John 9:1–7, 13–17, 34–39 As [Jesus] went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6 After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. 7 “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing. 13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. 14 Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath. 15 Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see.” 16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others asked, “How can a sinner perform such signs?” So they were divided. 17 Then they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.”
The man replied, “He is a prophet.” 34 To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out. 35 Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.” 37 Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.” 38 Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. 39 Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”
My dear friends in Christ,
Do you understand what it means to be blind? Close your eyes for a moment. That helps, but you can still see a little bit of light. Put your hands over your eyes. Block out all the light. Welcome to my world. I lived in the darkness. That’s all I knew. Oh, I could see things just fine. I just used my other senses to “see” them. Take one of your hands and touch the bench next to you. Describe how it feels. I feel fabric. I feel its texture. I can feel the pattern. It has a cushion underneath the fabric that gives when I push on it. It feels good when I sit on it. I can judge the general shape and size. I can see the bench. I can see the cushion. I just couldn’t see the color and all the visual details that your eyes can see.
I was blind. Sometimes my blindness was a burden, more of a curse than anything else. Sometimes people act like a blind person can’t hear what they’re saying. Plenty of people talked about me instead of to me. I heard them. I heard a group of men one Sabbath Day say this about me: “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:2 NIV). Did they think I wouldn’t hear them? Did they think I haven’t wondered that same thing? What went wrong? Did my mother eat something that caused my blindness, or worked too hard and didn’t rest enough? Maybe she said or did something that caused God to strike me with blindness. I didn’t know. Had my father disobeyed one of God’s laws and brought punishment on me? Did God know that I would be a terrible person and so he punished me before I was even born?
Who sinned? Sometimes you ask the same question. Parents ask what they have done wrong when their child is born with a problem or disability. When the doctor announces that you have some sort of illness, maybe a form of cancer, you ask what you ate or drank or did so that it invaded your body. Who sinned? Open your eyes. Look at yourself. Look deep within. King David, who was never blind, wrote this: “My sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails within me.” (Psalm 40:12 NIV). Do you recognize the cause of every problem in this world? Even with your eyes uncovered and wide open, you are just as blind as I was. Sin blinds us all.
I know that you understand that kind of blindness. I hear it from you, especially this time of the year. You talk about “March Madness.” You watch games and when the referees make a call you don’t like, you shout, “Are you blind?” So, I know you’ll understand this. You walk into work. You want to be successful. You want to make a good impression on the boss. Blind to everything and everyone around you, you will do whatever it takes to make more money, to get the next promotion, to achieve a better quality of life. You’re blind.
You can walk into your own home and be blind. Husbands, you can look at your wives and not even see them. You barricade yourselves in your man caves, or focus on a hobby, and you don’t see your wife’s needs. She can give you hints. She can tell you want she needs from you. She may even flat out beg, but you are blind. Wives, you can be just as blind too. It’s easy to see that there are so many things your husband does wrong that you don’t see the things that he does well, the things that he does for you, to help and love you. Then you’re blind.
Children who are born with sight can be blind too. Mom asks, “Did you pick up the mess in your room?” “What mess? I didn’t see anything!” Teens—in your desire to be independent, your blindness can turn into a real disaster. Your parents set up guidelines for your protection, to help you grow and mature. Blinded to their love and support, you only see what you can’t do and assume that your parents hate you because they set up all these rules.
Blindness is more common than we realize. You may not be blind like I was. You don’t need a white cane to find your way through a store. You don’t need to learn Braille so you can read a book. But we are blind, and in a darkness much deeper and more dangerous than simply living in the dark like I did.
The apostle Paul warned, “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4 NIV). Without Jesus, without the good news that he brings as the light of the world, everyone is blind and destined for the darkness that Jesus spoke of at the end of one of his parables: “Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 22:13 NIV).
I got away from my story a little bit, didn’t I? That’s all right—it was important, but I have something amazing to share with you. I can see, and that’s impossible! It’s impossible, but that’s exactly what happened thanks to Jesus! He told his disciples that he had work to do, important work. I didn’t realize it, but I was included in that work. He answered the question, “Who sinned?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him” (John 9:3 NIV). My blindness wasn’t a result of some sin. What a relief! My blindness would be an opportunity for Jesus to show that he was the powerful Son of God. He had come to fulfill every Old Testament prophecy! I’m sorry—I’m so excited that I’m getting ahead of myself!
I heard Jesus spit, then scratch around in the dirt next to me. Then, I felt him smear some mud on my eyes (it wasn’t as bad as it sounds). It was strange, but who was I to stop him? Then he said, “Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” (John 9:7 NIV). I went as quickly as I could. I knew that pool well. It was a place we all went for fresh water—a gift of the ancient King Hezekiah. I scooped some of the cool water in my hands and began to wash away the mud. When I finished something amazing happened. My eyes opened—eyes that had never opened, that had never seen anything. Suddenly I saw light…and shapes…and colors…all coming into sharp, clear focus! I could see!!!
Jesus displayed God’s work in my life—giving me the gift of sight. I will always remember the darkness, but it makes me appreciate the light even more. All of my senses are a gift from God! I am living, breathing proof of God’s miraculous power!
That didn’t stop the haters from hating me. Some of my neighbors, people who had seen me every day, didn’t believe that I was the same man who had been born blind. The Pharisees called me in for questioning. They couldn’t believe that a man born blind could now see. They asked me about it. They didn’t believe me. They called in my parents and questioned them, but didn’t believe them either. They called me in a second time and asked how I was healed. I told them. They asked again, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” (John 9:26 NIV). I answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?” (John 9:27 NIV). I guess that was the wrong thing to say. They were so angry, especially when I told them that the man who healed me must have been from God, since no one had ever healed a man born blind. They threw me out! Can you believe it? They threw me out of the synagogue for telling the truth about what happened to me!
That wasn’t all bad, because what happened next really changed my life. Gaining my sight was incredible—don’t get me wrong. Meeting the one who restored my sight was even better! Jesus sought me out. When he found me he asked, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” (John 9:35 NIV). I didn’t know who he was. I remember some of the prophets said the Son of man was coming, but we were still waiting for him. Jesus told me, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you” (John 9:37 NIV).
My heart filled with incredible joy, and thankfulness, and worship. I threw myself at his feet and told my Lord, “I believe!” (John 9:38 NIV). Jesus came to me when I lived in darkness and opened my eyes so that I could see for the first time in my life. But that gift of sight couldn’t compare with the moment Jesus came to me and opened my eyes to see him—to see my Savior! The LORD had promised all of this through the prophet Isaiah: “I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 42:16 NIV).
Jesus did all of that for you too. He sought you out when you didn’t know him because you were blind. He called you to a pool—a lot smaller than the pool of Siloam—and he washed you too. He didn’t just wash your eyes. He washed you, body and soul, in the water of baptism. He opened the eyes of your heart so that you can see him, so that you can believe in him. Now you can see everything that the Light of the world has done for you! It’s a beautiful sight. Jesus came to carry out all of God’s work. He was not blinded to the needs of his family, his friends, or his community. He saw them in Technicolor clarity and did something about those needs. He shared his powerful Word. He taught. He healed. He fed. His light shone for the world to see. His light burned brightly in the darkness of Good Friday, illuminating a horrible scene as he paid the price for sin and sacrificed his life for the world. That light, extinguished by death, returned on Easter morning in all its brilliance. Jesus lives! Jesus lives! Your eyes get to see it all by faith, and it fills you with as much joy and thankfulness as it does me!
Jesus has opened your eyes. See how his light shines in your lives! When you walk into work, see the needs of your boss, your co-workers and your company. Work to serve and praise Jesus and he’ll take care of all your needs. Walk into your marriage with your eyes wide open. Husbands, see your wives, see their needs, and love them unconditionally. Wives, see your husband’s actions in light of Jesus’ love. Children, your eyes are open when you look at the list of chores as an opportunity to serve Jesus and your parents. Teens, look at your relationship with your parents in the light of Jesus’ love. They want you to live in Jesus’ light as you move into adulthood.
I hate to even bring this up, but at the end of my story Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind” (John 9:39 NIV). There are many who think they can see but will miss out on the Light of the world. The Pharisees who interrogated me were really blind—blind to everything Jesus said, blind to the fact that he was the Son of God. You may know people like that who think they don’t need to know about sin and then don’t need to know about their Savior. Keep shining the Light on them. Direct them back again and again to the beacon of Truth that shines out from Jesus. His Word cut through my darkness and gave sight to my eyes and my soul. He did the same for you. His Word can do the same for the rest of the world. Look! We were blind, but now we see! Amen!
To God alone the glory!