Saturday, April 23, 2016
"None Is So Blind" Sermon: John 9:35-41
“None is So Blind”
April 17, 2016 Second Reformed Church
We are considering the last section of the history of this blind man that John tells us about: Jesus met this blind man along the road and revealed to the disciples that he had been born blind that God would be glorified in Jesus’ healing of him. So, Jesus sent the man to be healed, and he came back sighted.
The Pharisees were angered because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, and they interviewed the man and his parents to find out if the healing was real, and what the man concluded about Jesus. And the man told the Pharisees that he believed that Jesus was a prophet from God. The Pharisees were angered by his answer and excommunicated him from the Temple and thereby the formal worship of God.
Jesus had left when the Pharisees were brought in, but Jesus was not done with the man, and we see, first, this morning, Jesus made it clear to the man that Jesus is the Son of Man.
“Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ He answered, ‘And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?’ Jesus said to him, ‘You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.’”
Jesus had been keeping track of the man as he was interviewed by the Pharisees, and once they cast him out of their presence, Jesus again came to the man, because Jesus was not done with him. The man had understood that Jesus was from God, he regarded Jesus as a rabbi and a prophet – one who spoke for God and spoke the Word of God, but it does not seem that the man had fully understood Who Jesus is, and Jesus wanted his spiritual, as well as physical eyes, to be opened.
So Jesus asked the man if he believed in the “Son of Man.”
Well, Who is that?
We may remember that Jesus’ favorite title for Himself was “the Son of Man” – Jesus called Himself “the Son of Man” more often than anything else.
Ezekiel was called “the Son of Man” 93 times by God, and this prophet is a type or a foreshadow of the Messiah – the Christ.
Daniel had a vision that told Who the Son of Man is: “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. 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” (Daniel 7:13-14, ESV).
The Son of Man is a human, Who came from heaven, Who stands before God, and He is sovereign over everything and everyone and all peoples, nations, and languages shall eternally serve Him.
The fulfillment of this text is found in the Gospels – as Matthew records it: “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me’” (Matthew 28:18, ESV).
The first century Jews understood the “Son of Man” to be the Messiah – the Savior – and they were correct. The Savior is a human being Who stands before God, Who came from heaven, Who is Sovereign over everything that is and was and shall ever be, and He has a kingdom of people who are His eternally. Including a certain blind man.
Jesus was asking if the man believed in the promised Savior. And the man said that he did – and he asked Jesus Who “the Son of Man” is, and Jesus told the man, “you’re talking to Him.” Jesus told the man – most plainly – that Jesus is the God-Man, the promised Savior – the One Who stands before humans and God -- Who intercedes for us and makes us right with God – if we believe – the Sovereign God Who saves a people for Himself.
One of my doctors is an Orthodox Jew, and during my visit this week, he said, “I don’t think you’ll mind my asking: do Christians believe that Jesus is the Messiah?”
And I said, “Yes, we believe that Jesus is the Messiah, and He came the first time to reveal Who He is, and He will return to judge and to restore the Creation.”
And he said, “You may not know this, but Jews don’t believe that Jesus is the Messiah; we believe that Messiah will come about the year 6,000 (on the Jewish calendar – about 200 years or so from now) and set up his kingdom then.”
Do you believe in “the Son of Man”?
Do you believe in the promised Savior?
Do you know Who He is?
Do we take the opportunities to ask other people if they believe?
If we can ask people about their family and friends and jobs and that strange mole they were having looked at, can we not also ask them the most important question in anyone’s life – do you believe in the Savior?
Once Jesus told the man that He is “the Son of Man,” everything fell in place for him, and we see, second, the man believed savingly and worshipped Jesus.
“He said, ‘Lord, I believe,’ and he worshiped him.”
The man understood that Jesus is the Savior and He is God – the One God Who is worthy of worship. No pious Jew would ever have worshipped a human being unless they knew – without a doubt – that this Man – is also the One True God.
The man had his spiritually blind eyes opened, and he understood that the promised Savior was both God and human at the same time in the same person.
Among our friends, we may have Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons. Both of these religions say that Jesus is the Son of God. Both of these religions think Jesus is very important and a holy man. But they stop short of saying He is God Himself – so they do not worship Him as God.
Jesus received worship as God from men and women while He was on earth: we will remember as we looked at the Resurrection account, Jesus met the women on the road from the tomb and they clung to His feet and worshipped Him. Jesus received this worship from them because He is God and it is right to worship Him – not simply to adore Him or hold Him in high regard.
Once our spiritual eyes have been opened and we believe in Jesus – as He is taught in the Bible – we believe with our minds and our hearts and worship God our Savior – we proclaim the worth of Jesus because He is God the Savior.
Jesus continued, third, by explaining why He came into the world.
“Jesus said, ‘For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.’”
Our first reaction to this might be to say, “Wait a minute – didn’t Jesus tell Nicodemus that He did not come into the world to judge the world? Isn’t that what we say – that Jesus came to reveal Himself now, and the judgment will occur when He returns?”
What was recorded about Jesus and Nicodemus?
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God” (John 3:16-21, ESV).
What we have here is a statement that Jesus did not come to condemn the world. He did not come to condemn the whole world. He did not come to condemn those who will be cast into Hell. He did not come to enact the final punishment deserved by those who never believe.
However, Jesus does judge – Jesus does make distinctions among people – just like we do – right? We say, “Don’t judge people,” but we make a distinction between male and female, honest and dishonest, short and tall, and so forth.
In John three, Jesus judges – He does not condemn eternally, but He makes a distinction: that is, the Light came into the world – Jesus came into the world, but the people preferred the darkness because they desired and loved evil. Everyone who hates the Light, hates Jesus, because He exposes what is evil. Everyone who loves the Light, loves Jesus, because He leads us in righteousness.
So, judgement is made.
Here, Jesus told the man that His judgment comes to two ends – He distinguished between two types of people based on their reaction to Him: the blind are given sight, and those who can see are blinded.
Now, Jesus didn’t mean that literally. What Jesus was saying is that His presence – the presence of the Light in the world, would free those who knew they were blind spiritually and wanted deliverance – they would see, but those who claim to see perfectly well, but denied Jesus, would have their spiritual blindness confirmed.
We may be familiar with the quote popularized by the Puritan commentator, Matthew Henry, “None so blind as those who will not see” (http://www.quotecounterquote.com/2011/04/none-so-blind-as-those-that-will-not.html).
Henry used this quote several times in his commentary on the Bible in regards to passages such as this – meaning that the person who is most blind is the person who could see but refuses. There is a self-inflicted blindness of the soul being referred to in these passages that makes the individual all the more guilty for his blindness.
Isaiah had a call to the ministry that paralleled this idea:
“And [God] said, “Go, and say to this people: “‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”
“Then I said, “How long, O Lord?”
“And he said: “Until cities lie waste without inhabitant, and houses without people, and the land is a desolate waste, and the LORD removes people far away, and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land. And though a tenth remain in it, it will be burned again, like a terebinth or an oak, whose stump remains when it is felled.”
“The holy seed is its stump” (Isaiah 6:9-13, ESV).
This is Isaiah’s call to the ministry from God: “I am sending you to preach to my people, and as you preach their deafness and blindness will be solidified, and they will completely turn away from Me. And you are to continue to preach with everyone hating you and turning away from Me until 90% of them are taken into captivity.”
Similarly, Jesus came to preach that those who are blind would come to spiritual sight, and those who claimed to be sighted would be convicted of their spiritual blindness – to the end that they would kill Jesus.
Some of the Pharisees heard what Jesus was saying to the man, and we see, finally, those who refuse to admit their need for and belief in Jesus as Savior will bear their own guilt.
“Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, ‘Are we also blind?’ Jesus said to them, ‘If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, “We see,” your guilt remains.’”
The name, “Pharisees,” means “the set apart ones.” The Pharisees were the pastor-theologians of their day. They kept themselves separate from the common people, studied the Old Testament, and strived to keep all of God’s Law. Although we use the word negatively today, it was not originally negative. It came to be synonymous with “hypocrites” as certain Pharisees – as we see in the New Testament – became more concerned with their interpretations and additions to God’s Law than God Himself.
In that light, the Pharisees asked Jesus is they also were blind. “Yes, we understand that this sinner was blind, and You have healed him. We understand that the common person in Israel is a blind sinner. But You aren’t saying that we – the best educated, most law-abiding people – are also blind, are You?”
Jesus explained that if they were blind – if they acknowledged their blindness and their need for a Savior – a need for His healing of them – they would be enlightened – made sighted – they would be forgiven for the guilt of their sin and received into the Kingdom of the Savior. But since they say they are not blind – since they insist that they are perfectly sighted, then the guilt of their sin will be held against them – they will have to pay the debt for their own sin – apart from the Savior.
There was another time when the Pharisees were complaining that Jesus was eating with tax-collections and sinners, and we read, “And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners’” (Mark 2:17, ESV).
Unless someone recognizes that he is sick – sick even with a sickness unto death – he will not seek out a doctor. People who are sick, but believe they are well, do not go to a doctor.
How urgent is it for us to know and tell others that without Jesus, we are dead and blind and sick and scheduled to bear the debt for our own sins – something we can never do?
The man born blind received his physical sight from Jesus, but, more importantly, he came to understand that Jesus is God the Savior, and the man believed in Him savingly and was saved from the debt of his sin.
If the blind man had not believed that he was desperately in need, he never would have been able to receive the message of salvation from Jesus. People who think that they have everything under control will not seek or except help – especially if it reveals that they are truly in need, after all.
But that is the message we are all called to believe and tell others – we are born sinners – at odds with God – and the only way we can be made right with God is by believing in Who Jesus is and what He did for our salvation as recorded in the Bible.
If we have believed, shall we go out on the roads and call people to believe and repent?
It may be that God has planned to save a CEO or a homeless person or someone here this morning through our witness to Jesus.
Let us pray:
Almighty God, we thank You for causing us to see when we were spiritually blind. Thank You for breaking us and causing us to see the need that only You can fill. Give us wisdom as we go throughout the streets that when we meet people we would have the right words to direct them to You – to show them their need of You – and we ask that You would be pleased to save all Your people through our proclamation of Your Gospel. For it is in Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen.