Finding Sight in the Darkness
The apostle John had a strategy when he wrote his gospel. In it, he lists seven miracles, which he calls “signs.” A sign was more than a miracle; it was a miracle with a message. Near the end of his Gospel he says,
And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name. John 20:30-31
John says (paraphrasing), “Jesus did many other things, but I took these seven miracles and arranged them to be a parade of miracles. At the conclusion you will see that Jesus is the Christ. I want you to believe He is the Messiah. And when you believe, you will have everlasting life.”
These miracles help confirm Jesus’ position as the Son of God, but He did not come to perform miracles; He came to save souls. G. Campbell Morgan said, “Every parable Jesus gave was a miracle of instruction, and every miracle He performed was a parable of teaching.” The miracles literally happened, but you need to look beyond the miracles and find the message in the miracle, the significance in the sign.
In the first miracle (John 2), Jesus turned water into wine. The wines of this world run out. But the joy He gives is always fresh, full, and free.
Jesus is God’s answer to man’s disappointments.
In the second (John 4), He heals a doubting nobleman’s son.
Jesus is God’s answer to man’s doubt.
In the third miracle (John 5), healing the paralyzed man at the Pool of Bethesda, Jesus asked, “Will you be made whole?”—showing that
Jesus is God’s answer to man’s disability.
We, like that man, are completely without strength until we’re touched by the power of God.
Moving to the fourth miracle,
1. Turn to John chapter 6 and read verses 1-14. What was the fourth miracle?
Here our Lord shows that He and He alone is the Bread of Life.
Jesus is God’s answer to man’s desires.
2. The fifth miracle follows immediately upon the fourth. What is it? (See John 6:15-21.)
There are two miracles here, actually. One is that Jesus defies the laws of gravity and molecular structure by walking upon turbulent waves of the Sea of Galilee. The other occurs in verse 21. Do you see it?
Jesus is God’s answer to man’s despair.
3. John describes the sixth miracle in chapter 9, and this is our focus for this study.
See it unfold in verses 1-7. But notice that “the rest of the story” continues all the way through verse _____.
Jesus applies clay to his sightless eyes. The clay represents the same thing to me that those six water pots represented at the wedding at Cana (the first miracle in John 2). Earthen water pots, clay, speak of humanity. God made man from the dust of the earth. It speaks of weakness, failure, inability. To put clay on his eyes represents that which would seal out the light. That’s what’s wrong with him. His humanity, his human nature, has caused him to be blind.
Then our Lord, perhaps with a twinkle in His eye, said, “Go wash in the pool called Siloam.” Siloam, translated, means “Sent.”
4. a. Turn back one chapter to John 8:12, 26, 29
12 Then spake Jesus again unto them saying, “I am the Light of the world. He that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life.”
26 “I have many things to say and to judge of you, but He that _______ Me is true.”
29 “And He that _______ Me is with Me.”
b. Go to chapter 9. In verse 4, Jesus said before he healed the blind man,
“I must work the works of Him that _________ Me while it is day.”
c. Now verse 7.
And He said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, _____.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came _______________.
Here is the meaning:
Jesus is saying, “This pool represents me. I am the One sent from heaven. I am the One. I am heaven’s answer for man’s darkness. Your humanity blocks out the light. But I have been sent from above. I am heaven’s light for earth’s darkness. I am the only One who can take away this darkness.”
How long had this man been blind? (v. 1)
A CLOSER LOOK AT “BLIND FROM BIRTH”
There is actually more than one miracle here. Jesus healed his physical eyes so he could now see light and images and shadows—everything you and I see. But healing also had to take place within the man’s brain. The pathways in the eye that carry the message of sight to the brain and allow us to see had never been used from birth on, and he is now an adult. Jesus had to restore those pathways so that not only the physical eye could see, but the brain could process what the physical eye was seeing!
This event is rich with analogy and meaning. How many persons do we know who have looked upon the face of Jesus (as revealed in Scripture), but where you and I see the Son of God, the Messiah, God’s promised Redeemer, they see nothing special—just an ordinary man some fanatics attempted to lift to the level of “prophet,” but whose life ended in a Roman crucifixion. We know many today who do not see beyond that! Think about it. The beggar was physically blind, but he is an illustration of every human being without the Lord Jesus Christ. We are by nature spiritually blind. This man needs more than light; he needs sight. Jesus Christ is the only One who can give that sight.
5. a. Compare with Matthew 13:13
“_____________ they do not ______, and hearing, they do not hear, nor do they __________________.”
Spiritual blindness makes beggars of us all.
b. Look at the first chapter of John 1 verse 4: “In Him [Jesus] was life, and the life was the __________ of man.”
c. Now turn just 2 chapters over to John 3: 3. Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Except a man be born again he cannot ______ the kingdom of God.’”
d. Turn to Ephesians 4:18
“Having the _______________ darkened,”[ not their eyes but their understanding darkened], “being _______________ from the _______ of God through the ignorance that is in them because of the [here’s the word!] “___________________ of their heart.”
Satan cannot put out the light. So what does he do? He blinds the heart and mind. Spiritually, we were all born blind. Psalm 51:5 says,
“Behold I was shapened in iniquity. In sin did my mother conceive me.”
Every person in Adam’s lineage has the nature of Adam, and he is without God, without the Lord, without life, and without light. When the light went out he was darkened. To be lost, you don’t have to be a criminal— just be minus God.
e. 2 Corinthians 4:3-4
“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid from them that are lost. In whom the God of this world hath ______________ the minds of them which believe not, lest the ___________ of the glorious gospel of Christ who is the image of God should ___________ unto them.
We are dependent upon God to open blinded eyes to the gospel of Jesus Christ. nobody can be argued into the kingdom of heaven. Nobody can be educated into the kingdom of heaven.
f. When God created Adam and Eve and placed them in the Garden, He gave Adam and Eve dominion. They were to rule. But man, created to be a king, a spiritual king, is now a blind beggar.
Compare with Revelation 3:17
“Because thou sayest I am rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing and knowest not that thou art wretched and miserable, ________ and __________ and naked.”
Jesus restored the man’s physical sight—but an even greater miracle awaited.
You may have thought the greatest drama occurred in verses 6 and 7, but the action is intensifying!
6. Look in verse 17 of this chapter. The religious establishment couldn’t tolerate this healing. It didn’t fit their narrative. Because of their spiritual blindness—and their greed for power and control of the people—this miracle must not be allowed to stand. They now grill the poor hapless chap, hoping he will say something to discredit this usurper, Jesus of Nazareth. What do they demand of the healed man?
There are many humorous moments in chapter 9 if you look for them. One can almost see them poking a finger in his chest as they ask, “What do you say about Him? How do you analyze this miracle-worker, if indeed it was a ‘miracle’?”
7. Ten minutes ago he had been no more than a blind beggar on the street—now they demand he be a theologian! His answer wasn’t what they wanted to hear. What does he muster the courage to answer?
8. More humor occurs when the religious establishment hauls the poor man’s parents “before the court,” so to speak. You can’t help but sympathize as they face the Pharisees who—in their irrational frame of mind—imply their son had not been blind from birth! (see the words “you say” in v. 19.)
How do the parents wiggle out of the situation and pass the buck? (v. 21 and 23)
In a way, we can feel sorry for them—they’ve had a son blind all his life who suddenly gets healed, and instead of everyone wanting to throw a party, they’re brought before an inquisition!
9. What punishment would the established rulers mete out if anyone believed that Jesus was the Messiah? (22)
This was serious for the common Jewish citizen then, who could reasonably conclude if he were excommunicated from the synagogue, he might spend eternity separated from God.
10. Coercing the man’s parents didn’t work, so what’s the next tactic of the establishment rulers? (v. 24)
The rest of their conversation is revealing (vv. 26 and 28). They will resort to anything but consider they might be wrong and the facts before their eyes might be right.
11. In v. 27b, how does the healed man turn the tables on them?
This got their tunics in a twist. They do what so many do today when presented with inconvenient truth: name-calling (v. 28 “Then they reviled him…”).
Have you been in a situation when you spoke the plain truth and were caught off-guard by an angry response coming back at you?
12. Does the word “reviled” remind you of anything?
a. Jesus prepared His followers for this sort of reaction. Turn back to Matthew 5:10 and 11 (in the Beatitudes, Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount”). What word do you see used both (1) to describe what the Pharisee did to the healed man in John 9 and (2) what Jesus predicted would happen to every believer who stands for Him?
b. In the next verse in the Matthew 5 passage (v. 12), what does Jesus tell us to do when we are confronted by genuine “hate speech”?
If you or someone you know is suffering persecution/false accusations because of their faith, be comforted with the knowledge that if “not a sparrow falls” without the Lord knowing, He is aware you are enduring hardship for the sake of His Son.
13. Back to John 9:27-29. What truth about the human heart does this encounter teach us?
14. To not have been a theologian, the healed man held his own under pressure. In verse 30, what surprises him about the religious leaders?
15. I wonder how many of us, put in a pressure cooker like this, would have done so well. The religious establishment (many of whom today misinterpret the clear teaching of Scripture) claim that Jesus is a sinner; a sinner can’t perform a miracle—therefore there was no miracle. They are desperate, aren’t they? In your own words, how does our freshly minted theologian—the healed man—reason with them? See 31-33.
16. The dramatic conclusion, v. 34. It is, of course, tragic for these blind rulers, although in light of the irony, it’s almost comical. The clear evidence stands before them and they say, “___________________________________________________!”
It has often been said, “A Christian with a testimony is never at the mercy of an unbeliever with an argument, because the Christian has the witness in himself.” In this case, the witness was right before them, in the beggar’s eyes.
They are the blight of the world. He is the light of the world.
17. But Jesus is not through with the man whose sight is now restored. Notice the progression his belief about Jesus.
- In verse 11 he calls Jesus “a man.”
- In v. 17, he calls Him “a __________________.”
- By v. 33 he is calling Jesus “a man from God.”
18. Continue on to verses 35-39. Jesus seeks him out once more (“when He had found him”—v. 35) and leads him to saving faith. What does Jesus ask him in v. 35?
In response what does the healed man sincerely ask? (v. 36)
Step back a moment. Others, not so sincere, have demanded of Jesus “Who are you?”
In Mark Chapter 15, when Jesus stood before Pilate, notice His response to Pilate’s questions:
2 And Pilate asked him, “Art thou the King of the Jews?” And He answering said unto them, “Thou sayest it.”
3 And the chief priests accused Him of many things: but He answered nothing.
4 And Pilate asked Him again, saying, “Answerest thou nothing? Behold how many things they witness against thee.”
5 But Jesus yet answered nothing; so that Pilate marvelled.
It all depends on who is doing the asking, doesn’t it…and how sincere they are.
When the healed man asks our Lord, He lovingly answers,
37 And Jesus said unto him, “Thou hast both seen Him, and it is He that talketh with thee.
19. What gift (v. 38) in addition to physical sight did Our Lord lead this man to?
38 And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.
The man who’s been given sight is now learning to see.
Romans 1:17 says,
“For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith as it is written the just shall live by faith.”
This is the way people come to the Lord Jesus Christ. God has to open their eyes. The Holy Spirit has to give them insight, spiritual insight, but then they begin to learn to grow in knowledge until they come to that full-orbed faith.
20. Look at Matthew 5:12 once again. “Great will be his reward” where?_______ ___________. That morning he had been a sightless beggar. Now he has his sight and will spend eternity with Christ. That is some reward.
To those who mocked, ridiculed and blasphemed, Jesus’ response was on the order of “I’ve got nothing for you.” But to the sincere, He reveals Himself.
“…a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” Psalm 51:17.
See also Psalm 34:18 and Isaiah 57:15.
21. But the Establishment doesn’t give up easily, do they? Obviously, they continued dogging both the healed man and Jesus, hoping to find some fault, something to rabble-rouse about. Anything would do. And they found it. Continue on to verse 39. Jesus came to save sinners, yes. But for what other purpose did He say he had come?
This sounds harsh to our 21st century ears. It does NOT mean that Jesus came to purposefully blind people spiritually who sincerely wanted to know the truth. The “those who see” in verse 39 were not the sincere followers of God, looking for their coming Messiah, as Anna and Simeon had been that day in the Temple when Mary and Joseph brought the infant Jesus there to be circumcised. Many sincere, faithful Jews were living for the day when Messiah would come…hoping for it, longing for it. These are not the ones Jesus refers to in John 9:39. The “those who see” were the ones who had convinced themselves they had a monopoly on religious dogma and policies—and it had no room for a Messiah not of their making.
22. The apostle Paul spoke of people like this. Turn to 2 Thessalonians 10:13.
And with all ___________________ of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they _______________ ____ the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong ____________, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
You’ve often heard “None are so blind as those who will not see.” It’s not a matter of “can” or “cannot.” It is a matter of the will. The Lord Jesus, born in a humble household to an unpretentious mother and humble adoptive father, did not fit their template.
23. Turn to Mark 8:11-12. Can you imagine being among the group that caused the Lord Jesus Christ—Second Person of the Trinity—to “sigh deeply in His spirit”?
11 And the Pharisees came forth and began to question with Him, seeking of Him a sign from heaven, tempting Him.
12 And He sighed deeply in His spirit, and said, “Why does this generation seek after a sign? Verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation.”
13 And He left them, and entering into the ship again, departed to the other side.
God forbid that any of us should be among those who cause Jesus to sigh deeply within His spirit. The religious/political establishment, gathered to challenge Jesus, were not those who wanted to see.
a. Notice in verse 11 of Mark 8. What did the Pharisees seek?
b. What does John give 7 examples of in His Gospel? (see the opening paragraphs of this study).
24. We have a seeming contradiction here. In the passage above, Jesus said they were not going to be given a sign. Yet John’s gospel describes 7 signs. How do you reconcile this? (As you consider, note who Jesus is specifically speaking to in Mark 8:11-13.)
25. To the humble heart earnestly seeking God, He will always reveal Himself. Turn to
a beautiful passage in Jeremiah: chapter 29, verses 12-14. Many are familiar with the often-quoted verse 11, but what follows is equally beautiful.
12 Then shall ye call upon Me, and ye shall go and pray unto Me, and I will hearken unto you.
13 And ye shall _______ Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your _________.
14 And I will be found of you, saith the Lord: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the Lord; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.
a. What is God promising to do for the sincere seeker?
b. With what kind of heart are we to seek God?
c. Do you see the contrast between this sort of seeker and the religious establishment of John 9? There is no contradiction for the sincere seeker.
The miracle of John 9 demonstrates that
Jesus is God’s answer to man’s darkness
(both physical and spiritual.)
26. In closing, turn back to the 1st chapter of John. See verse 4.
“In Him was _______, and the _______ was the ___________ of men.”
We have seen that Jesus is God’s answer to man’s darkness. There can be no greater sin than to reject the light. Once a man hears the gospel and his heart is open to the Word of God, if he does not act upon that light, and go from faith to faith until he believes in Jesus Christ, his condemnation is doubled. Not only is he judged for the “disease”—sin, he’s also judged that he refused the cure, salvation in Christ.
As Peter declared,
Neither is there salvation in any other. Acts 4:12.
And this is the condemnation that light is come into the world, but men love darkness rather than light, because the deeds were evil. Everyone that doeth evil hateth the light neither cometh to the light lest his deeds should be reproved. John 3:19-20.
When God comes to judge the world, He’s not going to judge primarily by the sin that was committed, but by the light that was rejected.
Jesus is the Light of the world. We are born blind beggars, but those blind eyes can be opened and will be opened by the grace of God. It’s not just turning on the light, the heart, the mind has to be opened and quickened to understand the gospel of Jesus Christ. And once the heart, the mind, is opened and quickened, then we live up to the light that we have, and we go stepping forward in the light till we come to Jesus.
Man’s greatest need is to admit and confess his spiritual blindness. When he says, “I see just fine,” he remains blind, but when he says “God help me, I’m blind,” God opens his eyes and gives him light.