Sermon: John 9: Sight for the Blind
Imagine being blind. I don’t think you and I can really imagine that. Unless you’ve felt it, you probably have no idea. I did think it was interesting that in the movie Ray that came out a number of years ago, about the blind musician Ray Charles, the actor that played Ray Charles insisted on being blind every day. The actor didn’t just wear dark glasses and pretend to be blind. Instead, when he woke up early in the morning, he would eat breakfast, and then he would put on some sort of blindfold that would cover his eyes, and he wouldn’t remove it, not even for a break or for lunch or dinner – he wouldn’t remove that blindfold until the very end of the day. As a professional actor, he wanted to feel what it was like to be blind. Can you imagine doing that, even for one day?
This morning, we’re going to see how Jesus healed a man that was born blind. And as we look at this story, it’s going to become clear that this is also your story – Jesus has healed you too, but from a different kind of blindness. Jesus literally changed the way this man saw the world, and Jesus has done the same thing for us.
Jesus and his disciples were walking along, and they saw a blind man begging on the side of the street. They didn’t have welfare or disability back then, and so if you were unable to work, you were often forced into the street to beg. The disciples asked Jesus a common question when they saw that blind man – “Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” It was a very common belief back then, that if someone was born with a disability, it was a punishment from God.
Jesus answered that it was not a punishment. Look at the reason Jesus gave for this man’s blindness: “This happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” God was going to do something special in this man’s life, and being born blind was part of God’s plan. And that’s a good thing for us to keep in mind today, as we come into contact with people who might have some disabilities – why are they born that way? We don’t always know. But sometimes, God lets those things happen so that he can do something special in that person’s life.
That was the case for this man here. Notice how Jesus connects this blindness with his outlook on 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.” In other words, Jesus was telling his disciples that he wasn’t going to procrastinate when it came to doing the work of the Heavenly Father. The time to deal with this blind man and to reveal the glory of God was right now: “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Jesus here is giving a hint of what he’s going to do for that blind man. I am the light of the world. For those living in darkness – I’m going to be their light.
Then he spit on the ground, made some mud, put the mud on the blind man’s eyes, and told him to go and wash in one of the public pools. And when the man did that, he was able to see, for the first time in his life. Can you imagine what that must have been like for that man? He could finally see what people looked like, what food looked like. Colors. The sky. Himself. Water. His eyes were opened.
But there was something else Jesus wanted to do for this man. You see, the eyes on his face were now opened. But the eyes of his soul were still shut tight. But not for long. The Bible goes on to describe how the religious leaders of that day were spiritually blind. The eyes on their face were working. But the eyes of their soul were shut tight. They didn’t think Jesus was the Savior, and they asked him what he thought, and the man said, I think he IS from God: “He is a prophet,” the man said.
After some conversation the Pharisees said to the man, “You were steeped in sin at birth. How dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out,” probably out of the synagogue. They literally “kicked him out of church,” you could say.
And now we see Jesus perform the big miracle here – he opens the eyes of this man’s soul. Jesus found the man and asked him if he believed in the Son of Man. “Tell me who he is,” the man said. Jesus said, “You’re looking at him.” And then look at verse 38 – here’s the real miracle of this story – “Then the man said, ‘Lord, I believe,’ and he worshiped him.” The man became a believer. In contrast to the spiritually blind Pharisees, the eyes of that man’s soul were opened wide by Jesus.
After Jesus healed the man, he said that this is why he had come into the world – so that the blind will see – in other words, so that he could give eyes of faith to those whose souls are spiritually blind. Jesus also came to cause some to become blind. In other words, for those who think they know everything and keep rejecting the Word of God over and over again – for them, Jesus has come to make them to make them even more blind.
Do you see how this man’s story is your story and my story? Did you know that you were born into this world with the eyes of your soul glued shut? You were born spiritually blind. You couldn’t see who Jesus Christ was. And when you can’t see Jesus, you can’t really see who God is. And when you can’t see God, lots of things don’t make sense in this world. Why am I here, on this planet? What is my purpose for existing? What am I doing here? And where am I going? And what will happen to me fifty or a hundred years from now, when I’m not here? When you can’t see Jesus Christ, you can’t see the answers to these questions.
I used to live in Indiana, and a new story caught my attention last month - a massive pile up on the freeway, right where I used to live. What happened? White out conditions from a snowstorm. No one was able to see. Many of the motorists blindly drove ahead, right into the disaster. Spiritually, this is how we're born. We can’t see what we need to see. And unless someone intervenes, we’re going to blindly drive our souls right into the disaster of hell.
But Jesus intervened. What Jesus did for this man in this story, he has also done for you. He came to you, and opened the eyes of your soul. He didn’t use mud. For some of you, Jesus opened the eyes of your soul when he came to you in baptism. There, through water and the Word, Jesus gave you eyes of faith, so that you could see him, so that you could see God and understand and believe all these things that you had never seen or understood before. For some of you, Jesus gave sight to your soul when you were older – and he came to you through the Word, and opened your eyes with the message of the Gospel.
There is the story of a 51 year old man who was blind, but after a complicated operation, he could see, and it worked out for him. And this is how he talked - "I never would have dreamed that yellow is so...yellow. I don’t have the words. I am amazed by yellow. But red is my favorite color. 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 to be able to see."
And so it is for you – “I never would have known that God was so forgiving. Jesus has opened my eyes. I am amazed that God would love me enough to send his Son, to take my sins away. I could never picture that kind of love until now. I can see grace now. I never knew that God could be so wonderful, so good, so loving, so full of grace – but now I can see it all.”
May this miracle of Jesus increase your faith. May it also remind you that there are people you know, that can't see. If only they would come into contact with Jesus Christ. A month from now is Easter. What better time than now, to introduce someone to Jesus Christ?
All it takes is one visit with the light of the world, and someone’s eyes could be opened, just as was the case for that blind man. “Keep your eyes open” for those whose eyes haven’t been opened yet. Amen.