Summary: A series exploring the seven miracles, and seven "I Am" statements in the Gospel of John. This message reflects on Jesus healing of the man blind since birth.
I’ve got some bad news for you today. As we look at our next miracle, one of seven, around which the Gospel of John is focused, we find ourselves coming upon some tough teaching.
If you are looking for three points and a poem today, the news is not good. Not only are there six points. . .but there ain’t no poetry either. This is some tough teaching coming up. Because in John Chapter 9, Jesus reveals some tough things about who He is, and how He operates. Things that don’t always sit well with us, and our mode of thinking.
Watch and see what I’m talking about. . .(show video clip of John Chapter 9 from "The Gospel of John" DVD.)
I was at a conference earlier this week where the speakers used alliteration for all their points, packaged them all nice and pretty. All starting with the same letter, and all that good preaching 101 stuff. Had the spoon full of sugar to help the medicine go down.
I tried to come up with such catchy phrases, points, and outline flows this week. Couldn’t do it. Too much packed into this passage. In fact, no pastor in his right mind would attempt to tackle all of this today. Fortunately, you know me well enough by now to know I’m not quite in my right mind. Someday we might start a Sunday night service, and I can split this stuff in half.
But for today, put on your helmet, tighten your seatbelt, and brace yourself. This is not for the faint of heart. You may at some point want to grab one of the children’s packets and use that to distract your attention, but if you hang in there with me, I think you will find the challenges of today’s passage worth reflecting upon.
Jesus and his disciples are walking along the street when they come across a man who at some point the author of our gospel learns has been blind since he was born. So the disciples, desiring to keep learning and growing, pose a question to Jesus that is rooted in their theology and world view.
This is their view. If this man is blind, one of two things must have happened. First, maybe he sinned. Belief in life before life on earth is nothing new. It was taught by some even earlier than the time of Jesus, and it may have played a role in the disciples asking Jesus if it was possibly this man’s sin that resulted in his blindness. They may have even been asking, did this man sin before his birth, in the life before life, and that has caused his blindness?
But if not, as far as the disciples understood things, then the second fact must be true. His parents must have sinned. Notice, they don’t ask if there are any other options. They figure it has to be one of the two. Either this man sinned, or his parents did, but for him to be blind. . .someone sinned.
And when Jesus answers, we come across our first tough teaching of the day. . .
1. SIN IS NOT THE ROOT OF ALL STRUGGLES.
Verse 3 (read). Now, if we are really honest with ourselves, we don’t like that answer. Sure, it sounds all nice and rosy that God is going to use this disability to reveal Himself. It is great to see that a miracle is going to be done, and God is going to be glorified through Jesus miraculous hand. But remember, that might partly be because we know the dude gets his eye sight back.
Take that out of the equation for a moment. You see, I actually find it much more difficult to swallow that this man is blind, and has been well into his adult life, simply so that God can be revealed in him. Seems like kind of a tough way for God to choose to show Himself. Especially if you are the blind man. I find that much more difficult to swallow than the other possibilities the disciples suggest.
In the midst of a gunfight, a gun goes off too close to the ears of a gang banger, and he goes deaf. I can live with that. Someone smokes twelve packs a day for 40 years, which we love to define as a sin. . .more on that later, and they get lung cancer. It’s sad, but it makes sense. Someone gets drunk, hops behind the wheel of a car, drives into a tree, and ends up a quadriplegic. Terribly tragic. But don’t we somehow find that easier to deal with than God simply creating someone disabled for the sake of revealing Himself?
Even the idea of struggles entering through the sin of the parents we might find a bit more palatable. The pregnant mom that shoots up and gives birth to an addicted baby. Again, very tragic. . .but we kind of figure that is how the world works. Right?