a more conventional treatment of this passage can be found in our Life of
Christ study. As I promised the class I would not rerun lessons – the Word of
God is ever new – this lesson takes a somewhat different approach.)
see this morning the virtues of a man with an overwhelming handicap. He’s
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.
8His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging
asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” 9Some claimed that he was.
Others said, “No, he only
looks like him.”
But he himself insisted, “I am
10“How then were your eyes opened?” they demanded.
11He replied, “The man they call Jesus made
some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went
and washed, and then I could see.”
12“Where is this man?” they asked him.
“I don’t know,” he said.
13They brought to the Pharisees the man who
had been blind. 14Now the day on which Jesus had made the
mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath. 15Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his
sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see.”
16Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is
not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.”
But others asked, “How can a
sinner do such miraculous signs?” So they were divided.
17Finally they turned again to the blind
man, “What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.”
The man replied, “He is a
18The Jews still did not believe that he had
been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man’s parents. 19“Is this your son?” they asked. “Is this the one you say was born
blind? How is it that now he can see?”
20“We know he is our son,” the parents
answered, “and we know he was born blind. 21But how he
can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. Ask him. He is of age; he
will speak for himself.” 22His parents said this because they were
afraid of the Jews, for already the Jews had decided that anyone who
acknowledged that Jesus was the Christ£
would be put out of the synagogue. 23That was why his parents said, “He is of
age; ask him.”
24A second time they summoned the man who
had been blind. “Give glory to God,£”
they said. “We know this man is a sinner.”
25He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or
not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”
26Then they asked him, “What did he do to
you? How did he open your eyes?”
27He answered, “I have told you already and
you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his
28Then they hurled insults at him and said,
“You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! 29We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t
even know where he comes from.”
30The man answered, “Now that is remarkable!
You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. 31We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the
godly man who does his will. 32Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes
of a man born blind. 33If this man were not from God, he could do
34To this they replied, “You were steeped in
sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out.
35Jesus heard that they had thrown him out,
and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
36“Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me
so that I may believe in him.”
37Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with
38Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and
he worshiped him.
39Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind
will see and those who see will become blind.”
40Some Pharisees who were with him heard him
say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?”
41Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now
that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.
will approach this passage from an unconventional direction: we will follow
the story from the point of view of the blind beggar.
it like to be born blind? We have in our midst those who were born with grave
afflictions, like cerebral palsy. In our time the wealth of our society makes
life more tolerable for such people, but I submit that we have not really taken
away the pain of such things.
man born blind in this society must become a beggar. Imagine that; all
your life is spent knowing that you continue to eat by the charity of
others. The disabled in our day all seem to want a job; something by
which they can hold up their heads. This man had no such opportunity. He
lived by the art of making others feel generous.
in youth, this man would have been a laughingstock – the kid who couldn’t
play soccer. Children can be extremely cruel. Being “different” is often
the worst of crimes. Worse, there was no hope of ever fitting in with the
his day – and, perhaps to your surprise, in ours – the question of “who
sinned?” is raised by the good and the pious. Either somehow the blind
man is the sinner, or the parents he loves were such sinners that God
punished them with a blind child. The “tsk-tsk” of the saintly can be
Suffering for sin
do we put this burden on others? Because we know, ourselves, what sinners we
are. We can look at them and see ourselves – only “they” were singled out by
God for such punishment. In the time of this man there was a theory extant
which held that the soul was eternal (it isn’t; you have a beginning) and that
therefore prenatal sin was possible. (Similar theories drive the reincarnation
our modern time we call the selection random, and explain it scientifically.
This, I think, misses the point. It may be interesting to known why I am
afflicted with this or that, but the real question is not , “Why?” The real
question is, “Why me?” Job knew why his children were not coming home. He
didn’t know why he was singled out.
– to be fair to God about it – it would have made no difference if he had
known. The dinner table would be just as empty with an explanation.
Outside the box
world has put this man, and his parents, into a little box marked “Sinner – and
paying for it.” Jesus takes them out of this box. He explains to his
disciples that this man was born blind – so that the glory of God might be
that seem unfair? A man is blind for over thirty years, all so that someone
else might see the glory of God?
little we esteem the glory of God in our day! In past times it was thought a
noble thing to build a cathedral to the glory of God. The architect of Notre
Dame de Paris is anonymous – for his work was for the glory of God. We would
ask why he didn’t put up a brass plate with the name of the architect and his
firm. But our ancestors knew better than that. Here we see the prime
purpose: that God’s glory would be “made manifest” – made clear and plain – to
one and all.
blind man becomes the monument to the greatness of God; in his economy, God
uses the weak and powerless to proclaim his power.
The blind man revealed
is revealed in action. In action we shall see what this man was made of.
might seem to you that this man would not be noted for great faith. I submit
that his behavior shows us the opposite.
you notice what he didn’t do? He didn’t ask any questions; he didn’t
question his motive or methods – but he obeyed.
– you might ask – did he come by such simple obedience? One question
answered with another: how did he know Jesus’ voice? After all, he never
saw Jesus until he hunted him up. Jesus told him to go to Siloam. He
knew Jesus’ voice because he had been listening to him teach in the
Temple. He was a student at the Master’s feet.
virtue is simple obedience to divine command. By the use of clay Jesus
reminds him of the creation of Adam; by washing, he puts in mind baptism
for repentance. These are pictures which penetrate the blindness and
bring this blind man his sight.
Attack on the blind beggar
the phrase in our time goes, “No good deed goes unpunished.” We can see that
the touch of the Master has changed this man; we see it in his response to
those who insist that Jesus cannot do such things.
first attack is upon the miracle itself – it can’t be the blind beggar,
but someone who looks like him. There must be a trick here. In this,
however, the transparent honesty of the man shines out. When he
identifies himself, those around know the voice.
is always the possibility that the blind beggar is a fake. Perhaps his
parents taught him how to act blind and beg. But they are called in also,
and their reputation for honesty is such that all believe them when they
tell the Pharisees the truth.
charge of trickery having fallen, the Pharisees now challenge the
righteousness of Jesus. Our blind man is a simple soul; whether or not
the man is a sinner, how should he know? But one thing he knows, and one
thing he testifies to: he was blind, now he sees. This objection was
it was too tough for the Pharisees. Rather than let this miracle
influence them any more, they throw the man out.
Defense: the character of a man of faith
the most dramatic aspect of this miracle is not the sight in the man’s eyes,
but the transformation of the man into a bold speaker. He has spent his life
being subservient, begging with sightless eyes. Now his eyes are opened, and
he quickly grows bold.
also see here the growth in faith. His perception of Jesus changes as he knows
he is “a man.” It’s an important point, and a good start.
he is “a prophet.” This he is also, and shows us that the beggar puts him
in the highest category of God’s servants. But there is more.
he is “Lord.” As he draws closer to Jesus, the truth becomes plain.
is characteristic of one who truly knows Jesus Christ that they divide those
around them. Christ did not come to bring peace, but a sword.
Lessons from the blind man
can learn from this man.
Walk in the light you have
don’t know all about Jesus Christ? Join the group. Here’s what you can do
with what you know:
obedient. This man did not challenge Jesus, but did as was commanded.
the witness of what you have seen and experienced. The man did not
understand the theology of this – but he knew one thing. He was blind,
but now he wasn’t. Testify to what Christ has done in your life.
not fear to admit your ignorance. Correct it if you can, but in the meanwhile
understand that God will reveal himself to you progressively, lest you be
Don’t be afraid
facts, after all, are the facts.
man did not back down or compromise, despite all threats. Even when his
family passed the buck to him (what must they have thought of him?) he was
bold. Quite a change for a beggar!
that you, like this man, are sent for a task. Siloam means “sent” in
Hebrew; when God touches you it gives you a responsibility.
paradox is still there; he who would save his life will lose it; he who
would lose it will save it.
Remember the Judgment
man did not take his new-found sight and use it to judge others. Perhaps years
of begging had taught him about the log in his sightless eye. The cure for
spiritual blindness is to bring it to God and have it removed.