Sermon on John 9:1-34, preached on Sunday, 27 January 2019.
Bible Readings: (OT) Psalm 71:1-24 / (NT) John 9:1-34
I. Jesus’ healing
II. Men’s hearing
III. Believer’s heartening message
A stark contrast is found in our text passage. Two sides run parallel to each other constantly. Jesus is on one side and the Jews on the other. There’s a constant tension between two sides and a constant rejection and enmity toward Jesus is evident from the Jews. But, Jesus stretches out His hand and reaches some from those Jews and, despite their resentment of Him, He heals them and saves them, thus, brings them over to His side, into His bosom, into His kingdom. This is an amazingly strange thing – one side hates the other, yet, the other side constantly reaches out and saves some and brings them over to the safe side. I said this is an amazingly strange thing because something like this never takes place in this material world. In this world, good is good and it cannot be bad, truth can never be falsehood, and there’ll be zero possibility of reconciliation. Yet, Jesus who is the Truth from above reaches out to those in sin who only seeks evil and falsehood; Jesus, the Light of the world, shines upon those in darkness! What a picture of amazing miracle we look at in this ninth chapter of John’s gospel!
This story of Jesus healing a blind man is a good example of what is said in Jn. 1:9 and following. Please listen carefully: “The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, yet the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him.” Then, v. 12 of Jn. 1 continues, “But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” The picture is that two sides run parallel; men reject Jesus, but He who is the Truth and Light reaches out those in darkness, heals some and welcomes them into His blessed rest! What a gracious picture this is! This has been the same since Jesus’ time; it is happening today, even right now. Jesus reaches out to people through His word and gives them faith as His gift, then, through their repentance and faith, brings them into His kingdom.
So, I want you to see what happened to Jesus and the Jews of this ninth chapter of John’s Gospel, and know how exactly the same reaction people make even now to the Saviour Jesus as did in the first century. Meanwhile, I want you to see how gracious our Lord is toward us, His people, and never changes in His grace. I’ll highlight two things – first, ‘Jesus’ healing’ in contrast to our second point, that is, ‘men’s hearing.’ Then, I’ll remind you of ‘believer’s heartening message’ as conclusion.
I. JESUS’ HEALING
The strangest yet greatest thing is Jesus’ healing the sick. It’s something that would surely blow sinful, selfish human mind away if its true nature is understood. Let’s be honest to ourselves and think about it. First of all, no man is able to lower himself/herself as did Jesus. No matter what people say, Jesus is God; He is the Lord of the universe. This God of glory and power came to a sinner, made His way toward this man on the street in Jerusalem.
Let me remind you that this man is a representative of all human beings. He was blind from his birth, representing all men and women born blind to the truth. He was also poor, begged on the streets, typifying all men born naked and unable to bring anything at our departure from this world, yet, while we’re here, we live in this resourceful and affluent world, but always search for more, feeling hunger in every way, never feel satisfied with anything. To this man born blind and poor, Jesus came; to us who are unsatisfied, unhappy, blind to the truth and goodness, God came and gave His hand and grabbed us up! By what of the world could this divine approach be described? Could this be illustrated by a king’s or queen’s hand stretched out to one of the crowds standing by the roadside? Or, by a multi-billionaire handing over a check to one of relief organisations? No, not at all. Jesus’ coming to this blind beggar, His approach to us, sinners, is nothing like those cases – it’s an act of sheer grace and mercy that has no suitable illustration to describe. God’s power and wisdom are so immeasurably great as revealed through the size and profundity of the vast universe, and He focused on this man, focuses on you and me, as v. 1 of Jn. 9 says, “[Jesus] saw a man blind from birth.” This ‘seeing’ is not accidental, but purposefully planned and Jesus our Lord intently locked His divine eyes and heart on him, like the way He does on you and me!
If this is understood, all other details of this story become sundry things. For example, how this blind man was healed and to where he was sent to wash his eyes and so on. The fact that the Lord of the universe, our Creator, came to him and visited us overwhelms all other details!
Some people might ask how we can be so sure about Jesus being God and Creator. At least a couple of undeniable evidences found in this passage answer to any doubting heart. First, Jesus’ healing is complete and perfect: second, His healing renews the sick, makes them born again. Let me briefly explain these two evidences. Firstly, Jesus’ healing is complete and perfect. See what happened to this blind man – his eyes were opened, not partially, but completely. He was born blind which means that he might’ve required some time – in fact, a long enough time – to allow him to adjust to that whole new optical sensory system because he had never seen anything in his whole life. But, as soon as he washed his eyes, he could see everything, acknowledge all people, having no trouble in harmonising his eyesight with his brain and nerve and muscular systems. He became like a person who had never lost his sight. Medically, it’s impossible; empirically, such is unheard of. Jesus’ healing displays His Creatorship in power and authority and wisdom.
Secondly, Jesus’ healing renewed this man. Having his eyes opened, he was no longer a beggar, no longer an outcast, but a free man. He stood in the Jewish court which wasn’t possible for a handicapped beggar to be, not because of his low economic status, but because of the Jewish unbiblical tradition of seeing man’s disability as unfit condition for their courts. But now, this man is free; he not only enters as a free man, but also speaks for himself and against his accusers. Jesus’ healing renews the sick, renews the beggar, frees the sinner who used to be the bond servants to death and eternal damnation! Do you see the power of Jesus’ healing? Everyone Jesus heals receives a new life as free man. With this new life and freedom, we now speak for ourselves; we speak against our accuser, the devil; we have no fear of him at all, but stand boldly against him as the Lord Jesus is on our side as our powerful Advocate!
So, Jesus heals and His healing is the amazingly greatest thing in the whole universe because the Creator God comes to us in His full grace and mercy! Healing our bodily infirmities is nothing, compared to His renewing our soul, freeing us to be with Him and live for Him!
II. MEN’S HEARING
Having said, I’d like to talk about ‘men’s hearing’ as the second point, praying that, by a clear contrast between men’s hearing and Jesus’ healing, you may see the power, blessing and beauty of Jesus’ grace even clearer.
If you remember this passage of Jn. 9, you’d be able to remember the Jews’ reaction to Jesus’ healing. What did they do? Simply put, they had four sessions of interrogation, asking the same question again and again in vs. 10, 15, 19 and 26. This man formerly blind but now free from his bodily disability as well as spiritual bondage to sin was asked three times by the Jews with this question, ‘How were your eyes opened?’ Then, later, they called his parents and asked the same question. What’s this all about?
It proves us one truth, that is, men hear what they like to hear and reject what they don’t like to hear. People often refer it as ‘selective hearing’ and everyone agrees that this ‘selective hearing’ is one of the major problems of humankind. Paulo Coelho, Brazilian writer, said, ‘Don’t waste your time with explanations, people only hear what they want to hear.’ A good example is with Franklin Roosevelt, a former President of the US. When he was in his presidential office, he complained about people not really paying attention to what was said. One day, he decided to try an experiment. As he was passing a long receiving line, he murmured to everyone he shook hands with, ‘I murdered my grandmother this morning.’ All guests responded to him and said something like, ‘Marvellous! Keep up the good work. We’re proud of you, sir.’
Funny, isn’t it? But that’s not what Roosevelt alone experienced, this man of Jn. 9, once blind but now free in vision and soul, experienced as well. The Jews asked him and his parents again and again only to hear what they wanted to hear. What was it they so desired to hear? They wanted to hear this: ‘Jesus is an outlaw! Jesus is not the Saviour and Lord of the world!’ That’s what they wanted to hear; that’s their selective hearing-aid inbuilt their depraved hearts was tuned to. But this man born blind but healed by the Lord said, ‘Jesus healed me.’ Yet, it never reached their eardrums. Likewise, the same message never reaches the hearts of people in our time.
Instead, people’s ears are tuned to only one thing, that is, sin. Men heed sin alone, nothing but sin. I guess one of the great fun things people enjoy is backbiting. Gossiping and slandering are fun, while deceiving and being malicious toward others are exciting. I’m sorry for being so antagonistic toward our own race of humanity, but that’s what we are by nature. This is an undeniable evidence of man’s fallenness in sin, our bondage to sin and death!
But, as Jesus the Lord visits such a fallen man/woman who used to be blind to the truth, hungry for more sins can hear the voice of God and Jesus! When Jesus heals us, when He renews our souls, we no longer find gossiping fun – no, we don’t! We no longer see our malicious nature a way we should keep and continue and destroy ourselves – no, not at all! We hear the Lord’s voice, learn from Him and know that we’re free from the power of sin, so we turn away from gossiping in repentance; we – as the Lord enables us – mortify our desire to be bad and malicious toward others. Our ears no longer are tuned to sin, but freely and joyfully hear the voice of our Saviour and Lord!
III. BELIEVER’S HEARTENING MESSAGE
To sum up, Jesus heals the sick, renews our souls. Like He visited the blind man of Jn. 9, our Lord Jesus did visit us and still comes to many people even today, intending to save them. What a gracious and joyful blessing!
We who believe in this gracious Lord, yet, live in the midst of this sinful generation must remember our Saviour’s grace and power. We should stand firm, therefore, in faith, joyful in the Holy Spirit. That’s what this man of Jn. 9 challenges us. Listen to what he says in vs. 30-33, being surrounded by his accusers yet standing firmly in faith, “this is an amazing thing! You [the Jews] do not know where He [Jesus] comes from, and yet He opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, God listens to him. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing”! What a beautiful testimony to Jesus’ lordship this is! This has to be our testimony.
Moreover, we ought to share Jesus Christ with the world around us, beginning from our close friends and neighbours, let alone our families. It is our task and privileged responsibility to help others have the same joy we have in Jesus, and encourage one another to live for the Lord more. And never should we worry about or fear for the world’s reaction to our faith. Let me lead you again to see this man of Jn. 9 as our example of spiritual courage. He testified to Jesus’ lordship to the ears of the unbelieving Jews, not fearing for their excommunication which meant a complete severance of his tie to his community because of his unyielding faith in Jesus. We’ll think about this man’s faith in more detail next Sunday as a good example for us.
Closing today’s message, let me encourage you to always remember how marvellously good and amazing Christ’s healing, His salvation, is. The more you remember it, the deeper your joy in Him will be. On the other hand, the clearer you realise the darkness of sin which enslaves all men, the greater you’ll appreciate your freedom in Jesus and rejoice! The light of Christ is shone upon us; Jesus has renewed us through His saving blood – my dear fellow Christians! This is the heartening message for us all who are in Jesus Christ our Lord! ***