Light - John 9:1-12

This is a family service talk by Nathan Buttery from the morning service on 28th October 2001.

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I wonder if you can tell what the link is between all these different things: Acetate 1- Lighthouse; Acetate 2- Sun; Acetate 3- Desk lamp; Item- Torch. Well of course they are all ways of giving light. Each one helps us to see. The sun helps us to see during the day. Lighthouses help ships to see where the rocks are when it’s dark or foggy. A desk lamp helps us to read at night, and a torch helps us to see when there’s a power cut! So light is very important. Light helps us to see and also helps us to live. For without with sun we’d all die.

Now today we’re thinking about a story in the Bible about a man who could not see and who Jesus healed so that he could see. It’s the story that Philip read for us from John’s gospel. Now John was a follower of Jesus and it’s very likely that he was there when this miracle happened. And he wrote down this story in his book about Jesus. And like all the stories in the Bible, it is there to tell us something very important. So you’ll need your Bibles open at John 9 and we’ll look at the story first of all, and then we’ll see why John has included this story about Jesus in his book.


The Story

And the story begins as we meet a man (Acetate 4- Blind man) who John tells us was blind from birth. Now can you imagine how hard it must have been for this man. He could never have seen anything. He’d never seen another person, he’d never looked at the trees and you’d couldn’t have explained what colours there were in the sky because he didn’t know what you were on about. And in those days there was no-one to help you. You wouldn’t have had a trusty dog to lead you where you wanted. There was no-one to help you like there is today, and there were no Braille books to help you read. It was impossible to get a job and so all this blind man could do (Acetate 5- two beggars) was to sit and beg with the other blind people, and hope someone would give you some spare change to buy some food. It was a pretty miserable life that this blind man had.

Well one day something amazing happened to this man. He was sitting as usual begging, when a crowd passed by. But this was not the usual crowd who would just mock him or completely ignore him. This was Jesus and his followers. And they stopped in front of the man. And Jesus’ followers asked if this man had done anything wrong to deserve to be blind. And of course Jesus’ answer was no. He was no more deserving than anyone else. God wasn’t punishing him for doing something bad. Instead God was going to do something amazing in this man’s life. So what did Jesus do? Well the first thing was that he spat on the ground, which must have sounded very strange to the blind man. (Acetate 6- Jesus applying goo). And then Jesus made the spit and mud into a gooey mixture and put it on the blind man’s eyes. It must have been pretty grim to have that put on your eyes! But then Jesus said to the man: "Go and wash in the Pool of Siloam", which was the local pond. So off the man went. Well what would you have been thinking if you were that man? "No chance of this working" maybe, or "He must take me for some fool!" (Acetate 7- Blind man washing). Well anyway, off the blind man went- he probably knew the way by heart. And when he got to the pool he washed his eyes to get all the spit and mud out. And can you believe what happened next? He got up from the pool, and he could see! (Acetate 8- Blind man sees!). Can you imagine what it must have been like? He could see for the first time in his life. He saw people and trees and the water and donkeys and houses. It must have been amazing. And you can imagine how he must have felt. He must have been lost for words. He was bursting with happiness.

And what do you think his friends and neighbours thought? (Acetate 9- Happy crowd!) Well some were just as amazed as he was. They were amazed that this man they saw begging every day, who had been blind from the day he was born, could now see just as clearly as they could. But others, the religious leaders, were not so impressed- (Acetate 10- Sad crowd). They didn’t believe that the man had been blind and then when the man’s parents said it was true, they were furious with Jesus because he’d healed the man. Shocking! They were probably jealous of Jesus and didn’t like it that he was healing people when they couldn’t. But all the man could do was say: "I was blind but now I can see. And it’s true. So you’d better believe it!"


The Meaning

So that’s the story about the blind man who Jesus healed. But why does John include this story in his book about Jesus? Well in this story he means to teach us two things.


1) We must all admit we’re blind

And the first thing (Acetate 11- Titles (1st title)) is that we must all admit we are blind. Now in the Bible blindness is often used as a picture of what we human beings are like when it comes to God. We cannot see where we are going, and we cannot help ourselves. Now to help us understand this I want one volunteer to help me. And what I’m going to get this volunteer to do is to go through a tricky obstacle course blindfolded. And I’ll need my obstacle helpers to set themselves up as well. (Blindfold volunteer). Now the problem for x is that he cannot see. He has no idea where he is going. And in front of him are some very tricky obstacles which he must overcome. And the even more tricky problem is that I’m going to spin him round so he hasn’t got a clue about where he is. (Set volunteer onto course). So the problem for x is that he cannot do it. He’s blind folded, and has no idea which way to go, and even if he gets to the course he cannot see. So what does he need to do? He needs to ask for help. He needs someone to give him sight. And if I take off his blindfold, he can now see and complete the course easily! (Unblindfold volunteer- allow to complete course).

And blindness in the Bible is an illustration of what you and I are like. We are blinded to God and his truth so that we don’t go his way. And that blindness is sin. We are natural rebels against God. Like the blind man in John’s story, we are blind from birth. We never go God’s way and even try and ignore him. And the even worse truth is that we’re heading for danger if we stumble around ourselves without help. We’re heading for a future without God which would be a disaster. And so the first thing we must to do is to admit we are blind, to admit we are helpless and we need God’s help to bring us to him.


2) We must come to Jesus to see

But the second lesson (Acetate 11- Titles (2ndtitle)) we learn from John’s story is that we must come to Jesus to see. Because who was it that healed the blind man of his blindness in the story? It was of course Jesus. And the point of the story is that Jesus is the one who can deal with our blindness too. He can give us sight and enable us to go God’s way. And the reason is in verse 5. Jesus says: "I am the Light of the World." And elsewhere in John’s gospel, (Acetate 12- Verse) Jesus says: "I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me, will never walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life." So Jesus says the reason he has come is so that we could see, that we can have a friendship with God and go his way, which is the right way. And at the end of the story which Philip read to us, you’ll see that the blind man realised this as well. He saw that Jesus was the one who could heal not just his physical blindness but also his spiritual blindness. And the man worshipped Jesus in verse 38. And Jesus goes on to say in verse 39 that he has come so that the blind will see, and those who see will become blind. In other words those who know they cannot see, that they need to come back to God for rescue, will be given sight. But those who think they are OK, who think they are not blind and can get by without God in their lives are the ones who are really blind. That is what Jesus is saying. So we must come to Jesus to see. That’s what John is telling us.

Now as we finish this morning, I want to tell you about one man who really understood that he was blind, and who came to Jesus to be healed. He was not literally blind, but he knew he was blind spiritually. And his name was John Newton. (Acetate 13- John Newton). Now he may look a bit strange to you, and he seems to be wearing funny clothes. But that’s because he lived in the eighteenth century, about 250 years ago, and as you can see fashions have changed. Well John Newton was a very nasty piece of work. He was a slave trader, that is he used to sell people to others so they could use them as slaves, which was a horrible thing to do. And he would go to different countries in Africa in a ship like this (Acetate 14- Ship), and would bring back lots of slaves to sell to rich people in England. And John Newton also didn’t believe in God, in fact he tried to persuade people to give up believing in God. He used to swear a lot, he drunk too much and altogether he was not the sort of person you’d have wanted to meet. Well, one day Newton was on a ship coming back from Africa, when a huge storm broke out. (Acetate 15- Storm). And this was the sort of storm that could sink a ship at sea. The waves were crashing over the boat and everyone on board feared for their lives. And the even worse thing was that this storm lasted for about four days. But it was during this time that John Newton realised that his life was in a terrible way. He knew that if there was a God, he was in serious danger of meeting him very soon, and he was unprepared for that meeting. He knew he need to do something about it. So during those stormy days he began to read the Bible about Jesus and he came to see that he was blind, not knowing where to go but the only one who could help him was Jesus. And in that ship he decided he must come to Jesus for help and his life was transformed. And about ten years later, John Newton wrote a song which I’m sure everyone will know. (Acetate 16- Amazing Grace). "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me; I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind but now I see." He realised he was blind, but he realised too that Jesus could heal him, and that’s exactly what happened.

And that is why John told this story in John 9. It was a true story about a blind man who was given his sight by Jesus. But he also wanted people like you and me to see that we are blind; and he shows us that Jesus is the light of the world who has come to give us sight and to show us the way. So we must admit that we are blind and we must come to Jesus to receive our sight. So today why not think whether you have received this great gift from Jesus and if you have, then rejoice again today that you were once lost, but now you’re found, you were blind, but now you can see.


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