Glasses can't fix chosen blindness.

Pastor Jeff Struecker

I’ve been praying over 2 Cities Church. I’ve been praying over me. I’ve been praying over you this week and my prayer has come directly out of the book of Isaiah chapter 29 verse 18. The bible says, “out of deep darkness, the blind will see.”

 

You might be asking, “what do you mean by the blind will see? I can see all things.” Maybe it will help you understand if I describe blindness from Ephesians chapter 2 when the bible describes all human beings who have been born dead in sin.

 

We’ve been born spiritually blind and until the Holy Spirit opens our eyes, we remain (Isaiah 29) in deep darkness. So my prayer is that the Holy Spirit will start to open the eyes of God’s people. Maybe some of us for the first time, maybe others of us for the 70th or the 700th  time. But in a very powerful way, God will open the eyes of his people.

 

Our medical advancements in science. Man, it’s fascinating what they can do with surgery, laser surgery to fix eyesight. What we can do with a set of glasses to fix somebody’s physical eyes is amazing. But you already know this spiritual blindness. The kind of chosen blindness where you refuse to see what’s happening around you, there’s no set of glasses that can fix that.

 

One of my favorite passages of all time, I love this story from John chapter 9. It’s pretty spectacular what you hear in the Bible today. It’s the dude with whom Jesus does this miracle. He is so bold that this brother is literally going to call on the carpet, the most powerful men in the land.

 

Glasses can’t fix chosen blindness.

 

I love the fact that the blind man is able to see and by the time that we get done with this passage. You’ll see that those people who should be able to see, they’re actually blind because they choose not to see and there are no glasses on the planet that can help somebody who refuses to see what you choose not to see.

 

(Not) All sickness is the result of sin!

John Chapter nine, starting in verse 1 describes a guy who is born blind. Now, this is a problem in Jesus’s day and I think that there’s some bad theology that happened in Jesus’s day that continues to our day, and I need you to understand right out of the gate. Not all sickness is the result of sin, but you know what theologically speaking, all sickness is the result of sin. I got to explain that to you, the way Jesus explains this to his disciples because they struggle with this theological concept when Jesus meets a man who is born blind and his disciples are trying to figure out whose fault it is that results in this man being born blind.

 

In verse one, Jesus was passing by a man blind from birth. The bible won’t let you miss the fact that this guy didn’t develop a condition as a child and became blind. He was born blind, which theologically says something in Jesus’s day. Jesus is walking by, there’s a beggar who was born blind and his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Notice they didn’t even consider there was any other option. This blindness must be the result of sin. So whose sin is it? Is it his sin or is it his parents’ sin?

 

 

John 9: 1-12 As he was passing by, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” Jesus answered. “This came about so that God’s works might be displayed in him. We must do the works of him who sent me while it is day. Night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” After he said these things he spit on the ground, made some mud from the saliva, and spread the mud on his eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means “Sent”). So he left, washed, and came back seeing. His neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar said, “Isn’t this the one who used to sit begging?” Some said, “He’s the one.” Others were saying, “No, but he looks like him.” He kept saying, “I’m the one.” So they asked him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and told me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So when I went and washed I received my sight.” “Where is he?” they asked. “I don’t know,” he said.

 

Did you know in Jesus’s day, the rabbis taught that you could literally sin while you’re still in the womb. It’s profound neither this man nor his parents sinned, Jesus answered. “This came about that God’s works might be displayed in him. We must do the works of him who sent me while it is day, night is coming when no one can work.”

 

If you’ve been with us in the book of John, you know that John uses day and night. He uses it not to talk about physical blindness or being able to see physically. He’s talking about spiritual darkness, spiritual light. “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. After he said these things, he spit on the ground, he made some mud from the saliva and he spread the mud on his eyes, “go” he told him, “wash in the pool of Siloam.”

 

So, the blind man left washed, and came back seeing his neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar said, isn’t this the man who used to sit begging? And some said he’s the one and others were saying no, he looks like him. He kept saying I am the one. And so they asked him, how were your eyes opened? And he answered. “The man called Jesus made some mud, spread it on my eyes, and told me to go to Siloam and wash. So when I went and washed I recovered my sight” and the crowd started to ask, where is he? And the guy that was born blind said, I don’t know. They’re asking, where is he? Because they want to know who can do this kind of miracle in your life. I wonder what he can do in my life.

 

Now there are a few things about this story that I need to point out. In Jesus’ day, there was this bad theology and I really think this is happening today. And John records this story for us to correct some bad theology.

 

The religious leaders believed all suffering was the result of sin and the more severe the suffering, the more severe the sin. Now they taught that specific severe suffering is the result of specific severe sin. And if you’ll notice, I made two statements that seem to be contradictory right out of the gate.

 

Before we even looked at this, I said that not all suffering is a result of sin. By that, I mean the word specific you, and I cannot attach specific illness, specific difficulty, a specific crisis in your life to a specific sin. However, we can say that all suffering is the result of sin, meaning even the people on that tiny little pacific island of Tonga that just got hit with a tidal wave because of a volcano that erupted in the middle of the Pacific. That alone is the result of sin. Just not the specific sin of the people of Tonga. It goes all the way back to the first sentence to our first parents’ sin in the garden of Eden. When God said to Adam our first father, the ground itself is cursed and now life is going to be hard, not just for you Adam, but for your descendants. And every problem on earth, including blindness, is ultimately the result of some sin.

 

I need to caution us right now because maybe some of you have done what these friends and religious leaders do today. You think that guy or that gal is going through what she’s going through and it’s her own fault because of this sin. Only God knows what specific circumstances lead to specific results. We can say that all suffering is the result of sin but not that specific suffering tied to that specific sin. And in this case, there’s a guy who while he was still in his mother’s womb, his eyes weren’t fully developed, and when she gives birth, she gives birth to a child that was born blind.

 

Everyone in Jesus’ day believed if you were born blind, nobody can fix it. And I don’t mean nobody on the planet can fix it. They believed God himself cannot fix somebody’s eyes who are born blind. No one can fix this. So Jesus does something interesting, he spits on the ground and he starts to work in the mud. Does this language sound familiar to you? Because when God was fashioning man and woman’s eyes for the first time God used dirt and fashioned the human body with his hands in the dirt. And by the way, if you want to know which one of the godheads has hands. We’re talking about Jesus.

 

The same one that fashioned the human body in the garden of Eden is now working in the dirt with his own spit? And he fashioned some mud? And he presses the mud into the guy’s eyes? Do you know that the word the bible uses here is the word that you would have used in the old testament or new testament times to put the seal on a letter in the wax and send that letter off, meaning Jesus just put his seal on this man’s eyes and said, go wash in this pool in Jerusalem.

 

Jesus says, go take this mud to this pool, go wash the mud off. After the guy washes the mud off, he comes back. And when his disciples asked Jesus why this guy is blind, Jesus said it’s not his fault, it’s not even necessarily his mother’s fault.

 

Now, if Jesus would have taken it a step further, he might have said it’s actually Adam’s fault. He is blind because this good Jewish boy was set from birth to be a moment where God will put his glory on display.

 

Can you imagine how many times this boy in school got criticized because of the defect? Can you imagine how many times he heard in his society, “you’re not worthy because there’s something wrong. You can’t go into the temple because you’re deformed, you’re not important to God and you’re not important to us because there’s something wrong with you.”

 

Picture in your mind how many times this man prayed, “God heal me” and it didn’t happen until the moment Jesus walked by and when Jesus walked by, this was the moment God had orchestrated in all of human history that he was going to do something. That was so miraculous even the religious leaders can’t handle what just happened when God did this supernatural miracle that nobody can explain away.

 

 

I refuse to live in a world where everything can be explained.

 

As I was praying about this passage today, I was thinking there are many Christians, I have friends that are pastors who live in a world where they can absolutely explain everything that happens to them every day all day long. And I thought to myself, I don’t want to live in that kind of world. I refuse to live in a world where absolutely everything can be explained because in that kind of world there’s no room for God and God shows up in a very powerful way and the religious leaders can’t handle it because they can’t explain it.

 

When this man born blind gets called onto the carpet with some of the most powerful men in the world. The people that are supposed to be able to see, really can’t because they’re being blinded by two things. One, he was born blind and nobody can fix that and when this happened, it became a real problem for them.

 

John chapter nine verse 13, they brought the man who used to be blind to the Pharisees. Now, if you’re new to church, new to Christianity and you don’t recognize this word, these are the most powerful religious leaders in the land. But I want you to think of them like the religious police, they’re there to make sure that you follow the religious rules and you follow the rules the way that they say to follow the rules.

 

John 9: 13-23 They brought the man who used to be blind to the Pharisees. The day that Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes was a Sabbath. Then the Pharisees asked him again how he received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” he told them. “I washed and I can see.” Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, because he doesn’t keep the Sabbath.” But others were saying, “How can a sinful man perform such signs?” And there was a division among them. Again they asked the blind man, “What do you say about him, since he opened your eyes?” “He’s a prophet,” he said. The Jews did not believe this about him—that he was blind and received sight—until they summoned the parents of the one who had received his sight. They asked them, “Is this your son, the one you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” “We know this is our son and that he was born blind,” his parents answered. “But we don’t know how he now sees, and we don’t know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he’s of age. He will speak for himself.” His parents said these things because they were afraid of the Jews, since the Jews had already agreed that if anyone confessed him as the Messiah, he would be banned from the synagogue. This is why his parents said, “He’s of age; ask him.”

 

Something has just happened that didn’t follow their rules and they got a big problem. So let’s take this guy who can now see and put him on the carpet in front of the religious elite of the day. They brought the man who used to be blind to the Pharisees, the day that Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes was a Sabbath. We got a problem because you know what Jesus did on the Sabbath when he spit into the dirt and started to use the dirt to make some mud. Do you know what this was called in Jesus’ day work? Jesus was working on the Sabbath.

 

We said nobody’s supposed to be working on the Sabbath, we got a problem. And so the Pharisees asked him again and by the way, this word in the bible says again and again and again and they keep getting the answer and they keep not wanting to hear that answer. So they ask him again, hoping that he’s going to contradict himself and they can get an answer that they will accept. They asked him again how he received his sight. Listen to how bold this brother is. He put mud on my eyes, I washed and I can see some of the Pharisees, said this man speaking of Jesus. This man is not from God because he doesn’t keep the Sabbath, but others were saying, hold on now, how can a sinful man perform such signs? By the way the word sinful is actually mortal, how can a mortal man do this because nobody can do this? And now there’s a division among them. And so again they asked the man, the blind man, what do you say about him since he opened your eyes like it’s your fault that he opened your eyes on the Sabbath. How dare you become able to see on the Sabbath? and here’s his answer, “he’s a prophet”, he said and the Jews did not believe this about Jesus that the blind.

 

They didn’t believe the blind man who received his sight until they summoned his parents. They asked him, “Is this your son? The one who you say was “born blind.” How then does he see now? You need to know that there is great fear at this point to the parents and the bible even tells us why “we know that this is our son and we can attest we know that he was born blind, but we don’t know how he can now see and we don’t know who opened his eyes, ask him he is of age.”

 

In Jewish culture when a male turns 13 years old one day. You’re now a man and when you are 13 years and one-day old, you now can stand trial for a crime. You now can be a witness in a testimony. What his parents are saying is we don’t know how old this dude is, but he’s older than 13 years and one day. This is on him, not on us, because they’re so afraid of what these religious leaders are going to say and do to the parents because they’re even trying to discredit the parents and say he really wasn’t actually blind, he was just faking it his entire lifetime. And so they say, ask him if he’s of age.

 

Since the religious leaders and the Jews had already agreed that if anyone, doesn’t matter what the circumstances are if anyone confessed Jesus as the messiah, he would be banned from the synagogue. This is why his parents said, ask him, he is of age, the parents are freaking out because the religious leaders are saying you better give us the answer that we want to hear or we’re going to kick you out of the church, which in our day, people are like, so what, I don’t care if you kick me out of the church. In their day, that was a big deal, because it virtually guaranteed you can’t do business anymore. You’re a social outcast and have no hope for a future because all of that was tied to the temple in Jerusalem.

 

We’re going to kick you out of the fellowship, we’re going to excommunicate you if you dare to claim what we’ve already convinced ourselves in our minds, no matter what anybody says, Jesus can’t be the messiah. So whatever you answer next blind man, whatever you answer next parents, it better not sound like Jesus is the messiah, what they’re trying to do is ultimately to discredit the guy. We can’t explain away the mystery or this miracle, so we have to explain away the guy himself like maybe he’s lying and he really wasn’t blind and so they bring him on trial and this bold brother does not back down. I don’t know what happened, I do know I was blind and now I can see and I know that the one who healed me, his name is Jesus.

 

Now they’re going to try to discredit his parents, “let’s just admit it, this is all a big trick to try to get money so that your son can beg for money, he really wasn’t blind, right?” And the parents aren’t biting, they’re saying, look, we know this is our son and we know that he was blind, we don’t know how he can see, and by the way, we’re out of it, it’s he’s a grown man, let him deal with this, we don’t want anything to do with this because if we say that he is really healed and it was healed on the Sabbath, you guys are going to kick us out of the church, which means we’re going to be destitute and poor and basically die of starvation, so we don’t want anything to do with this.

 

The parents run away like cowards as fast as they can, which now leaves the blind man and the religious leaders. Can you see what the bible is trying to do for us today? It’s showing us the guy who could not see John chapter 9:1 now can see the guys who are supposed to be able to see john chapter nine verse 13 The Pharisees, I really can’t see they’re really blind. And the reason why they’re blind is that they live in a world where they have to be able to understand and explain everything which leaves absolutely no room for God.

 

It’s the kind of world where I’m God because I can understand, I can explain everything and I can tell you right now, I don’t want to live. I refuse to live in a world where I can explain everything that happens around me because that world leaves no room for God. In fact, that world makes me God. And the more that I’ve been praying, the harder that I have been seeking the face of the Lord on this. The more that I see him about to do something new, something beautiful, something that cannot be explained in his church and I’m not talking 2 Cities Church.

 

I’m talking about his church globally and I have no idea what it looks like, but I’ll tell you this man, I’m thrilled. I am so excited about the future. I don’t know what it’s going to be like. I don’t even claim to be able to understand it or explain it, but I’m convinced it’s going to be beautiful and different from anything that we’ve seen in our lifetime and I’m looking forward to it, I’m longing for that future.

 

 

We’re all blind to our blindness.

 

See, I think what the bible is doing is it’s moving us in this story to a point where we all have to admit. How many of you would have to say I’m totally blind to my blindness until somebody points out that I’m blind? What the bible is describing today is not a guy who was born blind the bible is describing. I really think the center character of this story is Jesus and the religious leaders who are blind and choose to be blind and refuse to see their blindness.

 

There’s a very famous woman for those of you who are not from the United States. There’s a very famous woman in the United States who lived in the late 1800s. Her name is Helen Keller and she was born with sight and hearing and then as an infant, she lost both her hearing and her sight and there’s this famous exchange where a teacher by the name of Anne Sullivan decides, I’m going to try to figure out how to communicate with somebody who is both blind and deaf for the blind we can use Braille for the deaf, we can use sign language, but how do you communicate with somebody who’s really never learned to communicate and now cannot see and cannot hear. Anne Sullivan in education circles is called the miracle worker because she was able to learn to communicate with Helen Keller, a woman that was both born blind or became both deaf and blind at a very early age. Listen to Helen Keller’s words about her world when she couldn’t see what everybody else could see, but could see what others couldn’t see.

 

John 9: 24-34 So a second time they summoned the man who had been blind and told him, “Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner.” He answered, “Whether or not he’s a sinner, I don’t know. One thing I do know: I was blind, and now I can see!” Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” “I already told you,” he said, “and you didn’t listen. Why do you want to hear it again? You don’t want to become his disciples too, do you?” They ridiculed him: “You’re that man’s disciple, but we’re Moses’s disciples. We know that God has spoken to Moses. But this man—we don’t know where he’s from.” “This is an amazing thing!” the man told them. “You don’t know where he is from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but if anyone is God-fearing and does his will, he listens to him. Throughout history no one has ever heard of someone opening the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he wouldn’t be able to do anything.” “You were born entirely in sin,” they replied, “and are you trying to teach us?” Then they threw him out.

 

Helen Keller said, I can’t see and that’s exactly why I’m happy in what you would call a dark world, but to me is golden. Helen Keller says I can see a God-made world, not a man-made world. Helen Keller describes the beauty of being able to perceive God at work around her. She just doesn’t need her eyes or her ears to be able to perceive it.

 

There’s now an argument and this is where this brother doesn’t just get bold, he gets a little bit sassy with the religious leaders of his day, John Chapter nine in 24, a second time, they summons this beggar. The man who had been blind. And told him, they throw their hands up and basically say, give glory to God. We know that this man Jesus is a sinner.

 

He answered, whether or not he’s a sinner, I don’t know, one thing I do know, I was blind and now I can see and so now they’re really, really getting angry with this guy, they asked him, what did he do to you and how did he open your eyes?

 

I already told you and you didn’t listen to me, why do you want to hear it again? Look at this, do you want to become his, or you don’t want to become his disciples? This guy is basically confronting now. Teaching the religious teachers is basically what he’s doing and they won’t have that, so they ridicule him, you’re Jesus’ disciple, but we are Moses’ disciple, we know that God has spoken to Moses. We implement the law, we’re the religious law police around here and the law came from Moses and so we’re Moses’ disciples. We don’t know who this guy who opened your eyes, you’re his disciple, but our authority goes all the way back to Moses.

 

The teachers are about to get schooled right now because he’s going to jump right over Moses and say, I think you’re missing the one that Moses got the law from. I think that’s who you’re missing in this equation. He said to them, you don’t know where he’s from. And yet he opened my eyes. We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners. The student is teaching the teachers now, but if anyone is God-fearing and does his will, God listens to him. In other words, you claim authority from Moses.

 

I’m going all the way back to the one Moses got his authority from throughout history. I did a little research today to see if this guy’s statement is true throughout history. No one has ever heard of someone opening the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he wouldn’t be able to do anything. And they reply, you were born entirely in your sin. They replied, and you’re trying to teach us. And then they excommunicated him from the temple. They kicked him out of church for having the audacity to claim that he was born blind and now he can see and a guy by the name of Jesus did that.

 

I hope you’re not missing this from the bible. The issue today is not what happened, that a man was born blind and now can see. The issue today is not where it happened or how it happened, Jesus spit in the dirt and made some mud, put it on the guy’s eyes, sent him to the pool to go wash. That’s not the issue. The issue today is when it happened.

 

The problem with these religious leaders is it’s the Sabbath and we know that you’re not supposed to work on the Sabbath and Jesus, this rebel rousing rabbi, I just did those three words on purpose, dares to do a miracle on the Sabbath. There’s no way that Jesus is from God because he just broke our law and we know he can’t be from God if he broke our law and this man born blind, he puts it all on the line to defend Jesus.

 

Now he doesn’t have to defend Jesus, but he’s basically calling out those who claim to be able to see and he’s telling them, I think you guys are actually the ones that are blind here because how could you not see what everybody else in town is talking about and everyone else can see, no one in history has ever heard of a man being born blind and then somebody does a miracle and now he can see that’s never happened. You guys are trying to explain this away and argue that it’s not for real because it doesn’t fit within your neat little box.

 

Every one of us has been born in some kind of blindness that is the result of sin. And until the Holy Spirit opens our eyes, we really can’t see it’s a miracle of God. So the Holy Spirit steps in and does a miracle to help God’s people see not just for the first time, but to help God’s people see Jesus at work in your life.