Summary: Jesus gave this man sight. But the real miracle was the gift of sight for the soul.
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, 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. Whose fault is it that this man was born without the ability to see, the disciples were wondering.
Jesus answered that it was no one’s fault. Look at the reason Jesus gave for this man’s birth defect: “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, something big, something out of the ordinary – 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, something out of the ordinary, in that person’s life.
That was the case for this man here. Notice how Jesus connects this situation 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 – they weren’t going to go out to lunch, and afterwards have a meeting to decide what to do about that blind man. The time to act was right now. Jesus told his disciples, “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, for those that are blind - I’m going to do something for them – 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 that you would see around the city back then. 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. All these things he knew about, but could never see – now he could. Some things probably surprised him – how beautiful some things looked, that he had never seen before. And maybe there were a few things that he could now see that weren’t so pretty – things like crime or disease. His eyes were opened by the light of the world. What people don’t realize when they read this miracle is that Jesus probably had to rewire this man’s mind to be able to interpret what he saw. There are a number of stories of people who were born blind, and later in life, they were able to see because of some sort of operation. But they had problems processing what they were seeing. Their brains couldn’t interpret the colors and the shapes because they had never dealt with those things before. That wasn’t the case with this man. Jesus totally healed him – his eyes, and his ability to understand what he was seeing.