“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 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing. 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?” Some said, “It is he.” Others said, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” So they said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 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.” They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.” They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 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.” 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. 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.” 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 and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” His parents answered, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. 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.” (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.) Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.” 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.” He answered, “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 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?” And they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” The man answered, “Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 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. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out. Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.” (John 9:6-41 ESV)
I know this is a long passage, but it has a single and very distinct point. Are you blind to the things of God or can you see His purpose and power at work in you and in the world around us? Let’s take a look…
If God Can Use Mud, Surely He Can Use You:
First, Jesus creates an intentional confrontation with the Pharisees about the Sabbath. His healing of the man born blind is done in a very specific way, and John draws attention to it because Jesus did. After clearing up the disciple’s misunderstandings regarding the cause of the man’s blindness, Jesus spits on the ground and makes mud. He then takes the mud and applies it to the man’s eyes and instructs him to go wash in the pool of Siloam.
John makes note of the fact that the name of the pool means “sent.” While it isn’t entirely clear why John points that out, I think it is likely to emphasize the healing was the result of Jesus “sending” the man to fulfill an act of obedience and not because of some “healing properties” of the water or some supposed stirring of the water by an “angel.” (See John 5:7)
So, what is the root cause of the controversy with the Pharisees? At first glance, it might appear to be that Jesus healed someone else on the Sabbath and that is, at least partially, true. But, it really seems to go deeper and strike at the very heart of the matter. Jesus spat on the ground and “made mud.” The wording here is the same used for “kneading dough.” The Pharisaical law regarding the observance of the Sabbath insisted that no work could be performed. The act of kneading dough was explicitly forbidden in their definition of “work.” However, Jesus’ point appears to address the real “heart” of the matter, purpose or intent and not specific actions.
God’s law regarding work on the sabbath was not really about work as much as it was about focus. “”Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” (Exodus 20:8 ESV) God expounded on this by emphasizing that to keep something HOLY it must be separated from the other six days in which we work (see Exodus 20:9-11). Keep the day holy, set apart for God’s purpose and intent. Keep it focused on Him and not your job, or your personal desires or goals. The intent of THIS commandment is not about “not working” but about keeping YOU focused on and set apart (root meaning of holy) for God’s use. The real focus of the Sabbath is not about work or the lack thereof, but about God and refocusing our lives on Him and His purpose.
So, is your life focused on you and your needs, desires, and purpose or is it focused on God and true worship of Him?
I Was Blind, but Now I See…
The next part of this story is about a series of conversations with the man born blind. It begins with his friends and neighbors asking him about his healing. At first, they doubt it is him. Someone says, “It can’t be him it just looks like him!” He speaks up, “Guys, it really is me! I can see!” How? Who? “The man, called Jesus, made mud and put it on my eyes and said “Go wash.” Notice his knowledge and understanding of who Jesus is. None. The man called Jesus. That’s all. Nothing more. At this point, his spiritual blindness persists, despite the miracle.
So, his friends bring him to the Pharisees and they begin to question him. How did you receive your sight? A man put mud on my eyes, told me to wash, and I now see. Obviously, some were already attributing this miracle to God because the Pharisees respond strongly, “this man CAN’T be of God because he violates the Sabbath!” But, some Pharisees responded, “How can someone who isn’t of God, a sinner, do these things?” So they asked the man born blind, “What do you say, since he healed you?” He responded, “He is a prophet (sent from God).” Now he has moved from “just a man” to “a man from God.” His spiritual blindness is beginning to clear up.
So, the Pharisees call in some witnesses. They question the man’s honesty. He’s just making up this whole story about blindness and miraculous healing. His parents are called in to testify. “Explain this story to us. Is this your son that’s been blind from birth? How can he now see?” I love their response, “Yes, this is our son who WAS blind. We don’t have a clue what’s happened or how. Ask him yourself, he’s of age and can speak for himself.” The Pharisees ask him again what happened, because they don’t understand. It is simply not possible. A sinner, like Jesus obviously is, couldn’t do these things. Then it gets really interesting…
The man born blind responds, “I don’t know whether he’s a sinner or not. I just know I was blind and now I can see. Do you ask because you want to be one of his disciples?” “What? We would NEVER follow him! We don’t even know where he came from!” He’s shocked! “You don’t know where he’s from? Everyone knows you can’t make a blind man see unless God is with you. You say he’s obviously a sinner, but God doesn’t listen to sinners. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”
The Pharisees are insulted and incredulous, “You are an utter sinner from birth (hence, his blindness – according to their theology). Do you think you can teach us anything about God we don’t already know? Get out!” And they expelled him from the synagogue. His blindness is quickly lifting, but their blindness is getting worse and worse. He’s beginning to recognize God’s hand at work in his life, while the Pharisees grow increasingly arrogant and violently reject God’s powerful presence.
Out of the Synagogue, Into God’s Presence…
Jesus heard the Pharisees had expelled him from the synagogue and he went looking for him. This one statement ought to be enough to cause us to pause and catch our breath. The very God who spoke the galaxies into existence went looking for one lost soul who desperately wanted to see God’s hand at work in his life. If you don’t get anything else this morning, I pray you get this point! Every other religious belief system in the world is based on man searching for God, but Christianity is based on the fundamental understanding that God has come searching for us himself.
The Pharisees intended to drive this heretic out of God’s presence by expelling him from the synagogue. Instead, they drove him directly into God’s outstretched arms. Jesus asks him, “do you believe in the Son of Man (or Messiah)?” It is important to recognize that Jesus was making a claim that everyone around him would understand. The term “Son of Man” had become synonymous during the intertestamental period with the promised Old Testament Messiah. Everyone in and around Jerusalem understood Jesus references to the “Son of Man.”
“”I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.” (Daniel 7:13-14 ESV)
The man born blind responds to Jesus’ question, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. (vs. 36-38)
This man has moved from absolute blindness to being in the presence of the Light of Life. His understanding of Jesus has moved from “that man” to “a prophet,” and from “a prophet” to the “Son of Man.” Now he declares him Lord and worships Him.
It is essential that you hear and understand Jesus’ closing declaration in this story, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” You see (pun intended), this story isn’t REALLY about physical blindness. John uses a story about physical blindness to help us see a spiritual truth.
When we are blind to God’s presence and purpose we miss the most important elements of life. This man had his physical sight and spiritual sight restored on the same day, and he schooled a group of highly educated religious leaders on seeing God in their midst. They were blind to God’s powerful presence because of their presuppositions that left them blind to the Light of the World. A former blind man was astonished that he could now see better than they could who was standing before them. A man who can heal those blind from birth must have the Spirit and power of God upon him.
Jesus says it was for JUDGMENT that he came into this world, to judge those who can see and those who can’t see the truth of God. Will your eyes be opened today?
(Prezi of my sermon notes: https://prezi.com/dgebyxrg58ot)