There are some characters in books or movies who are popular because they are so heroic or selfless or beautiful, and they are so beyond who we are, and what we can do, that we idolize them as “superheroes”. But then there are others who are popular for the opposite reason: they are SO like us that when we see them, or read about them, we think: “They are just like me!” And so we identify with them. Many characters in the Bible are that way. The reason they speak so strongly to us is because we can see ourselves in them. It is that way with our “story” for this morning – the story in John 9 of the man who was born blind. At first, you might think that he is not much like us – most of us have not been born blind. But if you look more carefully, for the spiritual lessons in this text, you will see how we are very much like him:
I. WE ARE LIKE HIM IN HIS WEAKNESS.
When they asked Him whose sin caused this man to be born blind, :3 says: “Jesus answered: ‘It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents, but it was in order that the works of God might be displayed in him.’”
The disciples attributed the man’s blindness – as was the typical outlook of their day – to sin. They just wanted to determine WHOSE sin it was. Jesus said it was “neither.” It was God’s purpose, so that He could display His works in him. This man was born blind for the glory of God.
Do you know that there may be hardships and obstacles in your life that are there so that God will be glorified in them in some way in the end? We often think of someone who glorifies God as the athlete who wins the Super Bowl and thanks God for his victory. But that is actually an “easier” time to glorify God. It can be much harder to glorify Him in our difficulties. But we need to see that God has ordained even our weaknesses, so that we may glorify Him in them, by coming to Him. This may sound odd, but it is true.
When we were at our church in Louisiana, we had a strong mission connection with the country of Nepal. In a village we ministered to there, was a little boy by the name of Calden. Our mission team met Calden and his family on one of the trips to Nepal, and they fell in love with him because of his personality, and his weakness: Calden had rickets – a condition that left him crippled and unable to grow. After ministering to him there in Nepal, our church ended up bringing Calden and his mother to the States, where they stayed with a couple from our church, and we helped him get into a hospital in Shreveport, where he had surgery to correct his rickets, and today Calden is a healthy, vibrant young man. But even more important than that: through this process, both Calden and his mother came to know Jesus as their Lord & Savior! God used this little boy’s rickets to bring salvation to himself and his mother, and to witness to hundreds of others in that village of Khumjung, Nepal as well. So we might ask: “Who sinned, this boy or his parents, that he was born with rickets?” The answer is: Neither he nor his parents, but that God might be glorified in him. God used his weakness to lead him to Himself. You can even imagine that his testimony in eternity might be: “I am GLAD that I was born with rickets, because it led me to Jesus, and to heaven!”
It is just like we saw last week with the Philippian Jailer. His circumstances were bad — he thought he was going to lose his life — but those circumstances put him on his face before God and led him to ask that most important question: “What must I do to be saved?” Those difficult circumstances were actually a blessing, because they led to his salvation.
And it may be that way with an issue in your life, too: you may wrestle with a physical difficulty, or alcoholism, or drug addiction, or some other problem in your life, and you see it as a curse – but the truth is, if that problem puts you on your face before God so that you know you need Jesus as your Savior, thank God for it! Listen: it is better to have a problem in your life right now, that leads you to accept Jesus as your Savior, than to have a problem-free life now, that allows you to turn your back on God, and spend eternity in hell! God in His sovereign plan has allowed some of us to have problems that put us on our face before Him: THANK Him for that! We are like this man in our weakness — but our weaknesses can lead us to Jesus and salvation.
II. WE ARE LIKE HIM IN HIS BLINDNESS
:1 “a man blind from birth”
This man was born blind. Not many of us are like that, we might say — but we need to see that there is a sense in which we are ALL “born blind.” Not physically, but spiritually. That man’s physical blindness is symbolic of the spiritual blindness that ALL of us are born with. Every one of us is born with a sin nature that leads us, as soon as we have the opportunity to choose, to actually make the choice to sin. It is in every one of us, from the smallest child.
I know a man who had some small kids come over to his house one time to play. But before they went outside, into his back yard, just out of orneriness, this man said: “Whatever you do out there, don’t spit on my garden.” Then he sent them out to play – but he went to the window to watch. And sure enough, in just a few minutes, one of the little boys walked over the garden, looked around to make sure no one was watching, and he spit on the man’s garden! WHY did he do that?! WHY did he do exactly what that man told him not to do? It is the sin nature in him – and that same sin nature is in each one of us. That is why even the smallest kids argue, and fight, and are selfish. Who teaches them to be that way? Did you have to sit your kids down and say, “OK, now when your brother wants your toy, you have to slap his hand and say ‘no!’ and fight over it!” Did anyone of you have to teach your kids that?! Of course not! They came by it naturally, didn’t they! It the result of the sin nature that is inborn in each one of us.
We are all “born blind” in that sense; we are ALL born with a nature to sin, with the result that when we come to make our first choices, we do personally choose to sin. And so every one of us stands guilty before God. He said “Don’t put any other gods before Me” – but we all did. He said: “Don’t commit adultery, don’t commit murder, don’t steal – and don’t even want to do these things in your heart” – but we all do! We were all born spiritually blind; we all personally chose to sin, and we ALL stand guilty before God. It is just as Romans 3:23 says: “ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Thus your first step to spiritual sight – to a testimony of salvation — is to admit your sin! The Pharisees, in their pride, wouldn’t do that. In :41 of this passage, “Jesus said to them: ‘If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see’, your sin remains.’” These men were proud; they wouldn’t admit that they were sinners, in need of a Savior. They were proud of their spiritual insight, and their religious position. They didn’t want to admit their blindness; that they were sinners. Don’t be proud like those men. Pride is the great sin that will send millions of people to hell. Don’t be like that; admit your sin! Admit your need! Admit that you are spiritually “blind” and need the Lord. Haven’t there been things that God commanded in His word that you were not to do, but just like that little boy, you DID the very thing God said not to do? THAT is sin; that is what separates you from God, and will keep you out of heaven. That is what you need to admit! And when you truly face up to your sin, it is the first sign that God really IS working in your life – for Jesus said it is the Holy Spirit who convicts of sin (John 16:8). If today, you realize that you have been “born blind” and that you have sinned – then rejoice: God’s Spirit is working in you! He is bringing you to the very first step towards salvation: admitting your sin and your need of a Savior.
III. WE ARE LIKE HIM IN HIS WASHING
Verses 6-7 tell us that the man’s blindness was cured when he believed Jesus and washed his eyes.
A. Real washing is something GOD does for you. How were this blind man’s eyes opened? It wasn’t by anything that HE did, was it? Sure, he went to the pool and washed, in obedience to what Jesus told him to do. But his act of washing did not heal his eyes. There was NOTHING he could do to heal himself. The miracle was totally accomplished by Jesus. All the man did was believe in what Jesus did for him.
It is always that way with salvation; we’ve seen that several times these past few weeks: the thief on the cross couldn’t do anything to save himself; the jailer couldn’t deliver himself; this blind man couldn’t heal himself: all they could do was just BELIEVE what Jesus did to save them.
It is the same way with us, too. Once you admit your sin, the next step is not to try to be as good as you can to cover up your sins. The next thing you need to do is to trust what Jesus did on the cross to pay for your sins. I Peter 2:24 says “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross.” When Jesus died on the cross, He cried: “It is finished” – in the Bible language it was a business word that meant “paid in full.” Jesus paid for our sins in full with His death on the cross. And when you trust Him, He comes into your life with His Holy Spirit and He regenerates you, and gives you a new life, and power, and abilities. But it is all what He does for you, not what you can do for Him, that saves you. Just like that blind man, salvation is not something you earn for yourself, but something JESUS does for you.
B. Washing cleans you totally from your sin.
The blind man’s washing in the pool of Siloam is symbolic of how the blood of Jesus that He shed on the cross washes us from sin. When Jesus healed him, he was totally able to see. He had been totally cured of his blindness. This is what Jesus does when we trust Him for salvation; He totally cleans us from our sin. I John 1:7 says “the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin”. I Cor. 6:9-11 lists a number of sins, and then says: “Such were some of you, but you were washed … in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ …”. Isaiah 1:18 says “though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow …”. When you put your trust in Jesus as your Savior, that is how you are, before God: pure, perfect — “as white as snow”!
When we were serving at our first church, one winter there was a big snowstorm, and everything was shut down, so Cheryl & I were home. We had this big picture window in the living room, and we could see some birds outside looking for food. So Cheryl made some popcorn to put out for the birds, and I took it out there and scattered it on the grass, and she went back to the other room while I sat on the couch to watch the snow out the big window. All of the sudden, I called to Cheryl in the other room and said: “Hey,you didn’t butter that popcorn before you put it out, did you?” She responded with one of those tones that let me know that she thought I was crazy: “NO; I did not butter the popcorn for the birds!” But the reason I asked was that the popcorn appeared yellow; I’d always thought of popcorn as white – but that popcorn, as white as it appeared in the bowl when I took it out, was dingy and yellow compared to the pure, new fallen snow.
And God says that is how you can be, before Him! If you will trust Jesus as your Savior, you will be “as white as snow” before Him! You can say of YOUR sin – the very sin you are thinking of now; the very sin that the devil accuses you of every time you try to pray; the very sin that haunts you – you can say with that old hymn: “My sin, O the bliss of this glorious thought; my sin, not the part, but the whole, is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more! Praise the Lord, praise the Lord O my soul!” Your sins will be as white as snow today, if you will be washed in the blood of Jesus.
C. And that washing happens by faith. Verses 35-38 are the key verses. After all the tumult of the “interrogation” the Pharisees gave the man, the threw him out of the synagogue, and Jesus found him, and asked him: “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” The man answered: “Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?” Jesus said to him: “You have both seen Him, and He is the One who is talking with you” And :38 tells us “And he said, ‘Yes, Lord, I believe.’”
BELIEVE! This is the good news! Forgiveness of sin is not a matter of how many times you can go to church, or how much money you can give, or how good you can be – it is a matter of believing in Jesus as your Lord & Savior. Just as we saw last week: “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved”! Put your trust today in Jesus as your Lord & Savior, and you will be washed from all your sins.
(Now, just like we saw with the Philippian jailer last week. this wasn’t “easy believism”; this blind man SHOWED his faith, by obeying Jesus, by going to the fountain, by confessing Jesus publicly. And if your faith is real, you will show it, too, by confessing Jesus publicly, being baptized, by obeying Him, and by following Him from this day forward. But make no mistake: washing is by faith in Jesus only! “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved”!)
IV. WE ARE LIKE HIM IN HIS STORY
This man is SO like us: in his weakness, in his blindness, in his washing – and in one other way: in his testimony. He had a testimony of what Jesus had done for him that was very simple – and yet very effective. When people asked him what happened, he just told them what Jesus had done for him. When the Pharisees (the Jewish religious leaders who hated Jesus) called this man in to “interrogate” him about what had happened, they told him to glorify God for what had happened, because they said Jesus was a sinner. But the man said in :25, “Whether He is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” He had a very simple, but very powerful testimony. His testimony was strong even though he had no seminary; he had no theological education or college; he had no discipleship training or Sunday School or even a 1-hour testimony workshop to help him! Under questioning, he only knew one thing: “I once was blind, but now I see” – and that it was Jesus who had done it for him! But that simple testimony was enough to confound the “religious experts” and to glorify God before the watching world. He didn’t know a lot, but this one thing he knew: his life was changed, and Jesus did it — and my friends, THAT is a story!
If you are a Christian today, you too have a “story” – of how Jesus came to be your Lord & Savior. And can I re-emphasize: your story doesn’t have to be like someone else’s; it doesn’t have to be as dramatic, or follow some exact steps. I have a neat little book in my library of the conversion stories of 40 famous Christian leaders. Every single one of them was different: some felt a great weight of sin; some just knew they had to surrender their lives to Christ; some felt a great peace; one said he didn’t feel anything at all, but just knew that what God said in his word was true. One staff member I worked with a few years back (James) had a testimony that his “story” was just as simple as saying to God: “ok!”
It’s all right if your story is not like someone else’s. What you should NOT be content with is not having a story! A few years ago a young man came to our house and said he wanted to talk with me, because he was troubled about his salvation. He said he remembered being baptized, but that was all. He said there was no real change in his life, and the more he read the Bible the less peace he had that he was right with God. He didn’t have a story! So that Monday night he bowed and admitted his sin to God, and asked Jesus to forgive his sins because of His death on the cross, and to be his Lord & Savior, and now Chris has a story!
My question for you this morning is: Do you have a story? Again, it does not have to be like anyone else’s. And you don’t have to be able to preach it, or explain all the theological details of it – but do you have a story? It may be as simple as this blind man’s: “I once was blind but now I see.” It may be as simple as saying, “OK” to God. It may just be “my life was changed, and Jesus did it!” But if you are a Christian this morning, just like that blind man, you have a story.
— If you do have a story, you need to share it. If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll write out your testimony, and put it here in the book down front. I’ve been encouraged to read the stories of the folks who have already put theirs here. Write yours out — if you want to, you can bring it down during the invitation and just set it on the book as a testimony to the Lord, that you are thankful that He has given you a “story.” Or just bring it before or after one of the services, and slip it into one of the page folders in the book. This book will be a great testimony to the generations to come in our church of what God has done in our lives, and your testimony should be in it.
And not only write it out, but practice sharing your testimony, in a brief way, and pray that God would give you opportunities to share it with someone. If you will pray, God will give you an opportunity — so be ready!
— But most importantly, some of you don’t have anything to share, you don’t have anything to write, because the truth is, you have never really been saved. You may have gone to church and been “religious”, but you know your life has never really been changed by Jesus. If that’s you, then the Bible says “NOW is the acceptable time … TODAY is the day of salvation.” Right now, admit your sin to God, ask Jesus to be your Lord & Savior from this day forward, and then like that blind man, you can say: “This is my story”!
— as we bow our heads together, would you ask yourself: “Do I have a story?” Has my life been changed by Jesus? If not, right now, would you admit your sin to God, and ask Him to forgive you because of what Jesus did on the cross, and save you — and ask Him to help you follow Him from this day forward as YOUR Lord. Pray a prayer like that …
— if you do have a testimony of what God’s done for you, thank Him for that right now. And make sure you get your “story” ready to share with others. If you have your with you, you can bring it down front during the invitation as a testimony to the Lord and just lay it on the book
— maybe you know someone who is on your heart whom you need to be praying for today, or a special prayer request you want to pray about, or have someone pray with you about …