Greetings, everyone! Welcome to Friday’s edition of EDiBS, and God’s grace and peace to each of you in our gracious, peaceful Redeemer Jesus. As we continue today on our journey through the gospel according to John, we’ll be closing out our week by coming to a new section of Scripture with newly compelling material to consider regarding the Person and work of Christ. As we’ve been saying throughout this study, the fact that the Bible proclaims Jesus to be God is an important issue that is as relevant to you and me today as it was to John’s readers in the first century. Thanks so much for being here today; let’s pray as we open God’s Word.
Heavenly Father, as we thank you for this day and for this time to be in your Word, we ask that you would give us clarity of mind and openness of heart as we study. Fill us with all wisdom and spiritual understanding as we endeavor to learn from you today. In Christ’s precious name we pray, amen.
As we get started today, we’re moving into John 9, a chapter all about what it means to truly see. Our focus: the man blind from birth.
1As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" 3"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. 4As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5While I am in the world, I am the light of the world." 6Having said this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man's eyes. 7"Go," he told him, "wash in the Pool of Siloam" (this word means Sent). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.
When I was in college I worked for a time with a young woman who was on a pretty hard-core journey in search of spiritual truth. She had examined several different belief systems, but when she got to Christianity and started to explore the person and work of Jesus Christ, she was quite taken with it, and it was only a matter of time before the Holy Spirit, through her time in the Scriptures, brought her to faith. This young lady, whom I’ll call Jasmine, really began to delight herself in the things of God – but one aspect of her new Christian faith that she struggled with for some time was the whole idea of divine judgment and retribution. She had grown up in a family deeply rooted in the principles of Hinduism, and as such she had a strong sense of the idea of Karma. What comes around goes around. You always, ultimately, get what you deserve, good or bad, from the things you’ve done. “Karma” actually means deed or act, and while I’m just brushing the surface in describing it, the point of my bringing it up is that Jasmine tended to view whatever she was experiencing in life as either reward or punishment from God based on her actions. That’s a far cry from grace and mercy – and it took her a very long time to understand that in Jesus Christ the truth had truly made her free.
Verses 1-2: In today’s reading we come to a situation in our Lord’s ministry where He and His disciples encounter a man who has been blind since birth. As I said a moment ago, this incident will carry us all the way through this ninth chapter of John, and Jesus will ultimately use it as a point of reference in describing spiritual blindness. But the way things are kicked off for us here come in the form of a question – a misguided question asked by the disciples. “Rabbi, Teacher, who sinned - this man or his parents - that he was born blind?” This Karma-like idea was wrong, of course, but it was nonetheless a commonly held belief by the Jews in the first century stemming from their incorrect interpretations of Mosaic Law.
Verse 3: Notice, then, that the first thing Jesus does in response to this inquiry is to debunk the incorrectness of that idea. Neither this man nor his parents had sinned, we see in verse 3. In fact, the reason this has been allowed to happen was actually for a good, divinely orchestrated, impactful purpose: that the work of God might be displayed in the man’s life. We’ll see over the course of the chapter that there will be both positive and negative fallout resulting from what is about to take place, but for the moment, Jesus is setting up an important teaching moment for us, one which is covered in the next two verses.
Verses 4-5: What we see in verses 4-5 is that our Lord uses the example of this blind man’s life to declare the great calling God has given all of His people – the calling to shine the light of Christ into the darkness and blindness of a world in need of His saving love. God has chosen us as His instruments to fulfill that most important task, and what Jesus says to us here in the text, in keeping with the metaphor of blindness and sight, of darkness and light, is that these things must be done while there is time to do them; these things must be done while it is still day. Why? Because when night comes, no one can work. What does the Lord mean by that statement? Well, let’s keep working the metaphor here. The “day” for you and me is our time here on earth – whatever number of years the Lord has ordained us to have. While we have the day - that is, while we are alive and able to be witnesses for Christ and to shine His light - we are to passionately go about those tasks for which God has called us. Why? Because when the night comes - that is, when our time on this earth is finished and we enter eternity with our Savior - though it will be a wonderful thing for us, our opportunities to shine Christ’s light into the lives of those who need Him will be over. Thus, there’s a sense of urgency about our Lord’s words here, and again, He is using the example of treating this man’s physical blindness as a way to share the importance of treating the spiritual blindness so rampant in the world. He is the Light of the world – and we have the joy, the privilege, and the responsibility to reflect His light into darkened, blinded lives. More about that to come, but for the moment let’s move on.
Verses 6-7: When we come to verses 6-7, we next see the actions of our Lord, don’t we. Here we have the description of how He performs the miracle to restore this man’s sight and make him whole. And though we don’t know why Jesus uses the method that He does, though we don’t know why He doesn’t simply speak healing into the man’s eyes, though we can’t definitively say why He spits and makes mud and sends the man off to the pool of Siloam, we do see faith in the response of this man to our Lord’s instructions – a marked contrast to the scene of unbelief that dominated our time in chapter 8. Our introduction today ends with the man returning home, having followed Jesus’ instructions, with the result that he now sees. There is another result as well: the stage is now set for a compelling drama to unfold, and we will follow it step by step in the days ahead.
As we wrap things up and head into the weekend, let me encourage you to take some time today to think about blindness. What do you suppose it’s like to not see? What kind of impact would blindness have on your life? Now, take those ideas and apply them in a spiritual way. What is it like to not see the truth? What is it like to not see God as He has revealed Himself – as Savior, as Friend, as Forgiver, as Leader? What kind of impact would spiritual blindness have on your life?
Do you need help to see today? Do you know someone who is spiritually blind? God is shining the light and love of His Son upon you today. Receive it, reflect it, and rejoice in it – and come home with your eyes having been opened! Have a great couple of days of worship, work, and family time, and God-willing I’ll see you again come Monday. Until then, the joy of the Lord be your strength! Take care!