Malankara World

Sermons Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

Sixth Sunday in Great Lent (Samiyo/ The Blind Man)

Sermon / Homily on John 9:1-41

"One Thing I Do Know, That Though I Was Blind, Now I See"

by Jerry Goebel, One Family Outreach

Gospel: St. John 9:1-41

(1) As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. (2) 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. (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. (5) "While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world." (6) When He had said this, He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and applied the clay to his eyes, (7) and said to him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam" (which is translated, Sent). So he went away and washed, and came back seeing. (8) Therefore the neighbors, and those who previously saw him as a beggar, were saying, "Is not this the one who used to sit and beg?" (9) Others were saying, "This is he," still others were saying, "No, but he is like him." He kept saying, "I am the one." (10) So they were saying to him, "How then were your eyes opened?" (11) He answered, "The man who is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash'; so I went away and washed, and I received sight." (12) They said to him, "Where is He?" He *said, "I do not know."

(13) They *brought to the Pharisees the man who was formerly blind. (14) Now it was a Sabbath on the day when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes. (15) Then the Pharisees also were asking him again how he received his sight. And he said to them, "He applied clay to my eyes, and I washed, and I see." (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. (17) So they *said to the blind man again, "What do you say about Him, since He opened your eyes?" And he said, "He is a prophet."

(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, (19) and questioned them, saying, "Is this your son, who you say was born blind? Then how does he now see?" (20) His parents answered them and said, "We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; (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." (22) 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."

(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." (25) He then answered, "Whether He is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see." (26) So they said to him, "What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?" (27) He answered them, "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?" (28) They reviled him and said, "You are His disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. (29) "We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where He is from." (30) The man answered and said to them, "Well, here is an amazing thing, that you do not know where He is from, and yet He opened my eyes. (31) "We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God–fearing and does His will, He hears him. (32) "Since the beginning of time it has never been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. (33) "If this man were not from God, He could do nothing." (34) They answered him, "You were born entirely in sins, and are you teaching us?" So they put him out.

(35) 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. (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." (40) 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."

John 9:1–3

(1) As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. (2) 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."

"It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents..."

The assumption in Christ's day was that physical diseases or injuries were caused by spiritual dysfunction. Today, competent people might call that; "Blaming the victim." We have the same irrational response to someone with HIV or AIDS in our culture. Unfortunately, the fastest growing sector of our global population who are catching that disease are women and children –– and particularly those among the poorest of the poor.

Another example of "blaming the victim" is the way we treat the homeless and the impoverished. The majority of our world's poor are working people. Once again most of the poor are women and children left destitute after a divorce and then the additional complications of illness, depression or an illness or accident in the family.

It's as if by blaming the crippled, diseased or alienated, we can abdicate our responsibility for a just response (just look at how that religious reasoning worked for the rich man who ignored Lazarus). As the apostles learned more about Jesus –– this image of God punishing the innocent didn't "gel." Therefore, they query Jesus on the issue. The closer we get to Jesus, the more the closed-minded, pre-judgments of our world fall apart.

Jesus' response to the apostle's questions is astounding. Jesus not only answers their issue, he also heals the man who perhaps becomes Christ's simplest disciple. Without even knowing Jesus by name he confounds the Sanhedrin with his straightforward testimony; "I was blind, now I see. You explain it."

Jesus tells his apostles; "This man didn't sin, his parents didn't sin, but you are about to see the healing power of God over physical and societal blindness."

We have been born into a world of sin. We are not in the Garden of Eden (the protective sanctuary of God's delight). Harmony was broken – death was chosen over life – bad things happen. Terrible things!

All too often, we blame God for the disharmony of our world, when – in fact – sin entered (and enters) the world through our choice. It is indeed evidence of God's handiwork that the world is not even more chaotic than it is. For, if God punished us truly for our sin in this life – we would all be dead. Instead, He withholds judgment until the very last moment (that is certainly not a human trait).

Throughout history, God's actions have always worked to re-establish and rebind our torn relationships (religion means to rebind torn ligaments). This blind man was a sign of God's deep desire to restore us to family. This man's simple testimony played a critical part in Christ's sign of God's unstoppable love.

John 9:4–5

(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. (5) "While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world."

As long as it is day

Every person is given an allotted time on earth. Along with that gift, is an allotted number of resources and an abilities to accomplish a mission. Jesus realized this and knew that his window of opportunity (the day – "Hemera," which literally translates into "the instant prior to dawn") was very short.

In a way, there is a blessing knowing that your time is short. A person with a deadline may put everything off to the last minute – but they will get the job done. In the Toyota company, there is a principle that if a supervisor gives you a task without a timeline – you will receive a bonus for ignoring the task. It is a simple idea – but it revolutionized the way that people thought and delegated tasks at Toyota.

Our "hemera" is short as well. We just don't realize how near we are to the kingdom. We are too easily distracted from applying our limited time, resources, and abilities to the work at hand.

A dear friend of mine – who operates a small farmer – would always say, "Well, we're out of here in ten minutes anyway," whenever he faced adversity. What is beautiful is that he does live his life by that concept of living for the kingdom. He is one of the most responsible men I know who uses all that God has blessed him with to bless those around him (thanks Tom).

Am I using every gift I have been given to draw myself and other's closer to the Gift-Giver?

Furthermore, we don't give our resources to God because "we have to," or in order "to get to heaven." First of all, they are God's gifts to begin with and we are merely stewards. But also, those in the Spirit know that the more we give to God – the closer to heaven we are! We simply cannot outgive God (but it is worth a lifetime of trying).

When no man can work

The accurate translation for this phrase is that there is a time coming when no person will "have the power" to work. There are three interpretations of time relative to this statement:

1. When our last chance to respond to God with love runs out.

Our daily habits build deep swaths in our lives. Neurologists call these neural pathways. These pathways can help us with mundane decisions or fight/flight choices. Or, without check, they can become the framework for compulsive behaviors. Such behaviors can take over our lives and we become victims to their dominance.

It is easier to see this in those battling addiction or compulsion – and their inability to break the damaging patterns that accompany their behavior.

However, it can also be seen in people who won't change their daily behavior and become locked in a cycle that doesn't allow growth or change. The longer they stay in the unchanged pattern – the more difficult it is for them to see outside of their compulsive mindset. Pretty soon, protecting the pattern becomes more important than being open to life.

2. When our time on earth runs out;

Death is inevitable. The person who has a grasp that they are going to die – and sees it as a gateway to God's "bosom." Does not fear that day – although they might not desire pain or the loss of their abilities. Yet, the believer knows that we need to go to that gate and is constantly decorticating themselves of encumbrances on the way. (I love that term – it means stripping away)

Am I still appareling? Or, am I constantly decorticating in my life?

3. When earth's time runs out.

"We're out of here in ten minutes anyway." We have it on the best authority that earth is not our home. Unlike some people, I am not making statements about being either near the end times or far from it. I am not a theological clock-watcher. If Jesus didn't seek this knowledge – who am I to presume I should or could know? However, I know two things, 1) I am near my end time (it grows nearer everyday), and 2) to our Lord, a thousand years is like a day [2 Peter 3:8].

The things of this world will pass and I do not want to be judged according to how I measured up to this world's standards. Better to be measured by how I humbled myself before the cross.

I am the light of the world

This is one of the names of Jesus – Light of the world. Jesus is light [phos G5457] of the world [kosmos G2889]. This is an in-burning, self-powering light. It is not a reflection of the light or a light generated by external light. Like the chemical phosphorous, Jesus is a source of light. To have his light is to need no other.

Jesus is light to the "cosmos."

This has multiple meanings:

He illuminates our purpose in life;
He shows the world for "what it is"; and
He "reveals" order (cosmos) in the midst of chaos.

The Light of the World is The One who brings light to whatever situation where he is invited. Where in the world are you? No matter how lost, how dark, how chaotic or how distant… the light of the world gives light, warmth, order and comfort to anyone who goes toward him.

Consider this; "Even if the sun quits shining, the Self–Existent One will still shine. He is the Light in all circumstances. In darkness, in trial, in jail, in depression, in sorrow, facing death – he is the Light.

This is one of the seven "I am" themes found in John.

The other six are:

"I am the bread of life [Jn 6:35]"
"I am the door [Jn 10:9]"
"I am the good shepherd [Jn 10:11]"
"I am the resurrection and the life [Jn 11:25]"
"I am the way, the truth and the life [Jn 14:6]'l
"I am the vine [Jn 15:1]"

While we are studying the names of Jesus, let's look at some of his prophetic names throughout scripture:

Names of Jesus used in the Scripture

 

Adam
Advocate
Almighty
Alpha and Omega
Amen
Angel
Angel of his presence
Anointed
Apostle
Arm of the Lord
Author and Finisher of our faith
Beginning and end of the creation of God
Beloved
Blessed and only Potentate
Branch
Bread of life
Bridegroom
Bright and Morning Star
Brightness of the Father's glory
Captain of the Lord's host (army)
Captain of Salvation
Carpenter
Carpenter's son
Chief Shepherd
Chief Cornerstone
Chiefest among ten thousand
Child
Chosen of God
Christ
The Christ (Messiah)
Christ, a King
Christ Jesus
Christ Jesus our Lord
Christ of God
Christ, the chosen of God
Christ the Lord
Christ, the power of God
Christ the wisdom of God
Christ, the Son of God
Christ, Son of the Blessed
Commander
Consolation of Israel
Cornerstone
Counselor
Covenant of the people
David
Daysman
Dayspring
Day Star
Deliverer
Desire of all nations
Door, the
Elect
Emmanuel
Ensign
Eternal Life
Everlasting Father
Faithful and True
Faithful Witness, the
Faithful and true witness, the
Finisher of faith
First and last
First begotten
First begotten of the dead
Firstborn
Foundation
Fountain
Forerunner
Friend of sinners
Gift of God
Glory of Israel
God (deity)
God blessed forever
God manifest in the flesh
God of Israel, the Saviour
God of the whole earth
God our Saviour
God's dear Son
God with us
Good Master
Governor
Great Shepherd of the sheep
Head of the ekklesia (body)
Heir of all things
High priest
Head of every man
ead of the corner
Holy child Jesus
Holy one
Holy one of God
Holy one of Israel
Holy thing
Hope (our)
Horn of salvation
I AM
Image of God
Israel
Jehovah
Jehovah's fellow
Jesus
Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ our Lord
Jesus Christ our Saviour
Jesus of Nazareth
Jesus (of Nazareth), King of the Jews
Jesus, the Son of God
Jesus, the Son of Joseph
Judge
Just man, Just person, Just One
King
King of Israel
King of the Jews
King of Saints
King of Kings
King of Glory
King of Zion
King over all the earth
Lamb
Lamb of God
Lawgiver
Leader
Life
Light
Light, everlasting
Light of the world
Light to the Gentiles
Light, true
Living Bread, the
Living Stone
Lion of the tribe of Judah
Lord
Lord of Lords
Lord of all
Lord our righteousness
Lord God Almighty
Lord from heaven
Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ
Lord Christ
Lord Jesus
Lord Jesus Christ
Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour
Lord of glory
Lord of Hosts (armies)
Lord, mighty in battle
Lord of the dead and living
Lord of the sabbath
Lord over all
Lord's Christ
Lord, strong and mighty
Lord, the, our righteousness
Lord, your holy one
Lord, your redeemer
Man Christ Jesus
Man of sorrows
Master
Mediator, the only
Messenger of the covenant
Messiah
Messiah the Prince
Mighty God
Mighty one of Israel
Mighty one of Jacob
Mighty to save
Minister of the sanctuary
Morning Star
Most holy
Most mighty
Nazarene
Offspring of David
Only begotten (Greek monogenes: one and only, unique)
Only begotten (Greek monogenes: one and only, unique)
        of the Father
Only begotten (Greek monogenes: one and only, unique)
         Son (the best mss. have "God" instead of "Son" here)
Only wise God, our Saviour
Overseer
Passover, our
Plant of renown
Potentate
Power of God
Physician
Precious Cornerstone
Priest
Prince
Prince of Life
Prince of Peace
Prince of the kings of the earth
Prophet
Propitiation (expiation, our Sin–offering)
Rabbi, Rabboni
Ransom
Redeemer
Resurrection and the Life, the
Redemption
Righteous Branch
Righteous Judge
Righteous Servant
Righteousness
Rock
Rock of Offence
Root of David
Root of Jesse
Rose of Sharon
Ruler in Israel
Salvation
Sanctification
Sanctuary
Savior
Savior, Jesus Christ
Savior of the body (ekklesia)
Savior of the world
Sceptre
Second Man, the
Seed of David
Seed of the woman
Servant
Servant of rulers
Shepherd
Shepherd and Overseer of souls
Shepherd, Chief
Shepherd, Good
Shepherd, Great
Shepherd of Israel
Shiloh
Son of the Father
Son of God
Son of Man
Son of the Blessed One (God)
Son of the Highest One (God)
Son of David
Star
Sun of Righteousness
Surety (Guarantee)
Stone
Stone of Stumbling
Sure Foundation
Teacher
True God
True Vine
Truth
Unspeakable Gift
Very Christ
Vine, the
Way, the
Which is, which was, which is to come
          (equivalent to the tetragrammaton (YHWH),
          the Eternal One, I AM THAT I AM
Wisdom
Wisdom of God, the
Witness
Wonderful
Word
Word of God
Word of Life
Word Study


While the light shines

The instant between dawn and dark [G2250 hemera (hay–mer'–ah)]

This term was used as the hours of dawn or the last watch for a soldiers. It was commonly used for a period of danger when guard were sleepiest and enemies most prone to attack. The word was also used as "an age" or "an eternity."

I am [G1510 eimi (i–mee')]

This was an emphatic way of saying, "I exist," not just "I am" (as "in this moment"). Instead it means, "I have been, I am, and I will be."

Light [G5457 phos (foce)]

Self–perpetuating light of intense magnitude.

The world [G2889 kosmos (kos'–mos)]

More than just, the earth, this term alludest o God's order and harmony. Jesus is essentially telling us: "I have always been the focal point of God's plan for salvation."

John 9:6–7

(6) When He had said this, He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and applied the clay to his eyes, (7) and said to him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam" (which is translated, Sent). So he went away and washed, and came back seeing.

A partner in Humility

"Here's mud in your eye!" Perhaps that should become the new cry of the Believer.

Jesus sees the disease and must respond. Yet, there is an important partner in this miracle that cannot be dismissed. It is the blind man himself. Were he not willing to allow someone to spit and smear mud on his face, he wouldn't have been healed.

Thought it was customary to see the spittle of mages and healers as having healing power, how many of us would allow that "indignity" today?

Healing comes to the humble! Without humility, this man would have died blind. Physical healing is an incredible occurrence, but conceptual healing is even more amazing. Conceptual healing takes place when we turn to the Lord and say; "Help! Do what needs to be done to heal me. Just help!" Conceptual healing occurs when we ask God to take our blindness away. That kind of blindness makes us prejudice, elite, or possessive of others and desiring to be "in control."

Conceptual healing breaks the fear that keeps me small and angry. Conceptual fear breaks the cycle of blaming other people for my situation.

Conceptual healing is needed both individually and corporately. We need to have conceptual healing in our churches so that we can move beyond churches that exist for my entertainment – and are committed to God's mission. We need to have conceptual healing in our nation for "blaming the victims" of poverty or for not recognizing the abuse of our power and abuse of the resources of others. We need to have conceptual healing as a culture for being blind to the needs of others and attuned to a chorus of; "What about me?"

He anointed

Jesus touched with intent and purpose [epichrio G2025 (ep–ee–khree'–o)].

To anoint is the combination of two words;

Jesus touched this man with the very specific intent of consecrating him for a purpose.

Anointing had three purposes:

Healing;
Consecrating for an important office;
Consecrating for an important mission.

In this situation, Jesus was healing and anointing a man for a specific mission, that mission became obvious as the event unfolded. The blind man would confront the blindness of his own people and every generation to come. God desires wholeness in a world diseased by sin. No man or woman is too alien for him to reach.

Jesus has a healing in mind for us too. He is longs and desires to heal us (anoint us) for a specific office or mission. Jesus combines healing with new purpose on many occasions. The reason for this is illustrated in this verse from Matthew:

[43] "Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places, seeking rest, and does not find {it.} [44] "Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came'; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order. [45] "Then it goes, and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation."
– Matt 12:43-45

The lesson here is that we can receive healing – but if we don't get busy with our mission – that healing sets us up for worse failure.

The first goal I encourage incarcerated individuals to do upon finding Christ is find a way to serve the Lord IMMEDIATELY! Not just when they "get out" – but while they are behind bars. Our Lord turns them from prisoners of the State to prisoners for the Lord.

1 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
– Ephesians 4:1-3

Service is the healing therapy that must follow the healing or we will just become more atrophied and bitter.

John 9:8–13

(8) Therefore the neighbors, and those who previously saw him as a beggar, were saying, "Is not this the one who used to sit and beg?" (9) Others were saying, "This is he," still others were saying, "No, but he is like him." He kept saying, "I am the one."

(10) So they were saying to him, "How then were your eyes opened?" (11) He answered, "The man who is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash'; so I went away and washed, and I received sight." (12) They said to him, "Where is He?" He *said, "I do not know."

The unbelieving neighbors

These were religious people. They believed in God, they lived in Jerusalem – the capitol city of their faith. Yet, when their own neighbor comes home with his sight restored – they are unwilling to believe it.

What extremes do we go through to deny God's work in the lives of those around us? What is the tendency in us that doesn't want to see good things happen to people we know? It is almost as if their healing points to our lack of faith. "They didn't convert to my theology." "They didn't follow our rituals." "I wasn't consulted about this change!"

When the "locals" remain unsatisfied with the answers they are receiving to their questions – and therefore, refuse to accept that the event could have really happened. They "turned him (the blind man) over" to the authorities.

Before we think they are too small-minded, let's remember that the apostles did the same thing when someone else was healing in Christ's name (without consulting them).

[38] John said to Him, "Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we tried to hinder him because he was not following us." [39] But Jesus said, "Do not hinder him, for there is no one who shall perform a miracle in My name, and be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me. [40] "For he who is not against us is for us.
Mark 9:38-40

God will never be locked in our pet container. We can never pen him into our backyard or enclose him in our dogma. Our limiting attitudes anger him and we need to proclaim his healing love wherever and whenever someone comes to him – even if it doesn't occur "in our church" or, "in our tradition."

I received sight

"I received sight [G308 anablepo (an–ab–lep'–o)]."
This phrase could also mean, "I looked up," "I became aware," or, "I received purpose."

Jesus heals a blindness that goes beyond the physical inability to see. He is able to heal the blindness that prevents us from experiencing the fullness of His love. He can – and desires to – heal the blindness that limits the boundaries of our love. He can even heal the blindness that leads to selfishness and spiritual death.

John 9:14–16

(14) Now it was a Sabbath on the day when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes. (15) Then the Pharisees also were asking him again how he received his sight. And he said to them, "He applied clay to my eyes, and I washed, and I see."

When am I the Pharisee?

Look at what the religious people do! Because Jesus is not one of their crowd (Nicodemus gave the offer – Jesus gave him a counter–offer par-non), because Jesus did not do things by their rules, they cast Jesus as a sinner. In fact, this act of dearest compassion became a primary case against Jesus in his crucifixion! Jesus healed on the Sabbath!

When is tradition more important to me than relationship? When is "the right way" more important to me than crashing through the barriers of "righteousness" to embrace someone who is lost? Whenever I act in that manner – I am the religious leader that condemns Jesus Christ!

Schism

The best that can be said about this group is that a division was caused by those who called Jesus a sinner and those who said; "How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles." Was Nicodemus among them?

Jesus stated that he did not come bring peace (as the world understands it), but a sword;

[34] Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. [35]For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. [36] And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. [37] He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. [38] And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. [39] He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
Matt 10:34-39

Sadly, the most frequent divisions in our churches occur between those who want the church to be their place of stability and comfort and those who want the church to be God's vehicle on earth.

Word Study

There was division [schisma G4978] (skhis'–mah)]
There was a "rent," a schism among the leaders.

John 9:17–23

(17) So they *said to the blind man again, "What do you say about Him, since He opened your eyes?" And he said, "He is a prophet."

(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, (19) and questioned them, saying, "Is this your son, who you say was born blind? Then how does he now see?" (20) His parents answered them and said, "We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; (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." (22) 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."

The true sin of the parents

The religious leaders are relentless and looking for ways to disprove the work of Jesus in restoring the man's sight. In their effort, they bring in the parent's of the man. It is perhaps, one of the saddest stories of the bible that these parents – who had so much joy to celebrate – instead cowered in fear and turned their son over to that council of sin.

It is the ultimate story of fearing man over celebrating God. By choosing fear, they sacrifice family and self–respect. They feared the exclusion of the culture more than they desired the inclusion of truth and family; "These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue [9:22]."

Personally, I have too many fingers pointing at me to point one finger in condemnation at these parents. How often have I feared standing up for Christ in the face of possible exclusion? Am I known as a voice that stands up for the alienated within my reach? Does Christ see me as a beacon for his lost? Or, am I to be found among the religious who sought to destroy the power of the good news to this blind man – or, perhaps even worse, would I be found with the parents whose testimony was to alienate their own son?

The true sin of the parents was mediocrity. In the end, they earned no respect, they only saved their hides. Let us pray to God that this won't be the testimony of our lives. Far better to be passionate on either side on either side of the issue than mediocre in the middle (remember the ever–present warning to the church of Laodicea in Revelation 3:16).

When I read this story, I can't help but think of the committed parents that I have known who have fought against the pervasive use of labels in our schools today. Once a child is labeled it is so difficult to break that "prejudgment."

Children become what we name them. Blessed is the adult who sees an opportunity to name each child for at least one positive accomplishment every day. This is God's Way who gives a new opportunity to start fresh every morning.

(21) This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope.
(22) The LORD'S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail.
(23) They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.
(24) "The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I have hope in Him."
Lamentations 3:21-24

Fear of the religious

In their quest to disprove Jesus, the religious leaders looked for any source that would discredit our Lord. In the process, they continued to make themselves look increasingly fanatical. There are people who look for ways to bring other people down. They spend their entire energy on cynically disproving and sarcastically analyzing the accomplishments of all around them. This is the only type of happiness they have – tearing down the happiness or credibility of another.

Today's modern media seems to feed in this manner. Frenetically trying to tear into the weakness of our leaders and, of course, they are only egged on by a public that gives high ratings to talk shows that deal in this sordid behavior.

"The media" – of which we all complain – is really no more than an extension of the sickness within us. They simply would not exist if we didn't watch the shows. In no manner do these show praise God and lift up his people.

In this story, we find that our hunger for tearing down the good is not new. It is ancient and since Jesus was the ultimate good, he was also the ultimate target. In their hunger for more power, the religious leaders had become Satan's tool. As they gave into their wanton desire for power, they became bound to their sin. Instead of being a "light to the nations," they had become a curse on their own people.

Religion became synonymous with judgment and punishment and frequently edges toward that direction today. In what I believe is Christ's "Summa Theologica" for followers, he states;

(37) "Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned. (38) "Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return."
Luke 6:37-38

We are not to judge or condemn, we are to forgive and give until we are set free. Free from self-righteousness, anger, and the blindness of prejudice that so infected the religious of his day.

But the Jews did not believe…

The Jews did not give credit [4100] pisteuo (pist–yoo'–o).

Pisteuo is the word for faith. It would be used in a situation where you entrusted yourself or someone you loved into to someone else's care. In this case, the tem is meant as in "to give credit (as in giving due respect to someone for their accomplishment)" to a person for their achievements. Rather than give credit to Christ for this undeniable work of faith – the religious leaders did everything they could to discredit him.

They didn't discredit Jesus because the blind man remained blind; they discredited him because they couldn't afford to have him be able to accomplish what they could not.

We can easily behave in this manner when we want to take all the credit for ourselves or refuse to build others up because we fear it may distract from our exceptionality. This type of viewpoint – that the world has a scarcity of compliments – couldn't be more self-fulfilling. The less we share credit, the less credit there is to share. However, the more we give compliments and build up other people, the more we, in turn, find ourselves loved and appreciated.

John 9:24–34

(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." (25) He then answered, "Whether He is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see." (26) So they said to him, "What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?" (27) He answered them, "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?" (28) They reviled him and said, "You are His disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. (29) "We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where He is from." (30) The man answered and said to them, "Well, here is an amazing thing, that you do not know where He is from, and yet He opened my eyes. (31) "We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God–fearing and does His will, He hears him. (32) "Since the beginning of time it has never been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. (33) "If this man were not from God, He could do nothing." (34) They answered him, "You were born entirely in sins, and are you teaching us?" So they put him out.

The ultimate testimony

There is no greater testimony to Jesus Christ than simply to tell what he has done in our lives. The beauty to this story of the blind man is that the angrier the opposition becomes, the more foolish they look. After all, the man was blind, but now he could see. Unlike his parents, who had just discredited their own son, this "beggar" became a faultless witness for Jesus the Christ.

He doesn't care about the politics of the Sanhedrin. He isn't interested in the subtleties of the Pharisaic belief system. They had all treated him as worthless throughout his entire life. The blind man had nothing to lose by giving all the credit to the one man who took the time to stop and whisper to him. The only one who ever gave him words of belonging and healing.

As the blind man's testimony grows in potency, the religious leaders attacks grow in indignity. How indicative of sin. Sin is not being lost; it is choosing to stay lost and to drag as many people into your quagmire as possible. The more these leaders dragged others into their depravity, the more affirmed they were in their dogma.

Yet, the testimony of Christ is clear. There is a story by William Barclay of a man trapped in alcoholism that was saved by the power of Jesus. When confronted by his former alcoholic cronies who scoffed at his beliefs saying, "Christ has turned you soft." His simple reply was; "I don't know if Christ turned me soft – but, I know in my house He has turned alcohol into furniture."

The greatest testimony will always be the changed life.

I was blind, now I see

I was [5607] on (oan); blind[5185] tuphlos (toof–los'); now [737] arti (ar'–tee); 991 blepo (blep'–o)

Here is the ultimate testimony; "I couldn't see – now I can." The word blindness means to be mentally or physically blind. "But now," implies suddenly or from that moment on. "I could see," I had sight – or, I became aware!

For many of us, our spiritual blindness is far worse than our physical blindness. As for the Pharisee's, their blindness was self-imposed. There was healing for the man born physically blind, but healing was not – and is not – available to those who choose not to see.

John 9:35–38

(35) 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.

Jesus runs to the trouble

What is amazing about this story is that when Jesus hears that the man has come under scrutiny – for being healed – he runs back to find him and be his advocate. This is indicative of the nature of God.

Jesus never leaves us orphaned. If we stand as bravely as we can, our Lord will never walk away. That is the overarching theme to the story of God and humanity. When we face trials – he finds us.

Jesus heals the soul

There is an even subtler bonus lesson to this story. After Jesus healed the man, our Savior didn't say to him, "Now, that I have given you sight – you had better acknowledge my authority." Jesus just healed him and sent him on his way.

Do we tie our mercies to conditions? "I will aid you, but only if you come to my church." Do we give bibles and pamphlets to the hungry and lost when what they need is food and acceptance? Is our love conditional, attached to acceptance of our religious parameters?

Jesus stepped into this man's life and was physically pained by his blindness. The Prince of Peace restored him to wholeness. Later, when he found out that the man was persecuted for the gift given to him, Jesus ran back to find him and invited him into a new community.

The church is supposed to be the Lord's family; a family that won't turn their backs on the outcast. Indeed, a family that seeks out the persecuted just as this our Shepherd sought out this man.

Jesus offered this man eternal life and unconditional acceptance. That's the power Jesus passed on to the church – our Lord's family.

Thou has both seen him

Both [2532] kai (kahee); seen [3708] horao (hor–ah'–o)

Why "both" seen him?

Two types of healing occurred in this man's life at the same time. He was healed of physical blindness and perceptual blindness. He saw and took heed.

Other's saw too – but they didn't "take heed." They remained blind to the healing and the healer.

John 9:39–41

(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." (40) 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."

Your Sin Remains

Can there be a deeper conviction? A sentence more binding? They saw the miraculous, they witnessed the results and they met the healer – then denied all of it.

If they had been born blind, impoverished or in the bondage of ignorance or fear, were they not endowed with so many gifts of education, privilege and class, then they might have had an excuse for not giving our complete adoration to him. However – as so often happens – their privilege made them harder, blinder, and more calloused to the poor.

"God, please open the eyes of our hearts, lest we will stand among the self–righteous and reap the wages of indifference."

That they who see might be made blind

To see [991] blepo (blep'–o)
Will know [1096] ginomai (ghin'–om–ahee)
Would become blind [5185] tuphlos (toof–los')

Here is the sight that Jesus brings – the vision of God's kingdom restored:

1 When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him.

2 He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying,

3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

5 "Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.

6 "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

7 "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

8 "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

9 "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

10 "Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 "Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.

12 "Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

– Matthew 5:1–12

To know salvation we must be found among the poor, the mourning, the gentle, those who hunger and thirst for what is just, the merciful, the pure in heart, peacemakers. We must be insulted and persecuted for taking a stand with Jesus against the violence of this culture.

Is that how we are known? Is that how we are recognized?

For alternatively, Christ tells us that we are either for him or against him,

He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad. (KJV)
– Matthew 12:30

Can you imagine a worse hell than being confined to an eternity with those who are completely self–righteous?

Praise God that he allows us the opportunity to sit among the imprisoned, the dying and the alienated (their prayers are so much more real), their love so much more heartfelt.

Mother Theresa tells a story of a Hindu woman whose family had not eaten for a week. The good mother filled a bowl with rice and hurried down the street to the woman's sidewalk hovel. As soon as Mother Theresa gave the rice to the woman, she thanked Mother Theresa and divided it in half. Instantly, the woman gave half the rice to her Muslim neighbor.

"How is it, Mother Theresa asked, that you, who have so little, gave so much to this Muslim woman next to you. Your family has not eaten in a week!"

"Yes," responded the woman. "But, she has not eaten in two."

We would be foolish to think that God would bar such women from heaven because they were Muslim or Hindu. We would be worse than foolish, we would be self righteous… we would be blind.

The kingdom that Jesus describes is closer to the gathering of those three women on that sidewalk in Calcutta than in the hallowed halls of most of our churches today. Where do I prefer to spend eternity? Where do I spend my time today?

Copyright © 2007 Jerry Goebel. All Rights Reserved.

See Also:

Blindness - Physical and Spiritual
by Edward F. Markquart, Seattle, WA

A Blind Man - A sermon Based on John 9:1- 41
by John Jewell

Seeing Again for the Very First Time
by John Jewell

The Work We Are Sent to Do
by The Rev. Dr. James Forbes, Jr., New York City

What the Christian Community Can Offer a Polarized Society
by V. Rev. Nathan D. Baxter, Dean, Washington National Cathedral

Sermons, Bible Commentaries and Bible Analyses for 6th Sunday in Great Lent (Samiyo/ The Blind Man)

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