Read John 9: 1-41
1As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2His 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 work of God might be displayed in his life. 4As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5While I am in the world, I am the light of the world."
6Having said 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.
8His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, "Isn't this the same man who used to sit and beg?" 9Some claimed that he was.
Others said, "No, he only looks like him."
But he himself insisted, "I am the man."
10"How then were your eyes opened?" they demanded.
11He replied, "The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see."
12"Where is this man?" they asked him.
"I don't know," he said.
13They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. 14Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man's eyes was a Sabbath. 15Therefore 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."
16Some of the Pharisees said, "This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath."
But others asked, "How can a sinner do such miraculous signs?" So, they were divided.
17Finally 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."
18The Jews still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man's parents. 19"Is this your son?" they asked. "Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?"
20"We know he is our son," the parents answered, "and we know he was born blind. 21But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don't know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself." 22His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews, for already the Jews had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Christ would be put out of the synagogue. 23That was why his parents said, "He is of age; ask him."
24A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. "Give glory to God," they said. "We know this man is a sinner."
25He replied, "Whether he is a sinner or not, I don't know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!"
26Then they asked him, "What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?"
27He 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?"
28Then they hurled insults at him and said, "You are this fellow's disciple! We are disciples of Moses! 29We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don't even know where he comes from."
30The man answered, "Now that is remarkable! You don't know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. 31We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will. 32Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. 33If this man were not from God, he could do nothing."
34To this they replied, "You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!" And they threw him out.
35Jesus 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."
37Jesus said, "You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you."
38Then the man said, "Lord, I believe," and he worshiped him.
39Jesus said, "For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind."
40Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, "What? Are we blind too?"
41Jesus said, "If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains. (NIV)
I love this story. It speaks of so many wonderful things. But most, I love the change in the man who was blind as contrasted to all the others in the story. The basic premise this story seeks to address the long held Jewish belief that sin and suffering are connected. Basically, the bigger sinner you are, the more you suffer. And while sin can cause suffering, suffering isn’t always the result of sin.
This man was obviously known by the people in the area and even the disciples. They ask about if his blindness is connected to sin, either his or his parents. Jesus emphatically says “no!” This question of the connection between sin and suffering is reiterated in verse 34 where the Pharisees conclude that the man was “steeped in sin at birth.”
We see several other points that are being addressed. Miracles can only do so much to moving people to accept Christ. We see there was division as to whether the even happened. People were saying they were just confusing the man who claimed he was blind with another man. This is the problem with miraculous signs. They are short lived.
But we also see that this man had a life changing encounter with Jesus. These tend to last over time. We see the change in the man. He is bold. He is not afraid of the Pharisees. He even chides them when he says, “do you want to be his disciples too.” This is contrasted with the fear of his parents. They do not want to say anything that will get them in trouble. It is a shame when the church makes people feel uncomfortable in the way it teaches. I worry about this each week when I preach. Do I share grace or do I share rules and regulations? There is a fine line in teaching people to be a disciple and making discipleship all about rules.
Another issue that is presented in this passage is that there is suffering in the world. Part of our work is to address the suffering. Jesus says the man is suffering so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. We are called to be about helping those who suffer. This was the essence of Jesus’ teaching at the end of Matthew where he says those who are going into heaven because they gave Jesus help. He said, “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was naked and you clothed me. I was sick and you took care of me. I was imprisoned and you visited me.” He clarified and said, when you did to the least of these, you did to me. Part of who we are is to help those who suffer. We do it in the name of God for the glory of God and not other reason.
Finally, we see that one of the things the Messiah would do is to make the blind see. Jesus takes this thought of being healed from physical blindness to a bigger issue which is spiritual blindness. Jesus reminds us in this passage the he came into the world for judgement. This theme is reiterated over and over in the Gospels. Again, it is part of the story of the story where Jesus says the end times will be like a shepherd who separates the goats from the sheep which I talked about above. Here it is those who are blind and those who can see, but don’t get it. The blind will see and those who see will become blind.
One question for us is what are we blind to that Jesus wants us to see? What are we doing to help those who suffer? Are we like this man, so willing to share our testimony? “I was once blind, but now I see” was his testimony. We all have something to do, to share and praise God about. What is on your list?
Blessings and Peace