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So The Blind Will See

Lent 2017  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Dearly loved people of God,
There are two themes I’d like to focus on in this passage. It’s a long reading; lots we could talk about, but let’s experiment with pulling on two threads: blindness and sin.
The most obvious example of blindness is the beggar. He was born blind. He can find his way around town, but relies on help - directions, guidance, and the coins and food he gets by begging.
He accepts Jesus’ help. He accepts the spit and dirt on his eyes. He obeys Jesus’ instructions to wash in the Pool of Siloam. After washing, this man born blind can see! He also gains a view of Jesus that gets clearer as he faces questions from the Pharisees, but more on that later.
Interwoven into the story of the blind man’s healing and the investigation that results is the theme of sin and sinners. In fact, that’s where we begin. The disciples as Jesus about the beggar.
John 9:2 NIV
His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
It’s probably not our first thought when we see someone with a disability. But it was a common thought among the Jews of Jesus’ day. They base it in the 2nd commandment:
Deuteronomy 5:9 NIV
You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,
For those of you who have studied the OT in depth, you’ll remember in the account of Job losing his possessions, children, and health, how Job’s friends assume that un-confessed guilt is the root of Job’s misfortune.
Jesus doesn’t buy it, though.
John 9:3 NIV
“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.
It’s a helpful correction to our theology. Disabilities like blindness are not a result of personal sin, but part of the brokenness of the world since the fall. It’s humbling to realize that the reverse is also true. Our health, strength, and abilities aren’t reasons for pride, for they aren’t a result of righteousness or goodness. We receive such gifts by God’s grace. Thankfully, we don’t receive what we deserve.
For we fall short of God’s calling to goodness. You can judge your own success, but I know I fall short of God’s goodness. The consequences for sin is death.
What about Jesus, though? The question is fiercely debated about whether or not Jesus is a sinner. There’s a lot at stake. The Pharisees realize that if Jesus truly is righteous, if he is truly the Messiah coming from God the Father, they need to pay attention. But that confession is too threatening, too humbling. They don’t have an appetite for humble pie. They have already judged that Jesus is someone to reject and ignore.
John 9:22 NIV
His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who already had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue.
Instead, they line up the arguments in favour of Jesus being a sinner:
John 9:16 NIV
Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others asked, “How can a sinner perform such signs?” So they were divided.
John 9:29 NIV
We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.”
John 9.
The assumptions of the Pharisees make them blind to the possibility that Jesus could be the Messiah. They aren’t willing to receive help from Jesus. They just cannot see Jesus as their teacher, Messiah, and Saviour. Jesus’ judgement is haunting.
John 9:41 NIV
Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.
But the man born blind reaches a different conclusion. He accepts his healing as a sign of Jesus’ identity. He may or may not know all the Scripture passages about God listening to a righteous man’s prayer. Here are two examples:
Psalm 34:15 NIV
The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry;
Psalm 15:2 NIV
The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from their heart;
Proverbs 15:29 NIV
The Lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous.
ps 15.
There are other verses that indicate that God doesn’t listen to the prayers of the unrighteous. For the man born blind, the fact that Jesus cured his blindness is a sign that Jesus is righteous and a messenger from God. He testifies before the Pharisees
Psalm 34:15 NIV
The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry;
John 9:25 NIV
He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”
Proverbs 15:29 NIV
The Lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous.
Psalm 115:9 NIV
All you Israelites, trust in the Lord he is their help and shield.
For the man born blind, now that his sight has been healed, he can see it clearly: Jesus is a prophet. He’s a man from God. He’s the Messiah. He’s the Son of Man, long foreseen in the OT. When Jesus affirms the truth, the man born blind is willing to believe.
We’ve traced this promise throughout John’s gospel. It’s a theme that gives us comfort. Jesus is the Saviour. In love and mercy, God the Son came into his creation. He brought words of healing and truth throughout his ministry. Throughout his life, especially at the cross, Jesus suffered the punishment we deserve, even though he was good, righteous, and without sin. He’s the perfect substitute. At the cross, God the Father put all our punishment on Jesus so that he died the death we deserve.
Then he rose again. All his healings, all his signs, point to the restoration and new life that began when Jesus rose from the grave. Those who believe in Jesus gain eternal life - a life to glorify God, celebrate our renewal, and bear witness for what God has done.
For those with eyes to see, Jesus is the Saviour, the Messiah, the Son of God. It’s a humbling confession to make. The contrast between the Pharisees and the man born blind make that clear. It’s a tough thing to admit you need help. In some ways, it kills us to admit we cannot do it on our own. The Pharisees couldn’t accept Jesus’ help. It killed them.
The man born blind was accustomed to receiving help. He was humble enough to submit to mud going on his eyes. Humble enough to bath where Jesus told him too. He was willing to accept that Jesus was the Messiah, even against the strong pressure of rejection by the leaders of his religion, the leaders of his people. As a result of his faith, he gained sight. By believing in Jesus, he gained eternal life.
Can you see what he saw?
Isaiah 1:15 NIV
When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood!
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