One of my classmates in third grade puzzled his teacher. She would be at the chalkboard and he would quickly lose interest. He seemed to have no attention span. He couldn’t read very fast and when words were put up on a screen he didn’t do well at reading that either. If a movie was shown in class he didn’t seem to pay attention. Yet, his homework was always done well. What was the problem?
Finally, one day, they figured it out. He needed glasses. He went to the eye doctor and I took the eye test. He couldn’t see anything on the chart. He thought that was normal for him. But when he looked through the lenses, everything became clear. The solution was eyeglasses.
It’s not uncommon for people to have problems with their sight. Many people lose their sight because of one reason or another. Imagine what it’s like for those people who are born without sight, born blind. A whole world has remained shut to them.
Today, we’re going to talk about blindness. In the Bible, there are two kinds of blindness – one kind is the physical kind. But there is another kind of blindness in the Bible, spiritual blindness. Jesus heals both kinds.
Jesus Heals Blindness
Jesus is with his disciples, and as he is walking with them, they reveal that they have a blind spot in their faith, a spiritual blind spot. “As Jesus was passing by, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” This was a common misconception at that time: if someone is suffering, it’s because he is being punished for a sin. The disciples saw that blind man, begging on the street, and this is what they assumed.
The disciples had a spiritual blind spot. They wrongly understood why bad things sometimes happen to good people. But here Jesus clears things up for them. He says, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that God’s works might be revealed in connection with him.” This man who was born blind from birth wasn’t being punished. God allowed this blindness to happen to him for a good purpose: so that God’s works might be revealed in connection with him, that God might reveal his love and power in this man’s life.
Do you have any spiritual blind spots? When you see someone suffering, do you say to yourself, “Wonder what did he do to deserve that?” Or what about when you are suffering – do you say to yourself, “God must be punishing me!” Today Jesus reminds us why bad things sometimes happen to good people: so that the work of God might be displayed in a person’s life. Sometimes God allows bad things to happen to someone, so that he can reveal his glory through that person’s situation.
A Christian woman goes into a hospital with a terminal illness, and while she is there, she is calm, she prays, she talks about her faith to others, she keeps her spirits up. Maybe she even surprises the doctors and gets better. God is glorified in her illness. Or maybe she dies. Even then, God is glorified, as the doctors and nurses watch her deal with death in a graceful way, sharing her faith and trusting in Christ. God uses bad situations in people’s lives to reveal his mercy and love.
Jesus goes on to tell the disciples: “I must do the works of him who sent me while it is day. Night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the Light of the World.” Jesus is the light of the world. He sheds light on the purpose of bad things in people’s lives. But more importantly, he sheds light on who God is, and how a person can find peace with God. Let’s see how Jesus brings light to this blind man’s life…
“After saying this, Jesus spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and spread the mud on the man’s eyes. “Go,” Jesus told him, “wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means “Sent”). So he went and washed, and came back seeing.” Just imagine what it was like for that man. Never in his whole life had he ever been able to see before. Now, a whole new world was opened before him. Now he could see people and trees and the sky and everything.
Jesus reveals his power here. He fulfills Isaiah’s prophecy that says the Messiah would give blind people sight. Every time Jesus performs a miracle in the Bible that was his way of showing people: I am the Messiah. I am who I say I am. Do you see why this man was born blind? It was so that Jesus could perform this amazing miracle, and reveal to people that he was the Messiah.
But the Jewish leaders refused to believe that Jesus was who he said he was. They were spiritually blind. Jesus was just a teacher, they thought. Bad things happen to people as a punishment for sin, they taught. They were spiritually blind. They questioned the man who had been healed, and they were confused. “How could Jesus be from God? He healed on the Sabbath!” They thought it was wrong to help people on the Sabbath. Can you see how blind they were? They cross-examined the man who was healed, asked him who he thought Jesus was. “He is a prophet,” the man said. The Pharisees were so angry when they heard this that they said: “You were entirely born in sinfulness! Yet you presume to teach us?” And they threw him out.
Much of our world is also spiritually blind and refuses to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Savior of the world; even though Jesus did amazing miracles that no one could discount, like this one. Even the Pharisees admit that he actually did these things.
Then there was that biggest miracle of all, when Jesus rose from the dead. The resurrection has never been disproven. The eye witness accounts, the unexplainable change in the personalities of the disciples from fearful doubters to confident Christians, all these things tell us that the resurrection really did take place. Yet, people still continue to reject the idea that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and he Savior of the world.
Why? It’s because of a birth defect. You and I and every single person in the world has a major birth defect. It’s spiritual blindness. The inability to see spiritual things. The inability to see that Jesus Christ is God and Savior. The inability to see the true way to heaven. This is spiritual blindness and every person in the world is born with it.
That’s why the Pharisees were being so stubborn; and that’s why people are so stubborn today. Have you ever wondered, why doesn’t that person believe? Can’t that person see what Jesus Christ has done for them? The answer: no. That person can’t see, because he or she is spiritually blind.
Jesus Christ comes into our world to heal people of their spiritual blindness. Many people refuse that help, like those Pharisees, and many people today. But there are those who are looking for help. Jesus heals those people. That’s what he did for that man born blind. If you think about it, he healed that man twice: first, his physical blindness, and then, of his spiritual blindness. In our Gospel lesson, after Jesus heard that the Pharisees had thrown the man out, he went and found him and asked, “Do you believe in the Son of God?” “Who is he, sir,” the man replied, “that I may believe in him?” Jesus answered, “You have seen him, and he is the very one who is speaking with you.”
Jesus cures this man of his spiritual blindness. He reveals to the man that he is the Messiah, the one who has come to save his soul. The man looked at Jesus and said, “Lord, I believe!” and he knelt down and worshipped. In his heart, that man became a Christian, a follower of Christ, and that was the biggest miracle of all. Now, he not only had eyes that could see, but he had eyes of faith, that could see Jesus as the Savior of the world.
That’s what Jesus has done for you. He has taken away your spiritual blindness. Why is it, that you are a believer? Why aren’t you spiritually blind, like most people in our world? We don’t deserve anything from God, because of our sin. If anything, we deserve to be punished for all the mistakes we have made in our lives. But Jesus comes into our lives, and changes us. He heals you of your spiritual blindness. He shows mercy and grace to you, giving you eyes of faith that see and believe in him.
Just like that man in the story, Jesus has opened up a whole new world to you. With eyes of faith, you now can see that all of your sins have been taken away by the Lamb of God. With eyes of faith, you now can see that you have been completely and totally forgiven by God, for all the mistakes you have made in life. With eyes of faith, you now can see that you are guaranteed eternal life. Jesus has taken away your blindness, and has given you the eyes of faith.
Now you can see that you have a God who works out all things for your good. Now you can see that even the bad things that happen in life, aren’t punishments for sin. Jesus has already been punished for your sins. No, those bad things in life are opportunities for God to display his glory, just as he did for this man in this story. Jesus has cured you of your spiritual blindness. Jesus has given to you a soul with 20/20 vision. A whole new world of faith has been opened up to you.
Treasure the spiritual sight that God has given to you. Reach out to those that are blind. Who knows, perhaps through you, Christ will heal another man, woman or child born spiritually blind. Amen.