Receiving Sight & Exposing Blindness – John 9:1-41

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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
August 13, 2017

Receiving Sight & Exposing Blindness
John 9:1-41

Introduction

Physical blindness is a terrible thing. I have known many blind people throughout my life. A few of them were born that way. Others became blind through disease or accident. When I was growing up there was a couple in the church in which both were blind. He had been born blind and thought that to be an advantage because he could not comprehend life with sight and therefore felt no loss. She had lost her sight and felt that was an advantage for while she knew what she lost, she could still imagine how things looked when they were described to her. The only experience I have had that has given me a clue of what it would be like to be blind is going deep in a cave and having the tour guide let us see it in its natural state. The lights were turned off and blackness filled the room. Nothing could be seen. I thank God for His grace to me in giving me sight even if my vision has to be corrected with glasses.

Physical blindness is bad, but spiritual blindness is worse. With physical blindness other senses can compensate so that the person can still get around and live. With spiritual blindness, there are no other senses to compensate, and even if there were, the nature of it is such that it would do them no good. Spiritual blindness deceives the person into believing there is nothing wrong with them and that their view of the world is correct and true. Like a person born blind, they cannot perceive the world in any other way.

Turn in your Bibles to John 9. In this passage find that Jesus heals a man born physically blind and the Pharisees confirm their spiritual blindness in rejecting the light that has been given to them. Jesus and His disciples have returned to Jerusalem from the region of Galilee. This is probably during the Feast of Dedication, also known as Hanukkah or the Festival of Lights commemorating the cleansing of the temple during the Maccabean revolt and the miracle of the sacred oil in the temple menorah lasting for eight days when there was physically only enough oil for one day. An appropriate time for a man born blind to be given sight to see the light.

The Blind Man Healed (John 9:1-7)

1 And as He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. 2 And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?”

It was common for beggars to be at the gates leading into the Temple to receive alms for those going to worship, and we know from verse 14 that these events occurred on the Sabbath. This makes it likely that this event occurred as Jesus and His disciples are approaching the Temple. As they pass by a man that had been blind from birth, the disciples become curious about a theological question. We are not told how the disciples knew the man had been blind from birth. Perhaps he was a well known beggar whose story was common knowledge, or perhaps one of them had talked with the man previously and knew his story. This prompts them to ask Jesus, whom they address as Rabbi here – a theological teacher and leader, the solution to a theological dilemma. Whose sin caused this man to be born blind?

The common thought was that any physical disease or handicap was caused by sin, usually that of the afflicted individual. In this case, there was the question of how could the individual sin while in the womb, therefore, was it the parents’ sin? However, they had a false premise and a wrong view of afflicted people. Jesus corrects both.

3 Jesus answered, “[It was] neither [that] this man sinned, nor his parents; but [it was] in order that the works of God might be displayed in him.

Their wrong premise was that the affliction must have been caused by either the blind man or his parents. Jesus is clear that neither is true in this case. Their view of affliction was the same as Job’s counselors. Job was a righteous man, yet severely afflicted. Much of the suffering in the world comes from the curse due to Adam’s sin. The world does not work as God originally designed it. Affliction can be due to our own sin, the sin of someone else or the general curse of sin upon the world. I talked about this in some detail a couple of weeks ago. (See: The Necessity of Repentance) The disciples’ premise was wrong. This man’s blindness was not the result of either his or his parents sin. We must not assume the reason a person is suffering.

Jesus also corrected the disciples in their understanding of suffering. They were treating this blind man as simply the object of a theological discussion. Perhaps they would have given him alms, but still missing was a concern for the purpose of the man himself. Jesus puts the focus back where it belongs. All people are created for the glory of God without regard to any handicap they may have. This man was born blind that God would be glorified through him.

Jesus then adds, 4 “We must work the works of Him who sent Me, as long as it is day; night is coming, when no man can work. The emphasis here is on the “we” doing the works of God. Jesus included His disciples in doing the work of God, and through them us as well as we seek to follow Jesus. When you come across someone in need you can respond in one of four ways. You can either condemn or treat the person with indifference as the Pharisees tended to do (Luke 10:30-32). You could treat the person as the subject of a theological puzzle as they just had. Or you could exhibit the Father’s love and help the person. Jesus wanted them to do the latter while they still had opportunity to do so. The idea of it being day and night coming is explained in the next verse.

5 “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Jesus would only be in the world for a certain length of time. While He was present, He would be glorifying God by revealing Him to people. In a similar manner, we are to be lights of God’s revelation to others (Matthew 5:14-16). But a day comes when you are no longer in the world and therefore your light will no longer shine. You cannot do the work of God in this world after you are gone. Take advantage of the opportunities you have now while you still can. No one knows how long they will live. Make the most of your life.

Jesus then demonstrated by action what He was telling His disciples. 6 When He had said this, He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and applied the clay to his eyes, 7 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated, Sent). And so he went away and washed, and came [back] seeing.

Talk without action is useless. The apostle John later expressed this lesson in 1 John 3:17-18“But whoever has the world’s goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.” Jesus took action. There does not appear to be any significance to the manner in which Jesus healed this man’s blindness other than it required the man to respond in submission to Jesus’ instructions with faith and obedience. This submission is similar to what Elisha required Namaan to do (2 Kings 5). Jesus healed different people in different ways. Sometime with some action, like in this case, and other times simply upon the pronouncement of His word. The man’s obedience demonstrated his faith and he was healed.

The pool of Siloam was down the hill from the Temple and just inside the south-east wall of Jerusalem. It was part of the system King Hezekiah built to collect the waters of the spring of Gihon in case of siege. John explains in vs 7 that the meaning of the name, Siloam, is “sent.” There seems to be some symbolic significance to this since Jesus could have sent the man to one of many other pools. This miracle itself shows symbolism as Jesus, “the Light of the world,” restores light to a man born blind. Jesus has constantly emphasized that He was “sent” by the Father to do God’s work. Even in the Old Testament the waters from this spring, which arise just below the Temple mount, was symbolic of God’s blessings flowing out from God’s dwelling place (Isa. 8:6 cf. Ezek. 47:1).

The Blind Man’s Testimony (John 9:8-12)

After the man did what Jesus commanded and received his sight, he returned to where he lived. I think we can well imagine that this was done with great joy and excitement. His neighbors notice and are astonished. 8 The neighbors therefore, and those who previously saw him as a beggar, were saying, “Is not this the one who used to sit and beg?” 9 Others were saying, “This is he,” [still] others were saying, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am the one.” 10 Therefore they were saying to him, “How then were your eyes opened?” 11 He answered, “The man who is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam, and wash’; so I went away and washed, and I received sight.” 12 And they said to him, “Where is He?” He ^said, “I do not know.”

The neighbors are amazed. Some think it is him, but are hesitant to believe, so they question. Others declare that it must be him. Still others are just as sure it could not be him, so they say it must be someone who looks like him. But the previously blind man declares himself, “I am the one.”

They question how such a thing could happen and the man gives a clear account giving direct credit to Jesus for anointing his eyes and telling him what to do. He did what Jesus said and as a result received his eyesight.

The neighbors then wanted to also go meet Jesus since He had done such a wonderful miracle. However, the man did not know where Jesus was nor would he be able to identify him since he had been blind when Jesus spoke with him earlier.

The Pharisee’s Interrogation (John 9:13-34)

13 They ^brought to the Pharisees him who was formerly blind. 14 Now it was a Sabbath on the day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes. These verses reveal the man was interrogated by the Pharisees. This was not the full Sanhedrin, but was a smaller group that, as verse 22 points out, had authority from the Sanhedrin to pass judgement on those that confess Jesus as the Christ.

While it is not completely clear who brought the man to the Pharisees, it appears that it was some of his neighbors since they are the subject in verse 12. It is reasonable that the Pharisees would have heard about this miracle soon after it happened and then sought to investigate. We have already seen that most of the Pharisees are antagonistic to Jesus (John 7:45-52), and they would want to suppress anything that would add to Jesus’ popularity. In this case, they also are interested because the miracle occurred on a Sabbath, and the making of the clay and the healing would have been contrary to their rules.

The questioning takes place in three phases. First, the man is questioned, then his parents and then the man again.

First Questioning of the Healed Man (John 9:15-17)

15 Again, therefore, the Pharisees also were asking him how he received his sight. And he said to them, “He applied clay to my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” 16 Therefore some of the Pharisees were saying, “This man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.” But others were saying, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And there was a division among them. 17 They ^said therefore to the blind man again, “What do you say about Him, since He opened your eyes?” And he said, “He is a prophet.”

The man had already repeated the story to his neighbors and now he repeats it to the Pharisees, but he is more concise in the story giving them just the bare facts. This sets up a division among the Pharisees because there were two basic assumptions in conflict. The first group reasoned that anyone who broke the Sabbath, or more accurately, their Sabbath rules, could not be a godly person. Therefore, Jesus could not be from God. The second group reasoned that anyone that could do such a miracle could not be a sinner, but there is a hesitancy in their belief so it is phrased as a question instead of a declaration. How could Jesus be a sinner if He did such miracles?

Amazingly, they ask the opinion of the man who was healed even though they did not regard it as having any value. The man apparently did not know much about Jesus at this point other than that He healed him. His own assumption is that a man who does such a miracle must be a prophet like those in the centuries past that had done wonderful miracles. The Pharisees rejected his conclusion, as verse 18 points out, The Jews therefore did not believe [it] of him, that he had been blind, and had received sight, . . . This brought about the questioning of his parents.

Questioning His Parents (John 9:18-23)

John 9:18b . . . until they called the parents of the very one who had received his sight 19 and questioned them, saying, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? Then how does he now see?” 20 His parents answered them and said, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; 21 but how he now sees, we do not know; or who opened his eyes, we do not know. Ask him; he is of age, he shall speak for himself. “

The Pharisees did not even believe the man had been born blind until it was confirmed by his parents. He was their son. He had been born blind. He can now see, but they claimed not to know how it happened or who did it. They refer the Pharisees back to their son pointing out he was of age to speak for himself. It is a bit amazing they did not know Jesus had healed him since that was what he had told the neighbors, and it may well have been a direct lie, but as the next couple of verses point out, they were afraid.

22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed, that if anyone should confess Him to be Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue. 23 For this reason his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”

This shows they had already come to their decision and were confirmed in their opposition to Jesus. This was a serious threat. To be put out of the synagogue was to be ostracized from social life as well as religious life in the community. The man’s parents are afraid of such happening to them, so they plead ignorance to avoid the threat. That says a lot about their lack of character.

But before we say too much negative about them, perhaps we should get the beam out of our own eyes. How often do you have an opportunity to tell someone about Jesus or simply declare that you do love Jesus and are one of His followers, but your tongue is stopped by the fear of being criticized? Too often we are no different from them.

Second Questioning of the Healed Man (John 9:24-34)

This brings about the second questioning of the man who was healed. In the first questioning they sought to refute the story as being true, now they seek to find another cause of the healing.

John 9:24, So a second time they called the man who had been blind, and said to him, “Give glory to God; we know that this man is a sinner.” The majority group of Pharisees have taken charge and do not change their premise that Jesus must be a sinner and could not be from God because He broke their Sabbath rules. They demand him to “give glory to God.” They want him to attribute his healing to God and not Jesus whom they declare is a sinner.

The man is not afraid of them as were his parents. 25 He therefore answered, “Whether He is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I do know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.” He pleads ignorance as to Jesus’ spiritual condition, but He does not retreat from his story that Jesus gave him his sight.

They still refuse to believe that Jesus did this miracle. 26 They said therefore to him, “What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?” 27 He answered them, “I told you already, and you did not listen; why do you want to hear [it] again? You do not want to become His disciples too, do you?” This man is losing patience with them for the continued interrogation about things he had already answered. He is not timid and actually goes on the offensive with irony. He expresses a question that expects a negative answer yet still opens the door for a positive one. The sense is that he views it as impossible they would want to become Jesus disciples, but with the Pharisees, you never know.

The Pharisees become very upset at this. 28 And they reviled him, and said, “You are His disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29 “We know that God has spoken to Moses; but as for this man, we do not know where He is from.”

They now accuse him of being a disciple of the Jesus even though all the man really knows of Jesus is that he was healed by Him. They take on the air of superiority in saying they are disciples of Moses whom they know that God has spoken through. Their statement that they do not know where Jesus is from is not a reference to where Jesus was from physically, (they incorrectly thought He was from Nazareth, John 7:41, etc.), but from where Jesus received His authority to perform such miracles. It is surprising that they do not directly say that Jesus was from the devil. They had already declared Him to be a sinner (vs. 24) who was not from God (vs. 16). Other Pharisees had already said that Jesus got His power from the devil (Matthew 12:24). Perhaps they took the warning Jesus gave in Matthew 12 about blasphemy against the Holy Spirit seriously, but it is more likely they were just flustered by a man who was not afraid of them. The man becomes even more fearless after being accused in such a manner.

30 The man answered and said to them, “Well, here is an amazing thing, that you do not know where He is from, and [yet] He opened my eyes. 31 “We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing, and does His will, He hears him. 32 “Since the beginning of time it has never been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. 33 “If this man were not from God, He could do nothing.”

The man is astounded by their answer and responds with even more irony. The Pharisees prided themselves on their knowledge of spiritual issues, and yet here is an issue of great importance and they plead ignorance to something that should have been obvious. He works them through simple logic that destroys their claim.

The major premise is that God hears only the God fearing who do His will and that He does not hear sinners. The minor premise is that Jesus was heard by God in order to perform a miracle of a nature that had never been performed before. The conclusion is that Jesus must be from God or He could not do such a thing. They could not argue with his premises or conclusion, so they accused him and acted.

34 They answered and said to him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you teaching us?” And they put him out.

Again, we find another case of the pride that is in the wicked. When the wicked are exposed, they do not react with the humility. There is no repentance, confession or change. They become defensive, or as in this case, offensive. This man had defeated them with their own method of syllogistic reasoning and gave the only reasoning solidly based in the scriptures. There are many Biblical references to God only hearing the prayers of the godly and not those of sinners. For example: Psalm 66:18If I regard wickedness in my heart, The Lord will not hear; and Proverbs 15:29The Lord is far from the wicked, But He hears the prayer of the righteous. The apostle John stated it this way in 1 John 5:14-15And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us [in] whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him. The man was correct in stating that since God heard Jesus and gave him sight, Jesus had to be from God.

The Pharisees stick to their assumption that handicaps are the result of a person’s sin, so this man must have been a great sinner from birth to be born without eyesight. They are incredulous that such a person would seek to teach them, the educated keepers of the law of Moses. They put him out. The inference from verse 22 is that he was not just put out of wherever the Pharisees were interrogating him, but also judged and excluded from the religious and social life of the community. Perhaps because the man had grown up as a beggar he was not intimidated by their threat, or perhaps he was one of those rare individuals whose commitment for truth was above his fears. He gives us a good example to follow.

The Blind Man Sees Jesus (John 9:35-39)

When we do what is right, there is no promise that all will go well. What we fear may even come upon us. This man had done what was right, but he was still put out by the Pharisees. Yet, God still is at work as we see in verses 35-39.

35 Jesus heard that they had put him out; and finding him, He said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 He answered and said, “And who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have both seen Him, and He is the one who is talking with you.” 38 And he said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped Him.

Jesus sought the man out and revealed Himself to him. The reward for godliness is a relationship with God. In a way, it was good for the man to have been put out by the Pharisees. If he had stayed within their system, he could have been corrupted by it. Instead, he was forced out and was readily available to hear, believe and follow the Lord. He received a better reward.

Keep that in mind next time you are tempted to withhold the praise that God deserves for fear that others may laugh at you, scorn you or reject you. Losing the friendship of such people is not a great loss, for the Lord will compensate with something infinitely better – Himself.

Jesus comments in verse 39, And Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see; and that those who see may become blind.” This is similar to His statement in Matthew 13 explaining why He spoke in parables. The humble who seek God will receive light. The proud that claim to already have the light will have what light they have removed. God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5). The truth of Jesus statement was made evident immediately.

The Pharisee’s Blindness (John 9:40-41)

40 Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things, and said to Him, “We are not blind too, are we?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.

Pharisees were often found following Jesus. I am sure a few were interested in what Jesus had to say since some did become disciples after His death and resurrection (Acts 15), but most were trying to find a way to entrap Him (Luke 11:53-54). The Pharisees present to hear Jesus say this were offended. They could not conceive that they, the disciples of Moses and teachers of Israel, could be blind. Paul also dealt with these self-righteous people. In Romans 2:17-24 he makes a strong case against those following such religious rules, yet are still unrighteous in heart and action.

Romans 2:17-24, But if you bear the name “Jew,” and rely upon the Law, and boast in God, 18 and know [His] will, and approve the things that are essential, being instructed out of the Law, 19 and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of the immature, having in the Law the embodiment of knowledge and of the truth, 21 you, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that one should not steal, do you steal? 22 You who say that one should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God? 24 For “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” just as it is written (Ezekiel 36:20f).

There would be hope for those that were humble and acknowledge their sin and need for guidance. There was not hope for those that remained proud. They would remain in their sins. Do not be like these Pharisees. Be like the man born blind who received His sight both physically and spiritually.

Conclusions

Do you seek after God or resist Him? How do you respond when studying the Bible or listening to a sermon or teaching from the Scriptures? How do you react when the Holy Spirit convicts you of something? Do you obey God’s word and the moving of the Holy Spirit, or do you resist by trying to explain it away or ignoring it? I state it again. Don’t be like the Pharisees who remained proud and were left blind in their sins. Follow the example of the blind man who by God’s grace was given his sight and then stuck to the truth regardless of the consequences, and who by his humility was receptive to the revelation of Jesus Christ he was given. He was healed physically and spiritually.

Sermon Notes – 8/13/2017
Receiving Sight & Exposing Blindness – John 9:1-41

Introduction

Physical Blindness _______________________________________________________________________

Spiritual Blindness _______________________________________________________________________

Jesus & His disciples are back in _____________at the Feast of Dedication / Hanukkah / Festival of Lights

The Blind Man Healed (John 9:1-7)

Beggars were often near the ___________gates and this was on a Sabbath

The theological ____________for their presupposition: Whose sin caused this man to be born blind?

_______is the evidence that a righteous man can be afflicted without it being caused by his own sin

All people are created for the __________of God without regard to any handicap they may have

Responding to a person in need: 1) Condemnation, 2) Indifference, 3) A curiosity, 4) __________

Opportunity to minister __________ quickly, make the most of the opportunities while you still can

Talk without action is __________ (1 John 3:17-18), Jesus took action and gave the blind man sight

The man’s obedience to go to the pool of __________demonstrated his faith and he was healed.

The Blind Man’s Testimony (John 9:8-12)

The amazing __________ confused people making them question if it was really the man born blind

The man gives a clear account of what happened giving credit to __________ for giving him sight

The Pharisee’s Interrogation (John 9:13-34)

This is a portion of the __________who want to investigate a healing that took place on a Sabbath

First Questioning of the Healed Man (John 9:15-17)

The Pharisees are ______about whether this healing was from God or not because it was done on a Sabbath

They ______________the validity of the man’s story about being blind from birth and being healed by Jesus

Questioning His Parents (John 9:18-23)

His parents ___________ it is him, but claim ignorance as to how because they were afraid of the Pharisees

We need to be cautions about being ___________ to speak the truth like this man’s parents

Second Questioning of the Healed Man (John 9:24-34)

The antagonistic Pharisees have taken charge and __________ that Jesus is a sinner (vs. 24)

The formerly blind man is ______________and states again that it was Jesus that gave him his sight (vs. 25)

The Pharisees refuse to believe that Jesus did the miracle, but the man is still ______intimidated (vs. 26-27)

The Pharisees have become very upset and ___________ the man and Jesus (vs. 28-29)

The man is even more fearless and logically _____________ their argument (vs. 30-33)

God only hears the God-fearing God heard Jesus to heal the man Jesus is from __________

They have no defense against his argument, so they __________ accuse him and put him out (vs. 34)

When the wicked are exposed, they react with ______in defense or offense instead of humility & repentance

God hears the prayers of the __________, not the wicked: Psalm 66:18; Proverbs 15:29; 1 John :14-15

The Pharisees proudly stick to their _______assumption and the former blind man bravely upholds the truth

The Blind Man Sees Jesus (John 9:35-39)

The reward for godliness is a _________________ with God

Verse 39 – Those that in humility seek God will receive __________while self-righteous will lose the light

The Pharisee’s Blindness (John 9:40-41)

Pharisees often followed Jesus: A few to learn, but most to try to ____________Him

The Pharisees that heard Jesus were ________________, but Jesus does not back down

Romans 2:17-24 – Religious rules do not change an ______________ heart

There is hope for the _____________that acknowledge their sin and repent, there is no hope for the proud

Conclusions

How well do you __________God’s word and the leading of the Holy Spirit?

Be like the man born blind who ____________his sight and not the Pharisees who became even more blind

KIDS KORNER
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Count how many times the word “blind” or “blindness” faith” is said. 2) Discuss with your parents the nature of Jesus’ miracle in this passage. What is spiritual blindness? How can you avoid it?

THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others.  Discuss what it might be like to be physically blind? What interest do the disciples have in the man born blind? What wrong assumption(s) do they make in general and about him in specific? What are the sources of human affliction? What is the purpose of this man’s blindness? How does that principle apply in your own life? How long will you be able to “work the works” of God? By what means did Jesus heal other people? What purpose may Jesus have had in using this method on this man? How would you have responded if you had been the man and you could suddenly see? How do you think people would have responded to you? What interest did the Pharisees have in this man? What is wrong in their reasoning as they question the man? Why do they not believe his story the first time? Why are his parents so afraid? How have you reacted like these parents in the past? What is wrong with the reasoning of the Pharisees in the second questioning? How does the man rebuke the Pharisees? What is their reaction? What does Jesus do for the man? What warning does Jesus give the Pharisees? How can you keep from being blind?


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