Summary: The interrogation of the man cured of his blindness teaches us a lot about how to reach the cynics of this world with the Gospel message

The Interrogation of Missions

John 9:1-34

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Living in an age when Christianity is no longer at the center, but the fringes of our society has led many to wonder how the church is to fulfill its mandate to go and make disciples. In a society that no longer trusts organized religion it has become “easy” for people to get “drunk” in the ever increasing and vast carnal, pleasurable activities of this world and honor the god of self! It is tiresome and dare I say frustrating to develop, implement and run numerous church programs, musical events, movie nights and countless dinners and yet not see the ripe fields all around us bear any fruit! As our congregations get “older” and our attendance and budgets decline, one can’t help but wonder if this will be the last generation to walk the halls of our “small” church! Instead of reading book after book on evangelism in search of the “holy grail” method that will turn hearts and fill our pews, I invite you to consider the story of the man born blind as a possible remedy to our “blindness” when it comes to how Christ grows His church. In this four-act story of John chapter 9:1-34 we learn that for evangelism to be effective one must clean the inside of the cup, not write off people, be willing to embrace new methods, be prepared to pay any price asked by God and be focused on telling the world what one knows concerning our Lord, Savior and King.

Act 1: “Caution: Profound Change is Needed” (9:1-12)

At the beginning of chapter nine we are told of Jesus healing a man born blind. This was not a “story” or “allegory” but the recording of a miracle that happened. When Jesus and His disciples came across a man born blind the disciples asked Him: who sinned, this man or his parents”? While this question might seem odd to us today it would have been typical of those of the ancient world who believed that suffering was due to sin of either the person (even in the womb according to some rabbis as they point to Psalms 51:5) or of the parents (Exodus 20:5, Deuteronomy 5:9). Jesus responded by rejecting both options and said that suffering was not always due to sin but in this case happened so “that the works of God might be displayed in him (verse 3). Jesus then spit on the ground, made some mud, put it on the man’s eyes and told him to “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (verses 6-7). When the man did as Jesus asked he was born again, passing from darkness to light not only in respect to his physical but also his spiritual sight. When the man went home his neighbors and those who had seen him beg found it hard to believe he was the same man that was “formerly so pitiable in his helplessness and poverty.” When the man confirmed his identity (verse 9) they asked “how were your eyes opened” (verse 10)? In response the man gave a succinct account of the miracle but stated he did not know where Jesus was (verse 12).

From act one of the curing of the blind man we learn that profound change gets noticed, especially when its source comes from the light! To go from being “one voice amongst many” to a voice of the One true light (John 1:9) and Savior of this world (1 John 4:14), one must look inward to make certain one’s cup is not polluted by sin (Matthew 23:26)! This world distrusts organized religion not only due to its teachings that contradict Scripture but also because they see so little evidence of change in those who claim to be born again! While being born of the water and Spirit (John 3:5) is a radical change that begins at conversion, to be an effective ambassador of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17-20) this transformation must be an ongoing process (Romans 12:1-2) of denying oneself, taking up one’s cross and following Jesus (Matthew 16:24)! This world does not know they are spiritually blind (1 Corinthians 1:18) and as such will not give up their vast pleasurable activities on the broad path (Matthew 7:13) for the mere appearance of holiness. Those dying in their sins will not be won over by a hypocritical, chameleon befriending and telling them of their “apparent” holiness but through a person whom with the power of the Holy Spirit has thrown off the shackles of sin (Romans 6:6) and now follows in the footsteps of Christ (John 13:15)! Let all our words and deeds point to God the Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16) of whom is without sin (1 Peter 2:22) and can give the lost not only their sight but also save their souls (John 3:16)!

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