Sortable Messages

You must become Blind in order to See

Tonight we’re going to be looking at the Gospel of John chapter 9. If you have a Bible with you, please turn with me to John chapter 9. It is on page 895 in the pew bibles.

 

Let’s read together:

 

John chapter 9:

 

1 As 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.”

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.”

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.”

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.

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.

 

Let’s Pray

 

Have you ever seen a homeless man? As I drive every so often, I find myself thinking about these homeless people: wondering to myself what sort of sin and evil in their lives caused them to find their way to this situation in this moment. Maybe they gambled it all away. Maybe they are prostitutes or druggies. In the end, I reason to myself, this just looks the like punishment of God for their sin.

 

Have you ever thought like that? I am not alone, many of you know this, you have been there, the same thoughts run through your minds. The thought that this horrible situation this person is in must be due to their evil sins.

 

If you have ever thought this way, then you will find this to be the exact place in which we find ourselves tonight. The disciples themselves set the stage by asking a question very similar in verse 1:

 

“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?

 

Now, this statement provides crucial context for the passage we are studying. The reason is that it is this question that John uses to introduce the following story that spans throughout the rest of this chapter, and onward through 10:21.

 

Now, why would John be starting this story with this question? What is so significant about this question? I think our temptation is honestly to just glance over this, however, this question is essential for understanding the rest of this text.

 

Look at what Jesus says next, how he corrects his disciples:

 

“It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

 

Clearly there is some sort of misunderstanding here that Jesus wants to correct. Is Jesus saying that this man is not a sinner? Or that his parents have never sinned? No, look at what the disciples ask.

 

They do not ask,

 

“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents?”

 

Rather, they ask,

 

“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?

 

So, rather than correcting a misunderstanding about whether this man and his parents are sinners, Jesus appears to be correcting the connection that the disciples are making between this man’s sin and his blindness.

 

But specifically, What is it about the connection that Jesus is trying to correct?

 

I want you to notice in this passage the more generic question that the disciples ask, because this question is not isolated to verse 1, but is woven throughout this entire text. The generic question the disciples are asking is this: Who is a sinner?

 

You can trace this question all throughout the text. For instance, in verse 16 the people wonder whether or not Jesus is a sinner. In verse 24, the Pharisees affirm that Jesus is a sinner. In verse 25, the blind man confesses his doubt about whether Jesus is a sinner. In verse 31, the blind man then affirms that Jesus is not a sinner. In verse 34, the Pharisees show that they also believe the same as the disciples and that the blind man was born in sin.

 

The fact that this concept is apparent throughout this entire passage shows that John is trying to communicate something important to us about this question.

 

I think we can get a little more clarity if we jump down to the end of chapter 9. In particular, let’s begin pick up with verses 39-41:

 

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.

 

Like before, Jesus is correcting a group. However, this time it is not the disciples He is correcting, but the Pharisees. What do they ask?

 

“Are we also blind?”

 

And how does Jesus respond?

 

“If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.

 

Now, the wording here in the rendering of the ESV might make this a littler harder to see for us. Just note here that the word the ESV translates as “guilt” is actually the same word for “sin.”

 

Therefore, an alternate reading might help us to see some of the connections a little clearer:

 

“If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.

 

So again, what is the question that the Pharisees ask?

 

“Are we also blind?”

 

And how does Jesus respond?

 

“If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.

 

Notice the question here, the Pharisees ask “Are we also blind?”, as if they believe that they are not blind. Jesus picks this up in his response, “but now that you say, ‘We see’, your sin remains.” Jesus focuses on what the Pharisees imply in their question, namely, that they are not blind.

 

Ok, now, think look back to the question of the disciples:

 

“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?

 

There appears to be an implicit assumption in this question that Jesus is addressing. Why did the disciples ask about this man’s sin? His blindness. Why would his blindness cause them to ask about his sin? Because they weren’t blind, and it is extremely rare for a person to be born blind. Therefore, in their minds, it seems that they saw this extraordinary affliction as an indicator of some great sin this man had in his life or his parents that caused him to be blind.

 

This assumption appears to be the very point that Jesus is driving at: That in their assumption, they believed that either the sin of this man or the sins of his parents must have been extraordinary. In this very assumption is the evil little lie, the lie which Jesus seeks to correct, in both the disciples, and in the Pharisees: That if this man is blind, it must mean that he or his parents are big sinners, and therefore — Listen to this! — if I am not blind, then I must not be as big of a sinner.

 

To put it in Jesus’ own words:

 

“Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem?

“I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

 

But here we find our first point, a warning:

 

Jesus came to save the blind: Therefore, take heed lest you think you see.

Let’s look again down at verses 39-41.

 

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 sin; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.

 

Let’s take a second here to ask this question: What does Jesus mean by sight and blindness? What does He mean when He says that he came to make the blind see, and those who see blind?

 

John provides some help in the previous verses. Look up with me to verses 35-38.

 

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.

 

So, after the blind man is healed, he then goes before the Pharisees for a series of interrogations until he is finally kicked out of the synagogue for His belief. When Jesus finds him, He then asks him if he believes in Jesus. After responding in a familiar voice, the blind man then believes and worships Jesus.

 

Therefore, it appears that Jesus is drawing a connection between this spiritual sight just manifested, and the sight and blindness in verse 39. In other words, as the man who had been born blind had just come out of spiritual darkness into spiritual light, spiritual blindness into spiritual sight, Jesus is proclaiming that this spiritual transformation is what He came for. It appears that John is trying to communicate that Jesus came to make those who are spiritually unbelieving believing. At least in this case, it appears that Jesus is defining blindness as unbelief and sight as belief.

 

But what about the second half of this statement? What about:

 

“that those who see may become blind”?

 

Is Jesus saying that He wanted to make believers into unbelievers?

 

Well, no. It’s at this point that we need to understand that Jesus is mixing his metaphors a little bit. Jesus is not saying that he wanted to make believers into unbelievers.

 

Rather, it appears that Jesus has in mind two different definitions of blindness and sight. Not only this, but these two different definitions are essential for us to understand not only verses 39-41, but this entire passage.

 

The first definition is that of belief and unbelief, as we have already seen in verse 39. The second definition can be seen more clearly in verse 41:

 

41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.

 

Notice the phrase in the second half of the verse: “but now that you say”. Notice, Jesus doesn’t say, “but since you see, your sin remains”, but rather, “but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.” In His use of this phrase, Jesus gives us an essential clue to understanding this alternate definition.

 

To make this clearer, let’s take these two portions of this statement and draw out the contrast them. If Jesus is saying on the one hand, “If you were blind”, and then contrasting that by saying, “now that you say, ‘We see’”, it seems to fit that he is communicating to us that these are opposite statements. In other words, it appears that Jesus is trying to say that one of His definitions of blindness is the individual’s confession of blindness.

 

A translation might go like this:

 

41 Jesus said to them, “If you were to say ‘I am blind ‘, you would have no sin; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.

 

So, it appears that Jesus has two different definitions of blindness and sight.

One in which an individual is truly blind or can truly see, and another in which the individual confesses he is blind or confesses he can truly see.

 

I believe that these two different definitions are what Jesus is driving at in verse 39. We might be able to translate the verse like this:

 

39 Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who think they see may become blind.”

 

That makes much more sense. But what are the implications of becoming blind?

 

Just as we compared the two contrasting statements in verse 41 to understand the confession of blindness, we can use the same technique to understand the implications. At the beginning of verse 41, Jesus says,

 

”If you were blind, you would have no sin”.

 

At the end of verse 41, He says,

 

”but now that you say, ‘We see’, your sin remains”.

 

If I were to ask you, what is the opposite of sin remaining? You would probably tell me, “sin not remaining”. It doesn’t mean that you were never sinful, but that the sin was taken away. Do you know a word for this? Forgiveness!

 

If we use this same pattern, verse 41 might read like this:

 

41 Jesus said to them, “If you were to say ‘I am blind ‘, you would be forgiven; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ you will not be forgiven.

 

This is big. There is eternity at stake here. And it lies in the balance of whether or not you confess your sin and weakness, blindness and need for Jesus, or not. If you walk that road, believing you do not need Him, you will have no salvation.

 

I want you to see the warning here. This is a frightening thing. If you forget your sin and deep depravity, you will not be saved. If you do not realize that you are moment by moment in desperate need of Jesus; in such a way that you have absolutely no chance on your own; that if he for one millisecond stopped propping you up with his hand you wouldn’t fall right into the pit of Hell; you are walking a very very dangerous road that will lead you straight to Hell. Do not be deceived brothers; Jesus says, “apart from me you can do nothing.” He does not say, “very little”; “nothing”!

 

But this isn’t so clear is it? Let’s make it a little more clear: When you sin, with your mouth in cursing, lying, or gossip, with your hand in violence or masturbation, with your eyes in pornography, lust or envy, do NOT turn and say, “I will not do it again.” You cannot overcome this disease on your own!

 

Don’t do this! If you do this your missing the whole Gospel! Christ came to save sinners! He came to help those who need Him! If you don’t need Him, then He has no reason to help you!

 

But, you are not alone, and you have a savior that cares for you deeply.

 

Jesus deeply desires your belief and predestines even the worst affliction for it: Therefore, take comfort in suffering and believe.

Look with me again at verses 3 and 4.

 

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.

 

What is the reason that Jesus gives that the man is blind?

 

that the works of God might be displayed in him.

 

What does Jesus mean by the phrase, “the works of God?”

 

Interestingly, this phrase is only used one other place in the book of John, and the usage very closely parallels that of this verse.

 

Let’s look at John 6:28-29:

 

28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?”

29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”

 

Therefore, using Jesus’s own definition, a good translation might be like this:

 

3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that belief in Jesus might be displayed in him.

4 We must believe in Jesus while it is day; night is coming, when no one can believe.

 

This is huge. If this is right, then this is saying that God, before the man was even born, predestined this terrible tragedy to happen all so that he might believe! But is this right?

 

There are many other reasons that I have found as to why this is true, however, I will point out only two here:

 

  1. The emphasis in this passage is not on the blind man obtaining sight, but rather his coming to belief. If it were just on his obtaining sight, John could have ended the story right after he obtained his sight in verse 7. However, John continues throughout the rest of the story to show the man’s progression of obtaining spiritual sight. By composing the text like this, John appears to be communicating to us that the real miracle, the most miraculous thing that Jesus did, was to bring this man to spiritual sight. The blindness and subsequent healing was only a means to that end.
  2. The translation of “works of Him who sent me” as “believe in Jesus” appears to be consistent with the other passages which talk about daytime and nighttime, light and darkness. For instance, there is a parallel in John 12:36, where Jesus says: “While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”

 

I want you all to be encouraged. In some of my toughest moments, I am often afraid that God forbids me from coming to Him. That He doesn’t love me and want me to believe. But this is not what this text is saying. In this text, we see a loving God that deeply, deeply cares about your belief. He wants you to believe far more than even you want your belief, and He has predestined things in your life, both good and bad, all so that you may believe. It appears that one of the ways that God used this blindness for his belief was to keep him humble, to keep him hoping only in God. God may use difficulties in your life in the same way. Another way in which God may use your difficulties for your belief is by miraculously bringing you out of them. Just as He did this man. If those times come, please don’t miss them, they were made for your belief.

 

Therefore, take heart in the midst of suffering and trials, knowing that you have a God that deeply desires your belief and has predestined even suffering from before you were born to result in your belief and salvation.

 

Finally,

 

Jesus came to save the blind: Therefore turn to Him in your deep need and find open arms, forgiveness, and eternal life.

This is clear from what we have already seen in verses 39-41.

 

In verse 39, we find that Jesus came to make the blind see. In verse 41, Jesus shows us that if we confess our sin and need of Him, we will obtain forgiveness, and thereby salvation.

 

The same author who penned this letter wrote another letter, in 1 John 1:8-9 he writes:

 

8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

 

Church, turn to the Lord, understand the depths of your sin and need for Him, don’t ever try to do things on your own. I don’t care what it is, our God is a God who works for those who wait for Him. Trust in Him, knowing nothing is too small for His help, and nothing is beyond His ability, but everything is too difficult for you in your own strength.

 

In the animated series Torchlighters, there is a story of John Wesley. All his life, Wesley tries to please God in order to obtain some assurance of his salvation. One day, in a moment, the true Gospel finally becomes clear, his eyes are opened. He understands that he is a sinner, we are all sinners, but Christ came to save sinners. Awakened to this Gospel, he sets out to preach the Gospel to the churches. As he begins his sermon, he tells the congregation that he is a sinner, and they are too. One lady comments, “Is he insinuating that I am not a Christian?” The congregation becomes enraged and kicks him out of the church. He continues to preach this Gospel from church to church as they continue to kick him out.

 

Encouraged by George Whitfield, he decides to go to preach in the field. He begins preaching to a man, sitting on a log in the field, poor, ripped clothes, dirt covering his body, he repeats the same line, “I stand here, a sinner, a sinner, just like you!” Wesley covers his face to protect himself, afraid of receiving the same violent response, instead, he hears a quivering voice: “Yes sir, I am a sinner, that I am, go on sir, I’m listening.” Wesley responds, “I am a sinner, and I am come to tell you that Jesus Christ loves you, that He paid the price for your sins, and that he came to save you, and me.” The man responds, “O Tell me more sir, please!” Finally, Wesley finishes, “God is a comfort to the comfortless, a hope to the hopeless, a light to those that sit in darkness. Come, Christ begs us, come to me anyone who is weary and burdened, and I will give you rest!”

 

But let me leave you with a warning. In verse 4, Jesus says:

 

We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work.

 

We know that Jesus is talking about belief here, and must be careful not to push the analogy too far, but the warning goes like this:

 

Be careful to believe while I am with you and performing all of these proofs among you, because if you do not believe when you are seeing all this truth in clarity, how will you possibly believe when I am gone and these proofs are no longer before your eyes?

 

If you are lost in a woods in pitch black night, and decide to sit in a chair and go nowhere while it is day and you can actually see to escape, how do you expect that you will have any hope of getting out when night returns and you can see nothing?

 

In the same way, believe here tonight while the Word of God is being spoken to you, for if you do not believe now when the truth is being presented so clearly, how do you expect to have any hope when the Word is no longer spoken.