Around the globe we see and hear that sickness is a universal problem and it affects all ages, all religions and all ethnic groups. No one on this planet is exempt from the possibilities of sickness. Ever since the fall of man all physical problems are a result of the fall in Adam, for his disobedience brought sin and death onto the world. And let’s be honest there has been a lot of that already! Paul wrote “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.” Rom 5:12. We come to an event in history that is filled with emotion [sadness, pity, happiness, anger, grace and worship of the glory of God. It’s a man who has been blinded from birth! Can you imagine being blind from birth? Medically speaking! Of the five senses in the human body, our sight may be the most important to us. Statistics say that in North America someone goes blind every 20 minutes. Many, like this man are unable to enjoy the blessings of……
- A sunset or a sunrise
- Witnessing the Northern Lights
- The stars or a falling star
- Different types of landscapes and mountain ranges
- Driving an automobile
- Watching the Toronto Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup this year.
- Watching the rain come down or the lighting that lights up the sky at night.
- A simple expression of joy or sadness
- The beauty of a snow covered landscape
- The beauty of a flowered covered landscape
All these things we who can see take for granted most of the time. And it’s for this reason, next to the prodigal son; the blind man is one of my favourite events in history recorded in the gospels. It’s filled with spiritual truth about you and me and our desperate need to be able to see the gospel that saves. Why? Before Christ came in we just like the men Jesus confronted at the end of this story,“Then some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words, and said to Him, "Are we blind also?" Jesus said to them, "If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, 'We see.' Therefore your sin remains.” (v40-v41) Just like these men we were once ignorant to spiritual truth! Able to see, but spiritually blind. Helen Keller, shortly before her sixtieth birthday, expressed pity for the real unseeing, for those who have eyes yet do not see. Her long years of physical blindness have given her a spiritual insight which enables her to enjoy life in all its fullness. She says: "If the blind put their hand in God’s, they find their way more surely than those who see but have not faith or purpose." See, we’re about to encounter another one of John’s recorded miracles that our precious Jesus performed for the world to see. Again, when Jesus performed miracles it was always to display or prove He was the Messiah. But, there is also usually another reason when he performed miracles…..so that He could teach or convey a spiritual truth. The blind receive sight! This man was once blind but now he can see all because of this simple truth.....“but that the works of God should be revealed in Him.” (v3)
Let me ask you as we look at this beautiful story of God’s sovereign grace to save a sinner not from physical death but from spiritual death. What's worse: physical blindness or moral and spiritual darkness? Sin clouds the mind in darkness and closes the heart to God's love and truth. Augustine suggests that "The blind man is the human race." This spiritual lesson for us to see in this passage is that we all need God’s divine transforming work in order for us to truly see. Augustine is right! Were all blind! WHAT ARE SOME THINGS WE CAN OBSERVE IN THIS PASSAGE?
SIN AS BROUGHT MUCH SORROW INTO THIS WORLD AND INTO OUR LIVES……(v1-v2)
The disciples’ question reflects popular Jewish opinion of their day, that sickness is the result of sin. Like Job’s friends, they seem to reason: “This man is suffering, and it must be due to sin. Such sin is either that of the man himself, or of his parents.” Ultimately all sickness is the result of Adam’s sin. The sin that plunged mankind into sin was not murder or some other gross sin, but a simple act of eating the fruit of a prohibited tree. The sin was disobedience. It shows that man was not capable of determining what was good and evil and that man must trust God in the matter. So since the fall sin has done some really terrible things to people around the globe. It’s not only caused the earth to decay, but it also affects you and me as well.
Our physical bodies are dying and are prone to things of this world, and it’s all because of the fall. Even on today, with many diseases like: aids, cancer, heart problems, diabetes, lyme disease and so on continue to wreak havoc on our culture. Meaning that sin itself has caused much pain…..not to say it’s your sin that is causing you grieve and heart, but that sin has tainted this world. Think about it! If Adam had never fallen then we could assume that people would have never been blind or deaf and so on. But, the sad reality is that he did and this act of disobedience has spread to each and every one of us. As Paul said “But the Scripture has confined all under sin,…” Gal 3:22. “All” meaning every individual: Jews and Gentiles alike are under the power and dominion of sin.
THE POWER THAT CHRIST HOLDS IN HIS HANDS…….(v3-v7)
No medicine or doctors….just some clay and water and the providence of God. Such a miracle displays for us an old truth! That Jesus Christ has all power in heaven and earth. In the cure of this blind man we see nothing less the finger and providence of God. Giving sight to this man so that the people could see the glory of God on display and to be able to witness the supernatural work of God in the life of a poor sinner. The same supernatural work that made this man see is the same God who revealed Himself to you in the written word. Think about it! There isn't one spiritual disease that our Saviour cannot take away. He can take an ignorant person like myself and make me see things that I've never seen before. As J C Ryle said “He can send light onto the darkest heart, and cause blindness and prejudice to pass away.
THE DEPRAVITY OF MAN’S HEART AND THE GREAT LENGTHS THEY GO TO PROVE THEIR PREDISPOSITION. (v13—v18)
If anyone agreed or confessed that Jesus was the Christ they were to be excommunicated from the synagogue. These men were determined not to believe and would do whatever it takes to keep it that way. As one writer said “they were like men who shut their eyes and tie a bandage over them, and refuse to have it untied.” We read that the same thing happen when Stephen preached to the Sandhedrin about Jesus and the precious gospel. They would hear no more of it so they had him stoned! This is by far the most damaging thing that could happen to an unconverted man…….closing and refusing to hear the truth of God’s word. Again as Jesus said earlier to the religious leaders “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life."I do not receive honor from men. But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you.” John 5”39-42. 4 times this poor man had to explain himself about what happened on this “supposed to be glorious day”, a man who was once blind but now is able to see. Their ignorance and unwillingness to listen was the root of their harden hearts. It’s all because of one man……. Jesus Christ!
HOW MUCH WISER ARE THE POOR ARE SOMETIMES OVER THE RICH AND SOPHISTICATED……(v24—v33)
A man who was once in a position the only thing he could to survive was to beg for food or money. Was now a man who could see something the rich elite couldn't see or desired to receive! GRACE. This poor once blind beggar believed what had just occurred in his life because of the unanswerable divine proof [humanly speaking] our Lord did in his life. Why? Look what he says to the disbelieving Jews! “The man answered and said to them, "Why, this is a marvelous thing, that you do not know where He is from; yet He has opened my eyes! Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him. Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind. If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing." (v30-v33). He said all this because a simple poor man saw something that the rich and sophisticated didn’t and would not see! The power of God on display to affirm Christ’s claims of Messiahship. But this shouldn’t surprise us or trip us up to hardness of man’s heart as the Apostle Paul said……“Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.” 1 Cor 1:25-26
WE SEE HOW WICKED A PERSON CAN BECOME OVER THE BLESSING OF ANOTHER…….. (v34)
A day that was supposed to the greatest day of his life turned out to be the worst day in his life. These men, who rejected the Light of the world, excommunicated this young man and put him out into open shame. What do you mean “excommunicated him and put him out into open shame?” This means he would be treated as a “heathen man” [a wretched sinner] so he would be considered an outcast or unclean to his own people. This would cut him off from the outward privileges of the Jewish church when it came to their festivals or forms of corporate worship. This also meant he would be separated from his own family and friends; they would not be unable to socialize with him or do any dealings with him. This was the fear of his parents! This is why they didn’t answer the question from the religious leaders for the fear of this happening to them. (v22) We can find great encouragement from this passage; this man stood his ground on the facts, the truth and did not cave to the power hungry religious leaders scare tactics. Men can kill the body, but they cannot keep us from entering Heavens gates. As Jesus said “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matt 10:28
HOW AMAZING IS THE GRACE AND KINDNESS THAT CHRIST SHOWS A LOST SINNER…….. (v35-v41)
No sooner was this poor man thrown out [cast out] of the Jewish Temple than to find Jesus speaking words of comfort to the hurting man. Why? Jesus came to save the outcast, the lost and destitute from their sins. He comforts this man who has lost so much but has gained more! Eternal life in the Son of God. Remember no matter what you have or are going through we have a personal God who cares. “You number my wanderings; Put my tears into Your bottle; Are they not in Your book?” Psalm 58:8. No matter what happens in this life for the sake of the gospel our wounds have been healed in the precious blood of Christ. And most of all our strength is renewed day by day in the sovereign Lord. “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
There was a story I came across about a man named Bob who was blind for 51 years. “Bob couldn't see a thing. His world was a black hall of sounds and smells. He felt his way through five decades of darkness. And then, he could see. A skilled surgeon performed a complicated operation and, for the first time, Bob had sight. He found it overwhelming. "I never would have dreamed that yellow is so...yellow," he exclaimed. "I don't have the words. I am amazed by yellow. But red is my favorite color. I just can't believe red. I can see the shape of the moon--and I like nothing better than seeing a jet plane flying across the sky leaving a vapor trail. And of course, sunrises and sunsets. And at night I look at the stars in the sky and the flashing light. You could never know how wonderful everything is." “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,” Eph 2:8. For 30 years I was blind spiritually, walking in darkness living a life without hope or care. Until the greatest surgeon performed His surgery on my heart and gave me a new one, so that I could see the beauty of His grace and the love He had for sinners to take my place on the cross of Calvary. He removed my heart of stone and replaced it with His. He washed me clean by His blood so that I could truly see for the first time. He removed the scales from eyes to see and taste the grace of the gospel that saves. We all were once blind……..blind to sin and death, but praise be it to Jesus Christ who came, suffered and died so that I could see. As John Newton said “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, was blind, but now I see.