the spiritual blindness of the Pharisees and the hardening of their hearts)

There is a sense in which Jesus comes into the world to polarize (Matthew 10:35). He is creating teams and when it comes down to it there is no middle ground. We are either for him or against him, but not in between. As God reveals his glory on the earth through his works, people will react differently. And the reason is this, the root of our problem is that without God we are like the Pharisees. We have a natural tendency to suppress the truth about God (Romans 1:18) We have developed our own laws and our own way of doing things in place of God, because we have traded God in for a god more to our liking. And so when we come face to face with the works of God and his glory, we naturally do whatever we can to downplay the glory of God and lift up our own glory. Like the Pharisees we claim to see, when in fact we are in pitch black darkness. We claim to be wise when we are really fools. If by God’s grace we can see our blindness, then as this story demonstrates, there is great hope for us. That hope is in Jesus Christ. God in his wisdom understood that our problem is that we have ceased to worship the creator and have instead worshipped his stuff. He understood that the cure for our problem could not be for us to save ourselves, for that would have done nothing but strengthen our pride which is just another word for self-worship and we’re still stuck with the same problem. God, in seeking to cure us, must lift up his own name. He must glorify himself. If we can begin to see God’s purposes in our trials and struggles; if we begin to understand that this is not about us and our works but about God and his works, then maybe like the blind man we can suffer for years, and yet have faith that God will heal us. Maybe we can persevere knowing that God is humbling us so that we could depend solely on him. And we only need to look to the cross. Christ demonstrated true humility. Christ suffered intense persecution and many trials even to the point of being unjustly crucified. (Philippians 2:6-8). More than physical healing we need spiritual healing. We need forgiveness of our sins and we need the ability to run towards Jesus and receive his righteousness and the eternal life that he promises. Through our trust in Jesus we have that. Through our trust in Jesus we will get through the trials, and the struggles and the doubts.

So my question to you is this, how will you react when the stuff hits the fan? Will you recognize your blindness and see the good works that God is doing in you? Or will you, like the Pharisees, claim to see clearly but fail to see that you are marching right into the pit of destruction?

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