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John 9:17-25

Now I See


John 9:17-25 MKJV   They said to the blind man again, What do you say about him, for he has opened your eyes? He said, He is a prophet.  (18) But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind and had received his sight, until they called the parents of him having received sight.  (19) And they asked them, saying, Is this your son, whom you say was born blind? How then does he now see?  (20) His parents answered them and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind.  (21) But by what means he now sees, we do not know. Or who has opened his eyes, we do not know. He is of age, ask him. He will speak for himself.  (22) His parents spoke these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone confessed that He was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.  (23) Therefore his parents said, He is of age, ask him.  (24) Then a second time they called the man who was blind and said to him, Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner.  (25) He answered and said, Whether He is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I do know, that being blind, now I see.


The enraged Pharisees are trying to disprove the miracle. In doing so they demonstrate their ‘spiritual blindness while the blind man demonstrates his spiritual perception. Over the next few days we will see the “blind man” growing in faith while the Pharisees become further and further from God.


Now the Pharisees did not want to be sinful, they were not what we usually picture as a “sinner” – that is Las Vegas style wild, wanton and wicked high-rolling gamblers and long-legged ladies of luxury. In fact the Pharisees set out to be good, clean living, righteous and religious.  They would not be seen dead (or alive) in a casino. They even tithed dill and mint and cumin. They knew their Bibles and strove to obey the Law. They were pure, patriotic and pious. But they were going to Hell on roller-skates because of their inner life.


Jesus portrays their inner life in the most scathing of terms:
Matthew 23:23-33 MKJV   Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithes of mint and dill and cummin, and you have left undone the weightier matters of the Law, judgment, mercy, and faith. You ought to have done these and not to leave the other undone.  (24) Blind guides who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!  (25) Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of extortion and excess.  (26) Blind Pharisee! First cleanse the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of them may be clean also.  (27) Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which indeed appear beautiful outside, but inside they are full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.  (28) Even so you also appear righteous to men outwardly, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.  (29) Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets, and decorate the tombs of the righteous,  (30) and say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.  (31) Therefore you are witnesses to yourselves, that you are the sons of those who killed the prophets;  (32) and you fill up the measure of your fathers.  (33) Serpents! Offspring of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?


Pride, the love of human praise, the desire for appearance, the desire for control, hypocrisy, hatred and resentment all poisoned their inner life until they raged against the Son of God and crucified the Christ.


In direct contrast the once-blind man sticks to his guns despite all their rage and pressure. The Pharisees try to get him to deny Jesus but he says “He is a prophet” and later on he gives an answer that stands as one of the greatest sentences in the Bible: “Whether He is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I do know, that being blind, now I see.”


His parents are timid but their timidity just adds to their credibility when they aver, “he was born blind but how he came to see we do not know”. Someone once said “many a beautiful elegant theory has been destroyed by a single, brutal, ugly fact.” The facts of the blind man, and later of Lazarus were not “ugly facts” , quite the contrary, but they stood as clear testimony against the Pharisees contention that Jesus was a sinner.


So we have two groups, the Pharisees who loved the religious system that gave them social position and the disciples who loved the grace that worked miracles in their lives. These two groups still exist today in practically every Christian denomination.


The people who have grace can say:  “I once was blind but now I see”. There is a change in their lives, a gentle movement from darkness to light. And there is a deep tenacious appreciation of Jesus.


Saul was sure he was right as he charged down the Damascus Road, but it was only after a blinding light and the voice of the Lord followed by three days of blindness and a healing by Ananias that he could say, “I once was blind but now I see” and became Paul the apostle.


It is so easy to be spiritually blind while possessing a big black study bible and sixteen sets of commentaries and a record of making many convert. It is so easy to love church position more than Christ and to hold onto respectability above grace and to seek control over others more than mercy and compassion. It is far easier to be “right” than to be loving and kind.


Grace astonishes us – it breaks into our world with a burst of light in the midst of our suffering and neediness. “I was blind but now I see” or “I was ashamed but I found forgiveness” or “I was depressed and I found the joy of the Lord”. Grace is not just a new doctrine; it is a new state of fellowship with God. Grace always changes us inwardly and frequently changes us outwardly as well. Grace breaks into the continuum and turns it upside down. Has that happened to you?

Blessings in Jesus,

John Edmiston