Jesus Helps Us See
3rd Sunday in Lent
Jesus Helps Us See
1. His power
2. His love
Text: John 9:1-7, 13-17, 34-39
I think it would be safe to say that there is no person in this world who does not suffer from some sort of physical ailment. We heard the morbid words on Ash Wednesday, “Remember that you are dust and to dust you will return.” We are reminded of our mortality nearly every day as we each struggle with our physical problems.
Everyone has at least something that causes suffering. Cancer. Heart problems. Strokes. High cholesterol. Acid reflux syndrome. Allergies. Gluten or dairy intolerance. Arthritis. Failing eyes. Failing ears. Bulging discs. Pinched nerves. High anxiety. Depression. Migraine headaches. I won’t go on. We might start hurting just thinking about all of our various problems.
Needless to say, we all know what it is like to suffer. This means that we also all know what it is like to need help. We have impairments and ailments and handicaps and shortfalls. So we beg for people to help us. We beg for God to help us. “Help please! Take away this suffering!”
Today we meet a man who had been suffering. He had been suffering his entire life. Verse one tells us that this man had been blind from birth. Verse eight, which is not part of our verses today, tells us that this blind man used to sit by the roadside and beg every day. That was a common thing for the poor and needy in those days. That’s common in our day too. The only difference is that in those days it was more common to actually give people food and money when they were begging.
The disciples had a very common question for Jesus about the blind man: “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” This is the way humans think. You get what you deserve. You are rewarded for doing good and punished for doing bad. But this one confused them. If his parents sinned, that wouldn’t be fair that he was punished with blindness because of his sin. Yet if he was the one who sinned, it must have been the sinfulness he was born with because the man was born blind.
Don’t we think like this too? “What have I done, Lord? Why are you doing this? Why me? Why am I going through this? What have I done to deserve this? How could you let me suffer like this? I even say my prayers and go to church and try my best. Why won’t you do anything about this?”
What a terrific moment for Jesus to teach his disciples both then and now. Verse three: “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
Teaching point number one: We don’t have cancer or arthritis or heart troubles or migraines or bad eyesight because we did anything sinful to deserve it. This is an imperfect world of sinful darkness. Because we are living in a world of sin, we are going to suffer the ill effects of sin.
Teaching point number two: God’s power is so great that he can even use our troubles and problems. We don’t think about our problems that way, especially when we are suffering through them. Who wakes up with arthritic pain every day and is glad to be so sore they can’t move? Who likes to go to chemotherapy treatments? Who likes to see half their home destroyed by a tornado or hurricane? When we are suffering we usually focus on the problem, not the bigger plan.
But as you look back in your life, how many times has God used trouble and trial for your good? I know for a fact some of you experienced tragedy or disaster and that drove you to seek a relationship with God. Some of you grew stronger and more resilient in your faith as God pulled you closer through adversity. Sometimes we are given a much-needed dose of humility when God brings us to our knees. Sometimes we are simply reminded to be thankful for the blessings we do have in life. What Jesus said about the blind man applies to our lives too: “This happened so that the work of God might be displayed.”
Look how Jesus displayed his great power here. John is careful to report for us that this man had been blind from birth. This wasn’t someone who had fuzzy vision. This wasn’t someone who just lost his eyesight. No one would be able to doubt this miracle because everyone knew that this man absolutely could not see and had been that way his entire life.
Jesus spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. How do you show a person who can’t see that you are going to do something special for his eyes? It’s like the time Jesus healed a man who couldn’t talk or hear by touching his tongue and ears. Jesus was making it clear to the blind man that he was doing something special for him. And having told him to go and wash in the Pool of Siloam, the man found that he could suddenly see.
The work of God was on display. In God’s bigger plan, that man had been born his entire life so that Jesus could use this moment to teach. He taught the disciples that it is the darkness of sin that clouds our world and causes problems. He taught the disciples that he is the Light of the world who has the power over all pains and problems of sin. Jesus also instantly taught this blind man that he was someone special who had power even to heal a life long birth defect.
Jesus teaches us today too. All of us suffer. There is no one in this room who doesn’t have some kind of ailment or sickness or disease or condition or pain that we suffer through. Jesus Helps Us See his power today. Turn to him. He can help. He can heal.
At the same time, it is very important that Jesus Helps Us See his power in his bigger plans for our lives. His mind is greater than ours. His plans are bigger than ours. Even when we have pains and problems, God uses them so that the work of God might be displayed. Open your eyes of faith to see Jesus, the Light of the world and all of his power.
After Jesus healed this man, there was still some confusion about what had happened though. Some of the people brought the man to the Pharisees. They were none to pleased. They already didn’t like Jesus very much. Then they were upset because Jesus did this on the Sabbath day and broke their manmade Sabbath rules. They didn’t like to think about Jesus having power and they didn’t like being told by the healed man that Jesus was a prophet.
But the formerly blind man was also confused about Jesus. In verse 35 Jesus asked him, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.” After all the miracles and teaching that Jesus had done, even after healing this man, he stilled didn’t know who Jesus was.
There’s a good teaching moment here too. This man got what he wanted. He had been blind his whole life. He wanted to see. But even though Jesus healed his physical blindness, the man still could not see. He was spiritually blind.
We certainly need to watch for this in our lives. How badly do you want Jesus to heal your problems? Wouldn’t it be nice if he took away your arthritis? What if he made you feel young again? What if you had no health problems at all? That would be terrific! But it wouldn’t help you much if Jesus helped or healed you with every little physical problem yet you were still spiritually sick. If you don’t see Jesus clearly as the Light of the World, then you are still blind and in the dark.
Look at how much love Jesus showed this blind man in the story, helping him to see. First he found this man begging in his blindness and gave him the gift of sight he had always hoped for and wanted. But then Jesus found him a second time. We find out in verse 35 that after the man had been interviewed by the Pharisees and thrown out, Jesus went and found him. He knew that though he could now physically see he was still spiritually blind. So Jesus actually took the time to go and find this man and finish the work.
Here’s how their conversation concluded: “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.” Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.” Think about it, your whole life you had been wanting to see, and now you finally you were healed and you can. But your whole life you had also been carrying the guilt of your sin and you had been hoping the Messiah would come, and now finally he’s standing right in front of you! “Then the man said, ‘Lord, I believe,’ and he worshiped him.” When Jesus opened the man’s spiritual eyes he instantly believed and started to worship Jesus.
Jesus has shown this kind of love for you. At some point in your life, he sought you out and found you. For some of us that happened very early when we were little children. For some of you that happened much later in life. For some of you that happened only recently.
But this is the love of Jesus, that he uses events in our lives to bring us to him. Some of you had a major life crisis or event. Some of you received a postcard in the mail. Some of you learned through your children. We all needed to see our Savior because we all were spiritually blind. But it was Jesus who has worked in different ways in our lives to prepare us to hear him say, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.”
This is why Jesus came. “I have come into this world so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” Those who think they can see already will continue to be blind. But for those of us who know we were blind, Jesus has given us sight.
Jesus Helps Us See today. Jesus Helps Us See his love. Just as he sought out the formerly blind man and revealed himself as the Savior of the world, so Jesus has sought us out and found us. He has revealed himself to us as the Light of the world that shines in the darkness. He has shown us that his life and death paid for all our sins. He has shown us that he is the path to heaven. We once were spiritually blind, but now we can clearly see him as our Savior.
John Newton lived quite the life. He was born in London in 1725. His mother died when he was just seven years old. At age 11 he went to sea with his father who was a stern shipmaster. By age 17 he had enlisted in the Royal Navy. For various reasons he experienced many hardships being beaten, imprisoned, starved, and treated like a slave. He grew up under such harsh conditions that he himself became a slave trader and ship captain and he lived a very godless life.
One night he had a terrible day at sea. There were storms. Water was coming into the ship. It was getting harder to steer. He was staring death in the face. It was on this day that he was reading in a book about Jesus, remember things that his mother once taught him when he was a child. Newton turned to the Lord in prayer.
His life was changed from that point on. Soon after he married his childhood sweetheart. He then became a deacon in the church and even a priest in the Church of England. John Newton even wrote a number of hymns about Jesus and God’s grace. One of his hymns details the journey of his life. At the end of the first stanza he wrote, I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see. We’ll sing John Newton’s famous hymn Amazing Grace in a few minutes.
John Newton’s story is the same as the blind man’s story, and the same as our story, too. When we are in trouble and need healing, when we are in trouble and our ship is sinking, Jesus is the one we can turn to because he has the power to help.
But more importantly, like John Newton and like the blind man, Jesus has sought us out and found us. He has had a bigger plan for our lives, to use even our pains and problems to bring us to him that we might see the works of God on display. Jesus has revealed himself to us as the Light of the World. We once were lost, but now we are found. We were blind but now we see.
So keep your eyes on Jesus. He has the power to help. He has the power to heal. Even better, he has the love to forgive and the love to save. See Jesus, the Light of the World.
Posted on March 24, 2014, in Church, Sermons and tagged Amazing Grace, Blind, Blind Man, Blindness, Church, Disciples, Eyes, Eyes of Faith, Jesus, Jesus Heals a Blind Man, John, John 9, John Newton, Sermons, Sight, Sin, Spiritual Sight, Vision. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.