Because Jesus is the Light of the World

Dr. Rob Green May 16, 2021 John 9:1-41
Outline

4 main characters and their response to spiritual blindness

I. Jesus: The One Who Sees and Gives Sight to the Blind

A. Jesus accomplishes what the Father has given Him

John 9:4 - We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work.

B. Jesus corrects their misunderstanding of sin and sickness

John 9:2-3 - And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

C. Jesus is the Light of the world

John 9:5 - While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.

John 9:38 - And he said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped Him…

D. Jesus came to call people to decide what they will believe about Him

John 9:39 - And Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.”

II. The Parents: The Ones Who are Blind and Choose to Remain Blind

A. They confirm that a real miracle occurred

John 9:20 - His parents answered them and said, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind…”

B. They lied about their knowledge of Jesus

John 9:21 - …but how he now sees, we do not know; or who opened his eyes, we do not know. Ask him; he is of age, he will speak for himself.

“It is unreasonable to think that they did not know who had performed the healing, even though there is no indication that they were present at the cure itself.” (D.A. Carson, John, PNTC. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991)

C. They were motivated by their place in the synagogue not their blindness

John 9:22-23 - His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone confessed Him to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue. For this reason his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”

III. The Pharisees: The Ones Who are Blind, but Think They Can See

John 9:40-41 - Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things and said to Him, “We are not blind too, are we?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.”

A. Blindness is hypocritical

John 9:16 - Therefore some of the Pharisees were saying, “This man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.” But others were saying, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And there was a division among them.

B. Blindness refuses to believe the facts

John 9:18 - The Jews then did not believe it of him, that he had been blind and had received sight, until they called the parents of the very one who had received his sight.

John 9:24 - So a 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.”

John 9:28 - They reviled him and said, “You are His disciple, but we are disciples of Moses.”

C. Blindness blames others

John 9:34a - They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you teaching us?”

D. Blindness makes rash and unjust decisions

John 9:34b - So they put him out.

IV. The Blind Man: The One Who Knows He Is Blind and Subsequently Sees

A. Initial faith

John 9:7 - “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated, Sent). So he went away and washed, and came back seeing.

B. Initial testimony

C. Bold stand for Jesus

John 9:27 - I told you already and you did not listen; why do you want to hear it again? You do not want to become His disciples too, do you?

D. Trust for his salvation

John 9:35-38 - Jesus heard that they had put him out, and finding him, He said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?” Jesus said to him, “You have both seen Him, and He is the one who is talking with you.” And he said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped Him.

When I was a freshman in college, I had to take a course named Engineering Graphics. It was a class on special recognition. We had to draw side, top, and front views of various objects and draw objects based on drawings of their views. I barely survived.

  • Thankfully, God chose to be kind to me and assigned me a seat right next to the smartest girl in the class. Let’s just say that every class period started with a quick check to see if my homework looked remotely close to hers and potentially some last second adjustments.

I had a problem, and I knew it. I struggled to look at the front view of a block and “see” it from the top. I struggled looking at the front, side, and top views and then drawing what the block looked like. I was “blind.”

  • The girl who sat next to me saw it all. She would see the block and the drawings were already in her head or she would see the drawings and the picture of the block was in her mind.
  • That is why I practically begged her to help me. On occasion I think I annoyed her because I did not immediately grasp what she found so easy.

For some reason, I was blind and struggled to see. To this day, spatial recognition is hard for me. Imagining something that is not there is hard for me. I struggle to looking drawings and properly orient everything. Pastor Viars mentioned his little IKEA story a few weeks ago.

Well I have one of my own. Stephanie and I went to IKEA and bought some new furniture.

  • Some of you are wondering where this is going. Oh boy, is someone giving me the tools and the instructions full of drawings? Some of you are thinking that this is not going to be good. Disaster is coming.
  • Well, actually it was no trouble at all. Piece of cake. Stephanie did it. I went to work the next day and returned to the entire room redone.
  • The Lord showed uber kindness in giving me a wife far handier than I am.

Well, on the more serious side … consider with me

  • What if the blindness was not about blocks or drawings of furniture, but about spiritual things? What if heaven and hell were in the balance?
  • What if the blindness was intentional? It was not a matter of not being able to see, but a desire not to see.
  • What if the blindness was unknown? What if a person thought they could see when they were blind?

With that in mind please turn to John 9:1-41. That is on page ___ of the back section of the Bible in the chair in front of you. We are continuing our series Enjoying Life in His Name – a study through John’s gospel. Today we are going to study a very common story. It is the story of Jesus healing the man born blind.

Please follow along as I read. This is the Word of the Lord. John 9:1-41. The title of the message is Jesus is the Light of the World.

I would like us to Learn from the 4 main characters & their response to spiritual blindness

The main characters are Jesus, the parents, the Pharisees, and the man born blind. Technically, we have some neighbors as well, but the neighbors only play a role in setting up the dramatic responses of the 4 main players in the story.

You might immediately ask, wait a minute. I thought this was literal blindness not spiritual blindness.

Please hear me for a moment. This man was literally blind and spiritually blind, but the message is connected to metaphorical & spiritual blindness. My points could be grossly misunderstood if someone tried to apply them to the literal blind in our day.

  • John often uses normal situations to discuss the greatness of Jesus and the connections between everyday life and the spiritual realities behind them.
  • Jesus provided the best wine at the wedding [a sign that he was Messiah], he makes new birth possible [because Nicodemus needed to be born again], he gives living water [because the Samaritan woman needed life inside her], he is the bread of life.
  • By this point, we should be well accustomed to everyday life concerns having a significant spiritual impact.

Let’s start with the most important person in the story: Jesus.

I. Jesus: the one who sees and gives sight to the blind

John has carefully constructed his gospel to prove that Jesus is the Messiah the Son of God and that by believing in him you may have life in his name. This time, blindness is the real-life issue that has spiritual implications.

  • Jesus’ healing of a blind man demonstrates his ability to heal all people from spiritual blindness.

I hope that if you know Christ you are already starting to give thanks for the day Jesus took your spiritual blindness and caused you to see – to see Jesus for who he is.

In the story we find:

Jesus accomplishes what the Father has given him

John 9:4 “We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work.

The blind man is passive at the beginning of the story. He does not ask to be healed. There is little indication that he has personal knowledge of Jesus. His response in v. 11 proves it.

Jesus on the other hand, knows full well about the blind man. He knows that he was born blind and he knows that it is necessary to heal him to further demonstrate who he is and what he has come to accomplish.

This blind man needs physical and spiritual sight. Jesus needs to obey the Father.

Jesus corrects their misunderstanding of sin and sickness

John 9:2-3 And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.

While vv. 2-3 are a relatively small part of the story, it has a lot of ministry value. The Bible is clear that all sickness is a result of sin in a general sense.

  • God told Adam and Eve that if you eat of the tree you will surely die.
  • When they rebelled, sin entered the world and all the devastating consequences that came with it.
  • But as is often true with people, we try to assign specific struggles to specific sins. That exercise is much more difficult and not always accurate.

The disciples only offer two possibilities. It must be the man or his parents. The connection between sin and sickness is too close.

  • Jesus corrects them to demonstrate that he has larger purposes and, in this case, there was no sin that resulted in the blindness.

Here is a helpful word from our savior to all who are suffering or who are caring for a person who is suffering. Every person is made in the image of God and therefore every human life has value.

  • Every person has strengths, and every person has weaknesses.
  • Sometimes God uses the weaknesses to bring about his glory, to show his greatness, and in this case, to prove that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Jesus is the Light of the World

John 9:5 “While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.”

Jesus gave sight to the blind man to demonstrate his main point in this section. He is the light of the World. He is the one who is able to bring light to the darkness.

  • There was no better illustration than to take a man whose entire world has been dark and give him light.
  • I wish John had recorded more in v. 7 (he came back seeing). Was he running and jumping? Was he yelling and screaming? Was he crying from hearing voices for the first time?
  • But John does not want to draw our attention too closely to the man.

He is not simply one who makes the blind to see, but he brings light to spiritual darkness. As we will look at much more carefully later, the blind man gets sight first and then spiritual healing.

John 9:38 And he said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped Him

Jesus came to call people to decide what they will believe about him

John 9:39 And Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.”

Jesus is the most important person in the story.

  • He offers light in place of darkness just as he offered new birth, living water, and the bread that fully satisfies.
  • He offers eternal life in the future and abundant life now.
  • But everyone has to decide what to think about him: the blind man, the neighbors, the parents and the Pharisees.

At this point, I want us to ponder what we have done so far.

Rejoicing in the greatness of Jesus is one of our takeaways. Jesus is the one who gives sight to the blind. No one else could do that.

  • This blindness from birth showed the power of Jesus to reverse even the darkest futures. If you know Christ as your Lord and savior …. Praise God that he came to save – to open the eyes of spiritually blind.

Give thanks to the one who brought light to your darkened soul and serve him with your life. Live as if Jesus could return at any moment.

  • Let him find you busy doing the things he has called you to do.

We can have hope because the light of the world can open blind eyes.

  • As believers there is always hope because Jesus is the light of the world.
  • Even when the darkness seems very dark in a child, parent, brother, sister, grandchild, or friend … Jesus is the light of the World.

Let’s consider …

II. The parents: the ones who are blind and choose to remain blind

In many ways, the parents are the saddest part of this story. They enter the story in v. 18 and abruptly leave in v. 23. We learn three things about them.

They confirm that a real miracle occurred

They play a formal role in carrying the story forward – they confirm that the man is their son and that he was blind.

John 9:20 His parents answered them and said, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind;

They perceived that they could go this far. Admitting that he was their son and that he was blind from birth was not risky.

  • It may be that denying these matters would have made the situation worse and exposed them to potential discipline. But notice …

They lied about their knowledge of Jesus

John 9:21 but how he now sees, we do not know; or who opened his eyes, we do not know. Ask him; he is of age, he will speak for himself.”

Did they really not know? Really? The entire neighborhood knows! They are amazed that the man is walking around. They are used to seeing him beg.

  • His answer is in 9:11, “the man who is called Jesus and I received sight.” So, I am supposed to believe that the entire neighborhood knows, and the parents don’t and that their son told the neighbors but not them. Do you know what I say to that? LAME!
  • I agree with Don Carson who wrote …

“It is unreasonable to think that they did not know who had performed the healing, even though there is no indication that they were present at the cure itself.” D.A. Carson, John, PNTC (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991), 368.

The parents lied about their knowledge.

  • The one who gives sight to the blind is near and yet we have no record that they are seeking him to thank him.
  • No record that they are rejoicing at their son’s healing.
  • No record that they want to share the good news with others.
  • No record that they understand their son’s blindness was a picture of their own spiritual blindness.

We have grown accustomed to the Pharisees rejection. But Oh how sad that the parents could not rejoice, could not share, and would not admit their own condition. Why?

They were motivated by their place in the synagogue not their blindness

Under normal circumstances it is unwise to judge a person’s motives. However, this time the Bible tells us. Verse 21 tells us what they said, but John records their motives in v. 22-23.

John 9:22-23 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone confessed Him to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue. 23 For this reason his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”

They did not want to be involved in the middle of this because they were afraid of the Jews. Here is where the actions of the parents are saddest.

  • They knew that Jesus healed their son, and they knew that if they gave him credit, they would be put out of the synagogue. They punted.

When reading the gospels, it is sometimes challenging to get your timeline bearings. When I spoke on chapter 7, I said that we were only 6 months from the cross. The religious leaders (Pharisees, scribes, and Sadducees) were all against him. They were looking for a way to kill him.

  • The parents did not see their misplaced motives and totally caved.

They were more concerned with their place in the synagogue than they were about their blindness.

They had not learned the lesson from the son.

I wonder how many today think very similarly.

  • The Lord promised that after he ascended to heaven, he would give the Holy Spirit. His presence and purposes would be mediated by the Spirit of God.
  • There is ample evidence in creation, in the heart of people, in the written Word, and in changed lives that Jesus still gives sight to the spiritually blind.

Like the blind man’s parents, there are some who are blind and want to stay that way.

  • Being a follower of Jesus costs something. The parents were not willing to leave the synagogue behind in order to follow Jesus. I wonder who is in that position today.

I appeal to you not to allow the cares of this world to become more important than your blindness.

For the last 1900+ years, people have been reading this story.

  • They have seen the parents bury their head in the sand, totally punt, and try to hide from the situation. Their son, blind from birth, was healed. Now they want nothing to do with the story because Jesus is too risky.

When Jesus says that he came for judgment (9:39) he is saying that divisions would occur. Some would believe and receive his testimony and others would reject. Remember that John 3 tells us that Jesus came to save. How do those things go together?

  • There is a difference between dividing the sides and sentencing the criminals.

Final sentencing awaits death or the return of Jesus. Division starts now. The parents made their choice. I urge you not to stay in spiritual blindness.

  • Do not be like the parents who wanted to remain in their blindness.
  • Do not allow the cares of the world to become shinier than they are.
  • Do not let family tradition or history stand in the way of seeing your blindness.

Unless something changed, everyone who read this story has been reminded that the parents are suffering right now the eternal separation from God. We beg you not to join them.

III. The Pharisees: the ones who are blind but think they can see

John 9:40-41 Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things and said to Him, “We are not blind too, are we?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.

The Pharisees believe that they see things clearly. Their judgments are spot on because they know the facts. But that is actually the point.

  • Spiritual blindness does not judge things clearly because it cannot see the facts.
  • Darkness ruled because there was no acknowledgment of the darkness.

When I spoke on chapter 7, I used the word “lame” to describe their arguments and why people like you and me do not need to be intimidated.

  • When people cannot support their position through facts and reason, then they have nothing left but to yell at you, intimidate you, and seek to harm you. We see something similar here.

Blindness is hypocritical

John 9:16 Therefore some of the Pharisees were saying, “This man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.” But others were saying, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And there was a division among them.

You read this verse and say, we have been over this already. In chapter 7:21-24 Jesus confronted the Pharisees on this very point. They perform circumcisions every Sabbath day. Jesus heals one man and they go ballistic.

  • That is why he calls them hypocrites.

They conclude Jesus cannot be from God because he healed a person on the Sabbath. That is outrageous and totally … LAME! Here we are and they still use the exact same argument they have used in the past.

  • Jesus keeps the Sabbath by doing good. In this case, freeing him from both his physical and spiritual blindness.

Blindness refuses to believe the facts

Earlier in vv. 8-9 the neighbors were totally blown away by the fact that he could see. The blind man was eventually able to persuade them. The Pharisees are not so easily convinced.

John 9:18 The Jews then did not believe it of him, that he had been blind and had received sight, until they called the parents of the very one who had received his sight

The parents will verify as we saw already. But my point here is that this is classic blindness. You have the man and the neighbors.

  • The entire story is a credible, but when you already have decided something, you need to find a way to make the story fit. Look what comes next …

John 9:24 So a 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.”

John 9:28 They reviled him and said, “You are His disciple, but we are disciples of Moses.

Is there anyone other than me who finds this a bit of an overreaction?

  • The man tells them what happened. In v. 17 he calls him a prophet. But as I read the text, I cannot help but write in the margin, “Dudes, take a chill pill.”

One commentator mentioned (and it could be right) that the Pharisees seem to be taking an unusual interest in Jesus’ methodology. “How” did he heal you? Some believe that Jesus’ command to go wash in the pool of Siloam had a hidden message (the translation “sent”) – Jesus comes directly from God and is bringing something new and demonstrating authority over the old.

  • That suggestion is not crazy in light of their interest in method and the Pharisees refusal to believe that Jesus is from God.

But even if that is not correct, it is perfectly clear that they have no interest in believing the facts because the facts do not square well with their blindness.

Blindness blames others

When facts and reason are not on your side, you must resort to yelling, intimidating, and squashing your opponent. That is exactly what the Pharisees do.

John 9:34a They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you teaching us?”

In the Greek text the phrase “in sins” comes first. It is a frontal attack and exceedingly rude. The word “entirely” is also very interesting in this context.

  • They are saying to this man that from the bottom of his feet to the top of his head he has been a sinner from birth. When you do not like the message, shoot the messenger.

The real irony and the phrase that should encourage you to laugh at your Bible is “are you teaching us?” Blindness does this.

  • Do you see what they are saying? They accuse this man of being so steeped in sin from the very moment of his birth that he cannot possibly see this situation for what it is!
  • Their own words confirm that this man was blind from birth!

It is a really bad day when you accidently prove the thing that you were trying to disprove.

Blindness makes rash and unjust decisions

John 9:34b So they put him out.

He did not leave the conversation. They did to him exactly what his parents feared – removal from the synagogue. This man was excommunicated for telling the truth.

  • He was excommunicated because he defended Jesus’ miracle that he was blind and now he could see.

That is how blindness works. Instead of evaluating the facts carefully, blindness makes rash and unjust decisions. Their sin remained. It is a sobering thought to consider that these same Pharisees, assuming no change, are now eternally separated from the presence of the Lord.

In terms of application for us:

  1. Enemies of Jesus are spiritually blind. They will spot our hypocrisy from a mile away and not see it in their own life 2 inches from the nose. They will attack us because facts and reason do not satisfy or persuade.
    1. They may even decide to yell and intimidate. Let’s not be swayed or overly concerned. The Lord is strong and mighty.
  2. Be sympathetic toward their condition. When an enemy of Jesus confronts us, it is easy to be angry. I want to suggest sympathetic instead. If we saw someone yelling at a physically blind person because they bumped into that, we would be bothered by that. The person who can see should have made it easy for the person who cannot.
    1. The person who is spiritually blind is on the wrong side of the judgment awaiting final sentencing. It is hard to imagine a worse condition.

That brings us to the 4th character in the story…

IV. The blind man: the one who knows he is blind and subsequently sees

The most important person in the story is Jesus, but the one who gets the most press is the blind man. He is the only one in the story who is blind, knows it, and acknowledges it. The blind man receives complete healing. As we work through the story, his words (unlike the others) keep getting better.

Initial Faith

Jesus offers to heal him without recording of a request. But Jesus still asks him to do something.

John 9:7 “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated, Sent). So he went away and washed, and came back seeing.

Unlike his parents, the neighbors, and the Pharisees, this man is willing to take a step of faith. His faith at this stage is not likely to be any more than his willingness to believe that Jesus could heal him. But that is not where this story ends.

Initial Testimony

This man’s testimony is quite simple initially. He explains the clay and the washing. His summary conclusion is simply “I was blind, and now I see.” His formulation of Jesus is not yet complete, but he happily explains what Jesus did (multiple times) and provides a succinct summary.

Bold stand for Jesus

Verses 26-33 take a turn. Instead of the simple testimony that Jesus healed him, he finds the incessant questioning irritating and the whole process a bit of a sham.

  • I should say that at this point, it appears this questioning is formal. A council has been formed and the proceedings have started.
  • This is not a trial like Jesus will have, but they are deciding membership in the synagogue.

At v. 26 the man realizes that they are looking for agreement not a statement of the facts. With some biting irony proclaims,

John 9:27 “I told you already and you did not listen; why do you want to hear it again? You do not want to become His disciples too, do you?”

Of course the Pharisees lose their minds because conviction is not on the table. After accosting him, he further retorts probably out of sheer amazement that this proceeding is ridiculous.

  • He speaks probably better than he knows.

He said in v. 17 that he thought Jesus was a prophet … sent from God (the pool of Siloam) and now he reiterates the point in common sense language. They want to talk about methodology, but the man knows there is more at stake.

He boldly proclaims, “If this man were not from God, He could do nothing.” (v. 33).

Many healing stories end right here in the gospels. They end without knowing whether the person was converted. There is no such debate this time.

Trust for his salvation

John 9:35-38 Jesus heard that they had put him out, and finding him, He said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 He answered, “Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have both seen Him, and He is the one who is talking with you.” 38 And he said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped Him.

This man received his sight, but he knew that did not solve his spiritual blindness. The Pharisees opposition, unlike with his parents, motivated him to learn and know more. When confronted with the reality that Jesus is the Messiah, the man believed and worshipped.

I want to conclude this message with two application points from the man’s story.

Maybe someone is in the room or watching online who has to admit that they have never placed their faith and trust in Christ alone.

  • Maybe you, like the parents, did not want to hear more. You wanted to remain in your prior condition.
  • Maybe you, like the pharisees, were opposed to Jesus no matter what.
  • Maybe you, like the neighbors, heard the story but wanted an evaluation from others rather than a change in your heart.

Friends today is the day. I encourage you to repent and trust Christ so that you might enjoy life in his name.

One last point for those who know Jesus … this man’s testimony is not complicated. He said I was blind and now I see.

  • Your testimony is awesome because Jesus bringing light to your world is awesome. Every conversion is dramatic in the sense that our spiritual blindness needed the light.
  • Connect to membership / baptism

Authors

Dr. Rob Green

Roles

Pastor of Counseling and Seminary Ministries - Faith Church

MABC Department Chair, Instructor - Faith Bible Seminary

Bio

B.S. - Engineering Physics, Ohio State University
M.Div. - Baptist Bible Seminary
Ph.D. - New Testament, Baptist Bible Seminary

Dr. Rob Green joined the Faith Church staff in August, 2005. Rob’s responsibilities include oversight of the Faith Biblical Counseling Ministry and teaching New Testament at Faith Bible Seminary. He serves on the Council Board of the Biblical Counseling Coalition and as a fellow for the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors. Pastor Green has authored, co-authored, and contributed to 9 books/booklets. Rob and his wife Stephanie have three children.

Read Rob Green's Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Green to Faith Church.