Summary: # 27 in series. How meeting Jesus changed his world.
A Study of the Book of John
“That You May Believe”
Sermon # 27
“The Man Born Blind”
A great Christian once was once asked the question, “How do you know you have been saved?” He answered, “I was there when it happened.” The most radical change that can come upon anyone is the change created by the new birth. When a person comes to Christ the Bible says all things become new (2 Cor 5:17). They pass from death to life, from darkness to light, from hell to heaven. That experience is called salvation. It happens to different people in different ways. The Apostle Paul was struck to the ground by a blinding light (Acts 9). Lydia was converted in a quiet riverside prayer meeting (Act 16). It can happen in a thousand different ways the important thing is that you know that it has happened.
On the morning recorded in John chapter nine a blind man arose unaware that his world was about to change because he was about to meet Jesus. In John chapter eight Jesus said that he was the “light of the world” and in John chapter nine Jesus proves it. As Jesus and His disciples leave the city of Jerusalem after the Feast of the Tabernacles – they came across a man blind from birth. The disciples turned to Jesus and in verse two asked the “why” question that we all are tempted to ask from time to time. “Why has this happened?” In this case what is the reason for this man’s blindness, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” The disciples displaying the beliefs of that day were sure that one of two reasons accounted for this man’s blindness, either this man had sinned or his parent had. It would seem to us that the fact that this man’s blindness began at birth would have excluded from consideration that it was this man’s sin that had caused his blindness.
But one of the strange ideas that existed at the time was that some Jews believed in the “pre-existence of the soul” which is the belief that all souls have already existed in the Garden of Eden before the creation of the world. This implied that somehow this man could have sinned in a former state before he came into this world and thus as punishment came into this world blind. [William Barclay. And He Had Compassion: The Miracles of Jesus. (Valley Forge: Judson Press, 1975) p. 178]
The question of whether the sins of this man’s parents had caused his blindness reflected a misunderstanding of Exodus 34:7, which says that the sins of the father will extended to the 3rd and 4th generations. That is that sin so deeply corrupts our relation-ships that several generations of a family will be affected by serious sin.
Jesus finishes answering their questions in verses three and four by stating the better question is not “why” has this happened but “what does God what to accomplish through it?” He further states that neither this man nor his parent’s sin had caused the blindness but rather that the glory of God could be revealed through him. This does not imply that neither this man nor his parents are sinless but rather that their sin is not the cause of his blindness.
Jesus did not say that sickness and disease are never the consequences of sin. But it is a great mistake to think at all of mankind’s sickness and illnesses are due to sin.
Jesus is not saying that this man was made to go through his entire life to this point blind in order that God heal him so that “the works of God” could be made manifest. Rather he was saying that this man’s blindness was something that God used, through which his “works” are manifest. “Tragedies (such as illnesses and accidents) give God the opportunity to reveal himself in unique ways. It was a tragedy that robbed Joni Erickson Tada of her ability to move. But through Joni, the Lord has encouraged thousands and he continues to display his glory.
We cannot choose how God will glorify himself in us. But we can seek to glorify him whatever our situation.” [Larry Richards. Every Miracle of the Bible. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1998) p. 223]
In verse six Jesus now turns his attention to the blind man, “When He had said these things, He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. (7) And He said to him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam" (which is translated, Sent). So he went and washed, and came back seeing.”
In the view of our modern world the action of covering someone eyes with spittle and mud would be more likely to make a seeing man blind than to make a blind man see. But the primary purpose of the placement of the spittle and clay on the man’s eyes was to evoke hope and expectation in him. Another reason for the application of the moist clay may been to convince those that saw the miracle that source of the healing was not so much in the use of means (clay and spittle) but in the Jesus who was the Healer.