Summary: Christ opens our eyes to see Him in the midst of a world of spiritual blindness.
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
This morning I’d like to talk to you about a certain creature, a specimen you don’t see on the seminary campus very often.
I’m talking about … an unbeliever.
A non-Christian. Someone who does not have saving faith in Jesus. The type of people we like to talk about as we figure out how best to get them into our churches.
We want to get inside the mind of unchurched Harry and Mary. We like to develop strategies to get them connected to the church.
We like to ask tough theological questions about them, like, “Why does God choose to save some and not others?”
The unbeliever is an odd creature, and interesting to discuss.
I encountered such a creature on an airplane flight recently. Her name was Cheri. She was sitting next to me, reading a brochure about a non-Christian spirituality. It had to do with tapping into your inner spirit and things we might call New Age spirituality.
I asked her about her religious beliefs. She said she took her kids to a Christian church, but she wasn’t Christian. She wanted her kids to have a nice environment to make friends and learn values.
She didn’t believe the stuff about Jesus, she said. He’s a nice guy and everything, but she said the Jesus story didn’t ring true with her. Besides, she said, Christians are too judgmental.
Interesting creatures, these unbelievers.
In a similar manner, the disciples in today’s Scripture reading encounter someone they consider to be an interesting creature: the blind man. They ponder his unfortunate situation and wonder why he has been given such a sad fate. The blind man is little more than a theological dilemma.
The blind man is probably within earshot of the disciples as they ask Jesus: “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
You see, people assumed that blindness was God’s curse on a person for doing something wrong. So not only does the blind man of John’s Gospel have physical limitations, he has the burden of moral suspicion weighing on him.
But then Jesus speaks: “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”
Jesus looks with compassion on the blind man and approaches him. Jesus spits in the dirt, makes mud, and smears the mud on the blind man’s eyes.
Then, instead of speaking about the blind man, Jesus speaks to him. He tells the blind man to go wash the mud off. When the blind man does, his world is changed.
Sight. He can see! People. Trees. The water in front of him. His own hands and feet. He can see everything … except the Man who had healed him. The Man is not there.
Instead the people he sees are people with questions. “Who did this? Where is the Man who healed you?”
Now his eyes are opened, but all he sees is an unbelieving world. He sees Pharisees shaking their fingers in accusation. “This Man who healed you must be a sinner. He healed you on a Sabbath. He can’t be from God. We know how God works. We are highly trained in theology.”
The man sees his parents shrugging their shoulders at the Pharisees’ interrogation: “How he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know.”
Again, the man sees the Pharisees as they ask him another round of questions. Their faces are turning red and their voices are raised. “We are disciples of Moses. We’re orthodox believers. You’re telling us that some Mystery Man is going against the laws of nature and giving sight to you, a blind man, a wretched sinner.”
The man sees, all right. He sees an unbelieving world. He sees it all … except the One who gave him sight.
After the Pharisees in disgust throw the man out, a strangely familiar figure re-enters the scene. It’s Jesus, who is intent on fulfilling His mission, that the work of God would be seen in the blind man’s life.
In the midst of a world of unbelief, this Person asks a question of belief: “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
The man asked: “Who is He?”
Jesus said: “You have now seen Him; in fact, He is the one speaking with you.”
Then the man, having his spiritual eyes opened by the Holy Spirit, said, “Lord, I believe,” and fell on his knees.
Jesus, who opened the eyes of the blind man and gave him faith, is still at work in this world removing blindness. Even for Christians, for you and me, Jesus is removing our blind spots.
We display blind spots when we judge unbelievers. We often look down on them and pity them for their unfortunate situation instead of loving them as people. We treat them as objects instead of people. We can become smug over being chosen by God when really our hearts should break for those who don’t know the Lord.