Jesus will open our eyes to see new things.
Vision Correction as a series is essentially about the healing of the man born blind. It’s an exploration of the 9th chapter of John. In the four books that talk about the life of Jesus, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, it’s rare that an entire chapter is devoted to just one person. In this particular case, the 9th chapter of John is this colorful, multilayered portion of scripture that invites us to use our imagination. That’s what I want to do. We’re given things in broad strokes. I want to try to get in between the lines a little bit, get us thinking and use our creativity a little bit. You can follow along either in the handout, your Bibles, or the Bible app. We’re picking up in John 9. We’re going to quickly reconnect to the verses we covered last week. I’m not going to spend a lot of time with them. It says that as Jesus was walking along, He saw a man who had been born blind. We’re told that Jesus spits on the ground and made mud with His saliva. We see in verse six, Jesus spread the mud over the blind man’s eyes. He had never healed a man like this. This is the only recorded time of Him healing anyone this way. So it’s an unusual thing Jesus does. I think he does it for a reason.
It goes on to say, He told him, “Go wash in the Pool of Siloam.” Siloam means sent. You can actually see a portion of that pool today if you go to Israel, to Jerusalem, the old city. There’s still a little part of that’s uncovered. It was a larger pool than what you can see now. But it’s a real place. It says, “the man went and he washed and he came back seeing.” Last week, we talked about the power of simple obedience. What’s interesting is that our Lord did not simply stoop down, which he could have done. He’s a master surgeon in this regard with advanced technology. He could have just said, “You’re healed.” There were times He did do that.
In this case, Jesus put the beggar, who’s going to be revealed as a man of great wit and resource, to a test. I don’t always know why this happens in some cases and not in others. I don’t even try to figure out the way of Jesus, I just go with it. But in this case, He says, “You need to do something. I want to heal you.” Jesus had been talking to the disciples about the man. They asked Him theological questions. He told them, “It’s not what you’re thinking about. I’m not even interested in having that discussion right now. I just want to heal him.” In many ways, he is representative of everything I’ve come to do.” His utter blindness, because he was blind from birth, never saw a thing in his entire life. Nothing. All he had known was darkness. In some ways, Jesus said, “This is exactly a picture of where everyone is spiritually apart from me, and I’ve come to address that. I am the light of the world.”
Jesus says to the blind man, “You need to do some things. First, you need to let me,” as He made the mud with the saliva and the dirt, “put this on your eyes. I’m not going to force you to do it. I want to heal you.” Jesus puts the mud on the blind man’s eyes and says, “I don’t want you to wash it off. You need to let it sit there. You need to go and find your way. You need to walk through the streets of Jerusalem and go to the Pool of Siloam. When you get there, you need to wash your eyes.” “Well, can’t you just heal me if you’re going to heal me? This is silly.” “You need to do what I’m saying.” “Well, why?”
The blind man has to walk through the streets. He may have known those streets better than some. He’d walked them before. But he had to find his way to the Pool of Siloam. In our mind’s eye, I want us to imagine that. He’s moving through the street and trying to find his way. Eventually, he gets to where the Pool of Siloam is. There are people there, obviously. He’s not alone. Please make room, make way. I need to get to the water. Leave me some room. Please let me get some water. He’s got mud all on his eyes. It’s caked by now. People are looking at him. “Look at the guy with the caked mud on his eyes.” He gets down. “He told me I needed to get into the water and wash. No other place would do. What do I have to lose?” He takes the water, starts to wash in order to get the mud out of his eyes.
While he’s washing the mud away, the blindness goes with it. I don’t know if it was a little bit, I don’t know if it was a lot. I imagine him looking for the first time ever and he can see the sun. He looked over here, he could see a bush, something blowing. “I see dirt, I see people, I see in this liquid mirror me.” I can only imagine, as he looked and saw himself, that he watched it ripple with the tears of joy that were dripping down his cheek, landing on that water. For the first time ever, I can see. That’s the picture we’re given. Broad stroke. Beautiful. Amazing. What follows is what we have to look at.
If you follow the chapter all the way through, there’s essentially what we might call five vignettes or exchanges. There are these little pictures of exchanges between people. The first one occurs in verse eight. We’re going to look at it, verses 8-12. It says his neighbors and others who knew him as the blind beggar asked each other, “Hey, isn’t that the man who used to sit and beg? He’s blind. Isn’t that the same guy? He can see now? What’s that?” Some said, “Yeah, that’s him. That’s him.” Others said, “No, no, that’s not him. It just looks like him.” Finally, somebody asked him and said, “Hey, hey.” But the beggar kept saying “No, no, no, I am the same one. It’s me. It’s me. I’m the guy.” “No, you’re not.” “Yes, I am. I can see. I can see.” “What happened to you? Who healed you? How did that occur? What happened?”
Verse 11 says that he told them, “Well, there was this man. I don’t know. This man called Jesus made some mud, He spread it out over my eyes. Then He told me after He did it, ‘You need to go to the Pool of Siloam and wash there.’ I did what He said. I went and I washed and now I can see. What else can I say? It’s a miracle.” “Where is He now? Where is this Jesus.” “I don’t know. I don’t even know what He looks like, to be honest with you. I’ve never seen Him. Really, I’ve never seen Him ever. I just knew what He told me to do and I can see.”
The second vignette is an amazing thing. Jesus somehow was used by God to heal you. You need to go talk to the authorities. In fact, we need you to tell them what happened to you because this is amazing. This is an amazing miracle and they need to know about it. Remember, verse 13 says, “then they took him who had been born blind to the Pharisees.” Who were the Pharisees? The Pharisees are one of the two great religious parties at that time. But they’re not just religious parties. The Pharisees and the Sadducees were essentially two groups, two parties, social-political parties. They were religiously based, but they were political parties that essentially ran Jerusalem under the auspices of Roman governance. So you had a Roman governor who let the Jewish people at the time run their city. They had philosophies about the scripture that informed how they saw the world and wanted the society to be governed.
One of the things that happen is when this miracle occurs by this man who claimed to have been healed by Jesus, we need you to go tell that to the authorities. They need to hear about what’s happened. He goes, they bring him. What he doesn’t know is that he’s about to be ushered into one of the great controversies of Jesus’s day. He has no idea what he’s walking into. He just thinks I’m going to go and tell them what happened to me and then that’s that. I can move on. If you were to watch what happens here, they’re having this controversy around the Sabbath.
What is this Sabbath controversy thing? Some of us remember that of the Ten Commandments that God gave through Moses to His people, Israel. The fourth one was to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. Honor it. The seventh day is to be a day of no work, a day of rest, where you replenish yourself and honor God. Why? Because human beings are not simply beasts of burden. They were created not just to work, but in some way, different from that. They were created to know God, to love, to rest, to recreate. That seventh day, God wanted them to say, “Man does not live by bread alone.” Human beings don’t live by simply what they labor. You live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. There was a reason. He goes all the way back to the Genesis account when God Himself rested and saw what He had done and said, “It is good.” It’s something that separates us from animals. That’s what God taught Israel.
They had a very sacred sense of the Sabbath. That was the seventh day. For them, that was Saturday. So their Saturday was a day that was set apart as a day of non-work and rest. It was designed to be a blessing. By Jesus’ time, there was a lot of controversy that had been brewing, not just between the two parties themselves, but also because of Jesus. The question was not should one work on the Sabbath? Everybody agreed it should be a day of rest, even Jesus. The issue for the Pharisees and scribes, who were the lawyers of the law, was what actually constitutes work? This is important. In their mind, everybody agrees. No work. We need to rest. But what is work? They had detailed thoughts around what constituted work and how you could break the law and violate the Sabbath. So people were very much aware that you couldn’t, on that seventh day, do work.
The day Jesus heals the blind man, and I don’t think it was a coincidence, was a Sabbath. In their mind, some of them, the very fact that Jesus even made, created, and worked the sand, the dirt, into mud, that was breaking the Sabbath. On top of that, to take the mud and then put it on the man’s eyes, another act of work. Breaking the Sabbath. This is going to sound ludicrous, but to actually heal him on the Sabbath. He should have at least waited a day, right? You can’t do that. Because you know why? God doesn’t undercut Himself. If He was from God, He would know that. Again, we might say, that’s so silly. That’s crazy. But in their mind, the most sacred thing they have been given as a people as their identity was the very Word and law of God. So the idea that somehow, God would contradict Himself was, to them, something that they were really having a problem with.
Jesus, it seemed, flouted the issue. He had said this in Mark 2, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man-made for the Sabbath. You have flipped the places of emphasis. You’ve created a system that was designed to be a blessing and you’ve turned it into something that is life constrictive, not life-giving. It was made by God to be a blessing to people, to reconnect them with their creator in creative ways. To replenish and remind them it’s not just about working and then we die. No, it’s about knowing God, loving people. It’s about having rest and replenishment. It’s about reflection.” Jesus also said, “You took the law and turned it upside down. What was meant to be life-giving, you turned it into something that’s death-dealing. You’ve completely missed the point.” I think Jesus when he heals this man, is actually fulfilling, in His mind, the purpose of Sabbath. He’s setting free.
Here’s the issue. They bring in the blind man. The blind man comes into this environment. It was on the Sabbath that Jesus had made the mud and healed him. In verse 14, the Pharisees asked the man, “We want to talk to you about the day He healed you and what He did.” They call him in. “Come in here.” This is a powerful group, the most powerful group in Jerusalem and in Israel at the time. This is an intimidating environment. They brought him to this environment. “We want to talk to you. We want to ask you some questions about what happened. You need to tell us specifically, what did He do and when?” Watch what happens. He goes and says, “Look, I was where I always am. I wasn’t able to see. He came to me and made some mud. All I know is He asked if He could put it on my eyes. He caked it on there, and told me to go. Don’t touch it. Don’t take it off. He said that I was supposed to go find my way to the Pool of Siloam, which is what I did. I went there. I did what he told me. He told me to wash.” “He told you to wash your eyes?” “You washed your eyes on the Sabbath.” “Yes. Yeah.” “Okay. Tell us what else happened.” “Well, I can see.”
Back to the Sabbath principle. It’s almost like you’re thinking, “wait a second. Whoa, whoa, whoa.” I feel like he’s almost saying, “Excuse me. Did you understand what I said? I can see.” We understand that. What we want to talk about is the Sabbath right here. Look what it says happens. It says that all of a sudden, an argument breaks out with this intensely powerful group. They start arguing amongst themselves. It says it was a deep division. They start saying, “See? I told you He was working on the Sabbath. You cannot do that. He cannot be from God.” The others say, “But He has to be from God. Who else could heal someone like that? He’s from God.” “No, it is impossible. God would not send someone to contradict the very law that He has given us, which essentially establishes the core of our identity as a people. No, He cannot be of God. Whatever power He has, He’s not from God.” But how could it not be from God? They’re having this huge argument. I imagine the blind man going, “Okay, I’m going to just back away and let this thing play out.” Which it seems is what he did. They’re going back and forth. It says, “How could an ordinary sinner do such miraculous things and signs?”
Look at that verse. There was a deep division of opinion among them. There are intense differences of opinion. He can’t be from God. I don’t care how He healed the man. He violated the law of God. The law of God is greater. Whatever He used, whatever power He has, I don’t know where it comes from. I don’t really care. All I know is this is going on. They say, “Come here. Hey, we want to ask you another question. Come on over here. We have a question for you.” The blind man has been listening. He sees where this is going. You got two divided camps. They say, “We want your opinion about this man. I want you to tell us what you think about Him? Give us your opinion of Him.” I think he is looking around and thinking, “man, if I say this, I’m in trouble here.” “Well, in my opinion, I believe He is a prophet. I believe He’s a prophet of God. That’s what I believe. Yes, I do.” The older version says, “He is a prophet.”
Prophets in the Older Testament had the ability to do signs and wonders. Their message was often accompanied by power displays of modest, miraculous things. These were done by the prophets of the Older Testament. What the blind man was saying was really I consider Him to be a prophet of God. He reminds me of those who’ve come to our people before, who are sent from God, who God gives some ability and some capacity to heal. You ask for my opinion, I give you my opinion.
There are two things about this man. I want us to pause for a moment. Now, try to imagine. He is a simple man. He’s just happy he can see. He’s been dragged in front of the most powerful group of leaders in Jerusalem who could utterly ruin his life. He’s got to be so careful. Here’s the thing. He’s simple. As I look at him, I think it’s amazing because he has an education. If you look closely, you can see it. Do you know what his education is? It’s the education of the street. One thing about this man, he has that uncanny ability that comes to someone who always has to find his way with people at a disadvantage. He has an unusual knack of understanding human nature. He has insight. He knows how to read people. It’s what he does. It’s how he survives. What’s more, he knows how to talk. He’s been good at it. He knows how to cajole. He knows how to work. He knows how to talk. The two things that become pretty apparent are he’s badgered and cajoled.
Here he is, this nobody in front of a bunch of somebodies trying to give an explanation. He does the best that can. When I looked at this, I thought, “Wow, he’s holding his own.” He may have been scared, but he’s not acting like it. As he has been listening to the whole argument going on, you know what they did? The more they pressed him, “You need to tell us what is your opinion of Him?” Maybe he hadn’t thought it through all the way. It seems like this was the first time. He was thinking, “You know, the more that I think about it, I believe He is a prophet of God.” They literally drive him to think differently about what he has experienced. It’s almost like the more they pressed him, the more he began to process through, who is He? Now that you’re pressing me on it, I’ll tell you what I think He is. I think He’s a prophet. That’s what I think. I think you need to listen to Him, he implied.
A couple of things for us. This is the part that hit me. I know some of us are taking notes, and we process this throughout the week. We think about it and pray about it. But here’s something I want us to consider. Sometimes faith has to be given room to grow, to emerge. Faith and understanding are often products of a process. They’re a growing thing, something that emerges a little at a time. The blind man, originally only thought of Jesus as a man, maybe a teacher. Then he comes to see Him now, because he’s pushed into it, as a prophet of God. By the time this chapter ends, he will confess Him as the Son of God. It’s a process.
Some of us are emerging in our faith and loyalty. I need to say that to some of us. As I mentioned earlier when we prayed, I would say you’re not a believer yet in the Lord in the sense that you would say to someone who asked you, “Are you a follower of Jesus?” “I admire Him. He’s a good man. I believe He’s sent from God in some way.” “No, but do you believe He’s the Son of God?” But you’re a lot further than you were. For some of us, it’s an immediate thing. It’s just like something happens in our lives. Behold, the Lord, something hits into our hearts. It’s the right time. We accept Jesus. The world, the spirit, our eyes just open up. I see everything. I see Him now. I see Him everywhere. His Word is coming alive to me. I feel His presence in my life. It’s like I’m alive in Christ. It’s in Christ. Others of us, I’ve noticed, it’s a process almost like that C.S. Lewis said, “kicking and screaming into the kingdom thing.” It’s like the blind man. We come from here, we get to here, and eventually, we get here. Before we know it, this is who He is to us. What I would say to some of us who are in this process, I’m glad you’re on it. Stay on it. The Lord is drawing you towards Him. It’s okay. It’s good. I would love for it to be today. But I’m saying He’s working in our lives. How good is that?
Do you know the song Amazing Grace? I think it connects amazingly with this Vision Correction? “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found. Was blind, but now I see.” That’s the most popular hymns sung by everyone, presidents and singers who have no knowledge of Jesus but just as a part of a heritage of our nation and culture. Amazing Grace is sung all the time by everyone all over the world. That song was written over 200 years ago by a man named John Newton. John Newton was a messed up man, evil by his own confession, a slave trader when his heart began to get changed by the message of Jesus. It had always been with him since a boy, but he had turned his back on it so long ago. I thought the guy who wrote Amazing Grace came to Jesus, opened up his life to the Lord, and said, “I want to follow you, Lord.” The next day, he woke up and started writing, and then out popped Amazing Grace.
It didn’t happen that way. It was almost three decades later when he eventually, as an older minister by that point, to accompany his message he was giving on New Year’s, wrote this little thing on the side called Amazing Grace. As he reaches back into his past and remembers the kind of man he was and says to himself, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved…” and then he remembers who he was. In a way, it’s all of us. “… a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found. Was blind, but now I see.” The reason I appreciate that so much is because it’s a reminder that it’s a process in our lives sometimes. It doesn’t happen all at once. But that was his story to tell.
The second piece is this. That was part of John Newton’s story. There are a few things as powerful as an honest telling of our story. We’re all called. If we’ve been touched by Jesus, we’re all called to be storytellers. The blind man is a storyteller. Tell us what happens. Tell us your story. Okay, I will. Here it is. He was scared, but he told it. The first group asked him, “What happened to you?” “Well, let me tell you my story.” “Well, we got to bring you to the Pharisees to have you talk to these learned men and explain what happened.” Then he tells them his story. I look at that and I think, “Oh, Lord. His bravery to me is inspiring.” You’re going to see it show up big time next week. There are going to be times that God’s going to ask those of us who claim to love Him to speak up on His behalf and to tell us what happened. Who is He? I believe.
Some of us in these next two weeks are supposed to tell our story. Our church has a mission statement. About our faith in Jesus and invite others into life with Him. Personal and our church’s pursuit. There are people in our lives, friends, family, people we associate with and care about deeply. We need to invite them into this story. We need to tell them about what Jesus has done. There are others of us who are working with people. They know we are followers of Jesus. This is the time. Invite them into the story. Come and see. Invite them into the story. There are others of us who might be standing at a bus stop, and all of a sudden a bus goes by and there’s this Cornerstone thing on it. Come and see. I’d love for you to come and see. The whole point of it is I need to tell you my story. We need to be storytellers. The blind man was a storyteller of what Jesus had done. The healing we have found, the light we see that causes us to magnify, to bow down, to sing His praises, to live out our faith in Jesus, and invite others into life with Him.
One last thing I’ll say about this, and this is where we’re going to leave it. This is the part that actually most touched me at a personal level myself. May we never forget how much we are loved, how much we have been given, and how He uses the mud and clay to open us up to new ways of seeing and being. Let that sit. Just as Jesus made the mud that brought the healing, sometimes it’s from the mud, the dirty places, the messy places, the less than ideal places, the struggling places, the humbling, utterly broken places from which His deepest healing comes to us. I love the fact that He did the healing through the mud. I love it. Where are we most broken? Where are we most injured? Where are we most ashamed? Where is our hurt most profound? Where are we most discouraged and beaten? He will stoop to meet us there. That’s where He will anoint my eyes, heal, anoint your eyes. Right there.
What can I give Him back? Many things. But most of all, I can share with others what He has done for me. Tell our story and invite others into it. I have always been able to see physically. So have you. The gift of sight. Do we understand what a beautiful thing that is? Not all of us have it. To see. I can see this. I can see this. I can see things. I always have been able to. I take for granted my eyes. I can see. There has never been a day in my life that I have not been able to see. I got up this morning and it was very dark. I opened my eyes. Didn’t think twice. Walked through the hall, turned on the light because I could see. It didn’t even dawn on me to think, can I see? I know I can see. We’re going to walk outside. We’re not even going to think about it. Look around us. Beauty, anything else that we see, we just take for granted. I take for granted my sight. What a gift it is. How wonderful. To not have it.
I was thinking, “Lord, I take for granted my vision. I take for granted my ability to see things. I am so blessed to be able to see.” Then it dawned on me, “But I’m even more blessed to be able to see spiritually. You opened my eyes. I couldn’t see, but you gave me life. You gave me light. You gave me the ability to see.” I think what happens in the same way that I am capable of taking for granted this amazing capacity to see things, I can take for granted the same thing with the Lord in my life. Like, oh, I can see. Okay. Do you know what a gift we have? This is all about saying, “Lord, it is amazing, You opened my eyes and I see. Don’t ever, ever let me forget what a blessing I have been given. Where I was blind, but now I see. I see you. I see. I have to tell somebody about that.” Do you see what I’m saying? I think we see. We see more.
Let’s pray. Lord, I ask that you would keep working in our lives, even those of us who’ve become accustomed to seeing. We’ve taken it for granted. We’ve seen your face. We’ve tasted your grace. We’ve known your touch. We’ve felt alive. We’ve had things opened up in our hearts. For some of us, Lord, we’ve had so much for so long that it’s become something we take for granted. What a gift. What a gift to know you, to know your love, to have your Word opened up to us, God. To come alive, to have my blindness, I never saw the light ever. To have you take away my blindness, my darkness, and open my eyes. It’s what you did. I ask that you would do it in the lives of other people.
I pray that these next few weeks, we would see eyes opened up all over the world, but also in this place. I pray you would use all of us who are here to be part of that in some way, to tell our story. So as we bring this time to a close, we’re going to have our time of giving. We honor you as a community and church. But Lord, also the song that we close with, let it just put the emphasis point on everything we’ve shared, and let our hearts stay soft before you as we make our way out. We ask for this blessing in Jesus’s name. Amen.