The Lord calls us to share our unique story of grace.
John 9 is where we’re at. One of the more unique chapters in the Gospels. The four books talk about the life and ministry of Jesus, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. John’s account, I’ll tell you this particular amount of attention in one chapter given almost entirely to an account of the healing of one person. In this case a blind man. A man who was born blind. Whose name we were never given. It’s unique in that way. There are so many layers to his story. We’re given such insight into some of the different things that happened around it. It creates a richness that invites us into it. We are not going to go over everything that we’ve been talking about for the past four to five weeks. We started out by looking at John 9, how Jesus heals this blind man. Jesus happened to do it on a Sabbath, which was a problem for some people. The Sabbath was a commandment from Moses given by God to the people of Israel. As they were being delivered from Egypt with a mighty hand on the edge of the promised land, he gives them this gift of a law, of a sense of identity.
Part of that law had to do with the Sabbath. You honor God with one day a week, you don’t work on that day. As time had gone on, they had taken that principle that was meant to be life-giving and made it into something rigid. Some of the religious movements at the time of Jesus had squeezed that into a very rigid way of experiencing God. It got to the point where they were adding all kinds of layers to what actually qualified as work. You could violate the Sabbath in a number of ways. It almost seems Jesus had intentionally chosen the Sabbath to heal the man who was born blind. There’s nothing He did that was quite like it. He told the blind man to let him put some mud on his eyes. Jesus made mud with his own spit. He made the mud out of the dirt and put it on the man’s eyes. Jesus said, “Now you need to go and wash at the Pool of Siloam. When you get to that pool and begin to wash the water away, allow that mud to just be removed, you’re going to see something else removed. Your blindness is going to be removed and you’re going to see.”
He did what he was told and it happened. The people were stunned. They didn’t know what to do about it. Those who knew him said, “What happened to you? How is this happening?” He says, “I don’t know. There was this man named Jesus. He put some mud on my eyes and told me to go wash in the pool of Siloam. I did it, and I can see.” “What does he look like? “I don’t know. I never saw him. The whole thing is an account.” They say, “You need to go and talk to the Pharisees, the temple authorities. This is an astonishing thing that’s happened to you. Plus the way that it happened, I think they’ll be interested. There’s a lot of controversy as you know about Jesus.”
They brought the blind man in. The Pharisees wanted to talk to him about what exactly happened to him. They weren’t even sure it actually was a miracle. They weren’t sure if he was faking. They bring in his parents. His parents say, “He’s old enough. He can speak for himself.” They’re afraid. They don’t want to get the authorities upset with them. They know tension is there. They asked the blind man originally to tell them his story. He tells them all he knows. “I don’t even know the man. I didn’t even know the man.” He says, “He was passing by. He started talking to me. He stooped down, put this mud on my eyes, and told me to go wash. I did it and I’m healed.” He tells them the story. That’s when they started talking and got in this great debate about whether it was legitimate because Jesus had done it on the Sabbath. They said, “We have to bring in the parents.” I want us to read through a portion of what follows. That was a setup. I want to read through John 9:24-33. It says they call this man back in again. The man who had been born blind, but he’s now healed.
After they decided that Jesus had violated the law, they said, “God should get glory for this, because we know this man, Jesus is a sinner.” That initially catches him off guard, because that’s the one who healed him. He didn’t know anything about Jesus. He had been listening to them all talk about Jesus. They call him back. This is a very intimidating group he’s standing in front of. At the time, the most powerful man in Jerusalem, outside of Rome, who was occupying Israel at the time, had a governor whose name you’ll recognize, Pilate. Pilate had to sign off if you wanted somebody to be put to death. That’s why he’ll come in to play a week later for us. In terms of this particular situation, this blind man who has been born blind doesn’t have much of anything. He’s been a beggar all his life. He’s had some training, some familiarity with his people. He’s been watching them all argue about him, but not so much interested in the fact that he was healed. It was more about how he was healed and the person who did it. They say, “We want to talk to you again about the details of your story. We want to hear every detail about what He did to you, how He did it, the way that He did it.”
He was called in for the second time. They said, “We’ve come to the conclusion this man is not of God, give glory to God because we know this man Jesus is a sinner. He is a lawbreaker. Therefore, He’s illegitimate in our eyes.” He says, “I don’t know whether He’s a sinner, but I know this. I was blind, and now I can see.” We want you to be very clear with us here. What did He do? How did He do it? What was the way He healed you? We need to hear that one more time. What follows is uttered with total naivety or delivered with a frustrated sarcasm that betrays him for the witty man that I think he was. What he says next is “Look,” the man exclaimed. “I already told you once, you didn’t listen to me. Did you just hear everything that I said? I’ve been telling this to everybody all day. Why do you want to hear me say it again? I’m not going to tell you anything different than what I’ve been saying already. I didn’t know Him. I didn’t even know anything about Him. Is it because you want to be a disciple as well?” That was the wrong thing to say. It was a fuse, and the dynamite went off. They exploded. They already hated you. They were already having trouble with Jesus.
They went ballistic. They cursed him. The word there verbally abused him. They put him down. They talked him down. They said, “You are His disciple. You’re His follower. We are the followers of Moses, the disciples of Moses. We know God spoke to Moses, but we don’t even know where this man comes from.” You would think that would’ve been it. He would’ve got the message. Maybe I should be quiet, but he’s had enough. He’s got a streak to him. He says, “Well, that’s amazing to me.” Remember who he’s talking to. He’s nobody in front of a bunch of somebodies. I think it’s unusual then. “It’s amazing to me. It’s very strange because he healed my eyes and yet you don’t even know where He comes from. You’re supposed to be the one who knows everything in this nation. I’m not an expert theologian like you, but I have this understanding. We know that God doesn’t listen to those who are sinners, who break the law. He is ready to hear those who worship Him and do His will. I’m telling you that ever since the world began, no one has been able to open the eyes of someone who’s been born blind. If this man were not from God, how could He do such things? He couldn’t have done it.”
They answered him because now, he was giving them a lesson. We’re told here that in the 34th verse, they answered him. Don’t miss the feeling and the passion and the anger in these words. You, as they hear him talk he’s basically telling them, “I don’t see how you can come to that conclusion based on what God does and how God works.” They say, “You are completely born in your sins and you’re teaching us? Get him out of here.” It’s when they say, you were completely born in your sins, it’s almost like they’re saying, who are you? You are nothing. You’re a cursed man. I’m going to take it one more step. You’re a piece of garbage, and your blindness at birth proves it. You’ve been cursed from the beginning. Who are you to even attempt to interact with us? You’re contemptible, you’re pitiful, you’re disgusting. Get him out of here, throw him out of here. They took him, grabbed him, and put him out physically. “They cast him out,” it says. They threw him out. Try to imagine in your mind’s eye, he wasn’t doing such a great job, but could see enough to see that I would think, “man, he got thrown out.” Verse 35, He heard that they had cast him out. When he had found him, the news spread. Did you hear what happened to the man who was born blind and used to beg? Oh yeah. I heard that he got healed. No. Did you hear what happened to the man who was born blind? Did you hear what happened to him? They took him to the temple. He started mouthing off, got tossed out, and excommunicated. They threw him out. Here’s where our imagination gets to come in. Where did he go?
You understand he had been healed. He had never seen a thing in his life. He had never seen anything. He only knew darkness. Then this man he had never seen actually, but he had heard His voice. He listened to what He had said. Maybe reluctantly initially, but he did it. He cooperated and it happened. He could see now. Here’s the irony, I see him sitting. I thought to myself, I wonder if he went back to the same spot where he always had been. The place that had been his workplace. It’s where he had spent so much of his life. It’s how he made a living in an age where there were no social structures beyond a family, that’s what you did. You begged. It was his spot. I wonder if he went back to his spot. Either way, I know he is alone. He’s somewhere where he’s relatively speaking just been. He’s been cast out. I see him thinking, “I can’t believe this. All my life, I have been an outsider. All my life, I have always been on the periphery, always disregarded, cursed I am. Now, I can see. I can see I’m right back where I’ve always been on the outside. I’m alone again. I guess that’s what happens to people like me.”
It says, Jesus found him. How did that moment go? Where is he? Sitting there, he’s crushed. What was I supposed to do? They forced me. How was I going to call him? I couldn’t call him a sinner. He’s the one who opened my eyes, but you’re a fool, man. You would do this. Why don’t you just go along with the program and let it be, then you’d be accepted. But if I have to do that, how do I live with myself? That’s the guy who healed me. He opened my eyes. This is my life. That’s what I see him going through. It says that Jesus finds him. I don’t know how he finds him. Is he walking with a group? I don’t know, but I know one thing. He comes to him and says to the man who was born blind, whose name we do not know, he says, “Do you recognize me?” “Not really, but I recognize your voice.” “I have a question for you. Do you believe in the son of God?” I love the answer. You have to understand, this man, when he’s asked this question, “do you believe in the Messiah? Do you believe in the promised one sent from above? Do you believe in the son of God?” Remember this man is not an easily manipulated person. He’s already shown his medal in my mind. He’s the guy that won’t confess what he doesn’t believe. They threatened him, they followed through. You’re going to make me say what I don’t believe? I’m not going to do it. Telling me to call him a sinner. I’m not calling the man a sinner, not going to happen. They threw him out, but he was already revealed as a person who was real, honest, candid, and sincere. You can call me many things, but don’t call me disingenuous because I’ll tell you the truth as I see it.
Do you believe in the son of God? Well, who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him? Who is He? Who’s this? Do you want to know? I tell you right now, it was Jesus, who had opened his eyes? It is you. You do know him. You have both seen Him and you’re actually talking to Him right now. Look at me. You have both seen Him and are talking to Him now. There must have been something about the way Jesus looked into those eyes, into and through him, and deep down. It says that he said, “Look at the palm, look at the confession. Look at the confession 38, that’s faith confession. Lord, I believe. Lord, I believe.” Then faith submission. I worship you. He goes from respect to reverence, from acknowledgment to adoration. The word for worship in the original Greek language here is proskuneo. It’s the idea of bowing down and worship.
Maybe he grabbed His feet. I don’t know what he did. He just worshiped Him. I believe, I believe, I believe. There it is. It’s powerful. It’s beautiful. It’s an invitation. He invites us. So it’s a confession. He invites every one of us to make a leap. Then Jesus does something that was unexpected. There’s a turn again because you would think, okay, that’s great, that’s a real, that’s an awesome ending. But Jesus says he makes another exclamation as this is happening. I can see it in my mind’s eye, the man is worshiping Him. I imagine by this point, there are people around him. We know a group had gathered around him. Some of the Pharisees had gathered around him to watch what was happening. There were people there. Jesus then as this is happening says, “For judgment, I have come into this world.” It’s powerful. It says if He said, “My coming forces people to decide. Each must make up his own mind to receive me or reject me. There can be no middle ground, no neutrality. For judgment, I have come into this world.” In a sense, whenever we come face to face with Jesus, we are forced to make a decision and that decision has eternal consequences attached to it.
Jesus marvelously switches the metaphor. He turns it around and pushes it out into a broader spiritual application. He says, “I tell you for judgment, I have come into this world.” Think about what this has been about. It’s been about seeing. It’s been about opening up eyes. He says, “For a judgment, I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see you may be made blind.” Those who’ve had the privileged place should have known me but rejected me. In their pride, they are made blind by their unbelief. Their decision to reject me in the eyes of faith, I have opened up in this man. Jesus is almost saying what a reversal of fortunes this is. The last made first and the blind now sees. He sees in two ways. Eyes and he sees me for who I am. You, you will have nothing to do with me. Some are watchfully watching and listening. They’re getting the impression, he’s talking about us. It says they perceive the meaning of his words.
In verse 40, it says some of the Pharisees were there and they said, “Wait a second,” when they heard these words, “Wait, are you saying we are blind as well?” Jesus says, “I wish you were blind. It would be better if you were because then you would have no sin.” In other words, you would not be guilty if you didn’t understand. I wish you were ignorant. In this case, there would be some excuse for your reaction to me. Now you say we see. It’s all movement around sight. You say we see, but I tell you because of that, you say you have the wisdom and the knowledge of God; that you know what God is doing. I have come here in His name. I have come before your very eyes. You should know who I am and you reject me. I tell you, you may see, but your sin remains because of it. Because of what you have chosen to disbelieve. It would have been better for you if you said you could not see, but because you say you can see and you reject me, then your sin remains. I tell you that. It’s powerful. He said, “I only wish it were so.”
That got me thinking about a couple of things. I just want to leave it here with us. I like the word. I look at it and think, “Okay, Lord. What does that say to me right now?” What does it say to you? What can we hear? I’m going to suggest something. Jesus is a special friend, I hope you love it as much as I do, the outcast and the broken, to the wounded and the forsaken. That’s just good. He went and found him. That’s just good news. He loves to find us in our broken spaces and in our rejected places, in our place of greatest need wounding, wherever it may be, in the lonely place. We can have a lot of people around us and have something very painful going on inside and feel very alone.
I think of the tenderness of Jesus and the way he comes. Psalm 34:18 says, “the Lord is near to the brokenhearted.” The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Have you ever had your spirit crushed? The blind man was cast out. So you think of the word downcast and cast. He was cast out. He was rejected. He was diminished, tossed, ridiculed, and scorned. He’s sitting there rejected. If any of us have ever known what rejection feels like, we might have it right now. There might be elements of it that we’ve experienced. If you haven’t lived long enough to experience it, I’m telling you it hurts. It hurts. He felt utterly rejected, worthless, and unloved. What a fool I am. Jesus finds him in his rejection. I still think and believe that the Lord will always meet us in our most rejected places. He will meet us there. If you’ve been hurt or are hurting, feel pushed aside or passed over, He comes and meets us. He comes to the crushed in spirit. That’s what He does. I love that. The man who had been born blind, the one who had been healed, his rejection was directly connected to his refusal. Think about this for a moment. His rejection was connected to his refusal to reinterpret Jesus. I think some of us may have to deal with some of that in our work environments.
There’s always a lot of pressure to reinterpret Jesus in a way that conforms with the dominant view of what He is. In his case, he was being put under intense pressure to go along with the program. Do you get the plan? Just go along with the program. You know what, we rejected Him, you reject Him too. We’re with Moses, this man’s a sinner, just go with the program you’re okay. There’s the pressure at times. He got rejected because he would not reinterpret Jesus the way that they found acceptable. He interpreted Him in a different way as he experienced Him. For that, he was pushed aside. I noticed the Lord finds him in that rejected moment. He was thinking about this. They cast him out of the temple and the Lord of the temple found him. It has been said that Jesus is ever true to those who are true to Him. In fact, it was to this loyal and rejected man, it’s one of the few recorded occasions where Jesus reveals Himself as the son of God. It was to this man, this rejected, loyal man. I love that.
That led me to something else. It got me thinking as well, you know sometimes, and I alluded to this a couple of weeks back, I can’t remember which message it was, but sometimes faith is a progression. It’s a process. Do you see what’s going on here? Sometimes embracing Jesus is a process. I think you can see what happened. Remember how it starts out. The neighbors come to him and say, “Who healed you?” He says, “I actually don’t know who He was. I know His name was Jesus.” So his first confession of Jesus is that He’s this man. Later on, I think it’s in verse 17, he gets to the point where he’s brought before the Sanhedrin and the Pharisees, the temple authorities. At least a portion of it. He’s being interrogated. We just read about it. He’s been listening to them talk about Jesus, this person he’s only initially called a man. All of a sudden he’s going, mm-hmm. They ask him, “Well, who do you say he is?” He says, “Well, I’ve been listening to this and thinking about it. I have to believe He’s a prophet. I believe He’s a prophet of God.” He starts out with he’s this man, next thing he’s thinking more hard about it. He’s listening and he’s saying, “I believe he’s a prophet of God.” Now, do you see where he gets to? I believe you’re the son of God. A man, a prophet, the son of God, my savior.
This is what this reminds me of. Some of us are in the process. I’ve been doing this now enough for a number of years to where I’ve come not to underestimate the power of some people coming along the way. I’ve watched people come into church, sometimes at Easter time because somebody brought them. A friend, a coworker, they didn’t even want to go, family member, I’ll do it for you. Show up, who’s Jesus? To me, He’s nothing, church thing. He’s a man, a good man. Someone starts hanging around a little bit, starts listening, I should think Jesus is from God. Somewhere along the way, we get to a point where we think, “I think I believe that He is the son of God. I think I believe He’s come to give His life. I think I will confess to Him.” Wherever we are, I’m okay with that. I think the Lord wants to get us here. Who knows? We may say, Lord, I believe in our heart. Even now, just that confession of I receive you, I believe in you, I accept you, I worship you.
The last thing I’ll say, and I’ll leave it with this, is to just say Jesus longs to find us. In a way, it’s everything He has come to do and everything that cross and Easter are all about. Jesus said that the son of man has come to seek and save that which is lost. His love, the same love that caused Him to pursue the man who was cast out is the same love that pursues us. He gives Himself away. We were lost and He found us. He still pursues us. He never stops. The reason I say it’s a big deal when I look at this account, who pursued who? Did the blind man say, “Hey man, I just got thrown out. I’m going to go find Jesus and talk to Him.” Did he say to somebody, “Hey, can you go find Jesus for me and bring Him over here, because I’d like to talk to Him? I’ve been really feeling bad about what happened. I sure appreciate His support.”
No, he didn’t even think about it. He says Jesus found him. That’s you and me. Let us never forget who first loved us. Who made the first move? God did. He did. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever would receive Him, believe in Him, would have life now and overflowing. The first move, He found us. He still finds us and He didn’t come as a result of being sent for. He’s the initiator, grace is a gift. How do I repay you, Lord? How do I repay you for that? How do I overpay you for finding me, still keeping pursuing me even now, even when I want? You know what I can do, I can give you back me. How can I honor you, Lord? I can love you back. I can receive what you want to give me. I didn’t start it, but I can answer it. You come to me, I can receive. I can say yeah, I can love you back by the way I live. We talk about our mission statement, our church mission statement. We talk about the idea of living our faith in Jesus in ways that are real and tangible. Inviting others into life with Him. That’s one way we can do that. This Easter week is an opportunity to let Him know how much we love Him.
I thank you for finding me. I thank you that even when I’m in my hardest places, you still find me. Do you know what Lord, I’m going to love you. I’m going to remember you. Always remember, Jesus. Jesus, always keep Him on your mind. This Easter time people all over the world, every part of the world are turning to think and mark the moment of His death and resurrection. Let’s do that. Let this week be important for us. Let it be different. Let’s make some intentional moments to re-read His story, and re-think it. On Thursday, we think about how He said to his disciples, “this is my body broken for you, my blood poured out for you.” How He washed their feet. While they were arguing He said, “the greatest among you let be a servant.”
What did he show us about how to live life? How to love people. John says, having loved them, He loved them to the end. That’s the love that finishes in an age of abandonment. There’s a model for finishing. Having loved them to the end. That’s what they saw. How do I respond to that? Think about that. We think about Good Friday. Why is it good? It’s only good because His cross was done. He gave His life for us out of love. We want to remember the cross. Then we get to Easter, remember the love that doesn’t quit. That is greater than even death and any sin. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. The one who died, rose again, and therefore killed death with it.
It is not just life that comes, but life in the present He offers all of us abundantly and overflowing. Even at our weakest places and most vulnerable zones, He loves us where we are, He finds us. How can I repay you, Lord? I can’t, but I can give you myself, my imperfect self. I can do it. I can talk about you. I can invite people into your story. I can do that.
Let’s pray. Lord, as we think about the amazing love that you have for us and how overwhelming it really is, I’m overwhelmed by your love. I’m overwhelmed by your devotion. I’m overwhelmed by your mercy. In an era and age filled with pride and broken promises, here is one worthy of our praise and our worship. Who is so great and yet finds us and meets us where we are in our broken places. Anytime we feel that rejection in our hearts, you will find us. When we are broken, you will find us. When we are crushed in spirit or ashamed, you will find us. I’m overwhelmed by you, Lord. I love you. May our love for you grow this week. May we celebrate what you’ve done, in Jesus’ name. I praise you, Lord. Amen.
Jesus will open our eyes to see new things.
The healing touch of the Lord will always require humility from us, and sometimes will send us in the opposite direction we were expecting.