John 9:1-7, 13-17, 34-39
… 39 And Jesus said, "For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind."
I like daylight savings time. I like the longer days, the greater amount of time—not just for pleasure but also for work. Yet even with daylight savings time, you only have so much time to get things done—before it gets dark. Thus the half-mowed lawns testify.
Jesus in the lesson this morning spoke of the work the Father had given Him to do while it was day—because the night was soon coming when no one can work. For us, it is still day. Jesus, the true light that gives life and light to men, still shines in this world through the preaching of the Gospel. But make no mistake. Night is coming—the night when we enter our eternal rest in Christ Jesus—either when we die or when He comes again. There’s so much to be done and so little time! Our children need their Lord and Savior. Our friends need the sweet comfort of their sins having been washed away in Jesus’ blood. Our coworkers and neighbors need the seed of God’s Word planted in their hearts.
Yet as we go about the urgent work the Father has given us in our various callings in life, there’s no need to worry or panic. In the end the work isn’t up to us. It’s up to the light of Christ shining forth in Gospel. Even as we head for the darkness of our eternal night—our eternal rest, the True Light still shines. It shines (I) that the blind may see, but also (II) that the seeing may become blind.
- That the blind may see.
One Sabbath day Jesus and His disciples came upon a man who was blind from birth—who had never seen a sunrise or a rainbow in his entire life. So Jesus, the Light of the world, gave sight to the man who was born blind. Jesus rubbed a little mud he made from his spit on the man’s eyes and told him to go wash in the Pool of Siloam. And the results were straightforward. The man went; he washed; and he came back—seeing! The true Light still shines so that the blind may see!
Yet there was more than just a physical healing going on here. Later on, after the man was kicked out from before the Pharisees, when Jesus found him again, the man wanted to know who the Son of God—who his Savior—was. So Jesus revealed Himself to Him. “You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you,” Jesus said (v. 37). Right at that moment, with the spiritual eyes of faith opened by the words of Jesus, the man said, “I believe,” and worshiped Jesus on the spot (v. 38).
And yet the events of that day weren’t just about that man who was born blind. It was also about His disciples. They were blind too: blind to the true purpose of this man’s physical blindness. The disciples were of the commonly held opinion that bad things happen to bad people and good things happen to good people. But by healing the man of his blindness and opening the man’s eyes of faith Jesus opened their eyes too: to see the truth of His words, that the man was born blind for a reason: so that the works of the Lord could be revealed in his life (v. 2-3).
The Light of the world still shines so that the blind may see. To this day there are people who are born blind. To this day there are people who are affected by diseases like glaucoma and macular degeneration that lead to blindness. To this day there are people whose eyes just don’t quite work right—nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, cataracts, and so on. Jesus didn’t cause these things to happen. Nor is there such a thing as karma—where if you send out bad actions into the universe, those actions are going to be returned to you in some totally random, unrelated way. We live in a sin-filled fallen world; and for us to completely avoid the consequences of that is impossible. The word of God clears away our blindness about that fact.
And yet there are no coincidences either. The physical problems we have are allowed to happen so that the works of God might be displayed in our lives. Jesus by healing this blind man showed Himself to be the true Light of the world. He showed Himself to be the One who came to this earth to defeat the ultimate cause of blindness—sin—at the battle of the ages on the cross. And in the glory of Christ’s own resurrection from the dead, we can be sure that sin—in all its manifestations—has ultimately been defeated. We can be sure that when Jesus comes again and we are raised up in glory, that all our eye issues have been dealt with. There will be no more blindness, no more glaucoma or cataracts, no more bifocals and trifocals, no more annoying contact lenses! Instead, we will see the light of Jesus with our own eyes!
It’s in that certainty that Jesus, the true Light of the world, has taken care of our own spiritual blindness, hasn’t He? It’s in that gospel certainty that He has opened our eyes of faith, leading us to trust His words, to say, “I believe,” and to worship Him. And as long as that Light—the Light of Christ Jesus, the good news of what He came to this earth to do—as long as that Light continues to shine, you and I can be sure that the blind will see. The Holy Spirit will open people’s eyes to see the works of God’s grace in their lives. That they see it’s not about good things happening to good people and bad things happening to bad people; it’s about good things and bad things happening to sinners by the grace of God for their salvation. It’s about the worst things happening to Jesus in their place so that they can have eternal life.
Yet at the same time what’s a person’s natural reaction if they’ve been sitting in a dark room for a long time and then all of a sudden they’re dragged out into the light of day? That guy’s not going to want to open his eyes, is he? Yet when it comes to the effect of Christ’s salvation, the true Light still shines not only to open the eyes of the blind to see, but also
- That the seeing may become blind.
The Pharisees believed that they could see. That’s what was frustrating them about the whole situation. After learning about this particular miracle of Jesus, they were divided. Jesus had “worked” on the Sabbath—by making mud out of spit and rubbing it on the man’s eyes. How could a Sabbath-breaker be from God? some argued. Others were basically saying, “How could He not be from God?” So they called in the man who Jesus healed and asked him what he thought. And so he let the light shine of what Jesus had done for him.
At that point, the Pharisees should have been able to see. They knew the Scriptures—they knew what God’s Word had said about the coming Messiah. They knew what Isaiah said in our reading for today about leading the blind and turning their darkness into light. They should have been happy to hear about how those words were now coming true!
But the Pharisees thought they could “see” better than the man who stood before them. They said, “You were completely born in sins, and are you teaching us?” (v. 34). He had no right to lecture us, they thought. They saw this man as being a sinner—while they, of course, were not. After all, bad things happen to bad people right? And wasn’t this man born blind to begin with? Having their eyes opened to the Light of Christ would have meant seeing themselves as they really were—as sinners. And so the Pharisees reject Jesus Christ, the light of the world.
So it is that Jesus’ coming into the world becomes the basis for judgment. Since Jesus was put to death for our sins and raised for our justification, there’s really nothing left for us to do but to have our eyes of faith opened by the light of God’s gracious assurance that the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sins. But in order to receive that assurance, you have to have sins to be purified from, right? How do people usually first react when they first hear that they’re sinners or that something they’re doing is a sin? “No I’m not!” “No it’s not!” Some just change the subject; others lash out in anger at having the bright light of truth flipped on over their head. They can “see” just fine on their own, thank you very much. They don’t need the light of Jesus in their lives.
But as they fumble around in the darkness they’re just showing how spiritually blind they really are. Their rejection is not on you; it’s not even on Jesus; it’s on them. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 Jn 1:8). And if they persist in that rejection, they will remain spiritually blind for all eternity.
Yet the true Light still shines—that the “seeing” might become blind. We keep putting God’s Word before them in the hope that they may ultimately see their own spiritual blindness for what it is and be brought to repentance and, in the end, salvation. That in confessing their sins, they would come to know Him who is faithful and just to forgive them of all their sins and cleanse them from all unrighteousness (1 Jn 1:9).
So we continue to work while it is day, doing what the Father has given us to do, caring for and loving the people He has placed in our lives, reflecting the light of Christ to them in our daily callings, knowing that some eyes will be opened by it and that some eyes will remain closed to it. It’s urgent work. But in the end it’s not up to us. The true Light still shines. Nobody stopped Him from being the Light of the world to this man; no one will stop Him from being the light of the world even when night comes, and with it our eternal rest. Amen.