Summary: Incredibly, God can use our disabilities, as well as our abilities for His glory. A man born blind discovers this and it changes both his life and his destiny? How can God use you in a similar way?
Last week, in John 8, we saw how Jesus concluded his great and brutal debate with his avowed enemies, the Jewish religious leaders of his generation. He had begun the debate with the statement in the temple that He was the light of the world. He concluded it by making what I believe to be perhaps the most profound statement found in all of Scripture, “Before Abraham was, I am.” And the Jews, the Jewish leaders who had rejected Him, conclude the argument with the ultimate sign of exasperation and defeat—they turn to violence, and pick up stone to stone Jesus, understanding full well that Jesus had just for the third time in that discussion claimed to be very God of very God.
And so the account turns to what happened next, or at least very soon after this great debate. Jesus does another incredible miracle, he heals a man born blind, as if to demonstrate that He indeed is what He claimed be—the light of the world, the man who gives sight not only to the physically blind, but the spiritually blind. And before long, news of this incredible miracle is brought before the very religious leaders who are determined to eliminate Jesus once again. It’s as though they cannot, no matter, what get Jesus out of their hair. Here is a group of men who time and time again are doing their level best to discredit Jesus and to find reasons to reject Him, but who, at every single turn as they attempt to discredit Jesus found themselves once again confronted with the naked truth that Jesus is exactly, the Son of God, the God-Man, very God of very God, the Messiah and savior of not only Israel, but the whole world.
Now as we look at this story, we’re going to see two things. First of all, the absolute undeniability of the fact that Jesus was indeed the Son of God and our Savior, despite the best efforts of His enemies to entirely discredit Him. And secondly, we’re going to see what it takes to be used by God. For what we have here is an apparently fairly young man whose chief characteristic is his disability, his inability to see, his blindness, which makes him a person whom God can used mightily to bring honor to Himself. He is the man born blind from birth, but through the mercy and power of the Messiah comes to see not only physically but spiritually the truth about God and His Savior.
So the story goes that Jesus was passing through Jerusalem after his debate with the Pharisees in the temple had concluded. It could have been the very same day as the debate or very shortly thereafter. It’s, again, six months before his crucifixion at the Feast of the Tabernacles sometime in mid to late September of about 30 A.D. And He and his disciples come across a beggar who is known to have been born blind. And the scene prompts a question from the disciples. It’s a good question, one we might have today, though we would have posed it differently, about why some folks are born with disabilities or deformities. But they ask the question according to the prevailing theology of their day, which was that all human suffering resulted from someone’s sin. So they ask, “Did this man sin or his parents, that he would be born blind?”—the thought being what some Jewish rabbis of that time actually thought—that it was possible for someone to actually sin in the womb, and therefore suffer for it at birth and for the rest of his life.
Well, clearly Jesus had an entirely different outlook on the situation, for He answers in verse 3, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents, but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” And then He announced “We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work”—an apparent reference to his coming death. And then He once again announced the truth that had sparked His controversy with the Jewish leaders. “While I am I the world, I am the light of the world.” And as if to prove this assertion, He spit on the ground, made some clay with the spittle and proceeded to apply the spittle to the blind man’s eyes.
Now how the blind man felt about this sudden invasion of his personal space right at this moment isn’t mentioned. I would imagine he was just a little bit surprised. I’ll bet no one had ever tried that one on him before. But the man was open, open spiritually-speaking. There weren’t a great many opportunities for blind men in those days, other than begging. And so when Jesus instructed him to go wash in the Pool of Siloam, well, he had nothing better to do. So he complied, and with incredible results. When he washed the clay out of his eyes, he could see!