It almost goes without saying that you can't navigate or go anywhere unless you can see where you're going. Sight is imperative to navigation. The problem with going somewhere is being able to see all the things you need to see and not have any blind spots. According to the United States Department of Transportation, every single year 413,000 auto accidents result from problems with blind spots. People not being able to see the whole picture. 413,000 accidents. 160,000 people every year are either injured or killed because they didn't see what was around the blind spot. Some of you have had experiences with that. I know I have. I'll never forget going at a normal freeway speed on the freeway. I always look before I change lanes because I was told that that's one of the big causes of accidents is people who don't do that. So I always look and I always refer to my rearview mirrors. But this time when I looked I didn't see the car that was right there because of the part of my automobile that obscured it. I didn't see it until I was pulling into the lane and I narrowly missed it by about an inch or two. It could've been a horrible accident. By God's grace it wasn't. You know that some people can live their whole life the most obvious thing is right under their nose, but they don't see the whole picture.
There's a story about Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson, the legendary figures and sleuths in England. They decided to go camping and it was a beautiful night. They were somewhere in England and they cooked a wonderful meal at the campground. They pitched their tent and they retired to bed for the evening. A few hours later, Sherlock Holmes woke up and nudged his sidekick Doctor Watson. Watson opens his eyes and Holmes says to Watson, what do you see, Doctor Watson? Watson said I see stars--lots and lots of stars. And, said Holmes, what do you deduce from this observation? So Watson is thinking boy, I'd better make this good, you know, he's Sherlock Holmes. So he said well, let's see, astronomically I deduce that there are possibly billions of stars and planets and even other galaxies. Astrologically, I can see and observe that Saturn is in Leo. Chronologically, I can deduce that it's probably about 3:15 in the morning. Theologically, I conclude that there must be an all-powerful God who made this and I am very small in comparison to Him. And finally, meteorologically, I can surmise that we're going to have a wonderful day tomorrow. He thought that was pretty good. And he said what do you see, Sherlock Holmes? And Holmes turned to Watson and said you foolish man. You don't get it. It's so obvious. Somebody stole our tent!
That's pretty obvious, right? If you go camping in a tent and you wake up a few hours later and you see stars, somebody took the tent. All of those wonderful deductions but not seeing what's right under your nose, or in his case, over his nose. We're dealing with that in the text in John chapter 9. There's something very obvious that has happened. A blind man can now see. Everybody in the neighborhood can figure that out. But there's this group of hardhearted Pharisees, these religious leaders. The evidence is there. They can see physically. They're blind as a bat spiritually. They refuse to believe the man has been healed. They refuse to understand the spiritual implications of that mighty miracle. On the other hand, there's the man who was blind. Not only can he see physically, but in our paragraph, we'll notice, Jesus will be able to make him see spiritually because here he comes to faith in Jesus Christ. We begin in chapter 9 verse 35 and we'll finish the chapter down to verse 41. I want you to think though, for a moment, what it was like for this blind man, blind since birth, never able to see anything, what it was like for him to suddenly, instantly, and totally have vision.
For the first time he could see the faces of all of the people he had known only by voice. He saw his parents. He had heard their voices growing up his whole life. He heard the voices of people walking by him as he begged on the streets. Now he can see them. He can see the winding streets of Jerusalem and the throngs of people who have gathered together at the great festival and are now leaving because the feast is over. And the best part? He is gonna come face-to-face and be able to see with his own two eyes the face of Christ. Some of you have heard the name Francis Jane Crosby. She was known as Fanny Crosby years ago. She was blind at six weeks of age. What's notable about her for Christians is she wrote over 8,000 Christian hymns. She's the most prolific songwriter, I think, ever. Blinded at six weeks of age, never was she bitter about her blindness. At an unguarded moment, one of her friends said to her, Miss Crosby, it's a terrible shame that you're blind. God has given you so many wonderful gifts. If only He would've given you the gift of sight. Miss Crosby leaned in to her and said I want to tell you something and I want you to listen to me very carefully. If I had but one petition to ask of God in life, it would be that I would be born blind because it means when I get to heaven, the first face that will gladden my sight will be that of my Savior. Imagine this man, one of the first sights he sees after being interrogated by those Pharisees, is to see Jesus Christ face-to-face.
This is the last paragraph of the chapter and this last paragraph shows the journey, the steps of the journey, from darkness to light. Jesus removes all the blind spots. But it's not just a journey of a man being able to see physically, but being able to see, as I said, spiritually. And this provides a wonderful little biography, if you will. Four stages to everyone's spiritual biography. These are the stages anyone and everyone who comes to Christ will take as they leave spiritual darkness and walk into the light. Have you heard the old adage "seeing is believing"? That's a saying that simply means you can't trust anything that you haven't personally experienced. Now that may be true generally in many cases, but do you know that that's not true spiritually? In fact, just the opposite is true spiritually. You see, spiritually believing is seeing. You'll never see until you take that step of faith in the Savior and what happens is you go oh! Now I get it! Now I understand! I bet everyone here who's come to Christ has had that experience. You believe and then you see. And that's what's gonna happen here.
As we look at these four stages, the first is the most humbling reality, the most humbling reality. And that is that God is the One who finds us. God is the One who looks for us. Let's read from verse 35 on down and then we'll go back over verse by verse. "Jesus heard that they had cast Him out; and when He found him, He said to him, "Do you believe in the Son of God?" He answered and said, "Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?" And Jesus said to him, "You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you." Then he said, "Lord, I believe!" And he worshiped Him. And Jesus said, "For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind." Then some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words, and said to Him, "Are we blind also?" Jesus said to them, "If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, 'We see.' Therefore your sin remains."
It says the man has been cast out. That's the previous verse, verse 34; he was kicked out of the synagogue. And we discovered that everyone's big fear in those days was to be kicked out of the synagogue. If you were here for last week's study, we talked a little bit about that. Because to be kicked out of the synagogue wasn't just to be kicked out of religious life and it wasn't like well I'm kicked out of this synagogue, so I'll go to the other synagogue. You were out of Jewish life altogether--spiritually and socially. And that was the parents of this blind man's great fear. But this blind man's now healed. This blind man's worst fear has become a reality. He's kicked out and it notes that. Jesus heard that they had cast him out. To help your understanding, there were three levels of being excommunicated from the synagogue. Level number one was called shammata in Hebrew and that was when you said something bad about one of the rulers or one of the prominent figures in Judaism. You would be kicked out of the synagogue, told to go to your house for one week. Sort of the adult equivalent of being sent to your room. For one week, you'd live in your house, you couldn't go to work, and nobody could visit you. You were ostracized for a week. You had to think about what you did. That's level one. Level number two is called the niddyu and at level number two, you have now done something so bad that publicly in the synagogue, three different times you would be publicly reprimanded. And for 7-30 days, you would be sent home and ostracized from the community. The third level was the worst. It was called the herem level. At that level it was indefinite. For life you were cast away. No one could help you. No one could work for you. You were virtually an outcast from Judaism.
Now I'll just say this. Here's a man that is cast out, presumably given the third of those three levels. You're outta here. We want nothing to do with you, which would now ostracize him not only from the Jewish community but from his parents. And can I just say what a privilege to be kicked out of some places. Whether it's a synagogue or a church that doesn't really believe in Christ and you really believe in Christ and for that reason you get ostracized--sign me up. That's an honor. Martin Luther was excommunicated in 1521 from his church because he believed in the Bible. John Calvin, excommunicated from his church because he believed in the Bible. It wasn't quite to that extreme but I sort of share their experience. When I became a Christian and I went back to one of the churches in my diocese, I'll never forget, the evening was over, we were sharing with young people about a personal relationship with Christ and carrying my Bible and how to be saved, and I was told by the leader as he closed the door: Leave and never come back. This man was cast out. He was excommunicated. Here's the best part. Verse 35, "Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him." Jesus found him.
Now you know the story. As soon as our Lord healed this blind man, He disappears from the narrative and if you remember last week's message, that entire, long narrative there were no red words in it. It was all the blind man, the parents, the Pharisees, and the neighbors having a conversation. Now Jesus hears about it and now Jesus goes to search for him. And I just want you to note that that's Jesus' style. Kicked out of the temple? Now the Lord of the temple finds him. Rejected by man's religions? Now the Son of God from heaven finds him and accepts him. There's a great story I've always loved about Alexander McLaren. He's also one of my favorite preachers alongside of Charles Spurgeon. This is a century ago. He was a Scottish expositor. Early on in his ministry experience, he was candidating for a church position as their pastor. He was unprepared. It didn't go very well and he failed the interview. Well he walks home very, very downcast. He said it was the lowest day in his life. He goes to the telegraph office and sends a message to his dad with one word on the message: rejected. Rejected. His father immediately telegraphed him back with these words: rejected on earth; accepted in heaven. You might feel really bad that you're rejected but, son, you're not rejected. God has a plan for your life. This man cast out of the synagogue and Jesus finds him.
You know why? Because Jesus made a promise. Whoever comes to Me, I will by no means cast out. They might cast you out, but I will never cast you out. Now this is a beautiful picture of the searching heart of Christ. You remember what He said? He said the Son of Man has come to? Seek and to save those who are lost. Here we find Him seeking that He might save. Just as He took the initiative in noticing the blind man, Jesus now takes the initiative in finding the man who was once blind and helping him see spiritually. That's His style. Even if it's one person, that's His style. I've always loved the parable, you've loved it too, where Jesus told the story of the man who had 100 sheep and he left the 99 for the sake of one wandering sheep. Why do you care about one wandering sheep? You got 99 left--be happy with that! No. There's a lost sheep. I gotta find him. I'm gonna go look for him. I wonder if Jesus hasn't been looking for some of you for a long time. And if you're wondering why are all the things happening in my life, maybe He's just trying to get your attention. He loves you so much, He wants to bring you home--bring you to Him. This is the searching, seeking Christ.
When Jesus found him. I meet people all the time who say I found God, you know, life is really great lately--I found God! I always say well that's wonderful, but I think what you meant to say is God found you. See God isn't lost. Oh, I found God! You were lost. God was there all along. He got a hold of your life. This man was found by Him. So that's the most humbling reality. God searches for us. Now look at the most important priority. Verse 35; notice the very first words out of Jesus' mouth are a question. "He said to him, "Do you believe in the Son of God?" He answered and said, "Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?" Jesus said, you've both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you. Now there is a construction in the original language, in the Greek language, with the use of the personal pronoun you. And the way it's constructed, it would be better translated this way: You! Do you believe in the Son of God? To arrest his attention and focus his need and emphasize his spiritual need. You! Do you believe in the Son of God? Why would He ask that? Of all the things Jesus could say to him, why ask that? Why didn't He say hey, congratulations! You're healed! I'm so happy for you! How does it feel to see? Or I'm so sorry you've been kicked out of the synagogue.
The first thing He says to him: You! Do you believe in the Son of God? Do you know why He asks that question? Because that's the most important question in life. That's down to brass tacks. That's the irreducible minimum. That's the highest priority. Do you believe in the Son of God? Understand that the healing of this blind man was only to get to the saving of this blind man. Jesus wasn't just a roving hospital walking around Israel going I think I'm going to heal, let's see--three people today! You! You look like a good guy to heal--I'll heal you. It was never that way. He wasn't some kind of a clinic walking around Israel. He was very specifically targeting individuals that He would choose so that He might be glorified and that others might believe in Him. So the healing was to get to the saving. I've told you before, it bears repeating, your faith is much more valuable than your health. I don't think that comes across any clearer than in this verse in Matthew 18, Jesus is speaking. He said it is better for you to enter into life maimed or lame rather than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into everlasting fire. It doesn't get any clearer than that. Your faith in Christ is the most important thing. That's why, that's why the book was written. That's why we call this series Believe: 879. There's 879 verses. The big theme of the book is believe.
And when John closes the book, he basically says look, Jesus did so many miracles and signs that I didn't write about all of them, but the ones I wrote about were so that you might believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that by believing, you might have life in His name. That's the purpose of the book. Not to give you a Bible as literature course but to promote faith. And so He asks him a simple question. You! Do you believe in the Son of God? Look at his answer. "Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?" Is this guy ready or what? I mean, that, that reply reveals his willingness to believe. He's like a little ball of faith waiting for a wall to stick on. Show me what to believe and where to believe! Who is He, Lord, that I might believe? You got to understand something. This guy's primed. He's ready. I don't know if you've ever met somebody who's just ready to be saved. Every now and then it's a beautiful exception to that rule and I find somebody who is. But he's been waiting for Messiah his whole life. He and all of those in Jerusalem had been waiting for the coming of the Son of God, their Messiah. And so it's like, just point Him out! I'm convinced this guy would've, if Jesus would've said, that guy, he would've gone to that guy, or if He said that guy, he would've gone to that guy. He was ready to believe. Who is He, Lord, that I might believe?
The greatest priority for you in your life, the very highest priority you could ever have is that you believe in Jesus Christ. If you know only one verse in the Bible, it's John 3:16 and it tells us that same message. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life. Understand the word believe doesn't mean to acknowledge with your brain. Yes, I acknowledge God exists. I believe in God; I always have; always will. That's wonderful. But what does it, how does it show in your life? Because the idea of believe in the original means to commit to, rely on, adhere to, lay all your weight upon, put all your eggs in that basket. Have you done that with Christ? Do you believe in Him? See it's one thing to acknowledge the greatness of a parachute. It's still another thing to strap that baby on your back and jump out of a plane. It's a wonderful parachute. I've always believed and known that this is a great parachute. Really? Is it that good? Will you entrust your life to it? Will you jump out of the plane and completely trust in the greatness of that parachute? Charles Haddon Spurgeon said something that I never knew he said till this week when I was reading. Of course, this was a century ago and Spurgeon said 98% of all the people I have ever met, even those prisoners that I visit in jail, will tell me that they believe that the Bible is true. Of course, now that's 100 years ago in England. Things have changed. But he said 98% of the people I meet tell me that they believe the Bible is true. And yet, said Spurgeon, they have never made a personal, live-changing commitment to the Savior. Which led him to this conclusion: for them, believe is not an active verb; it's a passive verb. Spurgeon comments and he says I would recommend you either believe in God up to the hilt or else don't believe Him at all. Believe this book of God, every letter of it, or reject it. For there is no logical standing place in between the two. Be satisfied with nothing less than a faith that swims in the deeps of divine revelation, not a faith that paddles about the edge of the water. For that is a poor faith at best and not good for much.
His message is clear. Either believe it all and believe by really believing or don't do anything--don't believe anything. Make it real or not. That's the most important priority and so He asks him the question: do you believe in the Son of God? Take you now to verse 38 for the third stage and that is the most obvious certainty. The proof that he indeed believes after he makes the statement. Verse 38: "Then he said, "Lord, I believe!" Notice that. Without any hesitation, not well let me think about this, he's not gonna say that because his eyes have been opened by this guy. He's been kicked out of the synagogue. There's talk about him. He says, "Lord, I believe!" Without any hesitation, he affirms his faith and this is where it all begins. This is where his journey of faith begins here. And now notice the next part of that verse. Now he acts like a believer. "He said, "Lord, I believe!" And he worshiped Him." Now that little phrase gives us insight into how far, how quickly, this man's faith has progressed. I want you to notice something. Go back to verse 11 for a moment. Here's the man talking. The Pharisees are questioning him. What happened to you? Verse 11: "He answered and said, "A Man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and said to me, 'Go to the pool of Siloam and wash.' So I went and washed, and I received sight."
In that verse, what was Jesus to this guy? A man. Just a guy. Just a man. But as they keep talking about it and ask he further processes it, look at verse 17, "They," those are the Pharisees, said to the blind man, "What do you say about Him because He opened your eyes?" He said, He's a? "Prophet." So he goes from just a man to being a prophet. And now Jesus says do you believe in the Son of God? Show me that guy, he says, and I'll believe in Him. Jesus said I'm the guy and he said I believe. So he goes from you're a man, to you're a prophet, to you're the Son of God. And he worshiped Him. He worshiped Him. That's the natural progression of saving faith. You're called by God, you believe in Him, you worship Him. That's your lifestyle. And a worshiper of God is a believer in Christ. But I want you to notice something even more particular than that. You see the word worshiped? Worshiped. It's a word in the Greek language that John uses in his book a few times but it's very narrow in its meaning. There's a lot of different words the Bible uses for worship. This word is the Greek word proskuneo. Proskuneo. It was used in John chapter 4 when Jesus meets that gal from Samaria. You know the story. And Jesus says to her woman the day is coming and now is when men will neither worship in this mountain or in Jerusalem, but they will worship--proskuneo--the Father in spirit and in truth for God is seeking such to proskuneo--worship--Him.
It's a word John reserves for the worship exclusively of God. Fast-forward. John chapter 12. It's now Passover. People from all over the world are swarming into Jerusalem, including Greeks. And it says they came to the feast to worship God. Proskuneo. Worship God. John now wants you to know that this man who believes in Jesus worshiped Jesus in that narrow sense. First He was man, then He was a prophet, then He was the Son of God. Now he worships Him as the God who made him see. It's a very, very powerful transition. And imagine the sheer delight for this guy. First of all, he was blind. Now, like, everything's like really colorful. I can see things. Not only that, I'm face-to-face with the One my people and I have longed for for generations. This is the guy! This is God in human flesh--the Son of God. And the appropriate response is to worship. I'm drawing your attention to this because this is, as I began with, the natural progression of anyone making a spiritual journey. First you were blind. You couldn't see. You were blind to spiritual truth. You were sinners and you didn't even know that you had this blind condition. You're just sort of moping around your life and life is good, but you're blinded. You don't even know your condition. You can't see.
Then one day Jesus opens your eyes and reveals Himself to you and reveals your need to yourself. Your eyes are opened--and you believe. And then that leads to the third. You enter into a life of purposeful worship. The idea of abandoning yourself to Jesus Christ. That's, that's how we all start and that's how we all progress. But there's a problem. The problem with many of us Christians over time is that our faith begins to sort of wear old to some of us. We believe, we come to church, we sing the songs, we buy the Bible. We go to the small groups but the passion, the passion, the thankfulness of being saved, sorta gets lost in the mix of time. To put it in Jesus' own words to the church in Revelation, He said you have left your first love. You don't love Me like you did at first. At one time, we were just so thankful. I'm thankful I'm saved! I'm thankful I'm not going to hell! I'm thankful I left the darkness. I'm in the light--this is awesome! But then we leave that and as time wears on, some of us stop thanking Him for what He did for us and our posture is what are You gonna do for me now? And then He blesses you now. Well what else are You gonna do for me now? The focus all becomes about us. It's all about us.
A.W. Tozer, always a powerful writer, said are we losing our Oh? Now I'll say it the way it was meant to be said. Are we losing our Oh! That response you have when you come to God. Oh! Are we losing our Oh? He asks. When the heart on its knees moves into the awesome presence of God and hears with fear and wonder things not lawful to utter, the mind falls flat and words previously its faithful servants become weak and totally incapable of telling what the heart hears and sees. In that awesome moment, the worshiper can only cry Oh! It's a good question. Have you lost your Oh? And it's far more than crying oh; it's living oh-bediently to Him. Because here's the way it works. Believing in Jesus is proof that He called you and found you. Worshiping Jesus is proof that you believe. Obeying Jesus, conforming to Jesus, proves that you've truly been worshiping Him. It's all part and parcel of the same progress. He calls you. You believe in Him. You worship Him. And the fourth stage is you find yourself confronted with a whole group of people who claim that they see and know everything who are blind as a bat and you're trying to get them to see as much as you have seen. And that takes us here to the fourth and that is the most obvious mystery and that is the blind see and the seeing can't.
Look at verse 39: "Jesus said," this is very sobering, "For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind." Now the leaders who were sorta tagging along Jesus at this point, when they hear this, it's a little ambiguous the way it's worded but they kinda pick up on it. they figure it out. they figure out He must be talking about us. He must be meaning not physically not spiritually. I've come to open blind eyes, but people who think they can see, make them see their blindness. And so, they pick up on it and they say, "Are we blind also?" Verse 40: Some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words and said, "Are we blind also?" Now if I'd have been there I'd have said yes! Jesus said to them as much, but much more craftily and deftly than I could ever do. He says to them, "If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, 'We see.' Therefore your sin remains." Now I'm gonna add a couple words to that to help round out the meaning. If you admitted that you were blind. If you confessed your own blindness it would prove that you're not living in sin. You're not in that condition. But because you claim that you can see just fine, it proves that you're remaining in it--your sin remains. He's saying two things. Number one, spiritual sight only comes to those who claim I can't see. I want to see but I can't. open my eyes. I confess my blindness. I confess my need. He says number two, blindness is the condition of those who arrogantly claim they can see just fine without Christ.
I can see just fine. I know just everything I need to know. Jesus said really? You won't admit that you're blind, therefore your sin remains. Now you probably already know, but the Bible's filled with this metaphor of light and darkness. We've seen it already in John, but it's all over the Bible. That blindness in the Bible is either the unwillingness or the inability to understand, to grasp, spiritual truth. So in Isaiah 48 God says His people claim that they can see but they're really blind. That's why Jesus says you are blind guides to these leaders. You are blind leaders of the blind and both fall into the ditch. It's why Paul says you were once in darkness but now you are in the light of the Lord. You can see. You're not blind anymore. The only cure for spiritual blindness is faith in Jesus Christ. It is the only cure. I know some of you are thinking that is the most narrow-minded statement I've ever heard. Exactly! It is the most narrow-minded statement you've ever heard. Well that must mean Jesus is the most narrow-minded person. Exactly! If you really read His words in the New Testament, that is inevitable, inescapable reality. He said I'm the only way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by Me. That's pretty narrow. It's funny--truth does that. Truth can afford to be narrow.
I mean, two plus two doesn't equal three, never equaled six, or eight, or 13 and a half. It always equals four. That's the nature of truth. Jesus speaks the truth. And that's the premise of the whole chapter. He says in verse 5: I'm the light of the world. As long as I am in the world, I'm the light of the world. Spiritual sight comes through believing in Him. But this group, these leaders, are arrogantly asserting that they have spiritual knowledge. You can't tell me anything! I know all things! We are Pharisees. We know everything--comes with the job. They are blind. There was a Marine who had two stints of active duty in the Middle East. One in Iraq; one in Afghanistan. He was in between those assignments and his next assignment and he decided to take some college courses to better himself. One of his college professors was an avowed atheist. Very, very arrogant--cocky. One day during class the professor, in front of the class, put his head back and said God, if You're real, I command You to strike me dead within exactly 15 minutes. The class fell silent. You could've heard a pin drop. The professor waited, smiling, smirking, smiling. Ten minutes went by. He said God? Are You listening? Are You real? Are You up there? Come on. He just kept mouthing off--very. That's an example of this kind of arrogant refusal to acknowledge that you're in the dark about anything.
Well. As I said, the Marine was in class. He listened to this. At about minute 13 or 14, about one or two minutes left, he walks up to the platform, doubles up his fist and cold cocks the professor right in the head, knocking him out on the floor. Knocked him off the platform. Just--bam! Knocked him out. Well the Marine quietly goes back to his seat and the class is stunned. I mean, they'd never had a day like this in school. Like the best day of their life! Never seen anything like this. The professor wakes up and says what on earth just happened--why did you do that? And the Marine said to him, well God was too busy today protecting American soldiers who are protecting your right to say stupid stuff, so He sent me. I don't recommend that in school. But I do want you to understand that Jesus virtually does the same thing verbally with this statement. He's dividing them and consigning them to the judgment they thought they had escaped by being Pharisees. By saying you remain in the state of sin or darkness. Because they wouldn't admit their spiritual blindness, their sin remains.
I opened up the message talking about Fanny Crosby, Francis Jane Crosby, who said the first face that will gladden my sight will be that of my Savior--can't wait for that. I want to close this message by what another blind woman said, Helen Keller, an American author. She was also asked the question. It's a shame isn't it that you can't see? Helen Keller responded well, it's better to be blind and see with your heart than to have two good eyes and see nothing. These Pharisees had two great eyes. They could see everything physically; they were blind as a bat spiritually. This man who was blind could now see physically and now he believes in Jesus Christ and is a worshiper of Christ and can see it all. The most important thing happened that day and that was the healing of the heart.