Text: John 9:35-41 v. 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, "Surely we are not blind, are we?"
You know what a blind spot is. If youíre driving in a car and are relying on your rear view mirrors to check the lanes, there are some spots that you still wonít be able to see. The back right corner. The back left corner. Those are blind spots. Oh you can turn your head and take a gaze a those spots so that you will know what if anything is there, but for the moment that you check your blind spots, you are unaware of what is happening in front of the car. Blind spots. Blind spots are created by virtue that we don’í have eyes in the back of our heads, and that it is physically impossible to see everything at once. Blind spots
These people, these Pharisees here in the text of John 9 were said by Jesus to be blind. The irony is that Jesus had just healed a blind man. And in the aftermath of the story, when the Pharisees tried to find a legal technicality to undo the miracle that Jesus had performed, they reveal themselves to have a blind spot where Jesus is concerned. Jesus said that he came so that those who do not see may see, and that those who think they see will realize that they are blind. And revealing their arrogance and pride, the Pharisees responded to Jesus by saying, "Surely we are not blind, are we?" The man had just cured blind eyes, and the Pharisees were trying to say that he wasnít of God. Blind spots.
Because, when we have spiritual blind spots, like these Pharisees in the story, we canít see what God is doing. God had just performed a miracle through his only son, and still these religious leaders couldnít see it. When youíve got a spiritual blind spot, God can be doing something fantastic right in your midst and you still wonít see it. You can see how you want things. You can see how you think things should be. You can see what you want to see. But when youíve got spiritual blind spots, you might just miss out on what God is doing right next to you, right in your midst.
One of our young people passed me a joke this morning that fits the occasion. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson went on a camping trip. After a good meal and a bottle of wine, they lay down for the night and wen tot sleep. Some hours later, Holmes awoke and nudged his faithful friend. "Watson, look up and tell me what you see." Watson replied, "I see millions and millions of stars." "What does that tell you?" Watson pondered for a minute.
"Astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo. Horologically, I deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past three. Theologically, I can see that God is all-powerful and that we are small and insignificant. Meteorologically, I suspect that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. Why, what does it tell you?" Holmes said, "Watson you idiot, someone has stolen our tent." Sometimes we are blind to what is going on right in our midst, and in a spiritual sense, we can be blind to what God is doing so well for us.
How many times have you and I seen people who are unhappy with their lives because not everything is going the way they want. Especially here in America, where the poorest of us lives so much better than so many people around the world. WE complain because our cable bill is getting higher. We balk because our cell phones have roaming charges. We cry because they only had butter top wheat bread instead of white bread at the restaurant. We get upset when the educational system only shows a 6% increase in test scores. And too often we allow things to pile up on us and we miss out on what joy God has provided for us right here in front of us. Complaining about your spouse when youíve got a loving faithful one. Picking on your children because they got an A- instead of an A like the kids next door. Blind spots. We canít see what great things God is doing right in our midst.
And if we did, we would jump for joy at just how good God has been to us. Food to eat. Water to drink. People to love. A place to worship. Air to breathe. Strength to live. Oh praise the lord. The Pharisees should have been jumping for joy that a blind man could now see. But they had a spiritual blind spot where it came to Jesus.
These Pharisees were religious leaders, well trained, educated, and respected in the community. They could speak doctrine with the best of them. They were known for their spirituality, for their religious observance. Good church member material were these Pharisees. We often chide them for their hypocrisy, for their outward displays of piety when God was looking at their inward feelings of haughtiness and arrogance. But that outward stuff, those things that we with mere mortal discernment can ascertain, well those things spoke very highly of the Pharisees. Praying all the time, reading the scriptures on a daily basis, strictly adhering to religious law. But what Jesus says here is that even if you are spiritually gifted, there are still going to be some blind spots. Follow me to I Corinthians chapter 13, and let us see what Paul had to say about this same kind of subject. I Corinthians 13 verse 1, "If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong, or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. I f I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing." No matter who you are, no matter your theological training, no matter your years of experience at being a religious person, everyone has a blind spot. And when you have a blind spot that you are unwilling to check on, and maybe youíre unwilling to admit you have a spiritual blind spot, then you just might miss out on what God is doing right there in your midst.
Not only will a blind spot keep you from seeing what God is doing, but another thing about spiritual blind spots as exemplified by these Pharisees is that a blind spot will keep you from seeing what youíre really doing. When you are driving a car and donít check your blind spot, and you decide to make a lane change, you might not know it, but you might well be running into a car that is sitting right there in your blind spot. And even in a spiritual sense, these Pharisees in this text were unaware that with all their theological probing, with their debates about Sabbath laws and whether it was lawful to make a bit of mud and smooth it over a blind manís eyes for the purpose of making him see, with all those legal ramblings, they couldnít see that they were making this newly healed man wonder about the nature of his healing. They were trying to make him feel like some ungodly force, some unholy entity had brought about his healing. They were discrediting his sight as though he had no reason to be so jubilant about his miracle. They were so hung up on their doctrines that they were blind to what their doctrines were doing to real people. They were blind to the guilt they were heaping on a man that Jesus had just made whole. They were hurting the man. Where he had just been physically healed, they were emotionally and spiritually wounding the brother. And they couldnít see it. They had a blind spot.
Oh how many times we have allowed our blind spots to cause injury to brothers and sisters in Christ. I know because I have been injured by those who had blind spots concerning ministers. Some folks think that ministers donít have feelings, and it doesnít bother us when they complain about us or that it doesnít hurt us when they say mean things about us or about our families. Some folks, now, nobody here, but some folks have blind spots. I know that our blind spots can injure our brothers and sisters in Christ not only because I have been hurt, but because I have injured some with my own blind spots. Oh yes. Your preacher isnít one who has eyes in the back of his head. And sometimes I have changed lanes too quickly, without checking properly, and without knowing that I was causing injury to some one. I stand here as a witness to the power of blind spots today, that if we donít check them out, if we donít watch out, we might be injuring someone and not realize it because we are blind to that spot.
This happens so often not only in the Christian world, but in the social order as well. Some folks who are professing Christians have had some social blind spots where it comes to people of different ethnicity and different economic backgrounds, and different educational levels. White America for so long was blind to the humanity and contributions of Black America. And when you get a textbook that talks about Black contributions to American history and life, some of these folks say things like, "you shouldnít be changing history, you shouldnít be re-writing the history books. You shouldnít tell the truth about some of these founding fathers, that Jefferson owned slaves and had children with Sally Hemings." There are blind spots where race comes in to play. When you donít know anything about Black history, and you donít know anything about Africa and you canít see the marvelous contributions to American life by Black Americans, you have a blind spot. When youíre uncomfortable every time you ride an elevator with someone of color, when you clutch your purse and hold your wallet when a person of color walks by, those are blind spots. A black man made open heart surgery possible. A black woman started what became Bethune Cookman College. A Black man invented the stoplight. A Black woman developed cosmetics. And when these facts and others make you uncomfortable to hear them discussed, there may well be a blind spot. Oh we need to check ourselves for blind spots beloved. We need to examine our blind spots and see if there is something from God that we might be missing. We need to check our blind spots to see if we might not be hurting someone.
Now, most of us who are drivers know that we have blind spots. We know that we better check our blind spots before we change lanes, or make any kind of move. And the thing about spiritual blind spots is that there is all the difference in the world between those who know they have blind spots and those who donít know they have them. To Jesus in this text, there were essentially two kinds of people: those who were blind which he came to make see, and those who thought they were seeing when they were actually blind. Both of these were blind. But there is all the difference in the world to Jesus if you know youíre blind and if you donít know youíre blind. If you have a blind spot and you know you have a blind spot, it will affect the way you proceed. You will act with more caution, you wonít be surprised and unsettled to learn that there was something happening that you didnít know about. You wonít be amazed to learn that God was doing something with or without your permission. When you know you have a blind spot and find that you have been hurting someone as a result of that blind spot, you will feel remorse and try to change your behavior so that you check your blind spot and prevent the hurt from happening again.
But when you have a blind spot and donít admit it, when you think you can see, like these Pharisees, and you really are as human as the next guy, you wonít take caution to where youíre going and who youíre hurting. If someone gets hurt and you donít realize that it was a result of your blind spot, youíll probably blame the victim for the trouble. How many times have folks complained about civil rights leaders, who agitate and stir up trouble and make things uncomfortable for the oppressive classes? How many times have folks put into law their blind spots, keeping people from living free on the basis of their ethnic background and so forth. How many times have people, well-intentioned people, people who think they are doing right, actually wind up doing wrong and blaming you for bearing the brunt of it. These Pharisees had good intentions but they were blind and didnít know it.
Turn with me to the epistle 1 John, chapter 1 and verse 8. John again writing. Verse 8 says, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." Beloved, I come to church to tell you that everyone of us has blind spots. Everyone of us is susceptible to not seeing things that God is doing, to not seeing how our behavior affects people adversely. All of us do it. None of us is immune to this kind of blindness. The hope of the gospel is that we will acknowledge our blindness, that we will be aware of our blind spots, that we will proceed with caution toward others. But if we insist on maintaining our arrogant attitudes and our self-righteous spirituality, if we fail to recognize that we too are blind, then we limit the ability of Jesus to give us spiritual eyesight. Iím talking about Humility, because we might just be wrong about the matter. Love, because even if we disagree about something, youíre still my brother and my sister. Meekness, because we may wind up in heaven one day, and find out that we were wrong.