Sermons

Summary: Then Jesus said one of those enigmatic statements that aren't too difficult to understand if you really want to understand them: "I've come, he said, to help blind people see, and to make those who see become as blind as bats."

March 17, 1996

20/20 BLINDNESS

John 9:1-41

Did you ever hear the old saying about college students:

Freshmen know not, and know that they know not;

Sophomores know not, and know not that they know not;

Juniors know, and know not that they know;

Seniors know, and know that they know?

I don't quite know what to say about that, except I'm not sure I ever met a "pure" freshman who knew that he/she didn't know— and I'm not sure which I am more ashamed of— that I still catch myself being like a sophomore, who doesn't know how much I don't know— or even like a senior who is wise beyond all understanding.

The story today is about knowing; about knowing the most important things in the world. It is a story about the healing of physical blindness. Before the story is over we see there are worse things than not having physical sight. At the end of the story one big question is asked: "ARE WE BLIND?" That is a question we all might want to dare to ask Jesus. Because NO ONE IS QUITE AS BLIND AS THOSE WHO ARE SURE THEY CAN SEE CLEARLY.

[ To the story: John 9:1-14 ]

You might not think it would be hard to imagine what it would be like never to have seen— to be blind from birth. You could just shut your eyes, you might think. But of course you know that is not the same.

The man in this story got on in the world as best he could, using his other senses. Blindness was a severe handicap, but he made a living, such as it was. Then one day the blind man met Jesus. He didn't know, really, who Jesus was. We are not told how much he had heard about Jesus. By what he told the authorities after he received his sight, the blind man didn't know very much about Him at all.

We have to wonder what in the world inspired such hope and faith in him that he would even listen to Jesus. Then when Jesus did what he did, and told the blind man to do what he was supposed to do- - this man simply went and did as he was told. [What Jesus did: made mud, sent the blind man off in his darkness to wash in the Pool of Siloam}

I like to think that something warm happened inside the man when Jesus spoke to him. I like to think that grace began to work in him to begin the miracle of faith. That beginning faith might have been as small as simply saying "What do I have to lose!?" Or it may have been inspired by what he had heard of other miracles.

Whatever it was, this man did not deserve to be blind because he had sinned— and he did not deserve to be made well because he was good. We know he was made to see because Jesus took compassion on him; not because he believed in Jesus as Messiah or savior or because he was especially religious or deserving. He simply obeyed, and a miracle took place: He could see!

We have to speculate a bit on what it must have been to experience sight for the first time. To live in a dark world of sounds and smells and jostling, and suddenly to see a donkey for the first time, or a pigeon, or the crowded streets of Jerusalem, or the Temple mount looming above the pool?

Did the blind man have to have help getting home? Did he have to shut his eyes so he could remember where he was?

Finally he got home— and found that he was now quite a celebrity. If he lived now he would certainly make at least the local talk shows on the radio— he might even make Good Morning Israel! on nationwide TV. People began to take notice. It isn't every day a person born blind can see with 20/20 vision by a miracle of God.

So now the people who know everything about everything— who have a faith of rules and regulations that exist to maintain their traditions, rather than traditions that nurture and maintain their faith— these people said, "This is outside OUR control! This is too dangerous!" They moved in.

"Number one— nobody does anything or goes anywhere on the Sabbath unless WE say so." [The healing had taken place on the Sabbath.] Of course there were ways to get around Sabbath rules— but they were sure Jesus hadn't bothered to worry his head about that.

Number two— this Jesus was the object of grave concern because he had been teaching SPIRITUAL worship— that God must be worshiped by placing HIM at the center of life— instead of by just keeping rigid rules and regulations.

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