We have been looking at Jesus’ miracles which John tells us serve as important signs revealing both Jesus’ identity and mission. Today we are looking at the story of a man who was born blind (John 9). There are three important people in this passage, and we learn something from each.
 From Jesus’ disciples we learn about the source and purpose of suffering. They (like we) assumed that people must have done something to deserve their suffering. This belief is rooted deep inside many of us; some call it karma. There are huge problems with this assumption. It fosters pride and self-righteousness among those who presently are experiencing a trouble-free life. But it’s not consistent with reality—there are plenty of good people who suffer, and plenty of evil people who prosper. This assumption that particular sin results in particular suffering is incredibly cruel; it takes compassion and pity out of the equation. Jesus rejected that whole premise (v. 2-3). Although this man’s suffering wasn’t the result of particular sin, Luke 13:1-3 complements the truth found in John 9:1-3, yielding an incredibly nuanced understanding of suffering. When God created the world, there was no suffering (Gen. 1-3 and Rom. 8). Mankind’s sin (in general) is the root cause of general human suffering. That’s why Jesus could say, “Repent”—because of our fallen sinful state, we all deserve death. But John 9 balances this general truth showing that particular suffering is not necessarily the result of particular sin. All things—including suffering—work together for the good of God’s children. We may not understand it this side of eternity; there is a mystery to suffering.
 From the Pharisees we learn that spiritual blindness is a heart-problem (v. 13-34, 39-41). They cannot see what is plain and obvious because they are spiritually blind. Spiritual blindness means that we’re dead spiritually. We’re physically alive and we’re physically seeing, but we’re spiritually dead until he gives us his life, and as a consequence, we’re spiritually blind. Spiritual life and spiritual sight go together. Until the Holy Spirit opens our eyes spiritually, we can’t see the reality of sin and the reality of grace. The Pharisees evidence this; despite a genuine miracle, they refuse to believe in Jesus. They had a serious case of spiritual pride: “You’re nothing but a sinner. We’re not sinners. We’re disciples of Moses. How dare you lecture us? What do you know about anything?” Only when the Holy Spirit opens our eyes does our sin become real to us. We see the corruption in our motives. You begin to feel guilty. There’s all this pride and self-righteousness. While previously you may have agreed that you were a sinner in a general sort of way, now you see it clearly, and it brings a sense of guilt. But along with this guilt comes the beauty of grace. Because when sin becomes real to you, grace also becomes real. It becomes beautiful! It becomes not just an abstraction, it changes you.
People who are brilliant and successful are at a great disadvantage spiritually, while those who are the most disadvantaged by the world’s standards are the most advantaged. Why? Because Jesus saves people who know that they desperately need a Savior. The people who admit that they’re not good, and that they need a savior—they’re the saved ones. But brilliant, successful, proud people are at a disadvantage because the gospel says that we have nothing to commend ourselves to God; it’s sheer grace. The proud Pharisees retorted: “Are you saying that we’re blind?”, and Jesus said, “Because you say you’re not blind, you are.” Their spiritual vision was impaired, but they were unwilling to admit it and go to the doctor. So, there was no hope for them. The deepest blindness is blindness to your own blindness. If that describes you, I am deeply concerned for you.
 From the blind man we learn that God wants to heal more than physical problems. From v. 35-38 we know that Jesus also healed this man’s spiritual blindness. Had John not added this last little bit about worship, we wouldn’t have gotten to the heart of the issue of spiritual blindness and spiritual sight. Don’t overlook how astounding it is that a Jew would worship another human being! He clearly saw Jesus’ deity, and that’s truly amazing! This is the ultimate healing of spiritual blindness because worshiping the wrong thing is the ultimate cause of our blindness. Worshiping the right thing, the God- man Jesus Christ, is the cure to spiritual blindness. Only then do we see moral unacceptability before God. Only as we worship God as our supreme joy in life do we find our sight clearing.
APPLICATION / CHALLENGE
- Reject the idea that sin in particular causes suffering in particular
(even though it is true that sin in general causes suffering in general).
- Realize that until the Holy Spirit opens your eyes spiritually,
you cannot see the reality of sin and the reality of grace.
- Ask God to open your spiritual eyes so that you can see clearly,
just as he opened the eyes of the blind man in John 9.
TAKE ONE STEP
Each week, write down one doable concrete step of obedience, small or large, that you will put into practice this week. (James 1:22: “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.”)