Opening Our Eyes
Introduction: Postmodernism & Signs
In the west there is a rising skepticism in the findings of science, archeology, history, and etc. As postmodernism thought grew there has been a generation of people who are skeptical or cynical of anyone who claims to truly “KNOW” something. In many ways strong doctrines or convictions seem out of place. Surprisingly this has led many to be more open to existential realities. You can now find many people who are open to “spiritual” things. They may not see these realities at the same level of science or logic, but they cannot be so easily dismissed anymore. The reason is important for our text today (and really this entire section of John) is there are a rising group of people who will see things like “SIGNS” as an important part of their spiritual journey.
And what is the purpose or function of a sign? A “SIGN” is something symbolic that points us to a greater reality or truth. When you are driving on a long trip, and begin looking for something to eat, you may see one of those “blue” signs that list the places to eat off that exit. Now we all know we do not stop at the sign to eat, but the sign is communicating to us a reality. If you stop to eat at the sign you would be extremely disappointed. There are SEVEN key signs in John’s Gospel, and today we will see the SIXTH. And I think what John hopes for us to see is…
Theme: Belief in Jesus Christ opens our eyes to infinite realities.
1. The Sixth Sign—John 9.1-7.
In order to understand the SIXTH sign we need to remember the context. Jesus and His disciples are still at The Feast of Booths. It is there Jesus publicly declared in John 8.12, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Jesus said this, as flaming torches are high above the Temple walls. Today Jesus gives us a SIGN of the reality He spoke in John 8.12.
Jesus and His disciples see a blind man, and disciples ask Jesus a weighty theological question (John 9.1-2). They are wondering who’s sin has caused this man to be born blind. In their minds there is no such thing as a victim of a sinful world. Jesus’ response was disproving some false doctrine taught by their religious leaders—READ John 9.3. Jesus teaches them that some suffering is the results of living in a sinful oppressive world and not directly related to our sin. While there can be physical suffering as a result of sin this is not one of those cases. An example of this would be someone who spent 20 years doing drugs, even if they repent, they may still face physical problems as result. Sometimes our sinful choices have consequences that will not go away until heaven.
Jesus Christ sees this man’s suffering and has the power to do something about it—READ John 9.5-7. Jesus told us in John 8.12 if we follow Him we will no longer walk in darkness, and now He is physically demonstrating that reality to us.
The author also gives us another subtle truth by telling us the meaning of the pool this man sent too. God SENT Jesus into the world to do this very thing—open the eyes of the BLIND. And Jesus SENDS His disciples into the world to do the same thing.
2. The Interrogations—John 9.8-34.
The next section opens with people questioning the validity of the miracle (John 9.8-9), so the question the man who was healed (John 9.10). He tells them about the Man who healed him, and they want to know where He is (John 9.11-12). The ancient world also had many skeptics like we do today. Many people doubted the reliability of the witnesses of Jesus. The crowd ends up doing what many of us would do—they turn to the leading authorities or scholars—the Pharisees (John 9.13).
The Pharisees do not start an investigation, but more of an interrogation. Our author, John, has already revealed to us the agenda of these religious leaders:
And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath…This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.—John 5.16, 18
They don’t want believe this sign done by Jesus because it would require them to admit they are wrong about who Jesus is. Interrogators are usually presumptuous—stiff-necked people. Presumptuous people usually know they would lose something they are attaching their identity too. And whenever we are attaching our identity to something other than God, our Creator, we are clinging to what the Bible would call an “IDOL.” We are no longer children of God, but slaves to something else. We cease to become investigators and become interrogators instead.
Now there are 3 interrogations. The FIRST interrogation is in John 9.13-17. Their motives are revealed in this interrogation and it is the same as it was in John 5. But other religious leaders are divided on what to think about Jesus (John 9.16). The former blind man is clear on what he believes—READ John 9.17.
Their SECOND interrogation is found in John 9.18-23. In this one they decided to call in this man’s parents— READ John 9.18. It is clear the religious leaders are hoping they can bust the man in some type of scam. But the parents affirm it is there son, and he was born blind. They refuse to give their opinion the matter and John tells us why—READ John 9.22. They knew they would be excommunicated from the synagogue. This quote might help us understand how serious this was:
“…being excommunicated from synagogue worship was an extremely serious penalty in that fiercely religious culture. It meant a far-reaching reduction of social as well as religious life, and, in their eyes, probably forfeiture of standing with God. The man himself, however, was ready to pay that price.”—Milne, p. 140
This was a very serious decision for this man and his parents. It reminds me that following Jesus is costly. Many times it means we can lose friends, family, social status, clients, job promotions, and so much more.
The FINAL interrogation is in John 9.24-34, and they bring the former blind man back. I love this part a lot because I think this former blind man kicks the Pharisees butts. He takes their own worldview and uses it against them—READ John 9.31-33. He encourages them to search the OT and see if they have ever seen anyone do this. There are various laws about what to do with someone is healed from blindness in the Torah, but we do not see it actually happen. Now we know he kicks their butt by their various “PETTY” responses. They resorted to name calling, because they were embarrassed they got their butts kicked. It is also here we see where the disciples got their false doctrine from—READ John 9.34. Just a subtle reminder of the danger of false teachers.
3. The Reception & Rejection—John 9.35-41.
The former blind man has just gone to bat for a Man he does not even know. All he knows is, “I was blind, now I see” (John 9.25). But what John tells us next is absolutely beautiful timely grace—READ John 9.35. The Pharisees had falsely excommunicated this man, Jesus heard about the injustice, and He sought him out.
It is here Jesus takes his healing into a deeper reality. As great as it to have our bodies healed it fails in comparison to having our souls healed. Friends we must never forget our bodies and souls are. Anyone with chronic physical illness will tell you the toll it takes on your soul. And anyone with chronic soulful illness will tell you the toll it takes on your body. Jesus has the power to heal both, and order to do that we must be able to see “The Son of Man.” Daniel 7 tells us “The Son of Man” is a ruler who will usher in the kingdom of God—riding the world of all things that keep us oppressed. Obviously the man is extremely excited about meeting this “Son of Man”, and Jesus says you are looking at Him (John 9.37). Earlier this man could not see, and now he can literally see Jesus!
All throughout this chapter we see the purpose of the sign being revealed. But at the tail end here it all comes together so clearly. The man healed from his physical blindness was also able to see greater spiritual realities, but those who could physically see moved into greater spiritual blindness—READ John 9.39-41.
Friends, I think it is important to remember a few things here at the end. First, let’s not forget John’s agenda, “…these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God” (John 20.31). Second, so maybe you have not yet believed, but feel like something is changing inside of you, then dear friend, God could be opening your spiritual eyes. If that is you, then let’s investigate to see if that is what’s happening. Finally, for those of you who already believe please remember having our eyes opened is a lifelong process. Becoming a Christian is like being born. We do not come out of the womb understanding the world instantaneously. No, we must grow up, mature, get guidance, direction, and so much more. The same is true for the kingdom of God. If you are not growing, then talk to someone and let’s investigate to see how God might be growing you. Our goal will not be to “interrogate” you, but walk with you through it. May God continue to open our eyes to a world full of infinite realities by revealing more of His Son, Jesus Christ.