Sermon on John 9:13-41 – “The Blind and The Seeing”

January 26th, 2020 at First Presbyterian Church at Unionville, NY (BPC)

Sermon Text:

[Jhn 9:13-41 ESV] 13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 14 Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15 So the Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, “He put mud on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” 16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them. 17 So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.” 18 The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight, until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight 19 and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” 20 His parents answered, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. 21 But how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” 22 (His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.) 23 Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.” 24 So for the second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner.” 25 He answered, “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” 26 They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 27 He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” 28 And they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29 We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” 30 The man answered, “Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. 32 Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” 34 They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out. 35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” 38 He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. 39 Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.

OUTLINE:
THE OPINION OF THE PHARISEES (v. 13-17)
THE OPINION OF THE PARENTS (v. 18-23)
THE OPINION OF THE MAN HIMSELF (v. 24-34)
THE TRUTH OF CHRIST (v. 35-41)

INTRODUCTION

In so much of John’s Gospel the question of the identity of Jesus is paramount.
Is he a man?
Is he the prophet?
Is he the messiah?
Is he the Son of God?

Now, following Jesus’ miracle of giving sight to the man born blind, we find again a discussion of who Jesus is.

And to outline that discussion, we see that there is:

THE OPINION OF THE PHARISEES (v. 13-17)
THE OPINION OF THE PARENTS (v. 18-23)
THE OPINION OF THE MAN HIMSELF (v. 24-34)
THE TRUTH OF CHRIST (v. 35-41)

I. THE OPINION OF THE PHARISEES (v. 13-17)

They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind.

Who are “they”?

The text is referring to “the neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar.”

And now in the text we find out that this healing, like the healing of the man at the pool of Bethesda (in John 5), was done on the Sabbath day.

This, like last time, certainly will be a problem for the Pharisees!

So the Pharisees ask the man how he received sight, and he explains “He put mud on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” I love the simplicity of his response.

Here then we come to the OPINION OF THE PHARISEES on who Jesus is. “Some of the Pharisees” that is.

They say “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.”

But the Pharisees are divided. While some take that route, others say “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?”

So there is a division among the Pharisees. Their opinions are mixed.

This is like so many things we investigate in our lives. When we decide upon a restaurant to visit or a politician to vote for, we look at the positives and the negatives that we know of. But our knowledge is limited, and often it is hard to decide. So we might ask somebody else who we perceive to be “in the know.”

So the Pharisees decide to ask the blind man himself. He was there. He saw (no pun intended) the miracle happen.

They ask, “What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes.”

His response—again to the point—is simply, “He is a prophet.”

II. THE OPINION OF THE PARENTS (v. 18-23)

But the Jews didn’t want to take the man’s word for it. They didn’t believe he was healed until they talked with his parents. This means that once they did talk with the man’s parents they DID believe he had been healed.

They ask the parents, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind?”

We must remember that in this society lying was dangerous. Especially to authorities, whether political or religious. So these are not some actors hired to be the man’s parents. These are actually his parents, and they know him best.

So they say “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. But how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes.”

They, like their son, speak very much to the point. They are good honest people. And so they do not presume to know HOW their son was healed, but merely that he was healed. For the “how” they say “Ask him, he is of age. He will speak for himself.”

Now, this is a good time to break to note something incidental to the story. The man is “of age.” The parents are no longer required to support him, as when he was a child. He has been supporting himself. Though it is by begging, it is still by himself. From this descriptive statement alone about an element of the Jewish culture at the time it is difficult to conclude anything prescriptive for our own time. But we can perhaps say it is a general principle of the Scriptures that parents are obligated to provide for their children before they are “of age” but are not obligated to provide for them once they are “of age.” And, ideally, parents are to train their children in godliness so that the children can live well independently. It does no good to pay for your children’s expenses when they should be old enough to pay their own way. But I digress from the story. So let us return.

On the theme of “opinions.” We find that the parents offer up no opinion of Jesus. They might not even know anything of him, although you’d think their son would have said something.

The text explains also in verse 22 that they feared the Jews, “for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.”

III. THE OPINION OF THE MAN HIMSELF (v. 24-34)

So we move to the son, the man himself who was born blind. And we want to know what his opinion is of Jesus.

The Pharisees come to the man and say “Give glory to God. We know that this is man is a sinner.”

“Give glory to God.” They are saying – tell the truth!

And then what they say reminds me of a sneaky police detective who brings in a suspect for interrogation. And the detective hopes to get a confession out of the suspect by declaring with confidence “we know you are guilty.” “You might as well just confess.” And the detective doesn’t even know for sure, but uses this as a tactic to get a confession.

So the Jews, who had just be shown to be divided on the question of Jesus, now declare with over-confidence that “we know that this man is a sinner.” They’ve forgotten (intentionally) about the dilemna that they’ve gotten themselves into. On the one had, Jesus has performed a miracle. On the other, he’s done it on the Sabbath; against the traditions of the Pharisees. So is he of God or he is a sinner? The Jews say, “we know that this man is a sinner.” But what does the formerly blind man himself say? What is his opinion?

He responds, again with brevity, “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.”

The conversation the devolves into taking sides. The Jews continuing to call Jesus a sinner, and the man arguing that since God has listened, Jesus must be of God. He says “If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”

And we’ve seen before what the Pharisees do when they lose arguments. They resort to name-calling and violence. He they say to the man “You were born in utter sin, and would teach us?” And they cast him out.

It makes you wonder, why did they ask him in the first place if they didn’t want to hear him out?

So we have the man’s opinion. Jesus is “from God.”

IV. THE TRUTH OF CHRIST (v. 35-41)

Now comes one of those many sections of Scripture that fit under what might be called “The Great Reversal.”

The man was cast out. But Jesus takes him in. It is the Pharisees who will be cast out of the Kingdom.

The man was blind, but now sees. (Physically and spiritually). The Pharisees claim knowledge, but are blind to the truth.

Each is part of the great reversal.

The blind see, and those who think they see are shown to be blind.

And now we come to the Truth from the mouth of Jesus. The opinons have been set down, but now we have the truth.

35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.”

Jesus is the Son of Man. This is not just an opinion, it is the truth.

Now to understand this phrase “the Son of Man” we must look back to the book of Daniel.

[Dan 7:13-14 ESV] 13 “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. 14 And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.

This is the truth of Jesus. He is given dominion and glory and a kingdom that shall not be destroyed.

CONCLUSION

What then is the response? The response of the man was born blind is the worship Jesus. God had spiritually given him life and his reaction is to believe in Christ and worship him.

Some of the Pharisees then overheard Jesus talking about the great reversal:

“For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see my become blind.”

And the Pharisees respond, not in belief, but in questioning Jesus: “Are we also blind?”

Jesus responds, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ you guilt remains.”

Calvin explains the meaning of this: “If you would acknowledge your disease, it would not be altogether incurable; but now because you think that you are in perfect health, you continue in a desparate state.”

This is what we see time and time again. Pride. Pride prevents people from coming to the truth. They believe they are strong. But, as the song goes “we are weak, but HE is strong.” That is another way to say this “great reversal.” We are weak, but He is strong. We were blind, but He made us see. We were lost, but now are found. The Lord has done all these things. We, like the man in this story should worship the Lord Jesus Christ.

APPLICATION on OPINIONS

This text gives me an opportunity to talk about “opinions.” There are opinions and then there is the truth. And we must always keep this distinction in mind. Each person has an opinion, but Jesus Christ has the truth. He IS the truth, and it is in his word that we come to know the truth.

We must be guided by His truth in all that we do. Especially in worship. It is a long principle of the Presbyterianism that we are to worship according to the truth of God’s word. We do not get to decide how to worship God based on our own opinions of what we think He might like, but we are regulated by the Scriptures according to His truth.

And in our lives, we too should follow God’s truth. We may have opinions on certain matters of life, but these can never override God’s commands for us.

There is no book of 1st Opinions, or 2nd Opinions in the Bible. Each book is of the Lord. When it comes then to things in our life that are specified in the Scriptures, then we must follow God with all fiber of our being. But when it comes to competing opinions — one man has one preference for the style of his house, and another man has his own preference — in those cases there can be compromise. A person should not fight for every opinion, but only fight for the truth.

So let us live in good accord with others, and let us live in accord with the commands of God.
Amen

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