Summary: This is the sixth sign of the book of John, the healing of the man born blind. Jesus reveals himself to be the light of the world.

Light of the World

Today I am going to continue the study on the seven signs found in the book of John prior to Jesus’ death and resurrection. Over the last five Bible studies I have covered the first five signs covered in the book of John. We discussed how John could have included hundreds of other miracles that He witnessed Jesus perform. However he just includes seven that reveal who Jesus is.

In the first sign, the turning of the water into wine, Jesus revealed how He is able to take useless ritual, and turn it into an everlasting covenant. In the second sign, the healing of the officials son, Jesus demonstrates how He is the word of God. In the third sign, the healing of the man at the pool, we discovered that Jesus is the one who is able to forgive sins. In the forth sign, the feeding of the five thousand, Jesus reveals that He is the bread of life. In the fifth sign, the walking upon water Jesus revealed that the old system was ending and a new one was beginning.

The sixth sign is the third one that is a healing miracle. In this miracle Jesus heals a man who was born blind.

Before I read through the text for today it is worth reminding ourselves that sight is one of the precious gifts that many of us take for granted.

Listen to what Max Lucado writes about one particular man who was blind:

For 51 years Bob Edens was blind. He couldn’t see a thing. His world was a black hall of sounds and smells. He felt his way through five decades of darkness. And then, he could see. A skilled surgeon performed a complicated operation and, for the first time, Bob Edens had sight. He found it overwhelming. “I never would have dreamed that yellow is so… yellow,” he exclaimed. “I don’t have the words. I am amazed by yellow. But red is my favourite colour. I just can’t believe red. I can see the shape of the moon— and I like nothing better than seeing a jet plane flying across the sky leaving a vapour trail. And of course, sunrises and sunsets. And at night I look at the stars in the sky and the flashing light. You could never know how wonderful everything is.”

How many of us in here this morning have ever had to place a blindfold on and have a friend lead us somewhere? It can be a very unnerving experience.

And that is exactly what it is like for thousands of people who are blind. That is the very scenario in which a man finds himself in when Jesus passes by. I want to look at this miracle in the same way that I have looked at most of the rest. Firstly there is a test show the level of peoples faith before the miracle. Then Jesus performs the sign as a revelation of who He is. The finally John also records the teaching of Jesus in relation to this sign. He shows how the combination of these three things affects the people.

John 9:1-41

1:As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth.

2:His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"

3:"Neither this man nor his parents sinned, " said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.

4:As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no-one can work.

5:While I am in the world, I am the light of the world."

6:Having said this, he spat on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes.

7:"Go," he told him, "wash in the Pool of Siloam" (this word means Sent). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.

8:His neighbours and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, "Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?"

9:Some claimed that he was. Others said, "No, he only looks like him." But he himself insisted, "I am the man."

10:"How then were your eyes opened?" they demanded.

11: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."

12:"Where is this man?" they asked him. "I don’t know," he said.

13:They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind.

14:Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath.

15: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."

16: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.

17: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."

18:The Jews still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man’s parents.

19:"Is this your son?" they asked. "Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?"

20:"We know he is our son," the parents answered, "and we know he was born blind.

21: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."

22: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.

23:That was why his parents said, "He is of age; ask him."

24:A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. "Give glory to God," they said. "We know this man is a sinner."

25: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!"

26:Then they asked him, "What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?"

27: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?"

28:Then they hurled insults at him and said, "You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses!

29:We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from."

30:The man answered, "Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes.

31:We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will.

32:Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind.

33:If this man were not from God, he could do nothing."

34:To this they replied, "You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!" And they threw him out.

35:Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?"

36:"Who is he, sir?" the man asked. "Tell me so that I may believe in him."

37:Jesus said, "You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you."

38:Then the man said, "Lord, I believe," and he worshipped him.

39:Jesus said, "For judgement I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind."

40:Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, "What? Are we blind too?"

41:Jesus said, "If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.

The Test.

Like the other miracles there is a test of faith prior to the miracle taking place. In this case however, whose faith is tested? It becomes apparent reading this text a few times that Jesus actually tests the faith of the blind man. It isn’t obvious at first as it doesn’t appear that the blind man is approaching Jesus asking to be healed, nor does Jesus ask him any questions prior to healing him. The stimulus for this healing actually appears to be a conversation between Jesus and His disciples rather than an interaction between Jesus and this man. Jesus and his disciples might have passed the man many times before as they seemed to know that he had been blind from birth.

If Jesus doesn’t ask this man any questions, then how exactly is this mans faith tested? Well there are several different aspects to this test of faith. Firstly we find that Jesus actually begins this healing process by spitting on the ground, making a mud pack with the clay and then wiping this onto the mans eyes. Why does Jesus do this? What is the significance? The truth is I don’t know. Does the clay represent the earth out of which Adam was made. Despite looking into this, this truth is, I haven’t found an answer.

What I do know however is that this act would have been something that was very offensive to the Jews. Saliva was believed to be a cure for eye disease by some of the superstitious gentiles. The Jews found the method so distasteful that apparently within one of their man made laws, it stated that you couldn’t heal anybody with spit. Jesus methods would have not been the way that somebody would have expected to have been touched.

The first test for the blind man would be, how would he react to Jesus strange, even offensive, methods? Does the blind man push Jesus away? Does he protest that this can’t be from God, He wouldn’t use these crude methods? No, the blind man simply accepts Jesus methods. The first rule we learn here, is that if we want to be touched by God then we have to accept His methods, however much they don’t appear to be the way we would have expected.

Secondly, Jesus tells the blind man to go and wash in the pool of Siloam. What is so special about this pool? Well I looked into this pool’s history. It is a pool that used to be underground that was one of Jerusalem’s main sources of water. It is mentioned at the time of Hezekiah, of Nemiah and as the place where eighteen people died in the book of Luke when a tower fell on them. (Luke 13:4). There seems to be nothing particularly special about this pool, except for it’s name, which John tells us means ’sent’.

This is what I believe is so special about this healing, the fact that Jesus sent this man away in order to receive it. We don’t know how far away the pool was, but the chapter implies that it took the man some time to get to it. It certainly wasn’t just around the corner.

We have to remember that this man was blind. Walking to a pool was not an easy task. He could have stood their and protested with Jesus that he needed to be healed on the spot like so many other that Jesus touched. Instead he was simply obedient to Jesus’ command and started that long and lonely journey. I wonder if he had any doubts when he went. I wonder if he questioned whether Jesus was just fobbing him off. The man however was obedient and in doing so passed the second part of Jesus test.

Has God given you an instruction, and you are waiting to be able to see clearly before you obey it? Like this man, we simply need to act out of faith. We need to simply follow Gods command despite not been able to see where we are going. The reward for this mans faith was the gift of his eyesight. People often say, ’I will believe it when I see it’, Gods method is that we will see once we believe it, and act on that belief.

The Revelation.

With each miracle that John records, comes a revelation of who Jesus is. John doesn’t include any miracle in his book unless it reveals something about the person and nature of Jesus. What then does this miracle reveal about Jesus? Well in this miracle it is quite straight forward, and it is spelled out to us time and time again, it is the fact that Jesus is the light of the world. Jesus even spells this out prior to performing the miracle.

"... 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 shows through this miracle that just as he caused the physical blind to see, He also came into the world to open the eyes of the spiritually blind so that they might see the light. It becomes very clear in this account that not only does Jesus cause this man to become physically able to see, but he also opens this mans spiritual eyes.

After being healed we see that this man gradually has his spiritual eyes opened. Through this man’s witness we can identify three different stages in which this man is able to see spiritually clearer and clearer.

The first stage is when this man comes back home and tells his neighbours what has happened to him. When they ask who healed him he replies... "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."

He tells them that he has been healed by the man call Jesus. The only thing that this person knows about Jesus is that he is a healer. Often the first thing that we know about God is that we are changed physically. When I first became a Christian, I didn’t know much about theology, I didn’t know many verses in the Bible, but I knew that something had changed. All I knew about God was that he had changed me. He had cleaned up a swearing tongue and He had soothed a raging temper. This is this first stage of this man beginning to be able to see clearly.

Next this man is brought in front of the Pharisees and religious leaders. They interrogate him about the implications of what his very healing is suggesting about who Jesus is. Our Pastor often uses a phrase that is never more true that it is here. That phrase is that ’a man with an experience is never at the mercy of a man with an argument.’ This man powerfully displays one of the most effective ways to witness, simply tell people what has happened to you.

Theologically this man didn’t stand a chance. He was up against some of the most learned men in the nation. They were arguing that Jesus could never be the Christ, because surely the Christ would never heal on the Sabbath. This man doesn’t let his inferior knowledge prevent Him from standing up for the truth. He simply replies "...One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!"

If you are worried about witnessing and feel that you don’t know enough then look at this man for an example, simply people what has happened to you. It doesn’t have to be fancy, it doesn’t have to be theologically profound, just tell people what God has done for you.

It is in the middle of this man standing up for the faith that his eyes are opened again. At this point he makes another statement about Jesus, "He is a prophet." When we start to tell people about God, he actually causes our eyes to be spiritually open. When you read through this dialogue between this man and the Pharisees you realise that the more he stands for God, the more he actually understands Himself.

The man is so effective that the Pharisees excommunicate him from the temple. This was an unpleasant fate. The temple was both the spiritual and social centre of the city. Jews wouldn’t even be allowed to go within six foot of anybody who had been excommunicated. Jesus had caused this man to be healed from a state that meant that he would have been lonely and isolated. However because he had testified for Jesus it had meant that he was again left both lonely and isolated. It is at this point that Jesus comes to find him.

Through the conversation that Jesus has with this man, He explains that He is the Son of God. The mans reply to this now demonstrate that his spiritual eyes are fully open. "Lord, I believe." This mans revelation of Jesus has gone from Him being a man who heals, to a prophet, to the very son of God. This man is able to see the light of the world in His full glory. Only when we are willing to give up what the world has to offer, as this man did when he was excommunicated, will we be able to see fully the true light of God.

The Teaching.

In each of the signs that John records in his book he nearly always also records Jesus’ teaching concerning that sign which expands it further. Lets look again at the teaching that Jesus gives following this sign.

John 9:39-41

39:Jesus said, "For judgement I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind."

40:Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, "What? Are we blind too?"

41:Jesus said, "If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.

We only fully understand the last sentence when we realise that Jesus continues this teaching in the next chapter using the analogy of sheep in a sheep pen. He explains that He is both the gate to that sheep pen, and the good shepherd. His sheep recognise His voice and He will lay down His life for His sheep.

When Jesus is calling the Pharisees blind, He is calling them blind to who Jesus is. The analogy of the sheep shows that they don’t recognise His voice. Therefore, when He lays down His life, their guilt remains as they haven’t believed in Him.

We need to understand what has caused their blindness. It was their religion. It was their preconceived religious ideas about what the Christ should look like and the things that they should see Him do. They had already visualised the Messiah in their minds and, when He didn’t come like they expected, they were therefore blind to His true identity. The blind man on the other hand hadn’t got any preconceived ideas about Jesus, and so when Jesus pointed out to Him who He was, He instantly believed.

The Pharisees misconceptions are apparent in this chapter. Firstly, like the disciples, they have the mistaken belief that if a person is ill then it is directly related to a sin that they or there parents committed. We know that an individuals sin can cause them to suffer the consequences of that sin. We also know that sickness only came into the world because sin entered the world. However the Pharisees took this one step further and said that because sin can cause an individual illness, then all illness must be as a results of an individuals particular sin. You can see how their logic is slightly twisted. As a result of this belief, there was even a popular teaching at the time that a baby could sin in the womb and that is why they sometimes came out deformed.

They were also blinded by the method that Jesus chose to use. Jesus healed this man on the Sabbath by making clay and then telling him to take a long walk and wash in the pool. In the minds of the Pharisees that was a double violation of the Sabbath laws. The Pharisees had strict regulations concerning not making clay on the Sabbath and restricting the distances that you could actually walk. ’Surely the Messiah wouldn’t use this method, he must be from the pit.’

This situation is very reminiscent of Naaman encounter with Elisha in 2 Kings 5.

2 Kings 5:1-15

1:Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the LORD had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.

2:Now bands from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife.

3:She said to her mistress, "If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy." ...

(The king of Aram sends Naaman to the king of Israel.)

10:Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, "Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed."

11:But Naaman went away angry and said, "I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy.

12:Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than any of the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?" So he turned and went off in a rage.

13:Naaman’s servants went to him and said, "My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, `Wash and be cleansed’?"

14:So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.

15:Then Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him and said, "Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel.

Naaman at first was very much like the Pharisees. He expected God to move one way and so didn’t recognise God when Elisha moved another way. It was only when he did eventually do what Elisha had instructed that He recognised the Elisha was a prophet, and realised who God was.

If we truly want to see then we have to ensure that our own religion doesn’t blind us. We can actually be blind to Gods move in this church unless we are willing to lay down our own perceptions of how God should move.


As Christians we have had our eyes opened to the fact that Jesus is the truth. However do we truly see truly as much as we should? Do we have a clear spiritual vision of what God is doing in our lives and our church and the direction that he wants us to go? If not, then I believe that God is wanting to open our eyes. In order to do that we need to do certain things.

We need to ensure that we obey God, even if it means that in order to do that we might have to fumble about in the dark for a while, as the blind man did on the way to the pool.

We need to be testifying about what God has done in our lives already. We need to trust Him to give us the words to say.

We need to be willing to lay down own own religious ideals of how we expect God to move in this church, and be ready to recognise Him, however He comes.

If we are going to move in this town. If we are going to have an impact upon this town they we need to ensure that our eyes are open for His vision and not our own.