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By Rev Charles Seet

Preached at / Published Life BPC 8am Svc, 2009-05-17

Text: John 9:1-41

One item that has been in the news lately is the fast-spreading H1N1 flu, which has claimed 70 lives, infected over 8,000 people and has spread to 39 countries. It is difficult to stop this virus from spreading because a person may be infected without knowing it. By the time his symptoms have developed and become full-blown, he may have unknowingly passed the virus on to hundreds of people who did not have the slightest inkling that they were in close contact with a H1N1 flu carrier. We must be thankful that the mortality rate is only 0.16 %, though the authorities fear that the virus may become a deadly pandemic later on.

Do you know that sin is just like a virus? Sin is the most deadly pandemic of all time, because it affects the whole human race and brings eternal death. Its virulence, morbidity and mortality rates are all 100%. But not everyone takes it seriously. Sin is like the H1N1 virus: Not everyone who has it knows that he has it. Why? Because many are spiritually blind to their own sinful condition and to their dire need of salvation. According to 2 Corinthians 4:4, '[Satan] hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.' Even though truths concerning God's existence and power are so evident in the wonders of nature, they can't see them. Even though truths concerning God's mercy and grace to sinners are clearly expressed in His Word, they cannot perceive them. They are blind to them and worse than that, they do not even know that they are blind. 

But we who have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ have our eyes open to the wonderful truths that God has revealed, and by God's grace we can see how sinful we really are. This morning as we continue studying the Gospel according to John, we will find 3 things that we need to perceive well: and they are given in your outline as: I. The wonderful works of God that were manifested in Jesus Christ, II. The amazing change Christ has wrought in your life, and III. Your own need for spiritual knowledge and discernment. 

I. The wonderful works of God that were manifested in Jesus Christ (1-7) This chapter describes how Jesus healed a blind man, so that he was able to open his eyes and see. If you were a blind person and had never seen anything but darkness before, and then all of a sudden your eyes are opened and you behold things for the first time in your life, how would you respond? You would feel as if somebody has turned on the light in your life, and you would be quite overwhelmed with your new sense of sight. 

In all of known history, no one has ever had the power to give instant sight to the blind except our Lord Jesus Christ. And the Scriptures record that He did this more than 7 times in his 3-year ministry on earth. There was never an instance where Christ was not able to restore sight to a blind person who was brought to Him. Today even with the latest developments in ophthalmology not every blind person can have restored eyesight. Those with eye conditions like cataracts and glaucoma are able to see again after surgery, medication and rest. 

But even the greatest eye specialist in this world is not able to give sight to those who are born blind (which make up 5% of all who are visually impaired). This is beyond medical science and it requires nothing less than God's power. And this is exactly what took place here in John chapter 9. Look at v.1 'And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.' The verses that follow describe how this man who was born blind was able see by the power of Christ. 

Do you know what this involves? - It requires nothing less than the power to create out of nothing. We know that Jesus has this power because according to John 1:3 'all things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made.' A person who is born blind does not have a full set of components that are necessary for sight. In order to give sight to this man, Christ had to create all the missing components of sight - eyes with a perfectly functioning retina, lens, iris, finely coordinated muscles, and a fine network of optic nerves that conveys images to the brain, together with all the complex circuits in the occipital lobe of the brain found at the back of our head - all these had to be present in perfect functioning order if the man was to see anything. And the healing that Christ performed was most excellent. When the man came back seeing he did not see blur images and shadows. He could see things sharply and clearly with perfect 6/6 vision, as we would say today. 

Making the blind to see is just one of the many wonderful works of God that Christ manifested. And like all of God's wonderful works this one should evoke a spontaneous response from us, as we say, 'O Lord, how great Thou art!' The man who was healed worshipped the Lord Jesus at the end. What about us? The more and more we study the life of Christ the more we should respond with heartfelt, sincere worship. Let us give Him all the best praise for the marvelous works He has done. For such wonderful works as creation and redemption He surely deserves the fullest praise, glory and honour. And we who are saved have even better reasons for giving ourself in fullest worship to God - because we are been the objects of these wonderful works. If you have truly believed in Christ, you have personally experienced a wonderful miracle wrought by God, which is:

II. The amazing change Christ has wrought in your life (8-34) This is the second point of our message. You may notice that as the blind man who was healed began to understand more and more what Christ had done for him, he was changed. In the end he regarded Jesus as being worthy of his worship. In v.38 we see him rendering unsolicited worship to Jesus spontaneously. His physical healing led to his spiritual healing. The opening of his physical eyes had resulted in the opening of his spiritual eyes. 

How did this change happen? Let us try to re-live this amazing account. This man was helpless - he was born blind and was resigned to being blind forever. He sat begging near the Temple in Jerusalem everyday, pitied by those who passed by and depending on others to help him. Never in all his thoughts did he imagine that one day his eyes would be opened. But that day came unexpectedly. Jesus came to Him, rubbed some wet clay into his eyes, and told him to go and wash in the pool of Siloam. By faith the blind man obeyed. Now it must have taken a lot of effort for a blind person to find his way to this pool which is on the southern end of the city. He had to grope his way through the busy streets. If he did not have faith in the words of Jesus, he might have given up. Then when he finally reached the pool and washed off the clay he opened his eyes, and for the very first time in his life he could see the light of day, he could enjoy beholding the wonderful sight of all things around him. 

This is actually a picture of how we were saved. Before our salvation we were just like that blind man. We were helpless in our state of sin. We were spiritually blind and incapable of doing anything to change our sinful condition. How pitiful our condition was, before the Lord saved us. But one day Jesus came into our lives and His command went forth 'Go wash yourself at the fountain filled with blood - the blood that I shed at the cross.' By faith we obeyed Him. We put our trust in Him, and when our souls were washed we immediately experienced the removal of our sins. For the first time in our lives we could see and understand the truth, we could enjoy the wonderful delights of our relationship with God. And we can now testify like the blind man did in v.25 'One thing I know, that whereas I was blind, now I see.' John Newton took these words and used them in his famous hymn 'Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.' 

Coming back to our text, we see how the Lord's amazing grace caused the man to see one thing more clearly than anyone else around him - Who Jesus really is. And in the end, he was the only one who worshipped Jesus. The experience of being healed and the intense questioning that he went through after that, made him realize who Jesus really is. At his first encounter with Jesus he had only heard His voice and felt the tender touch of His hands applying the wet clay to his eyes. When he came back seeing, Jesus had gone. 

Look at v.11 - When people asked him how he was healed all he could say at this point was that 'a Man called Jesus did it to me.' Perhaps he was still too overwhelmed with his new ability to see, that he had not fully grasped its implications. Now look at v.17 - after further questioning, it dawned upon him that Jesus must be more than a man - he now said, 'He is a prophet.' Look now at v.33 - When the religious authorities tried to convince him that Jesus could not have healed him, he became even bolder to reply to them, 'If this man were not of God, he could do nothing! 

Do you see how he had progressed in his understanding of who Jesus was? - no longer a man, no longer a prophet, but a special emissary from God. Look now at v.35 and 36 - When the man was cast out by the Jews, he was ready to confess that Jesus was not just a man, not just a prophet, and not just a special emissary from God, but the Son of God, the long-awaited Messiah of the Jews.

Finally in v.38 this man said to Jesus, 'Lord, I believe' and he worshipped Him. He now fully acknowledged Jesus as his Lord and master and more than that - as being God Himself who alone is worthy of worship. The Jews are careful not to render worship to any man as this would violate the 2nd commandment. If anyone would ever ask him why - Why do you worship Jesus and call Him Lord, he would be able to say, 'Because I have personally experienced His amazing grace - I was blind and without any hope at all, but now, through Him, I see!'

Perhaps there might be someone here who has never experienced that amazing grace in your life. Are your eyes still closed? Are you still blind to who Jesus really is? Perhaps you do not think that you are blind. And you have been fooling yourself into thinking that you can see, when you really cannot see who Jesus is. In our passage there were many people who were like that. They did not end up acknowledging Christ as their Lord. They did not worship him, unlike the man born blind who did. Let us consider who these people were, and as we do that I hope you will see: 

III. Your own need for spiritual knowledge and discernment (35-41) This is the third a.d final point of our message. There are altogether 3 identifiable groups mentioned here: (1) The neighbours of the blind man, (2) the Pharisees, and (3) the parents of the blind man. What was it that kept each of these groups from seeing who Jesus really is? 

Let us consider the first group -the neighbours. Look at vv.8-12. 'The neighbours therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged? Some said, This is he: others said, He is like him: but he said, I am he.' What made the man's neighbours so blind was their desire to seek a natural explanation for the miracle. In their minds it was impossible for a man born blind to see. So how did some of them explain it? It has to be a different man, but one who happens to look exactly like the blind man. Perhaps he had a twin brother who looked just like him, but was not blind. This healing was therefore a hoax, a fraud, a cruel trick rigged up to look like a miracle. So they asked the man for proof 'Where is he that healed you%sF Show him to us!' And he said, 'I don't know.' And perhaps they concluded that there must be something fishy about this if the man cannot show them the One who had healed him. 

This is perhaps the main reason why many today still refuse to accept the claims of Christ on their lives. They are blinded by their own personal rejection of anything that is miraculous or supernatural. They are convinced that they already know everything there is to know. Instead of believing in the miracle of Christ's resurrection from the dead, they try to explain that the disciples had stolen his body from the tomb and had made up stories that they had seen Jesus alive from the dead. But because they think they know everything, they remain totally blind to the life-giving truth of the gospel. What they need now is the work of God's grace to open their spiritual eyes, so that they may be able to see how utterly lacking they are in spiritual knowledge and discernment. As long as you insist that you know everything, you will not be able to learn and benefit from God's teaching and instruction. 

Beside the neighbours of the blind man, there was another group in our passage that also remained blind to the implications of the miracle. But their blindness stemmed from a very different reason from the neighbours of the blind man. It was a deliberate blindness, based on prejudice against Christ. Look at vv.13-16 'They brought to the Pharisees him that aforetime was blind. And it was the sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes. Then again the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. He said unto them, He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see. Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day.'

These Pharisees knew allkabout Jesus well, because they had been following His ministry and works closely from the time He began. Earlier in our study of the Gospel of John, we had seen that when Jesus healed the paralyzed man at the Bethesda pool, in chapter 5, the Pharisees already began to oppose Him, not because of the miracle itself, but because He had supposedly broken the law of the Sabbath day by commanding the man to take up his bed and walk. But Jesus was not a Sabbath-breaker. He had only refused to comply with their man-made rules about the Sabbath. God's commandment only forbade Jews to work for a living on that day. The Pharisees were the ones who added on many unnecessary restrictions to the Sabbath law. Even the most ins)gnificant actions were forbidden. So when Jesus chose to heal the blind man by making clay and applying it to his eyes, they were greatly offended and they turned against Him. 

Jesus could easily have healed the blind man without applying any clay to his eyes. He could have healed him by just speaking a word, 'Open your eyes and see!' as He had done when he healed other blind men. And the Pharisees would have had no problems with that. But to them even the act of wetting some dust from the ground to make a little clay with one's hands is forbidden on the Sabbath, because that is what a potter does in his work of making pots. This shows us that the reason why the Pharisees failed to acknowledge and worship Jesus is that they were prejudiced against Him. They had judged Him even before He proved Himself. Therefore to them, everything He did could never be right, even if it was clearly a great miracle. To them, Jesus could never be the Messiah because by their definition He had broken the Law and He was therefore a sinner. 

Unknown to them it was not they who had judged Jesus, but rather, it was Jesus who had brought judgment on them through this event. In v.39 Jesus reveals, 'For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.' That one act of making clay to heal the blind man was purposely done to bring out the dark spiritual blindness of these Pharisees which was due to nothing but their own personal prejudice against Christ. 

Sadly there are many people today who reject Christ for the very same reason: just because what He was and what He did does not fit into their own preconceived ideas or concepts of what the Saviour of the world should be and should do. Some are looking for a Saviour who will give them everything they want and will demand nothing from them. Others are looking for a Saviour who will recognize and praise their religious works of piety and devotion.

Perhaps there may be someone here who is like that. As long as you allow yourself to be prejudiced against Christ based on your own ideas of what He should be, and on human standards of judgment, you will remain blind to the wonderful truths about Him. If you do that, then according to v.41, your sin remains, no matter how much you claim to see the truth. What you need to do, is to simply and humbly receive Jesus as He is, without judging Him at all, but recognizing that He alone can meet your great need for spiritual knowledge and discernment. Then, you will receive sight and your eyes will be opened.

In our passage there was a third group of people who did not end up worshipping Christ. But what was it that kept them from having their spiritual eyes opened? It was not a refusal to believe that a miracle had really happened - because they were very closely related to the man and they knew that he was really healed. Neither was it due to any prejudice they had against Christ. 

Let us look at v.20-22 'His parents answered them and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind: But by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself. 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.' Why did the man's parents not join him in acknowledging and worshipping Christ for the wonderful way in which He had healed their son? After all they were the ones who hadkraised him up in anguish from birth because of his blindness. Should they not be most happy that their blind son could see? Yes. But there was an obstacle in the way - an obstacle that was so huge and so intimidating to them that they chose to remain blind to the implications of the miracle - it was their fear of the Jews. 

Did you know that fear can make a person blind? Sometimes people see something very significant, but because they are afraid of the consequences of acknowledging it, they look the other way and pretend that they had never seen it. It is so much easier and more comfortable and convenient, to pretend that it is not there. There are some people who do not want to take the step of acknowledging Christ as their Saviour and Lord, because of what others would think of them if they did. 

Perhaps there may be someone here like that. Per(aps you come from a very staunch non-Christian family that has faithfully kept up all the religious rituals and traditions for many generations. And then all of a sudden you are confronted with the truth of the Gospel and you have to decide what to do with it. But when you think about committing yourself to believing only in Jesus Christ, you realize that if you do that you will face the most awful opposition at home and even persecution from your loved ones. You imagine the angry words expressed by your parents, your siblings and spouse who accuse you of being the black sheep of the family. The thought of being labelled as a troublemaker or traitor makes you tremble. It makes you afraid to acknowledge the truth. And then you ask yourself, Is it worthwhile going through all that? If you allow your fear to overcome you, then you will say 'No' and continue on in life pretending you had never seen the truth. But you are only fooling and deceiving yourself. You are living a lie.

Please do not allow fear to make you blind to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is worthwhile to go through some emotional crises for a while and even to be cast out of your home for Jesus' sake, because you will not be left alone. Jesus Himself will give you the courage you need, the strength you need, the assurance and comfort you need. 

Just look at what happened to the man in our passage. Look at how different he was from his parents. Surely he knew, like his parents, that by confessing Jesus to be the Son of God, he would be excommunicated by the Jews, he would lose all his friends, and would be branded as an outcast of society. This could have been a frightening prospect to one who had just received his sight and was ready to begin a new life with the same capacities as all normal people. And yet he was willing to give up all that for the truth and for the sake of the One who had touched his life and opened his eyes. Here was a person who was true to his convictions, who refused to take the easy way out or to deceive himself. And for that he was cast out and was alone, rejected of men. 

But look at what happened in v.35: 'Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God?' The Lord Himself came to minister to him. Now the man did not know at first that it was Jesus who came to him, because he had never seen Jesus but had only heard His voice and felt His gentle hands rubbing his eyes with wet clay. So he responded in v.36, 'Who is He, Lord, that I might believe in Him?' Can you sense the earnestness and anticipation in his tone? 'I need to see Him, I need to trust Him, I need to commit my life to Him and follow Him, and learn from Him if only I can find Him.' What joy must have filled his heart when Jesus said, 'It is He that talketh with thee' 'I am the one!' That, to him, was more than enough to compensate for all the anguish of being cut off from society: To behold and worship His Saviour, His Lord. One item that has been in the news lately is the fast-spreading H1N1 flu, which has claimed 70 lives, infected over 8,000 people and has spread to 39 countries. It is difficult to stop this virus from spreading because a person may be infected without knowing it. By the time his symptoms have developed and become full-blown, he may have unknowingly passed the virus on to hundreds of people who did not have the slightest inkling that they were in close contact with a H1N1 flu carrier. We must be thankful that the mortality rate is only 0.16 %, though the authorities fear that the virus may become a deadly pandemic later on.

As we come to the end of our message, I would like you to consider how you can apply God's Word to your life. And to do please ask the same question that is found in v.40 - 'Are we blind also?' Are you blind to the wonderful works that God has wrought through Christ like this healing of the blind man? Are you blind to the amazing change that Christ has wrought in our own lives? Or are you blind to our own need for spiritual knowledge and discernment, because of your pride, or prejudice, or fear? If you can see these things, you will worship God like that man did. Let us therefore seek to see them clearly and not choose to remain blind to them. For as John Heywood said, 'There are none so blind as those who will not see' (1546, English writer).

Vision & Mission

 

To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

December 3 & 10 - Holy Living

Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 2 Peter 3:11