Portraits of Christ: The Light of the World
- Isaiah 9:2 "The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned."
- Isaiah 29:18 /"In that day the deaf will hear the words of the scroll, and out of gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see.and
- Isaiah 60:1-3 /“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. 2 See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you. 3 Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.'?
- John 1:1-5 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.'
Jesus is the Light of the World. “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12, NIV84). Jesus makes this proclamation during the Feast of Tabernacles. During the Feast of Tabernacles there was a daily ritual. The High Priest of Israel, in a great processional made up of priests and tens of thousands of worshipers, descended from the Temple Mount to the Pool of Siloam where he dipped a golden pitcher and filled it with water. As he did so, he would repeat Isaiah 12:3: "With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation." (Isaiah 12:3, NIV84). The priest and the throng would then return to the Temple. On his way back into the Temple, the High Priest was met by another priest bearing wine for a drink offering, crushed from the grapes gathered in just before the Feast. Amid the sounding of trumpets and the shouts of the rejoicing multitudes the two priests simultaneously poured their libations into a silver vessel at the base of the altar which then flowed down the Temple steps into the outer courts. This ceremony reminded the people of Israel that God had given them life-giving water in the desert when they needed it most.
The daily water-pouring ceremony had its nightly counterpart in a lamp-lighting ceremony. In the Court of the Women stood four huge Menorah—a seven-branched candelabra. Each night they were lit, pushing light up into the night sky like a searchlight. So brilliant was their light that one ancient Jewish source declared, “There was not a courtyard in Jerusalem that did not reflect [their] light” They served as a reminder of the pillar of fire by which God had guided Israel in the wilderness. The people—even the most dignified leaders—danced exuberantly around the candelabra through the night, holding blazing torches in their hands and singing songs of praise. It was against the backdrop of that ceremony that Jesus stands and makes the stunning announcement that He is the true Light of the world just as they are about to light the first Menorah
One of the things that Messiah would do—one of the things that the Old Testament prophets predicted that the coming Messiah would fulfill—would be to give sight to the blind. Jesus did that, didn’t He?
Did Jesus really give sight to the blind? I have no doubt that He did. I believe the gospels and I believe the miracles. But we need to understand that Jesus almost always did His miracles to reinforce something He had just recently taught.
When Jesus heals this man who was born blind, He is reminding His disciples and us, that we all need the light of life in our lives.
We are all born blind—spiritually blind—that is. Our depravity, blinds us to the things of God. We cannot see or understand spiritual truth without the illumination of Christ in our lives.
The world is a spiritually dark. But Christ has come into the world. He is the light shining in the darkness. This healing was a sign of that. When He shines, the darkness must flee. If you turn on a light in a dark room, the dark disappears. Darkness cannot overcome light. In fact, light overcomes darkness.
And so Christ overcomes all darkness.
I. THE TRIUMPH OF TRUTH OVER TRADITION vv. 1-4
- it is likely that Jesus and His disciples pass this man on their way from the Temple area
- as they were walking along, they came by a man who had been blind from his birth
- he had never seen his mother's face
- he had never seen the blue sky, the green grass, the trees blowing in the breeze
- ever since the day of his birth everything was in darkness
- he had never seen the light of day
- he was a beggar
- there were no opportunities for a blind man to work in that culture
- he sat there, all day long, holding out his hands, hoping that the people walking by would be kind enough to give him a few coins so that he could buy some food
- Jesus—just a little while before—had declared to the people gathered at the Temple for the final celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12)
- now, suddenly pressed by the question of his disciples, Jesus is afforded the opportunity to bring light to the eyes of a blind man and illustrate spiritual truth with a miracle
A. THE DISCIPLES SAW THE BLIND MAN AS A THEOLOGICAL PUZZLE
- the disciples accepted the established theology of the day
- the Jewish rabbis had written quite a bit about sin suffering
- the rabbis were convinced that sin and suffering were intimately connected
- one of them had put it this way in the Talmud (a collection of authoritative rabbinical teachings): "There is no suffering without sin."
- this was official dogma of the day
- it was considered an established fact—if a person suffers it is because of a specific sin
- the disciples didn’t question this dogma
- it was merely a question or ‘who’s sin’ had caused the blindness, so they ask Jesus the question: "Whose sin had caused the blindness?”
- was it the parent’s fault that their son had been born blind?
- ILLUS. Some of the rabbis taught that if mom or dad sinned while mom was pregnant, they would implicate the child in that sin, and that God often would punish that sin by making the baby suffer in some way. One rabbi of the day wrote that if a pregnant woman would worship in a heathen temple, her unborn child would be considered to have participated in that pagan worship. The woman would have involved (implicated) her child in that sin. The child would be guilty of that sin. And God would punish him for it.
but then again, if it’s not the parents fault, maybe it’s the blind man’s fault he was born blind!
- perhaps he had somehow sinned in his mothers womb!
believe it or not, this was a commonly accepted belief in 1st century Israel
- ILLUS. Some rabbis put this forward as a possibility. They pointed to the activity of the twin boys, Jacob and Esau, while they were in their mother's womb. Gen. 25:22 tells us that Jacob and Esau struggled while they were in Rebekah's womb. So hard were they fighting that Rebekah wondered how she could continue living. The rabbis really went to town with this. They invented stories about how Esau was chasing Jacob around in his mother's womb trying to kill him. And that God punished Esau later in life for the sin of trying to kill Jacob. Esau's misfortunes—that the Lord gave the birthright of the eldest son to Jacob—went back to his trying to kill Jacob before they were born.
now, it is true that a specific illness or experience of suffering can be the direct consequence of a specific sin
- ILLUS. Ya smoke a couple of packs of cigarettes a day for thirty years, ya really can’t pin the rap on God when you come down with lung cancer.
- and sometimes God does punish specific sins in this life with particular forms of suffering
- the Bible also teaches us that there is a general connection between sin and suffering
- if man had not brought sin into the world, there would be no suffering
but sometimes, there is absolutely no apparent reason for the hardship and suffering that a person may experience
- ILLUS. Just ask Job!
- but the disciples, convinced by the reasoning of the rabbis, were sure that no one would suffer such a terrible thing such as blindness unless God were punishing him for some sin
our Lord cuts right through that rabbinical reasoning
- His words cut like a knife through the speculations and theorizing of the Jewish teachers and even His own disciples
- His answer was: Neither
- “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.” (John 9:3–4, NIV84)
Jesus is more concerned with the fact of the man's affliction than the why of his affliction
B. JESUS SAW THE BLIND MAN AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO MINISTER
- wherever Jesus found human misery he stopped and reached out to touch and heal broken lives
- the sick, the afflicted, the possessed, the leper, the blind—it did not matter to Jesus why they were the way the were—just that they needed ministry
- the Church would do well to copy this picture which John paints of Christ
- we are often guilty of a theological snobbery displayed in the attitudes of the disciples when they asked the question, "Who did sin?"
- the "How comes?" and "Wherefores?" of a person's condition are not nearly as important as the fact of the person's condition
- the disciples asked the question, "How did he get this way?"
- Jesus answers, "What can we do for him?"
- Jesus knew that his time for ministry on this earth was comparatively short
- He knows He must touch as many lives as possible "while it is day" v. 4
- by healing a man born blind, Christ revealed himself as The Light sent into the world to save us from blindness
II. THE TENDER MINISTRY TO A MAN EXPERIENCING TRAGEDY vv. 6-7
- all of his life this man had been blind
- day-after-day, week-after-week, year-after-year, he sat in the shadow of the Temple
- that temple was one of the wonders of the world
- it was one of the largest, most ornate and beautiful structures of its day
- ILLUS. An adage of the day declared, “He who has not seen Herod’s Temple has not seen a beautiful building!”
- he would never marry and have children
- he could never have a trade
- he could not fully participate in the worship activities of the Temple
- this man was different
- he didn't drop a coin into his hand
- he didn't preach any pious words about why he was the way he was
- he very simply met the man's most pressing need--he gave him his sight!
- “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means Sent). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.” (John 9:7, NIV84)
A. THIS MAN'S PHYSICAL BLINDNESS IS REPRESENTATIVE OF THE LOST MAN'S SPIRITUAL BLINDNESS
- they are blind and needing to see
- they are in darkness and needing light
- ILLUS. A woman named Rose Crawford had been blind for 50 years. "I just can't believe it!" she gasped as the doctor lifted the bandages from her eyes after her recovery from delicate surgery in an Ontario hospital. She wept for joy when for the first time in her life a dazzling and beautiful world of form and color greeted eyes that now were able to see. The amazing thing about the story, however, is that 20 years her blindness had been unnecessary. She didn't know that surgical techniques had been developed, and that an operation could have restored her vision at the age of 30. The doctor said, "She just figured there was nothing that could be done about her condition. Much of her life could have been different."
like this man born blind, the unchurched are simply subsisting by the side of the road to heaven unaware that anything can be done about their condition
- they are blind to the things that really matter
- they are unable to perceive that the Savior stands before them wanting to heal them through the spiritual ointment of salvation
- “I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 42:16, NIV84)
Jesus gave this man what he needed most—the tender touch of grace
III. THE TREPIDATION OF AN UNBELIEVING SOCIETY vv. 8-24
- it's interesting how our friends and neighbors respond to us when we get saved
- you tell your friends that you've joined the Interplanetary Class for Spiritual Wisdom & Cosmic Enlightenment, which involves becoming a vegetarian and meditating three times a day and you're considered enlightened
- you tell them you've accepted Jesus as personal Lord and Savior and they look at you like you just fell off the turnip truck!
- the lost man will always experience apprehension over how to respond to the life of a true believer
- we can see it from this man's experience
- in this passage we see all the excuses why men refuse to come to the light of Jesus
- physical blindness will never keep Jesus from entering a man's life
- spiritual blindness will
A. REASONS WHY MEN DWELL IN SPIRITUAL DARKNESS
- confusion over a changed life can keep a man in spiritual darkness vv. 8-12
- people are asking, "Is it him?"
- others are saying, "Naw, it couldn't be."
- when they ask him who had healed him and where Jesus was, he says, "I don't know."
- what I find interesting is that no one says, "Hey, let's go look for him!"
- man, if that had been me, I'd be saying, "I've got this hangnail. I'll go see if Jesus can fix it."
- I'll tell you what, I'd want to meet a guy who could make a blind man see
- commitment to tradition rather than true spirituality can keep a man in spiritual darkness vv. 13-18
- the Pharisees are more concerned that Jesus did this miracle on the Sabbath then with the fact that a blind man can now see
- if it does not agree with or support tradition it obviously can't be from God
- preoccupation with your current situation can keep a man in spiritual darkness vv. 19-23
- this man's parents are so fearful of being thrown out of the synagogue that they never stop to consider the miracle and the one who brought it to pass
- ILLUS. I've always loved to read. It's one of my favorite pass times. When we were first married, I would drive Linda crazy, because I would always wind up reading in near twilight. She would come over and turn on the light and say, "How can you read in the dark?" I would be so preoccupied with the book that I would fail to notice that the sun was going down and that I was reading in almost total darkness with the page just inches from my nose.
some people just never bother to look up from what they are doing
- they are so preoccupied with their life as it is that they never notice that they are living in the dark
simple unbelief and hardness of heart vv. 27-29
IV. THE TESTIMONY OF A LIFE TRANSFORMED BY GRACE v. 25
- this man's simple statement says it all, "Once I was blind, but now I see."
- Jesus would later confront the man again who would this time have his spiritual darkness washed away as well
- he encounters Jesus the first time as Son of God—healer
- he encounters Jesus the second time as Son of God—Savior vv. 35-38
In her book, The Story of My Life, Helen Keller tells of the dramatic moment when Annie Sullivan first broke through her dark, silent world with the illumination of language. We walked down the path to the well house, attracted by the fragrance of the honeysuckle with which it was covered. Some one was drawing water and my teacher placed my hand under the spout. As the cool stream gushed over one hand she spelled into the other the word water, first slowly, then rapidly. I stood still, my whole attention fixed upon the motions of her fingers. Suddenly I felt a misty consciousness as of something forgotten – a thrill of returning thought; and somehow the mystery of language was revealed to me. I knew then that "w-a-t-e-r" meant the wonderful cool something that was flowing over my hand. That living word awakened my soul, gave it light, hope, joy, set it free! There were barriers still, it is true, but barriers that could in time be swept away.
Certainly, this was how the blind man must have felt when he saw water for the first time as he washed his eyes in the Pool of Siloam. Just as the Light of the world gave sight to the blind beggar, and just as that "living word" awakened the soul of Helen Keller, so Jesus can awaken your life with the tender touch of His hand. He can give you light, hope, joy, and freedom like you've never known before. By his death on the cross He has disarmed the powers of darkness.