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The Seven Signs of John: The Light of the World

The Seven Signs of John  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Jesus gives light to those living in spiritual darkness.

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Transcript
Text: John 8:12; 9:1-12
Theme: Jesus gives light to those living in spiritual darkness.
Before the COVID-19 Pandemic changed our world, I was preaching through the Seven Signs of John on Sunday evenings. Since it has been eight weeks since we were together on Sunday evening,let me refresh your minds about the nature of “signs” in the Bible.
“We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. 2 For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, 3 how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. 4 God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” (Hebrews 2:1–4, NIV84)
A sign is anything that communicates a meaning to the person reading the sign. We encounter signs regularly in our daily lives. It would be difficult to function without them. The meaning can be intentional. In our culture signs are used to communicate instructions (like a Stop Sign) or they can be used to communicate important information (like a Cracker Barrel ten miles ahead). Some signs are unintentional, such as a symptom being a sign of a particular medical condition. You might sneeze several times, and someone will say, “That’s a sign that a cold is coming on.”
The bible is a book full of signs that have theological significance. Biblical signs often involve the miraculous, but not always. The cross of Jesus was a “sign” though the crucifixion itself was not a supernatural event. In his conversation with Nicodemus years before Jesus told him, “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” (John 3:12–15, NIV84). Jesus is referring to the event in Numbers, chapter 21 where Moses fashions a snake from bronze and places it on a pole so that all who look on it may be healed of venomous snake bite which God has sent as judgment for Israel’s unbelief. Jesus is clearly telling Nicodemus that what Moses did was a “sign” that pointed to Jesus’ redemptive ministry.
Just as Old Testament signs served to authenticate God’s appointed divine messengers so that those who heard them and saw the sign would believe, so it is with the signs of the New Testament. The are meant to authenticate the words of Jesus so that we might believe.
What are the seven signs?
1) Changing water into wine at the wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11)
2) Cleansing the Temple (John 2:12-17)
3) Healing the royal official’s son (John 4:46-54)
4) Healing the paralyzed man at the pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-15)
5) Feeding the 5,000 (John 6:5-14)
6) Healing the man born blind (John 9:1-7)
7) Raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-45)
We’ve looked at the first five so tonight we are looking at #6—Healing the man born blind.
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 that Feast there was a nightly ritual. 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 Psalms 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 are truthful, and I believe the miracles happened. But we need to understand that Jesus always did His miracles to reinforce something He had just recently taught. His sign miracles were also meant to teach us some deeper truth.

I. THE TRIUMPH OF TRUTH OVER TRADITION vv. 1-4

1. it is likely that Jesus and His disciples pass this man on their way from the Temple area
a. as they were walking along, they came by a man who had been blind from his birth
1) he had never seen his mother's face
2) he had never seen the sun shine, the blue sky, the green grass, the trees blowing in the breeze
3) ever since the day of his birth everything was in darkness
2. he was a beggar
a. there were no opportunities for a blind man to work in that culture
b. 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
3. 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)
a. 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

1. the disciples accepted the established theology of the day
a. the Jewish rabbis had written quite a bit about sin suffering
1) the rabbis were convinced that sin and suffering were intricately connected
2) the Talmud (a collection of authoritative rabbinical teachings) says: "There is no suffering without sin."
b. this was official dogma of the day
1) it was considered an established fact—specific suffering is because of a specific sin
2. the disciples didn’t question this dogma
a. 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?”
b. was it the parent’s fault that their son had been born blind?
ILLUS. Some of the rabbis taught that if mother or a father sinned while mom was pregnant, they would implicate their 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.
c. but then again, if it’s not the parents fault, maybe it’s the blind man’s fault he was born blind!
1) perhaps he had somehow sinned in his mothers womb!
d. believe it or not, this was a commonly accepted belief in 1st century Israel
ILLUS. Some rabbis pointed to the story of 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 his birthright to Jacob—went back to his trying to kill Jacob before they were born.
3. now, it is true that some suffering can be the direct consequence of a sinful behavior
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.
a. and sometimes God does punish specific sins in this life with particular forms of suffering
1) in the Book of Romans, the Apostle say three time, God gave them over ... God’s wrath against sin was meted out by God allowing sinful man to do exactly what he wanted to do
b. the Bible also teaches us that there is a general connection between sin and suffering
1) if Adam had not brought sin into the world, there would be no suffering
4. but sometimes, there is absolutely no apparent reason for the hardship and suffering that a person may experience
ILLUS. Just ask a guy named Job!
a. but the disciples, convinced of the dogma of their day, were sure that no one would suffer such a terrible thing such as blindness unless God were punishing him for some sin
5. our Lord cuts right through that rabbinical reasoning
a. His words cut like a knife through the speculations and theorizing of the Jewish teachers and even His own disciples
b. 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)
6. 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

1. wherever Jesus found human misery he stopped and reached out to touch and heal broken lives
a. 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
2. the Church would do well to copy this picture which John paints of Christ
a. we are often guilty of a theological snobbery displayed in the attitudes of the disciples when they asked the question, "Who did sin?"
b. the "How comes?" and "Wherefores?" of a person's condition are not nearly as important as the fact of the person's condition
c. the disciples asked the question, "How did he get this way?"
d. Jesus answers, "What can we do for him?"
1) Jesus knew that his time for ministry on this earth was comparatively short
2) He knows He must touch as many lives as possible "while it is day" v. 4
3. 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

1. all of his life this man had been blind
a. day-after-day, week-after-week, year-after-year, he sat in the shadow of the Temple
1) that temple was one of the wonders of the world
2) 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!”
b. it was a sight he knew he would never see
2. his blindness precluded participation in almost all of normal, every-day activities of life
a. he would never marry and have children
b. he could never have a trade, and would spend his life as a “professional beggar”
c. he could not fully participate in the worship activities of the Temple
3. he was totally dependent on his parents, even as a grown man, and when they died he would be dependent on siblings
4. one day, a different kind of person stopped by
a. this man was different
b. he didn't drop a coin into his hand
c. he didn't preach any pious words about why he was the way he was
d. 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)
5. Jesus gave this man what he needed most—the tender touch of grace

III. THE TREPIDATION OF AN UNBELIEVING SOCIETY

vv. 8-24
1. it's interesting how our friends and neighbors respond to us when we get saved
a. 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
b. 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!
2. the lost man will always experience apprehension over how to respond to the life of a true believer
a. we can see it from this man's experience
1) 1st, there is public confusion over the man, and if his healing is real, vs. 8-9
2) 2nd, the Jewish religious leaders are incensed that the man’s healing took place on the Sabbath, vs. 13-16, and a little later they accuse him of fabricating the entire story, vs. 24, and end up by cursing him and hurling insults at him, vs. 28
3) 3rd, his own parent virtually throw him under the bus, vs. 20-22
3. in the end, they cannot shake the man’s story, vs. 25-27

A. THE DEEPER TRUTHS TO THE STORY OF THE MAN BORN BLIND

1. We Are All Born Blind—Spiritually Blind—That Is
a. our depravity, blinds us to the things of God
b. we cannot see or understand spiritual truth without the illumination of Christ in our lives
2. Jesus Is the Light of the World and Only He Can May Us Spiritually See
a. the world is a spiritually dark
b. but Christ has come into the world
1) he is the light shining in the darkness, and this healing was a sign of that
c. when He shines, the darkness must flee
ILLUS. If you turn on a light in a dark room, the dark disappears. Darkness cannot overcome light, but light overcomes darkness.
d. and so Christ overcomes all darkness
e. in the end, the greater miracle is that the man receives spiritual sight vs. 35-38
3. When We Come to the Light, Some Will Hate Us and Some Will Be Confused by the Miracle of the New Birth in Our Life
4. God Has a Larger Purpose in Our Suffering than We Can Ever Imagine

IV. THE TESTIMONY OF A LIFE TRANSFORMED BY GRACE v. 25

1. this man's simple statement says it all, "Once I was blind, but now I see."
2. Jesus would later confront the man again who would this time have his spiritual darkness washed away as well
a. he encounters Jesus the first time as Son of God—healer
b. 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.
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