Jesus is the light of the world (9:5) who has come to bring sight to the blind and light to the eyes. The healing of the lame man was a living parable to the world that Jesus can bring any person from darkness to light. Jesus has come to bring healing to our darkened, corrupt souls. The light has come to shine in the darkness (John 1:5). Very early in this gospel, John made this declaration about Jesus: “The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world” (John 1:9). The blind man in the story recorded in John 9 has responded to that light. When confronted with Jesus, the former blind man confesses, “Lord, I believe,” and worships Jesus as the Lord. True belief leads to confession and worship. To say this another way, the evidence of this sight, or the evidence of the light shining in this man, is that he confessed and worshiped Jesus. But the story does not end here. Notice that Jesus uses this confession to further teach those who are around him and this teaching is highly instructive for our spiritual condition.
Listen to what Jesus says after the former blind confesses. “I came into this world for judgment, in order that those who do not see will see and those who do see will become blind.” (John 9:39 HCSB) The light of the world was going to accomplish two things. First, Jesus as the light would bring sight to the blind. Second, Jesus as the light would bring blindness to those who see. Is this surprising to you? The coming of Jesus was the moment of truth. His coming as the light was going to distinguish who are blind and who can see. Now, one would assume that being blind is a bad thing. This is why the Pharisees heard Jesus say this and ask, “We aren’t blind too, are we?” (John 9:40). They ask the question in a way that assumes a negative answer. You are not saying that we are blind, right? We are not the ones who are blind! Now, wouldn’t you expect Jesus to say, “Yes, you are blind and that is your very problem?” But that is not how Jesus responds. Listen to what Jesus says.
“If you were blind,” Jesus told them, “you wouldn’t have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see’—your sin remains. (John 9:41 HCSB)
Jesus says the problem is that you see. If you were blind, you would not have sin. But since you say that you see, your sin remains. This is very confusing. What is Jesus saying? How can seeing be the problem? How can Jesus say that you need to be blind? This is the thrust of Jesus’ teaching that we must consider in our lesson today.
Jesus says that your problem is that you think you see. The Pharisees thought they could see without the light of the world. They do not think they need the light and therefore they do not have the light. When you are in the dark, you have to know that you are in the dark to turn on the light and to want the light. Have you ever been reading or watching television when the light outside is growing dim? You do not need the lights inside the house on yet and so they are not on. But an hour later, the room is getting darker and darker and you do not even realize it. Someone will come in and say, “Do you need the light on?” Suddenly you look around and realize how dark it is. But you did not know you needed the light. You cannot know that you need light until you recognize you are in the dark. This is the problem Jesus is identifying. Those that know that they need the light will see the light of the world. But many think they can see when actually they are sitting in the dark. If these people would acknowledge their blindness, they would have been made to see, that is, forgiven of their sins. But because they do not recognize their blindness, they remain in their sins. This pictures what the work of the Savior would be when he came. Listen to the prophecy of Isaiah:
Thus says God, the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it: “I am the LORD; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.” (Isaiah 42:5–7 ESV)
The Pharisees were missing the messianic message. The Savior was coming to open the eyes of the blind and bring out prisoners from the dungeon. The blind are the ones that will see the light. The prisoners are the ones who will be set free from their sins. For these religious leaders to not know they were blind reveals that they had not read the scriptures. The scriptures are clear that we are blind and imprisoned to sin. We need the Savior to set us free and forgive us! But they did not see this. They were blind because they thought they saw.
The concept Jesus is teaching them is very simple. You cannot be made healthy until you admit you have a sickness. If you think you are well, you can never be healed. I have a toe that has been hurting me for a few months now. But because there are days that it feels pretty good, I think I am getting better. I am never going to the doctor as long as I think I am going to be okay and that it will heal itself. I am only going to go to the doctor when I finally admit that it will not heal itself. Jesus is going about trying to shed light on the fact that we are all sick and blind. We are dying in our sins. We will never be healed by Jesus if we think we are okay. We will never receive the help we need from the Great Physician if we think we are well. When we do not see our condition, then our sin remains. We must have a total dependence on Jesus. This was the very condemnation of the Christians in the city of Laodicea.
For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. (Revelation 3:17–18 ESV)
These Christians thought they were rich and could see. Jesus says that they were wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. They did not see their true spiritual condition. They needed to see their condition so they would be clothed and see again. Jesus will heal as soon as we will recognize that what we are doing in life is not working and we need him. Now consider that Jesus is speaking to Christians in Revelation 3. Also consider that Jesus is speaking to the religious leaders who know the Law of Moses in John 9. He is not saying that the world is foolishly believing that they see (which is certainly true). Jesus is saying that we are the ones who might be foolishly believing that we see. So we must stop and reflect if this could be said of us. How can we know if we think we are seeing the light of Christ, but are actually blind? I want to give three areas to consider from the scriptures that can show if we have been healed by Jesus to see or whether we think we see but are still blind.
1. When we do not love one another, then we think we see when we are actually blind. When we do not love one another, then we think we see when we are actually blind. “Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes” (1 John 2:10-11). These were people who thought they were Christians but did not show love for one another. They thought they saw but the darkness had actually blinded them. If we are not loving one another, then we think we see when we are truly blind.
2. When we lack the fruit of the Spirit then we think we see though we are blind. Listen to how the apostle Peter describes it in his second letter. “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins” (2 Peter 1:5–9 ESV).
First, we are blind if these qualities are not ours and increasing. Otherwise we are ineffective and unfruitful. Please notice that Peter says that these qualities are to be increasing. A lack of spiritual growth in our lives indicates a serious problem. We must examine the characteristics that Peter gives and evaluate our growth. If we are not able see growth, then we think we are Christians who see, rather than the truth of the matter that we are lost in the darkness. Verse 5 commands us to make every effort to add these qualities to our faith. We must continue to supplement our faith with these qualities that God wants us to adopt.
Second, we must see our condition. We must never forget our condition. This is the problem Jesus is facing in John 9. They think they are spiritually well and have no need to rely upon Jesus. They do not see Jesus as the one who saves and heals. We must never believe that our current condition of salvation and being children of God are by our own works. Without Jesus we are dead. Without Jesus we are lost. Without Jesus we are doomed. Without Jesus we are condemned. We must never fail to see this truth.
3. When we lack a desire for worship, we show that we think we see even though we are blind.Worship is the last action we see concerning this formerly blind man. What was his first impulse when he was healed of his blindness? His first impulse and desire was to worship Jesus. If we are not desirous to worship Jesus, then it shows we are still in the dark. It shows that we think we see even though we remain blind. People who have come to the light and truly see because they have seen the light of Christ worship Jesus. They live a life full of worship to Jesus. If we do not desire worship, then we are still walking in the darkness, not aware that we do not have the light of Christ transforming our lives.
If you are not seeing this transformation in your life, please get in the Word of God. If you believe that you thought you saw but are beginning to realize that this is not the case, get in the Word of God. Pray to God for your sins and ask his help to strengthen you to seek him. The scriptures are the tool that will strengthen you and change your life to be increasing all the more in the ways that God has called you to live your life. Please run toward God. Let us help you do that. Let us help you grow in your faith so that you can draw closer to your Lord.