Reframing Sight | John 9:1-41
March 24, 2019 Speaker: Christopher Rich Series: REFRAMING JESUS | Portraits of Glory from John's Gospel
Topic: Gospel Passage: John 9:1–9:41
Introduction | What can’t you see?
Good Morning Welcome to Damascus Road where we are Saved by Jesus Work,Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. Today we are continuing our series REFRAMING JESUS: Portraits of Glory from John’s Gospel.In Reframing Jesus, our desire isn’t to reinvent Jesus into someone He is not or make Jesus into an image we are more comfortable with. Instead, we seek to have our portrait of Jesus reframed by John’s Gospel to see Him as accurately and glorious as possible.
What can’t you see? What don’t we know or understand? We said last week our family of origins have an impact on us today. But that doesn’t mean we can blame everything wrong in our lives on our parents, or family. It also doesn’t mean that everything negative that has happened in our lives is also “our fault” or even a result of our (or other’s) sin. We blind ourselves when we make navigating the world as simple as an equation. Do good, be good = good things happen. Conversely, do bad, be bad = bad things happen. There is some general preverbal wisdom that has some truth to it but it’s not ALWAYS true. And things get difficult when we reverse the equations and think If Good happened = Person Good, If Bad happened = Person bad, because we start to make assumptions and inferences about people based on what we observe what we think we can see, when there is so much more happening with people than what we’re capable of seeing. Additionally, there are times when wicked prosper and times when righteous suffer.
Somethings happen for another purpose, that we’re blind to, as it’s happening but have a deep purpose that is revealed later. We’re not knowledgeable to understand the heart of every person or the purpose behind every circumstance so we need to look to one who has a perfect perspective. One who can meet us in our blindness and understanding who can open our eyes to what is true. In Jesus we are Reframing Sight.
PART I |The Healing |John 9:1-13
John 9:1-12 |1As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6 Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man's eyes with the mud 7 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing. 8 The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar were saying, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some said, “It is he.” Others said, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” 10 So they said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 11 He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed and received my sight.” 12 They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”
Passing a man born blind, Jesus sees him, but the disciples wonder if the man’s blindness is a consequence of his personal sin or generational sin passed down to him. Jesus provides illumination to the situation on many levels, brings sight to areas of blindness present in more than just this one blind man. There are disciples who don’t understand the nature of sin, there is a man who actually don’t have eyes that work properly who needs healing, and Pharisees who are blind to see the value of Jesus’ work and identity.
Jesus sees the blind man. The blind man didn’t see Jesus. Jesus takes the initiative to engage with this man. Jesus has perfect sight to see the man in his condition of need (he’s a beggar) Jesus is ready willing to meet this man in His need and work in such a way that brings clarity and sight to those around him. We’re in this story too. This man was blind from birth. We are all spiritually blind from birth because of sin. We’re blind we don’t seek Jesus/God, we’re in great need of sight and healing. This is true, but Jesus is bringing so much clarity, illumination, sight where there is blindness to many, starting with the disciples.
Who sinned? Where is the sin? If there is great difficult or suffering there has to be an individual cause. We want an answer for human suffering and that answer is sin, but it’s not always sin. I should say it’s not always individual sin. Jesus disciples are worried or believe that if something negative has happened to someone it must be a result of some individual sin. What they’re asking is, is the kid (grown man now) being punished or are His parents being punished for something they have done. Fetal Alcohol syndrome, result of individual sin. In Africa, my friend was teaching and had a Q&A and a women asked “What sin have I done that I have had multiple miscarriages. She believed that if she was suffering it was a direct result of her personal sin. Sure there can be instances of that happening. It can be iniquity the bent out of shape-ness that happens in a fallen world. But we are blind in religion if we think that the only suffering happens or if we experience hardship it is always because of something personal we’ve done or someone else has done. We’ll judge ourselves and others to harshly based on what we see when we’re blind to God’s will.
Jesus brings clarity of sight to the disciples. Not all suffering is because of personal sin. Jesus reject both of the disciples’ options because they’re blind to any other options. A man is born blind. This was not result of sin either of his family or his own. This isn’t Karma, that is not how God functions.But it was so Jesus glorious work could be displayed in his life. This has happened, this man has lived his whole life in blindness, and now there is this moment where the work of God in his life will be so evident that the only explanation for his healing is “God did it”.The disciples see a man suffering and only see sin, Jesus see a man suffering and only sees opportunity for God to work in his life, to be glorified in this life and many others around him.Jesus sees hope. What are some examples in your life, or from others, where great suffering or difficulty were experienced and it wasn’t clear why? It leads to fear or uncertainty where we can question does God see this? Does he know what I’ve been going through? He does! Then why is he allowing it to happen? Sometimes, God doesn’t tell us why we’re going through theses seasons and trials as we’re going through them. We’re blind to His purposes, but that doesn’t mean He’s not working. Where have you been able to see God’s work in the midst of suffering? What comfort can we have when God’s purposes are less clear? God brings sight.
Jesus brings physical sight to the blind man. This guy is hearing the words of Jesus to the disciples, and likely his whole life he’s been told in some way that his blindness is a judgement or sign from God of His displeasure with him, and now he’s hearing there was/is another purpose, and another reason. God isn’t simply angry with him as a sinner, He’s a God that can and does work in the lives of those who need Him. This is a picture of how Jesus works in a life to heal and bring sight and how we are to respond to Jesus work and direction. The man is met by Jesus where he is (Jesus is the initiator) Jesus works to bring healing (spit and mud, not essential oils), he’s touched by (anointed by Jesus) this is a blessing from God. Then we see he is given instructions, he’s commanded by Jesus (Go wash in the pool that is the source of water for the Feast of Tabernacles water ceremony) This isn’t holy water, Jesus is the “water in the wilderness”, the source of the water isn’t as important as the one who sent you to it. The man will receive sight responding in obedience to what he’s been called you to do by Jesus. This isn’t explicit (obey and be healed) but it’s implicit “I’m here to heal, God’s working in your life you’re going to walk in faith that God is/will work.”
He responds with obedience. This is no easy thing. He could have rejected what Jesus said. He could have questioned, how is that going to work? (Naaman does in the OT) But he doesn’t, he went, and washed.He’s not walked by the hand by Jesus to the pool, he’s not healed on the spot instantly (He could have been). He has to walk in blindness (blessed/anointed by Jesus) in an act of faith that being obedient to Jesus will lead to his personal healing and that he’ll be able to see. How long did he have to walk blindly trusting the word and instruction of Jesus, before experiencing the healing works of Jesus? There is a gap. How has Jesus called you to more faithful obedience for the purpose of bringing you greater healing?
He can now see! He goes back to his community healed. A mighty work of God has been accomplished in this man’s life to the point he is a different member of his community. His blindness had led him to be unfruitful. We’re made to be productive and this man’s dignity had been reduced the position to be a beggar. The community around him only knew him in his great need, in his infirmity, in his inconvenience to them as they went about their business. They struggle to recognize him for who he is now. Some who only knew us by who we were before Jesus won’t always recognize us for who we are today. If you’ve been healed by Jesus and given sight by him, gone from a place of great need to greater wholeness, it won’t always be recognized by others who want to define you by who you’ve been, not who you are. The man is clear and bold about who he is. I was the begger you knew, blind and stuck, but now I’m walking with new eyes from Jesus. When you’ve been healed by Jesus, when God has worked to make you new, you cannot deny it. This guy has to repeat (He kept saying) who he was and who he is. Ok, you’ve changed, how did it happen?
When’ve you been healed by Jesus tell others how and keep it simple. I was met by Jesus in my blindness and need. He saw my condition, Jesus acted, Jesus commanded me, and I responded with faith and obedience. Now I am here as one who can see when I was blind. This is an awesome example of God’s healing work!!
This should be a cool story! Great healing! But yet there is more to it because not everyone is excited about the work of Jesus in this Man’s life. There is a great resistance to seeing the work of God in the lives of others.
PART II | The Investigation | John 9:13-34
John 9:13-34 |13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 14 Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15 So the Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, “He put mud on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” 16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them. 17 So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.”
This miraculous action spurs an intense investigation. People bring the guy to the religious leaders, maybe as evidence of Jesus great work, or because they were suspicious of Jesus. Either way, since the healing was performed on the sabbath (and mud was made by Jesus, so much work!), Pharisees were concerned the law regarding rest was violated. They’re not investigating to see and understand but to convict and condemn.
They’ve heard from the community, so they interview the guy who keeps it simple again like he did with his neighbors. Jesus worked, I obeyed, I see. There should be celebration, but instead it’s condemnation the focus isn’t on the miracle, but the “how” Jesus worked in a way we don’t approve of. This causes division and disagreement about Jesus. Jesus is an ungodly law breaker or he’s a righteous sight giver. There isn’t a lot of room in the middle to remain in. You either believe/acknowledged Jesus worked (clearly He did!) or you have to walk in blind denial of what has taken place in this man’s life. This court is like the blind leading the blind, they’re divided and ask the guy. What do you think guy who was healed? HE’s a prophet.
18 The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight, until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight 19 and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?”20 His parents answered, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind.21 But how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” 22 (His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.) 23 Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”
They ask the parents. Ok, we don’t like that answer the healed guy gives so let’s dig deeper. Was he really blind? They don’t believe he was really born blind. Undergirding that claim or idea is the that Jesus didn’t really work in that big a way. You weren’t that bad to begin with so what Jesus did (or didn’t) do isn’t that significant or amazing. We minimize what God has done. When we’re blind to the truth we won’t accept a simple answer. When God has worked we sometimes don’t like to believe it. The parents confirm “yes” he really was born blind, his condition was as challenging and as hopeless as it was described.But they hedge their bets on Jesus. They don’t want to risking losing their community and religious affiliation, so they put it back on their son. Hey, he’s old enough to give you a good report so ask him. They did, they do.
24 So for the 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.” 25 He answered, “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” 26 They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”27 He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” 28 And they reviled him, saying, “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 comes from.” 30 The man answered, “Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. 32 Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” 34 They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out.
Now for round #2 they don’t really ask any questions, they’re making a judgement, they think they see the situation perfectly and they now want him to deny what actually happened to him, or condemn the character of the one who worked. (Jesus is a sinner) Imagine the pressure this guy is under when he’s got a court of leaders trying to get him to confess healing he received wasn’t from God. This will be better if you just agree with us on how we see what’s happening. God didn’t really give you sight. Good for the guy, he’s experienced the healing and wholeness of God. He’s is still clear in verse 25. Listen I don’t know about the theological details of Jesus and his perfection and all that. I know this simple truth. This one thing I know. I was blind.Now…. I see. They investigated the healed man (twice) and his parents, seeking to show Jesus has violated the law and “is a sinner”. They miss the point, the facts are plan to all, the man was blind but now he sees. How again did that happen? Why do you want to know? Are you seeking to be His disciples, to know how he works and learn to follow him? NO! WE don’t follow Him, we follow Moses. We know where He’s from we don’t know where Jesus is from. You don’t know!? It’s seems pretty easy to see.
He gives them a theology lession. He’s what we do know. God doesn’t listen to sinners. God does respond to obedience.(Jesus is perfectly obedient in our place) No one has been healed like this that we know about.So…. Let’s add it up. If Jesus weren’t from God, sent by God then none of this happens and I’m still blind! They don’t debate they insult. “You’re not worthy, you’re born blind in sin. The implication is they’re righteous, and able to see. When the reality is they’re just as blind spiritual as he WAS physically.
PART III | The Verdict |John 9:35:41
John 9:35-41 |35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” 38 He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. 39 Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.
Cast out by the self-righteous, sought out by the one who is righteous. Jesus brings spiritual sight to the man who was blind, and clarity of sight to the Pharisees. Jesus hears all that’s going on. Jesus finds him again to bring clarity. You thought I was a prophet, but to you believe there is one who is to come who is the Savior-King of God’s people? Yes! I do! Do you know who it is? I want to follow and respond. Jesus says “you’re looking at him! I’m here and I come to save I come to heal” This lead him to respond in worship. That is the response to seeing Jesus for who He is.
The Pharisees cannot or will not see Jesus for who He is. They’re blind. They reject Him and His work (by casting out the healed man) and they think they’ve rendered a verdict, but they are actually judged guilty by Jesus. Because of sin we are all born blind to the truth of God while believing we can see perfectly.
The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision -Helen Keller
They’ve seen Jesus’ work in this man’s life, but they have no vision for how Jesus can heal their spiritual blindness. That is us in our self-righteousness, Jesus brings sight so blind can see. And for those who think they can see to be illuminated to how blind they are. The Pharisees ask Jesus incredulously, “We’re good right? We’re not blind, we have sight, we know truth.” They’re not sincerely asking they’re confidently asserting and their pride condemns them. It would be better if you understood you didn’t know than claim you do.
2 Cor 4:3-6 | 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
The verdict is either you’re blind, you cannot see, but sometimes the verdict is you’ve seen but rejected. You’ve been shown the truth and denied it. If you’re blind, know and ask Jesus to bring you sight and be restored. If you’re self-righteous recognize you don’t see yourself, others, God as accurately as you think, repent of trusting yourself ask God to remove the veil from your heart.Only God in Jesus can heal us to cure our blindness, see Jesus for who He truly is, and worship Him. God can shine light in our hearts and open our eyes. Only God, in Jesus, can heal us to cure our blindness, see Jesus for who He truly is, and worship Him.
So the verdict of our blindness or our pride doesn’t have to be condemnation but can be restoration of true vision with eyes to see humbly, behold God’s glory boldly, and enjoy new sight when we Trust Jesus.