The Blind! — John 9:1-41

The Blind! — John 9:1-41
By Pastor Lee Hemen
June 14, 2015

The old proverbial saying, “There’s none so blind as those who will not see” according to the Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings, has been traced back to 1546 (John Heywood), and resembles the Biblical verse: “Hear this, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear! (Jeremiah 5:21 NIV)” People can be physically born blind; they can be emotionally blind, intellectually blind, and worse — spiritually blind.

The Jewish leadership was spiritually blinded. They had become so used to the way things were and so used to following their set of codified laws that they could not see the working of God right in front of their eyes. Jesus came on the scene and began to shake things up for the blind. Let’s discover what happened…

READ: John 9:1-41

Here in John’s gospel we find…

I. Those spiritually ignorant remain blind! (Vv. 1-12)

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “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. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Having said this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means Sent). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing. His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” Some claimed that he was. Others said, “No, he only looks like him.” But he himself insisted, “I am the man.” “How then were your eyes opened?” they demanded. He replied, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.” “Where is this man?” they asked him. “I don’t know,” he said.

1. As soon as something good happens to some folks, others begin to think that it was due to luck, good genes, or mom liking them best! And, if something goes wrong, they think something else. As they were walking, Jesus’ disciples ask, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Their view of sin was skewed. They thought that he was in sin or his parents were sinners so he was born blind! “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” We forget that God has a plan for each of our lives and we are created for his glory. That man was part and parcel of what God desired for that moment. Jesus relates, “As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Jesus was the light in a sin-darkened world. He then displayed why this was true, “he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes.” He then told the man to go and wash his eyes in the Pool of Siloam. The man does and comes home seeing! His neighbors were incredulous and begin to question God’s miracle, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” Some claimed he was. Others said, “No, he only looks like him.” But he insists, “I am the man.” “How then were your eyes opened?” they demand. The crowd just could not see God working in their midst. He gave Jesus the credit, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.” They want to know where Jesus is, but he does not know where Jesus went. Those spiritually ignorant willingly remain blind!

EXAMPLE: We had talked for over two hours and he still would not try to understand the truth of Scripture. He wanted to argue minor theological issues instead. I finally quit talking about the Bible and began to talk about baseball. His response was immediate. “Hey! I’m not through!” I related I was since he had decided to remain defensive and accusatory toward what we had been discussing. He wanted to argue for arguments sake and I wanted to discuss what he truly believed. Like what occurred here in John’s gospel, I discovered that those spiritually ignorant willingly remain blind!

Interestingly we discover that…

II. Those given a glimmering of sight can lead the blind! (Vv. 13-23)

They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath. Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see.” 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 do such miraculous signs?” So they were divided. Finally they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” The man replied, “He is a prophet.” The Jews still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man’s parents. “Is this your son?” they asked. “Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?” “We know he is our son,” the parents answered, “and we know he was born blind. But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself.” His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews, for already the Jews had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Christ would be put out of the synagogue. That was why his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”

1. Not believing their own eyes, they bring the man before the Pharisees. These were the ones who were supposed to be leading the nation spiritually. They were not interested in God actually working in their midst but instead focused on the gnat; Jesus broke the Sabbath! The man explains Jesus simply put mud in his eyes and he now had sight! In their narrow-view they gripe amongst themselves, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others asked, “How can a sinner do such miraculous signs?” So they were divided and then turn back to the blind man, whom they did not believe in the first place, “What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened!” Wow! Not being sure of what they wanted him to say and not being sure exactly who Jesus was, he responds, “He is a prophet!” The Pharisees had the nosey neighbors who knew the man, they had the man himself, and they had the results but they still could not believe what their eyes saw. Instead, they send for his parents! And the interrogation is on, “Is this your son? Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?” They respond, “We know he is our son and we know he was born blind. But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself.” Notice that his parents said this “because they were afraid of the Jews, for already the Jews had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Christ would be put out of the synagogue. That was why his parents said, ‘He is of age; ask him.” Those given a glimmering of sight can lead the blind!

EXAMPLE: Blind Man’s Buff or Blind Man’s Bluff is a children’s game, a variant of tag in which the player who is “It” is blindfolded. The traditional name is “blind man’s buff”, wherein the word buff is used in its older sense of a small push. The game later also became known as “blind man’s bluff”; it is possible that this name is a linguistic corruption. The Pharisees of Jesus’ day were in a sense playing a deadly game of Blind Man’s Buff in that they were trying to push everyone into the pit they would ultimately fall into themselves! Jesus would tell his followers that the way of the Pharisees was a path leading to a pit, “Leave them; they are blind guides. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” (Matthew 15:14 NIV) Those given a glimmering of sight can lead the blind!

We find that…

III. Those blinded by sin cannot see! (Vv. 24-34)

A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.” 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!” Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?” Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.” The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will. Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out.

1. Some say that “curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought him back.” However, in this case it is stupid is as stupid does. Not satisfied in getting the answers they desire, the Pharisees bring the man a second time and demand that he “Give glory to God!” They were certain Jesus sinned and they were going to get the truth they wanted or else! And sometimes the best answers come from the simplest logic. The man responds to their interrogation, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” Often when frustrated folks do not get the answer they desire they begin to get louder and even more frustrated and angry. The Pharisees become accusatory and demand, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”  They wanted anything to gain an advantage over the miracle and Jesus. Again, the once blind man answers with a charming and I suspect a sly response, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?” His reply ratcheted up their aggression toward him; they begin to hurl insults at him: “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.” Now take a breath and be in the moment that is occurring here. A once poor blind beggar is having a theological discussion with the supposed spiritual elite of his people and they are the ones who are losing the argument! His answer to their insults is truly one of those great moments in history, “Now that is remarkable! YOU don’t know where he comes from, yet HE opened MY EYES. WE KNOW that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will. NOBODY has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. If this MAN were not from GOD, he could do nothing!” And what is their opened-mouth response? “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out. Those blinded by sin cannot see!

EXAMPLE: Recently the fifth graders of the elementary school I work at part time went to Ape Caves. I asked them if while they were there if they turned off their lanterns and flashlights to see just how dark it was in the underground lava tube. They did and all of them agreed it was extremely dark. So dark in fact you could not see your hand in front of your face. This kind of personal blindness is also referred to for those who refuse to see the truth when it is right in front of them. This was true of the Pharisees and it is true for anyone who sees Jesus, understand his words, but refuses to trust him with their lives. They cannot see the hand in front of their face. Those blinded by sin cannot see!

We find that without Jesus…

IV. The spiritually blind will never see! (Vv. 35-41)

Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.” Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.” Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?” Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.”

1. The compassion of Christ is remarkable. John relates that when “Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?'” meaning, the Messiah. Of course he did and I believe he suspected what Jesus was trying to tell him and asks, “Who is he, sir? Tell me so that I may believe in him.” Herein are two of the wisest questions ever asked by any man in the history of the world, because they are foundational in our trusting Jesus. When we are willing to ask, we are willing to seek him, and if we are willing to seek him, we are ready to trust him with our lives. This is where the once blind man was. Jesus bluntly tells him without any sugar-coating, come-on bargaining, spiritual bribery, or mega-church coercion, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.” Simple truth should always be kept simple. Not only were his eyes opened but now his heart was open to the truth of the gospel, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. Wow. What a tremendous moment. Perhaps the man fell at Jesus’ feet, perhaps Jesus placed his hands on his forehead, but whatever occurred I can see and hear Jesus kindly tell him, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” Of course, some of the Pharisees who were following Jesus around, heard his words and retort, “What? Are we blind too?” Jesus’ response to their hurt feelings is classic, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.” The spiritually blind will never see!

EXAMPLE: The dust collected on one’s sandals or the soles of one’s feet was to be washed or dusted off before entering a home. Jesus related to his disciples that when they went to a home or a city and those there did not listen to the gospel, they were to dust off their feet and leave. “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. (Matthew 10:14 NIV)” Charles Schultz’s character from Peanuts, Pigpen, who had a cloud of dust always surrounding him would need an entire bath! The Pharisees were fast becoming the Pigpens of Jesus’ day. The spiritually blind will never see!

Conclusion:

Those spiritually ignorant willingly remain blind! Those given a glimmering of sight can lead the blind! Those blinded by sin cannot see! The spiritually blind will never see!

This article is copyrighted © 2015 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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1 Comment

Filed under Bible, Sermon Notes

One response to “The Blind! — John 9:1-41

  1. chip

    After reading this article (sermon) I found myself asking the question…

    Ok, so what? What am I supposed to do with those words?

    I’m always amazed at the lack of any application to a person’s life (- excluding of course head knowledge) that’s given.

    In no way am I criticizing you… Just a noted flaw in most writing/preaching that I’ve noticed, especially since the “Church” is dying – according to most polls.

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