The blind healed by Jesus – and on the Sabbath!
Preached at Aguaviva C.F., Albox, Sunday 27th February 2005
John Chapter 9
Click here to listen online (Approx 13 minutes duration)
This could be taken as just another miracle healing by Jesus but if we look at it more closely there is a lot to be learned. I was struck when I studied this that things I had not noticed before were jumping out of the page. I believe the Lord wants me to pass on these things and I hope that we are all blessed by what we hear and learn.
These events brought forward issues, emotions, questions, and opposing forces of truth and falsehood which are quite revealing.
The first issue with the blind man was “Who sinned”. The rabbis had a principle that there was no suffering without iniquity so they made the deduction that someone was to blame. Jesus made it very clear that they were wrong. In fact His answer meant that this man’s purpose in life was to reveal in himself the works of God. I am not sure how his parents must have felt about this, having raised their child, blind from birth, reduced to begging; and now what God had taken away from birth, his son Jesus restored in a miracle. Jesus also said that he was the light of the world, and that he had to work while it was daytime. This was a reference that his death was drawing close and his time was short on the earth. Our time is also short on the earth and we need to work in the light that is Jesus within us.
We need to consider these events in parallel with what we would expect to happen with miraculous healings in the present time. Many of the reactions are the same these days. One of the most common is of unbelief. Here the seeds of unbelief are sown in verse 8 where the neighbours, who must have known the man well, started to doubt that it could be the same man. Others said that it was a man who just looked like him. It did not compute in their minds that a man could be healed from a birth defect such as this. What was being fulfilled were prophesies like the one in Isaiah 29:18 “out of gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see”.
They wanted to know how it had happened and after the healed man explained in verse 11 they did not really believe him. There is a prejudice against disabled people which we may know about. Two people are going down the road, one in a wheelchair being pushed by the other. They meet someone to talk to and the man in the wheelchair will probably be ignored because of this prejudice. If he happened to be Stephen Hawking it probably would make little difference, people seem to think that one disability of the legs means that the whole person is insignificant. People were not about to take the evidence of a recently healed man who had just set his eyes on the world for the first time. Notice that prior to his healing the man is not reported to have spoken. Afterwards everyone wanted to hear what he had to say. We need to take care that we do not fall into this prejudice trap.
The man was then brought before the Pharisees for a public enquiry. This was when the real problems started, it was the Sabbath after all, when no-one in Jewish law should lift a finger to do any work, let alone make clay and put it on someone’s eyes to heal them.
The Jews in verse 18 show more unbelief. They do not learn from this miracle, they just try to discredit it. So what do they do? They shout for his Mum and Dad to come along and in verses 19-21 they have to explain that, yes surely this is their son. As to how he can see again, they are a bit cagey about giving a full reply because they were frightened of the Jews.
Now let’s consider the lies and falsehood that showed itself as a result of this event:
There was first false accusations starting in v16 “This man is not from God, because he does not keep the Sabbath”. In fact this man was not only from God, but was and is God, and He is still performing miracles regardless of whether or not it is the Sabbath day. Also “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” There is a double whammy of error here. First of all we believe that Jesus was without sin, so the question is void. Secondly we as sinners can all be used of God to perform miracles in His name.
In v22 there is reinforcement of falsehood by suppression of the truth. Here the Jews had already made it clear that anyone confessing that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ, the Messiah, would be thrown out of the synagogue. This would have been the centre of the community life and to be cut off from it would have had a marked effect on them.
There is further reinforcement of falsehood by speaking it out, in v.24 “We know that this Man is a sinner”. They knew no such thing, they were making assumptions based on their own experiences. Also in v.31 “God does not hear sinners”, well listen, God has listened to me, a sinner, and he listens to you who are sinners. If God never listened to sinners there would be no hope for any of us. Later in v.34 referring to the healed man, “You were completely born in sins, and you are teaching us?” Here is an attempt to belittle a man telling the truth and trying to cover it by claiming that their status and education made them a more reliable source of information. Actually they were right that the blind man was born in sin, that is original sin. However they were still firmly entrenched in their belief that he or his parents had sinned. They even had a perverse idea that a baby in the womb could somehow commit sins prior to birth!
Again in verse 34 they tell him to clear off because they don’t like what he is saying about Jesus having to have come from God. He is rejected despite having been entirely truthful. In v.35 significantly Jesus seeks out the rejected, cast out man. Now look at the change in this man from the beginning to the end of the passage: In v.11 he was thinking about Jesus as a man. Then in v.17 he has given him the label of a prophet, then in v.27 a man who might have disciples and invited the Jews to follow him too. He already considered himself a disciple. Then in v.33 he is saying that Jesus is from God – a huge revelation for one who has just had his physical eyes opened! Then in verse 38 he calls Jesus “Lord” and worships Him.
The Pharisees ask “are we blind”. Jesus’ answer confounds their sarcasm. Not only were they blind spiritually, they were also confused over what was sin, and where it came from. They had to try to work out if Jesus had healed someone blind because of sin, had He removed or forgiven his sins at the same time. Where did this authority come from?
To sum up I want to say:
The NIV says, “As long as it is day we must do the work of Him who sent me” . What does this mean to each one of us. We are pretty well unfettered in this country to spread the gospel as we wish. We need to take advantage of this. There are countries in the world where people risk their freedom and their lives to tell the gospel, but they still do it. It seems that Christianity is growing quicker in oppressed countries than in the free West.