How to Not Not See Jesus | Wayne Massey

John 9:1-41

Jesus heals a man born blind

As he went along, 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,’ said Jesus, ‘but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.’

After saying this, he spat on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. ‘Go,’ he told him, ‘wash in the Pool of Siloam’ (this word means ‘Sent’). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.

His neighbours and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, ‘Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?’ Some claimed that he was.

Others said, ‘No, he only looks like him.’

But he himself insisted, ‘I am the man.’

10 ‘How then were your eyes opened?’ they asked.

11 He replied, ‘The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.’

12 ‘Where is this man?’ they asked him.

‘I don’t know,’ he said.

The Pharisees investigate the healing

13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. 14 Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath. 15 Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. ‘He put mud on my eyes,’ the man replied, ‘and I washed, and now I see.’

16 Some of the Pharisees said, ‘This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.’

But others asked, ‘How can a sinner perform such signs?’ So they were divided.

17 Then they turned again to the blind man, ‘What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.’

The man replied, ‘He is a prophet.’

18 They still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man’s parents. 19 ‘Is this your son?’ they asked. ‘Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?’

20 ‘We know he is our son,’ the parents answered, ‘and we know he was born blind. 21 But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself.’ 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who already had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. 23 That was why his parents said, ‘He is of age; ask him.’

24 A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. ‘Give glory to God by telling the truth,’ they said. ‘We know this man is a sinner.’

25 He replied, ‘Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!’

26 Then they asked him, ‘What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?’

27 He answered, ‘I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?’

28 Then they hurled insults at him and said, ‘You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! 29 We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.’

30 The man answered, ‘Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will. 32 Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.’

34 To this they replied, ‘You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!’ And they threw him out.

Spiritual blindness

35 Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’

36 ‘Who is he, sir?’ the man asked. ‘Tell me so that I may believe in him.’

37 Jesus said, ‘You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.’

38 Then the man said, ‘Lord, I believe,’ and he worshipped him.

39 Jesus said, ‘For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.’

40 Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, ‘What? Are we blind too?’

41 Jesus said, ‘If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.


How to Not Not See Jesus

When Jesus healed the blind man on the Sabbath, the Pharisees couldn’t see past the fact that he had kneaded some mud into a paste to put on the man’s eyes. This amounted to ‘work’, which was sinful on the Sabbath, according to the letter of the law. Jesus saw the law differently, knowing that restoring a man’s sight was a holy thing to do. Isaiah had prophesied that the Messiah would bring sight to the blind, but the Pharisees’ rigid outlook prevented them from recognising Jesus as the Messiah.

It’s easy to point the finger at the Pharisees, but what about us - are we able to see beyond our own ingrained habits and set ways? Or do they get in the way of us being able to grow the church that we dream of. Basically – can we get over ourselves?

Firstly, we see difficulties where Jesus sees opportunities. The disciples saw a blind man and wanted to know whose fault it was. Jesus saw his blindness as an opportunity for God’s works to be displayed. How you respond to the general stuff of life will depend on the sort of God you believe in. If you believe that God is good, that he saved you and sent you to share this good news, you can face a difficulty by asking Jesus what he is doing in and through it. Not that life becomes easy, but with that mindset we can draw closer to God in our difficult times and discover more of Jesus in our lives.

Secondly, we so often fear other people, anxious about their approval. The blind man’s parents were afraid of the Pharisees rejecting them if they spoke up for Jesus. Too easily we base our sense of identity on others’ opinions. Rather than accepting ‘I have sinned’, we fear that other people might see in us the dreadful sense of shame that ‘I am sin’. So many people feel like frauds: in their faith, their parenting, their thought life, and are haunted by the thought that others might know the ‘truth’ about them.

Thirdly, we try to rely on ourselves. The Pharisees didn’t need to make mud paste, to stay righteous and holy. They had been ‘taught by Moses’ – their identity was based on their efforts and success in learning and carrying out the Law. When we rely on our own efforts and strength, it leaves little room for us to see the fullness of God’s work.

Do you panic when things seem to be spinning out of control? Or get angry when you think you’ve messed up? Do you tend to blame others, and feel better about yourself? All these ways of reacting suggest our identity is based on our own achievements. We need to look at what God did on the Cross – something we could never do for ourselves. When we base our identity on that unique saving act of self-sacrifice and discover that through it we are God’s children, we are freed to live as he intended.

When something goes wrong, you might respond by assuming it’s other people’s fault, or it’s all your own fault. In both cases you are saying ‘it’s about me’. But God is bigger than all this. How can you stop seeing difficulties not opportunities, fearing others and relying on yourself? Only by building up a habit of prayer, recognising signs of Jesus at work in everyday life, and becoming humble and willing to let him into those difficult situations. So the question is, can you get over yourself?!

Wayne Massey