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Spiritual Blindness

Spiritual Blindness – John 9

Jesus gives sight to a man blind from birth but the religious leaders refuse to see their need of Jesus. We’ll be plagued by blindspots until we open our eyes to Jesus.This message is a part of our series on the Gospel of John.

Find the rest of the messages in this series here.

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Spiritual Blindness: Jesus gives sight to a blind man but religious leaders refuse to see their need of Jesus. We’ll be plagued by blindspots until we open our eyes to Jesus.

Have you ever purchased something that has some assembly required on the package and when you open it you realize it should have said, all assembly required?

My experience with those pieces of furniture, toys, etc is that the instructions are written by people who have never built one of the products. There always seems to be at least one point in the instructions where it is assumed that you understand what’s next, and it skips a step or two…

God’s Word does not brush difficult topics aside, assume them, or gloss over them without descending into particulars. God’s Word is sufficient. We are people of the book because we know it covers all of life.

Today we are going to look at John 9 where we are given 41 verses on the healing of a man who was born blind and also the spiritual blindness of the religious people.

Now the opening words of this chapter are “as he went along” so we have a passage of time here. We are not sure how much. John couldn’t give us every detail, but in this particular instance, he gives us 41 verses on this one situation.

There’s something significant he wants us to learn.

The next phrase is “Jesus saw a man which was blind from birth.”

Jesus sees those who are often overlooked.

I want us to just take a beat here. Jesus saw this man. Though he had important work to do, a mission to complete, people to teach, places to go. He sees this man.

We are taught when we are young that we shouldn’t stare at people who are different from us, but what we are often taught is to not see the people around us who are different. We actually end up overlooking them or avoiding them. What so many people who are disabled want is simply to be treated normally.

Because we don’t want to stare, we don’t look at all. We fear saying the wrong thing, so we don’t say anything.

Jesus saw this man. There is beauty in just that. That Jesus sees him. Whatever disadvantage or disability you might have, whatever background or experience you come from- Jesus sees you.

He not only sees you, he calls to you. He’s been looking for you. He’s been calling out for you.

The disciples react to the fact that Jesus has noticed this man and they ask a question that very much reflected the philosophy and theology of the day.

2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?

Now, there is a broad truth that suffering is the result of sin, but we must descend into the particular, because personal suffering doesn’t not necessitate personal sin.

Present suffering does not flow directly from past sin.

Suffering is in the world because of sin. The world was perfect and beautiful and sin broke it. We refer to the original sin as “the fall” and in the fall we were broken. It is now natural for us to do wrong. We also expect wrong to be done to us. Plus, we naturally cause suffering and experience suffering.

Suffering was not God’s design but sin’s affect.

However, while the origin of suffering in the world is sin, the origin of suffering in one’s life is not their own sin. Some of the most holy people have suffered the most in this life. Just think of the book of Job or read

Galatians 4:13 but you know that it was because of a bodily illness that I preached the gospel to you the first time;

Or

2 Corinthians 12:7 Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.

BTW – the idea of Karma is popular to many “modern” people, but Karma is just a form of this. Karma says that every disabled person is guilty and being punished. Karma says that all the suffering you experience, even the sins of others against you, you deserve it.

Present suffering does not flow directly from past sin but it can lead to future purposes.

3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

The tradition taught a child born with a disability was the product of sin or had been evil in the womb, had been sinful in utero and that cause the development of the child to be altered in some way…

They based this on the story of Jacob and Esau, the twins who wrestled in the womb and then God was harsh toward Esau. This so permeated the thinking of the people that they used Paul’s imprisonment for preaching the gospel as evidence that he was not legitimate.

Jesus states equivocally this blindness was not the result of his sin or his parents. That was big. Here this man not only lived with a disability but with the stigma that he had deserved this difficulty.

Imagine what it must have been like for his parents… They perhaps spent many moments lost in thought wondering what they had done to bring this hardship on their son…

Jesus could have gone into a long lecture about original sin, the entrance of suffering in the world because of sin, we have those truths elsewhere. John wants us to know in this moment that out of this man’s blindness, Jesus would take occasion to demonstrate the spiritual blindness of the people.

Jesus would use this moment to manifest, to make the invisible to be visible to people who couldn’t see what He was trying to show them.

God makes his grace visible in healing and in sustaining.

In the case of Paul’s thorn in the flesh, God does not heal Paul but tells him my grace is sufficient for you.

God does not deliver the apostles, all of whom would be martyred for the faith except for John who would be exiled on an island. Their suffering does not indicate past personal sin but rather future divine purposes. Why is this happening? Well, in a broad sense, sin. In this moment, I’m not sure of anything except that God can use it for good.

That’s what Jesus does and in this moment he gives us this tidbit, a nugget that we should not skip over. He says I must work the works of the Father who sent my while it is yet day, for the night is coming when no man can work.

4 I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.

5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

Make hay while the sun shines.

Jesus refers to when He would be removed from the disciples and before the Spirit falls on them in a fresh new way, bringing about the church age. We are in the church age, it is day, but the night is coming when no man can work.

In the timeline of history, we are in the last chapter.
There is a epilogue of eternity that comes after, but the ending of the story comes in this chapter. The work will cease when night comes…

My father used to always say “Make hay while the sun shines.” Or in other words, you need to work when you can, while you can.

I was reminded this week of the monumental work that is all around us… There is darkness all around us. We are pretty good at not seeing it, but it’s here.

Brandon Heath:
Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see,
Everything that I keep missing,
Give your love for humanity.
Give me your arms for the broken-hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach.
Give me Your heart for the ones forgotten.
Give me Your eyes so I can see.

13They brought to the Pharisees him that aforetime was blind.

14And it was the sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes.

15Then again the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. He said unto them, He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see.

16Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them.

Jesus uses alternative methods

Jesus uses spit and dirt. They would ask this man and his parents “how” 4 times. Jesus heals the man on the sabbath. Part of the reason we don’t see the people all around us who need help is because we are quite busy debating on the appropriate ways to help…

“It is clear you don’t like my way of doing evangelism. You raise some good points. Frankly, I sometimes do not like my way of doing evangelism. But I like my way of doing it better than your way of not doing it.” D.L. Moody

Jesus is out here rescuing people and they want to squabble over a technicality.

This man who was born with blindness apparently had the spiritual gift of sarcasm. Read 23-35. When the people didn’t like what they heard, they threw him out.  Satan’s tactic is to divide, separate, isolate.

Jesus would say that he came for judgement. Jesus brought grace, but for that grace to be applied to sin, sin must be uncovered. The pharisees talk with Jesus and Jesus says I have come that those who can’t see will see and those who can see will refuse to see. The Pharisees say, are you saying we are blind?

Jesus says, because you claim you can see you are without excuse, so you’re not blind, you’re sinners. You may not have physical blindness, but you have spiritual blindness.

Spiritual Blindness and Blindspots

Our van has a camera that switches on when you put on your right turn signal- it shows you your blindspot… You see we all have blindspots. We can see for miles ahead, but something can be 6 inches of us just out of our peripheral vision and we can’t see it. We can spot sin the life of a person we barely know but miss the sin right in our own lives…

“The great tragedy is those with sight who refuse to see.” – Helen Keller

“Do you know a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool.” – Proverbs 26:12

Spiritual Blindness refuses to see blindspots because spiritual blindness is arrogance.

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