I WAS BLIND BUT NOW I SEE

 

John 9:13-41

Key Verse: 9:25

 

“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!’”

In the last passage we learned that we must do the work of God while it is day. When we dwell in the light of Jesus, there is no fatalistic element in our lives. Rather, when we dwell in the light of Jesus we become strong in his grace and love, and we can display his glory, whatever we do. Today, we learn that it is important to hold on one grace of God in order to grow in Jesus. The Pharisees tested the man born blind to forget God’s grace. He did not yield to the pressure of the religious leaders. He did not forget one thing Jesus did for him but held the truth of God to the end. As a result Jesus opened his spiritual eyes and he received a complete healing and became a member of the kingdom of God. Here we learn how precious it is to remember God’s grace to the end. May God bless us to learn from the man born blind how to remember the grace of God to the end. I pray that we all may hold one grace of Jesus and believe in the Son so that we may see the kingdom of God with our spiritual eyes.

PART I. ONE THING I DO KNOW (13-25)

By the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, the blind man’s eyes were restored to see the beautiful world. How happy the man might have been when his eyes were opened. How happy to see the beautiful flowers in the spring! He must have sung Amazing Grace: “Amazing grace! How sweet the sound! That saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found; was blind, but now I see.” While he was singing, the love of God was so high and wide to him and the grace of Jesus was so real to him and he cried for a while, remembering God’s grace and anticipating a bright future. He believed that Jesus is God, for all the people of his time believed that only God can open a blind man’s eyes. He could have assurance that Jesus is God, and he could not forget the grace of Jesus who wiped the tears from his eyes and opened his eyes. He could not forget the grace of Jesus who gave him new life by opening his eyes.

 

When his neighbors saw him, some said, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” (8) Others said, “No, he only looks like him” (9). The neighbor people should have been very joyful that one of their pitiful fellow’s eyes were opened. They should have had a party to express their joy and thanks to God for opening the blind man’s eyes.  They should have appreciated the grace of Jesus who renounced his power and glory and honor and came to this world and opened the blind man’s eyes. But they were not happy. The man who was once blind sensed that they were not happy. But it didn’t matter.  He insisted, “I was blind but now I see!” (9b) He had been a blind beggar and an outcast.  Now he needed to be recognized as a member of the community. So he should be silent, whatever they said. He should have complied their demand. But now he was clear about the grace of God that opened his blind eyes and gave him new life. He cried out all the more and began to testify to the wonderful grace of Jesus. Look at verse 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.”  When he held the grace of Jesus firmly, severe persecution followed. His faith was tested. Let’s see how he endured the first trials and grew in Jesus.

The townspeople thought he was presumptuous and arrogant when he testified to the grace of Jesus. So they clutched him by the arm and brought him to the Pharisees (13). The Pharisees were even more unhappy. They began to investigate the healing. They did not look like spiritual leaders but like policemen. The day Jesus had healed the man was a Sabbath.  Therefore, the Pharisees saw Jesus as a breaker of the Sabbath law, and they began to interrogate the man who had been blind, asking how he had received his sight. “’He put some mud on my eyes,’ the man replied, ‘and I washed and now I see’” (14,15). At that time, the Pharisees were known as authorities and men of honor in their communities. But the man once blind was not shaky before the Pharisees. He stood firm before his persecutors. He could not alter what happened to him because it was so clear to him.

How did they respond about Jesus to the man who was once blind? Some said, “He is not from God, because he did this on a Sabbath day.” Others asked, “How can a sinner do such miraculous signs?” So they were divided (16). They did not agree among themselves. They were split. How could they accuse Jesus even when they were not sure about Jesus? They wondered, “How can a sinner do such miraculous signs?” They pressed the man born blind hard, saying, “What do you have to say about him, huh? You man! It was your eyes he opened.” The Pharisees threatened this poor fellow who had just found the joy of life in Jesus. But he was not intimidated by them at all. He held the truth of God firmly. Their threat did not change his mind. He replied, “He is a prophet”...a man from God (17b). At that time, anyone who acknowledged Jesus was cast out of the Jewish community and had no place to go. So the former blind man would lose any hope of getting a job and start a normal life again. But he didn’t cheat his conscience; he clearly testified that Jesus is a prophet, a man from God. At that time, a prophet was known as a man from God with a specific and special message for God’s people Israel. A prophet was known as God’s messenger. A prophet was known as an angel of God. So people honored the prophets as they honored Elijah and John the Baptist. This man regarded Jesus as a man from God because Jesus healed his eyes. Here we learn that the man once blind had received God’s grace. He could enjoy a new life in Jesus. He could have a hope of marrying a beautiful bride. But it was not easy for him to maintain God’s grace. He was despised, interrogated and unbearably persecuted.  Here we learn that holding on to God’s amazing grace is not easy at all for anyone. But this man who was once blind teaches us that we must hold on to the grace of God. We must pass the test of our faith in the form of persecutions and hardships.

When the former blind man did not yield to their pressure to discredit Jesus. They turned to his parents to put more pressure on him. Next the Pharisees sent for his parents. When they appeared before the Pharisees, his parents were very much afraid that they would be excommunicated. “Is this your son,” they asked. “Is this the one you say was born blind?  How is it that now he can see?” (19) “’We know he is our son,’ the parents answered, ‘and we know that he was born blind. 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’” (21). They answered an easy question but avoided a hard question. Of course, they heard from their son how Jesus healed him. They should have protected their son from the ferocious attacks waged by the Pharisees. They should have supported their son to the end at any cost. But they did not have courage to pay the price to speak the truth of God. When the Pharisees asked them, “How is it that now he can see?”, they said, “No comment.” They cheated their consciences in order to secure their job. They were coward before the religious authorities. They were afraid of the Jews; already the Jews had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Christ would be put out of the synagogue. That’s why his parents said, “He is of age; ask him” (22-23). The Jews even threatened his parents in order to make them deny that their son was born blind. They destroyed a father and son relationship. They worked hard to conceal the truth of God. They worked hard to deny the work of God. But they failed. A second time they summoned the man who had been blind.  This time they threatened him theologically. “Well, you boy, give glory to God,” they said.  “We know this man is a sinner” (24). It was a terrible threat. They used God’s name to trap this man. They used God’s name in vain. They asked him to deny that he was once blind but now could see. They asked him to deny that Jesus had healed his blindness by saying, “Give glory to God.” The Pharisees summoned the man who had been blind a second time and pressed him to admit that Jesus was a sinner, saying, “Give glory to God” (24). How could he give glory to God by calling Jesus a sinner? This did not make any sense. This kind of investigation is not normal. This kind of investigation cannot be done among men in history. This kind of investigation is the expression of the cruelty of the devil. They said, “Give glory to God.” It meant, “You had better tell a lie and say that Jesus is a sinner because he broke the Sabbath law.” What was his reply? Look at verse 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!’” He did not answer their theological question by saying, “I don’t know.” What should we do when someone asks a theological question? We should say, “I don’t know.” But he answered one thing he knew clearly. What was it?  He said, “One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” His testimony has two parts like most of our testimonies: Part I- I was blind, Part II- but now I see. He confessed who he was in the past and who he is now. When I searched some of the old testimonies written by our members, I was amazed that this was true. S. Bruce Hollinger wrote his life testimony, “Part I. My struggle as Jacob: Part II. My struggle as Israel. One word-New Israel, Bruce Hollinger.” M. Andrea Cho said, “Part I-In darkness: Part II-Under the light. One word: My God is a living God.”  The former blind man knew what kind of person he was and what kind of person he is now. This means that he knew what Jesus did to him. He had a personal relationship with Jesus. He held this one thing to the end and this one thing brought him to inherit the kingdom of God.  One thing he remembered was that Jesus opened his eyes out of his great shepherd heart. He was full of God’s grace. He could not deny God’s grace in any circumstance.

We must learn from him how to remember God’s grace and keep it in our hearts.  Christians are those who remember one grace of God, how he changed us from blind men in the darkness of the world to those who see Jesus and his goodness. We have to remember what we did in the past and what God did for us. Then we can be thankful to God and we can grow in faith. Abraham in Genesis knew that he was a hopeless, useless, childless old man but God called him to be a great nation. This one thing helped him love God more than God’s blessing. Indeed he knew God very personally and became a father of faith to all Christians. Moses knew that he supposed to become fish food in the Nile but God delivered him out of water. This one thing made him suffer along with the people of God rather than enjoying the pleasures of the world as the prince of the Egyptian Empire. Later, he became a deliverer of the Hebrew slaves from the bondage of Pharaoh. Ruth held one thing that God of Naomi was the living God and stayed with Naomi to the end. God blessed her to be included in the genealogy of Jesus. Daniel made one decision in Daniel 1:8 to live purely in the land of exile. He held this one decision and overcame many trials and became a prime minister of the Babylonian Empire. Martin Luther held one word in Romans 1:18, “..The righteous will live by faith.” He became a father of reformation. St. Augustine was an intellectual playboy of the first century. But one word touched his heart in Romans 13:11, “The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” This reminded of his spiritual slumber and changed his life and he wrote a book called “the city of God.”  Polycarp, the bishop of Smyrna remembered one thing when the Romans soldiers asked him to deny Jesus once and save his life, “Jesus my Lord never betrayed me in my entire life and then how can I deny him.” He kept his faith to the end.

   St. Paul was an ambitious young man. In order to rise to power, he volunteered to be a ringleader in persecuting and destroying the early Christians. He was like an angry tiger. But the Risen Christ visited him on his way to Damascus. Paul tried to arrest Jesus but Jesus arrested Paul with his mercy and love. From this point on Paul was changed from a man of violence to a man of God’s grace. He is called an apostle of grace. In remembering God’s grace, he never forgot that he was a terrible sinner but God saved him to be a child of light. 1 Timothy 1:15 says, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.” When we study 1 Corinthians 15, we learn that in order to encourage the Corinthian Christians, Paul gave his life testimony. 1 Corinthians 15:9 says, “For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am....” He always thought that he was untimely born. In other words, he was like a one-pound premature baby boy born to this world. But by the grace of God he became a normal man, and, in addition, he became an apostle to the Gentiles. Paul knew one thing: that he was a wretched sinner who became the apostle to the Gentiles by the grace of God. This was his source of strength. This grace motivated him to conquer the whole world. Finally he became a prisoner in a Roman prison in order to conquer the Roman Empire, and then the whole world through the military roads of the Roman Empire.

Apostle John was a man of human ambition with the spirit of competition. He regarded Peter as his rival and campaigned to secure the best position in Jesus Cabinet using his mother’s influence. But he remembered Jesus who gave his life to save him. Jesus’ love melt away his cold heart and he became an apostle of love. John 13:34 says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” He no longer regarded Peter as his rival and worked together with Peter. 1 John 3:16 says, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.”

Apostle Peter was a man of passion with a big heart. But he betrayed Jesus at his crucifixion (Mk 14:66-72). Risen Jesus visited him at the same seashore and cooked and fed him a delicious breakfast when he was hungry.  Jesus knew that Peter loved him so much, but that Peter failed because he loved him with human loyalty. Later, Peter learned Jesus’ divine love. Peter overcame many trials by holding the love of Jesus. He said in Acts 5:29, “We must obey God rather than men!” He also said in 1 Peter 2:9, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” Peter remembered his dark life of sin and the wonderful light of Jesus. From that time on, Peter acknowledged the love of God and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. He went to Rome to command the early Christians to become soldiers of Christ in conquering the whole world with the gospel of Jesus. Finally he was arrested and was supposed to be crucified on a cross. It is tradition that he said to the executioner: “Our Lord Jesus Christ was crucified. I am not worthy to be crucified like our Lord Jesus Christ. So crucify me upside down.” At the time of crucifixion, Peter was not afraid but remembered the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ who was crucified for our sins and who forgave his three denials.

As we know, we all die in Adam but in Christ we are alive. (1 Cor. 15:22) We were terrible sinners in the past but now Jesus saved us by his grace. Jesus died for our sins and rose again and sat at the right hand of God. He will come again to judge the living and the dead. We must not forget the grace of Jesus in our life and grow in his love. Forgettable are human beings. There is a story about a tiger and old man. One day a tiger fell into a river and an old was passing by. The old man rescued the tiger from the river. Then the tiger forgot the grace of the old man and when he felt hungry and ate the old man. Why do we celebrate mother’s day? We want to remember mother’s love. Why do people celebrate their wedding anniversary? They want to remember their first love. We should not forget the grace of Jesus who appeared to us when we were struggling in the darkness of sin and gave us a new life. Remembering the grace of Jesus is a foundation for our spiritual growth and happiness in Jesus. We know that those who remember the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ are happy to do anything. Do you one thing to know from Jesus? May God give you one thing you hold from the man born blind. How did the Pharisees react when the former blind man did not deny Jesus? They asked the same question. Then the man said, “Do you want to become his disciples too?” (27) Then they insulted him humanly and became angry. Now they became very defensive and finally they threw him out. They remained in darkness. How did Jesus help this man?

PART II. JESUS VISITED THE MAN (35-41).

 Look at verse 35. Jesus heard that they had thrown him out of their community, that he was abandoned, and that he was helpless again. This man was rejected by men including his own parents but Jesus did not abandon him. When the former blind man endured test of faith, Jesus found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” (35) Now he was abandoned and cast out of his community; his situation was worse than before because he lost his job of begging. Even so, Jesus did not sympathize with his human condition. Jesus only wanted to plant in him faith in the Son. So he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” In Jesus’ question to him, we learn that faith is the victory. Faith does not seem to give him even a piece of bread. But in the end, faith in the Son would bestow on him eternal life and the crown of life in Jesus’ kingdom. Faith is the source of power to overcome the world. A blind man who was once begging on the street can be an heir of God and a co-worker with Jesus Christ and with God (Ro 8:17). Faith in the Son is everything. We must help God’s flock with faith, not with human favor only. What was his response? Look at verse 38. “Then the man said, ‘Lord, I believe,’ and he worshiped him.” It is an amazing confession of faith. By remembering God’s grace, he overcame the world and entered the realm of the spiritual world, and he could believe God’s grace through his Son Jesus. He could see the kingdom of God. He was privileged to enter the kingdom of God. Next, he worshiped Jesus. Not only he received his physical sight but also his spiritual sight. Now he was healed completely when he accepted Jesus as his true object of worship. Through his perseverance he received a complete healing from Jesus. After healing this man Jesus challenged the religious leaders one more time with shepherd broken heart. Look at verse 39. “Jesus said, ‘For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” Jesus rebuked their spiritual blindness harshly. They were upset and asked, “What? Come on Jesus. Are we blind too? I have 20/20 vision.” They did not understand Jesus, the Messiah because they live in darkness and refused to accept their blind condition. The first step to gain our spiritual sight is to acknowledge that we are blind. Then we can have hope to see the spiritual world. Why is spiritual blindness more serious than the physical blindness? Look at verse 41. We remain guilty of our sins and become an object of God’s wrath but when we remember God’s grace, “I once was blind but now I see,” God gives us heavenly joy. God enables us to worship God only. May God bless you to have faith in the Son and have eternal life in the kingdom of God. Let’s read the key verse 25.