In John 9 there’s a sign (vv.1-7), two investigations (vv.8-23, 24-34), and now, at the end of the chapter, a big point for us – the need for the right attitude and to admit blind spots, our spiritual blindspots,
Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said,
“Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him,
“You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.”
He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. Jesus said,
“For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.”
Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” Jesus said to them,
“If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.”
First, in v.35, we see that Jesus pursues the ostracised and marginalised, He heard that they had cast the formerly blind man out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” The man clarifies (v.36), and Jesus replies with a self-revelation of identity,
“You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” (v.37).
The man believes and worships, and Jesus receives that worship (v.38), and then shares His purpose (v.39). John recorded these words of Jesus as part of a larger theme in his Gospel – he shares it at the very end and we’ve referenced it a few times so far in this series – that you believe, that you read and see and understand enough that you believe,
…these are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
Part of that believing, then, is what we are about to read. We’ve shifted now from the physical and local (vv.1-7) to the spiritual and the universal (vv.39-41),
…so that those who do not see may gain their sight (v.39).
Part of the believing that John is urging us to have is the admission of blindness. Jesus is now using blindness in a spiritual, metaphorical sense – of those who cannot see the light and truth of God, especially as it is revealed in Jesus Christ. The Pharisees overhear and ask a loaded, almost rhetorical-in-their-mind question of Jesus “Are we also blind?” (v.40). The way John records this anticipates a negative answer, “We are not blind too, are we?”. Jesus then replies, look, if you were blind, you would have no sin, no guilt, but, because you think you see, your sin, your guilt, it remains (v.41). See, if the Pharisees, and us, would admit to spiritual blindness, there is forgiveness and freedom on hand – but because they say “we see,” [their] sin remains.
There is a great difference between the one who is blind and knows it and admits it,
and the one who simply shuts his eyes and pretends everything is ok.
So, for you, where are your blindspots? Are you willing to even admit that you have them?
The blind man received sight physically, and this led him to see spiritually as well. But the Pharisees, who claimed to possess spiritual sight, were spiritually blinded.
This man admitted his blindness, admitted his need, he said,
I do know one thing—that although I was blind, now I can see.”
And this is where we come in. This text, John 9, including the sign in vv.1-7 teaches us that Jesus has the ability and the desire to heal physical blindness. The sign shows us that Jesus can use whatever methods He chooses for a miracle, whatever system He chooses for a sign, here specifically healing someone born blind to fulfill Scripture and show the wondrous works of God through what happened to this man and through this man (vv.1-7).
He heals this man of physical blindness, fulfilled Scripture, and conclusively shows those who know that He is the Messiah, the Christ, the promised One of God.
So He heals of physical blindness, then, teaches and warns of spiritual blindness, transcending the natural and the supernatural, physical and local, to spiritual and all-encompassing, universal. He challenges the Pharisees on their own spiritual blindness and sin. The end of this passage is strong,
“If you were blind, you would have no guilt;
but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.
What do we do with this then, where is our place is this passage, well, think – Are you willing to admit that you are still blind? Are you willing to admit that you still have areas for growth and learning?
What do we do with this then? – Check your blindspots. How do we do this? Through accountability, in community, and with humility. Through mutual submission to other believers, those God has put in your life to lead. Don’t go looking far and wide for someone to speak into your life, think of the good samaritan (Luke 10.25-37); who is my neighbour, the person next to you with a need. Don’t go looking far and wide for someone to help you with this; look here, look within the family. If you are not sure, ask for help, reach out, but this is on you, this is your attitude, this is your challenge – check your blindspots.
Passages like this, John 9, they are like a fire that Jesus has kindled in front of you;
- some will be drawn to it and do something about it, admitting they have blindspots, or maybe even that they are totally spiritually blind and need a guide, someone to learn from, a yoke to take on.
- some will admire and appreciate it from a distance, seeing the truth in it but not experiencing and committing to it. The Word has a strong warning for you if that is you – oh yes, bad Pharisees, good job I’m not like that, I have no need to actually do something about this…
- and some will run away completely because you know where you’ve got blindspots but you’re not really willing to do anything about it.
So, John 9, what do we do with this – Check your blindspots.