MESSAGE DELIVERED: AUGUST 13, 2017
I used that title for this morning because, every time I read this story, I wonder if THIS is where the phrase came from. I don’t know and anyway, this is an especially familiar passage that I’m sure you have heard preached on many times. I know I have preached from it many times, but not to YOU. In fact, the last time I used this story, was in 1999. But the absolute wonder of this amazing Book that God has given us is, no matter how many times you go to the same passage, you will almost always find something NEW in it.
But I want to look at this story again, and divide it into THREE parts…
(FIRST) The ACTUAL story; literally, what happened…
(SECOND) The DILEMMA that left the blind man in!…
(THIRD) The LESSON this has for all of us.
SO, first of all, Jesus and His disciples had gone to Jerusalem early in the fall, for the Feast of Tabernacles…the celebration of bringing in the harvest. As they travel, they encounter this blind man.
And since Jesus often taught His disciples by using the events and circumstances they encountered as OBJECT lessons…but this time the disciples tried to use the blind man as an object lesson…they automatically assumed the man’s wretched condition was the result of sin. So they asked if the sin had been his OWN, or something his parents had done, that was responsible for his condition.
It IS true that sometimes, sin will manifest itself as a deadly disease. But that is NOT always the case, as opposed to the belief of the Jews of that time. THEY thought that ALL illness was the result of sin, so they wondered if it was the blind man’s fault, or his parents.
You might remember the time four men were so determined to get their paralyzed friend to Jesus that they tore a hole in the roof of the home where He was teaching, and LOWERED the friend down to the Lord. Well, Jesus DID heal the man, and then told him, “Go, and sin no more, lest a WORSE thing come upon YOU”.
But HERE, Jesus assures His followers that neither the man OR his parents had sinned, to cause this condition. When He said ‘neither the man nor the parents had sinned, He didn’t mean that all of them had lived sinless lives. Only Jesus Himself is sinless, but He meant the blindness was NOT the result of sin.
In fact, this blindness had been orchestrated By God, in order to provide the MIRACLE that was about to take place, so that OTHERS might believe, and the Faith of the twelve might be made stronger.
And what Jesus did that day, points all the way back to the time of Creation itself. In verse 6, Jesus used the ‘dust of the earth’, just as He had done in Genesis 2:7, when He created Man in the first place. And there is a reason for that, but we’ll get to it in just a minute.
So Jesus made some mud, or ‘clay’, and applied it to the man’s eyes, and then sent him to wash it off. And when the blind man had responded in obedience, he was given the ability to SEE!
BUT, when he came BACK, Jesus was no longer there, but all the people that WERE there, had a LOT of questions. Now that he was able to SEE, the neighbors weren’t even sure he was the SAME guy!
Now, I don’t want to get too deeply into the third part of this message while I’m still working on the first, but when YOU came to Jesus, especially if you did that kinda late in life, like I did…but, when that happened to you, did your friends and acquaintances think that maybe YOU weren’t the same person anymore? I know all of MY friends DID think that, and they weren’t so sure they even LIKED the NEW guy anymore. And ALL of my
EARTHLY friends deserted me. Because it IS true: when Jesus touches you, you won’t BE the same person anymore!
But, the story says, in verse 9, that while the neighbors were discussing this healing, some of them said “Well, he sorta looks like the blind guy”…and I think there’s a good reason for that. And it involves the fact that Jesus used MUD or CLAY on the man.
We are told that this man was “born blind”, and told in such a way that NO ONE, IN his condition had EVER had their sight restored. And to ME, that is saying that the man was born WITHOUT eyes…that all he HAD was empty sockets, where his eyes SHOULD have been.
And, just like at the Beginning of creation, Jesus had taken the DUST of the earth, and used it to CREATE new eyeballs in those empty sockets. So NOW, when people looked at him, and were accustomed to seeing those sunken empty sockets, that NOW held clear bright eyes…he looked SORTA the same, but there was this STARTLING change in his appearance. And SOME of them weren’t willing to admit that it WAS the same man.
I once knew a lady in Florida who was very heavy, but I didn’t see her for a pretty long time, and the next time I DID, she had lost 100 pounds and she certainly didn’t LOOK the same anymore. And when we met, SHE recognized ME, but I had no idea who she was.
I think that’s partly the situation here. With brand new eyes in his head, he DOESN’T look the same anymore. And that’s okay, because he’s NOT the same anymore! Just like you…just like me…he was TOUCHED by JESUS, and would NEVER be the same again!
But, as I said, many of those neighbors couldn’t accept the evidence of their own eyes, and turned him over to the authorities. Now, the religious authorities, the Pharisees, they have a BUILT-IN reason for THEIR disbelief. “IF” Jesus IS Who He is CLAIMING to be, then THEIR own positions, in worship AND in government, would be in JEOPARDY!
And they were NOT willing to give UP those positions, by BELIEVING in Jesus, therefore, He MUST be a FRAUD! The alternative was simply UNimaginable. So they questioned the man…tried to exact religious understanding from a man who just moments ago had been a BEGGAR!
But, all he was able to do, was pronounce Jesus a PROPHET…someone sent from God. And some of the Pharisees agreed with him. Only someone sent from God could DO, what had BEEN done, for this once-blind man.
But the rest of the Pharisees, looking desperately for an excuse to condemn Jesus, in order to preserve their OWN positions, said Jesus could not POSSIBLY be from God, because He had healed this man, on the SABBATH, in violation of their MAN-MADE laws!
They even went so far as to drag the man’s PARENTS into the matter, asking if he had REALLY been born blind, or had he been FAKING all this time, as if the whole thing was some elaborate PLOT that had been cooked up YEARS ago!
But, as added leverage, they threatened to kick OUT of the Synagogue, anyone who would confess that Jesus WAS the Christ, the Messiah!
They absolutely refused to acknowledge that POSSIBILITY! And they were prepared to punish severely, anyone who did! But, we have to look at that threat in terms of the SOCIETY it was made in.
See, if “I” were to tell “YOU” that you had to believe exactly the way I TELL you to believe, or else you couldn’t belong to this church, well, that wouldn’t be TOO big a deal, because there are plenty of other churches in town. But in ancient Israel, that wasn’t the case. The SYNAGOGUE, and the TEMPLE in Jerusalem, were the ONLY game in town.
The Temple in Jerusalem was the national center for Jewish religious life, and the local Synagogue was the center for religious, civic, and social life in the community. To be “cast out” was to be removed from everything that made you a Jew. It meant ostracism! And the parents weren’t willing to risk that.
So they simply acknowledged that, yes, he was our son and yes he had been born blind. As to how he NOW was able to see; well, you’ll have to ask HIM about that. We weren’t there.
So again they demanded that the healed man denounce the One who healed him. But the man could only say “Whether He’s a sinner or not, I can’t say. All I know is once I was blind, but now I can see!”
And THAT was his dilemma. He had never ‘seen’ Jesus! And probably, as a miserable beggar, he had never even HEARD of Jesus, before He had stooped down and smeared mud on his eyes.
But, that one encounter had CHANGED him FOREVER! NOW he could SEE! Where once his world had been all darkness, now he had light! He no longer even LOOKED the same! And Church, I’ll say the same is true with ANYONE who has an encounter with the Lord! Once you meet Him, you’ll NEVER be the same again!
I once knew a man who’d had both of his eyes surgically removed because of diabetes. In fact, he’d had both LEGS removed, for the same reason. And if you were to see this man, with his missing legs and empty eye sockets, well, it was hard to look at him. But I had to, since I was a meals-on-wheels driver.
But, here’s the thing: He had GLASS eyes, and he had artificial legs too. But he didn’t usually wear them, unless he was going somewhere. And when he DID, he didn’t even look like the same man.
The beggar didn’t, either. But the One who had restored him, given him new eyes for HIS empty sockets, well, Jesus wasn’t around anymore, to back up the story. So all the beggar could do, was tell the others what had happened, and leave it up to them to believe it or not.
But, since Jesus hadn’t come into town, and come to the Synagogue, and asked their permission to heal the beggar…then as far as they were concerned, Jesus was acting on His own, because THEY spoke for GOD, and since Jesus hadn’t consulted them, then He couldn’t possibly be from God!
There WERE a few of the Pharisees who wanted to know how Jesus could have done such a thing, if He WASN’T from God, but the others shouted them down. And when the beggar refused to denounce Jesus, he was cast out of the Synagogue.
I sincerely wish the Church of today, could occupy the same place in society that the Synagogue did back then. I wish the people in the community would look to the Church for SPIRITUAL GUIDANCE, and for SOCIAL ACTIVITIES, and for POLITICAL INFORMATION.
But unfortunately, the world today offers too many diversions for the Church to compete with, on a SOCIAL basis. And the government won’t ALLOW the Church to dispense POLITICAL advice, so we’re LEFT with SPIRITUAL Guidance. And the majority of the people IN the community, don’t think they NEED any of THAT…so here we are.
Well okay, that’s the LITERAL story we read…how Jesus came upon this blind man, and gave him sight. And that’s the DILEMMA the healed man faced…how he wasn’t the same anymore…probably doesn’t even LOOK the same. And everyone is demanding an explanation of HOW this all happened.
But he can’t tell them HOW! He doesn’t KNOW how it happened. All he can tell them is WHAT happened, and WHO is responsible for it. But Jesus isn’t around to confirm his story. So he either has to DENOUNCE the Man who gave him this INCREDIBLE gift, or face ostracism. And he chooses ostracism! That took a TREMENDOUS amount of COURAGE on his part.
And that brings up the LAST part of the story, and the LESSON it has for all of us.
So in that regard, I want to tell you that this story of an actual event, could easily be told as a PARABLE! You know what that is; a story where the various elements stand for something ELSE!
And I could tell you that the blind man in the story represents all of us! All of us that are CHRISTIANS, anyway. Actually, he is the perfect definition of what a Christian is…someone who was BORN BLIND, in regards to spiritual matters, but who, at some point, has an encounter with Jesus, and is CHANGED, and NOW able to SEE!
All through the Bible, and especially in John’s Gospel, light and darkness IS used as a metaphor for the ‘human condition’. In fact, in John 1:4-5 we read of Jesus: “In Him was Life, and the Life was the Light of men. And the LIght shines in darkness, and the darkness did not ‘comprehend’ it.” (that word ‘comprehend’ means to ‘seize and possess’) The darkness was not able to OVERCOME the Light, and Jesus told us over and over “I AM the Light of the world!”
We come into this world as ‘children of Adam’. Adam sinned, and disobeyed God, and in doing so, brought Death and Darkness to all of us. But God loves us, and because of His great Love for us, he sent His Own Son, to be Born like us, and then to SUFFER and DIE, FOR us!
And when we, as children of darkness, turn to Jesus Who is Light, then our eyes become open, and we are able to see what the rest of the world doesn’t WANT to see. And THAT is, that without Jesus we are all just groping around in darkness as we follow that broad path that ends in destruction.
But when Jesus opens our eyes, then we can SEE, to find that NARROW Gate, that leads to Life, and Paradise.
And, if we were looking at this true story from the ministry of Jesus as a PARABLE, then we could see that many of today’s religions are just like the Pharisees, who tried to tell the healed man that if he didn’t believe exactly as they told him to, then he couldn’t belong to the Synagogue.
Jesus told us “Whosoever believes in Me shall never perish”. And He said “Whosoever believes in Me, though he be dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever lives and believes in Me shall never die”. (John 11:25)
But you know we human beings can’t take that which is perfect, and leave it alone. Most of us, if we were alone and had a Magic Marker, would draw a moustache on the Mona Lisa…and big goofy eye glasses.
Just like we took the Lord’s simple statement of “believe and live” and added BAPTISM, and CHURCH MEMBERSHIP, and TITHING, and the LORD’S SUPPER! All of those are good things! But, NONE of them are necessary for Salvation!
When you come face-to-face with Jesus…when He washes YOU CLEAN of every sinful stain, with His Own BLOOD, and SAVES YOU…and you come away from that encounter with your eyes open, then you SHOULD submit to baptism. Not that it will have anything to do with your salvation, but it will publically identify WITH the One Who Saved you.
And then you SHOULD find a Bible-believing church, and JOIN it. THAT won’t have anything to do with your Salvation either. But it WILL help you to GROW in your Faith, and help TEACH you how to SHARE what you have found with others.
And when you join a church, you SHOULD tithe of your income. THAT won’t have anything to do with your Salvation either! But it WILL help the church to reach out to others with the Gospel of Grace and Light, of forgiveness and rebirth that YOU have heard and responded to.
But NONE of those things will have ANYTHING to do with your SALVATION! SALVATION is what JESUS does for you, not anything that YOU do for Him! Baptism, tithing, membership, things like that…are what you do for HIM, BECAUSE of what HE has done for YOU!
And this is my LAST point…because the healed man refused to denounce the One who healed him, he was REJECTED by the religious leaders. And verse 35 says that when THAT happened, Jesus came BACK! And that’s what we are waiting for, right now…for JESUS to come BACK!
And while we are waiting, we are supposed to be faithful in speaking for Him…witnessing for Him, to those who ask about Him. SOME may ask in ANGER, like these Pharisees did…and some may ask out of CURIOSITY, like the healed man’s neighbors. They wanted to know why he was so DIFFERENT!
And SOME may ask because they realize that they are blind, too, and want to be HEALED, like HE was. And no matter WHY they want to know, your ANSWER must ALWAYS be the SAME!
“Jesus TOUCHED me, and where ONCE I was BLIND, NOW I can SEE!” And with that I need to invite you to come to Jesus if you never have before so your eyes can be opened and you can SEE what was THERE all the TIME…that GOD LOVES YOU, and that He SENT HIS SON to SAVE YOU, by DYING in your place!
THAT is the most INCREDIBLE NEWS the world has EVER heard! But to really APPRECIATE it, you need to come TO Jesus, and have YOUR eyes opened. Will you do that today?