You may click here to read John 9:1-41 and see Jesus change the man.


Change: do we like it? Do we want it?

There are people who are so into cars. Cars have changed their life. They can tell you the latest make and model and they can tell you what their first car was, how many cylinders their cousin’s pickup has, and what type of interior the 1972 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme had (cloth or vinyl). 

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There are foodies, people who love food and can talk about it like a curator of the museum can talk about Van Gough. They go to this restaurant and that one and they plan vacations not around the beach or the mountains, but around the best restaurants that the city has to offer. Flavor and finding that new favorite restaurant changes everything.

Shoe people. Some people love shoes. They have so many shoes they could clothe a centipede. They buy a pair of shoes and then say, “Well, I’m going to have to buy an outfit that goes with that, aren’t I? 

Variety is the spice of life. Yet, when it comes to people, especially those close to us, we don’t want them to change. The biggest indictment against someone? “You’ve changed.” Meaning, I don’t like it.

Think about it! Here is a man who gets kicked out of church because he believes in God! It changed him and no one liked it. How could he go and be so insensitive? Let’s get into the story.

His Mom and Dad Didn’t Expect Change

His mom and dad say, “Well, he’s had a touch of religion here and there, but this is something else. He’s an adult. Ask him.”

Thanks, Mom. Thanks, Dad. I knew you’d almost be there for me. 

They didn’t expect him to change and they had felt that way all his life.

Sweetheart, come here. Notice something. Have you noticed that little Johnny’s eyes don’t follow the candlelight around the room? We can come into this room early in the morning when there is no sunlight coming through the curtains. And even when I light the match, it doesn’t get his attention.

See here. What baby’s eyes don’t follow the light? 

Do you think something has happened to our baby? 

That changed their life, but they never expected him to be any different.

The Disciples Don’t Expect Him to See

Notice too, the disciples don’t expect the man to change. They walk right past him like he’s a piece of antique furniture – something to be glanced at and wondered about.

It was a common thought by some at that time that if something bad happened to you, you must be guilty of doing something wrong. Your suffering, though difficult, must be deserved. 

Bad things happen to those who deserve it. Good things happen to those who deserve it. In a world of color, we sure do like it to be black and white sometimes. 

Who sinned? This man? His parents? 

Picture of a brown and dry cracked earth which will change when it rains. Jesus used mud to put on the blind man's eyes.

You pass out at work and the ambulance takes you to the hospital. The nurses triage you and they admit you to the hospital at least overnight for observation. Observation in this case means that you’ve got an iv and a bright bracelet on your wrist that says, “Fall Hazard.” They’ve got monitors of all sorts attached to your chest. They’ve taken 55 gallons of blood out of you and they’ve ordered X-rays.

You have a fitful night of sleep and there you are in bed half scared to death and half bored the other half and there’s a knock on that door. Another knock on the door. “Come in,” and you fumble around and turn the volume down on the tv that’s hanging on the wall. 

The person enters. Hi, I’m Chaplain Thunderclap. Here you are. Is there a confession you’d like to make as to what you did to end up here? 

I’d be hard-pressed not to help that minister find a shortcut to the pearly gates. 

Jesus doesn’t attribute suffering to wrongdoing. Obviously, there is cause and effect, but suffering and calamity are not necessarily caused by moral hazard. Sometimes there is no blame.

Well, Jesus, who made God so mad that God withdrew the blessing? 

“Guys, you misunderstand this. Suffering should not imply a lack of God’s presence. God draws near to us our darkest moment.”

It’s not a theory to Jesus. Jesus sees the person is more than their circumstances.

The Man Himself Didn’t Expect to See

It’s worth noting that the man himself didn’t expect to change! He didn’t cry out like blind Bartimaeus who said, “Lord, Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 

No, that morning he woke up, had breakfast, took the dog out one last time, and walked to the spot designated for him to sit and ask for alms, for help from the faithful. As far as he knew, he was going to end the day as he started: in the dark.

Jesus speaks to him, spits on the ground, and makes some mud with it. The man feels the grit scrape his skin. Jesus puts it on the man’s eyes and says, “Go to the very special pool and wash.” 

That pool, Siloam, is the pool that the priest would go to during the feast of the Tabernacle. He would fill up large containers of water and then pour it out on the altar. This was to remind people that God will pour out grace, the Spirit, and will, at last, pour the Messiah into a world that thirsts for grace and truth.

Now, I’m sure the man was going to clean his face anyway, but he goes and he washes and he trusts the words of Jesus and he gets his sight, but it makes his life so much more complicated.

I’m sorry to tell you, but that part of it hasn’t changed much at all. It’s hard to have your life changed by God. Faith can solve some questions, but faith can produce new ones.

Having Eyes to See Means We See the Shadows

there we were, minding our own business in the dark and God comes in and turns on the lights! Don’t do that, God, now I can see the cockroaches! 

Well, I was planning to stay this way forever and now you’ve changed everything. You’ve put the items in my moral pantry away on different shelves. Some ethics and values are now at eye level and are front and center and I’ve noticed, Lord, that you put anger and sloth and cynicism on the back shelf out of my reach. But, Lord, understand, those were my favorites, my go-to, my comfort food. 

Think of it another way. Light changes everything but so does the dark.

The good thing about darkness is that it makes you sleepy and makes you close your eyes. Like clockwork, when daylights savings moves up an hour, our youngest’s bedtime gets pushed back as well. Why? Dad, I can’t sleep with all this light. 

Click here to read about Christ, the Golden Hour.

Light makes it easier to open your eyes. The darkness pulls them down.

Spiritually speaking, you can live in the dark. You can get accustomed to the dark. You can get so used to it that when God turns on the light it hurts your eyes so bad that you feel like it’s a punishment.

There are species of fish that live in the deep, deep ocean where sunlight never reaches them. Over time they have evolved to not have eyes. What good is a sense of sight when all you do is live in the dark? 

Without the gospel of Christ, we can become people without eyes to see. Sometimes the light of God’s word comes to us and it makes us squint or cover our faces. 

It’s hard to see! It’s hard to look into the closet of our life and see the mess. We just turn the light off and close the door.  

It’s great that you love God, but it is true that being a person who tries to take Jesus at his word will complicate your life. 

God has done a lot of things in my life, but God has not simplified my life. I have to think about my temper, my habits, how I use my free time, and how I treat people in person and online. 

Seeing is fine, but that means you have to look at the good and the bad.

The Religious People Did Not Want Him to Change

Now, we are back in our text and I have to warn you right now, we are getting to the part where the religious people show up. 

The man goes to the pool. He kneels down. He feels the coolness of the water in his hands. He anticipates how it will feel on his face. He scrubs away the grit and the first thing he sees are ripples in the water. He washes his face and comes back seeing. The neighbors notice.

Now, Henry, come to the front window. Is that Jimmy? No, Jimmy walks slower and stumbles over the lip of the sidewalk. He’s blind. That man is not blind, notice how he’s looking around at everything. 

No, I think that’s Jimmy. He’s got Jimmy’s nose and hair. Those are Jimmy’s eyes. That’s his coat. 

Maybe Jimmy has a brother? 

No, I know Jimmy doesn’t have a brother because his parents didn’t know if they could, well, you know. It worried them. That’s Jimmy.

There is no way it’s him. Nobody can change just like that.

Just, scootch. Let me open this front door. Jimmy? Is that you? 

Yes’ ma’am. 

You’ve changed, son.

Everything’s changed, ma’am. 

What happened? 

(Covers eyes from sunlight). This sun makes it hard to see.

A man named Jesus put mud on my eyes and told me to wash and when I washed I was able to see. I’m walking back home now to tell Mom and Dad.

Now the grapevine is busy and Sue texts Jody and Jody calls Mr. Johnson and soon someone puts it on Facebook. Pretty soon the people in church find out and they are upset that of all the days, Jesus did this on the Sabbath and that is a no-no. [Click here to read about the Sabbath and the many conversations around that issue in the gospel. ]

It’s just hard to see how God could bless someone when they did something we didn’t like. When they didn’t do it in the way that we would like. 

The leaders call the man to testify. What do you think of this man who healed you on the sabbath and broke that law? He’s a prophet.

Get out of here. 

Go get his parents. What’s the gimmick? 

Yes, our boy has changed, but he’s an adult, and adults are allowed to change. Ask him.

Bring him back. Account for yourself, young man. You used to live this way and now you live this way. Your view has changed. We don’t like it.  

Listen, I didn’t ask for this. I was minding my own business. I confess I don’t know stuff like you. During the Lord’s prayer, I say trespass instead of debts. When we stand to say the Apostles Creed I still have to look down occasionally. If the bulletin didn’t give me the page number of the passage I’d have a tough time finding the passage. 

There’s so much I don’t know. That’s not changed, but I do know this: I was blind and now I see.

Even Sighted People Can Be Blind

But for their part, they couldn’t see. I understand how they feel. It’s hard to see God answer a prayer in someone’s life that you’ve also prayed would be true for you. “God answered them. Why not me? I asked God for that way before they did.”

It’s hard to see such spiritual enlightenment happen even when that person didn’t ask for it. Here we are. I pray. I read my Bible. I worship. I give. I plead. I serve. And my faith feels as thin and dry as a communion wafer. 

It just feels like you are the one in the dark. Why is life like this for me? Why is it always so hard? Does God see me? Does God care?

They didn’t know what to do with this man, so they said, “Well, we are not too used to people changing around here. There’s a nice reformed church just two miles away. We believe you’d be more comfortable there.” 

He Finally Sees Jesus

So the man walks out of the church and walks through the city and sits down at a park bench. He throws some of his bag lunch to the pigeons. 

Soon another man sat down by him. Nice day. 

Yep, everything looks so beautiful.

Have you ever noticed that when you come to this city that everyone has their own opinions and wants to shove theirs onto you? 

The man nods, “Yep. They can’t see you for you. They see you as an extension of themselves. And I’m beginning to think they couldn’t see good news if it was standing in front of them.”

That’s the truth, right there. 

There’s a lot of talk in this city about the Messiah. If I knew who he was and where he was, I’d worship him right now. I’m just so happy and thankful.

You are looking at him.

Like the prophet Isaiah said, “The one sitting in darkness has seen a great light.” And the man fell down and worshipped Christ who is the light of the world. In whom we see the radiance, kindness, and goodness of God. Who can look away from that face after finally seeing it? “

Worshipping Jesus on the park bench is a great response! Every day in the dark and now the contrast couldn’t be better. God came to me and graced me even when I didn’t expect it. God didn’t wait for me to get cleaned up and then grace me. God didn’t wait for me to excel at religious conversations before God would bless me and care for me. 

No, Jesus saw me. I once was lost. Now I’m found. I was blind. Now I see. Someone should write a hymn with those words.

Friends, it doesn’t take a blind man to see that Jesus is to be praised for the light of God he brings to us. Christ is the Light of the World, the light of very light, in whose presence there is joy evermore.

May the light of Christ reach us in the deep, deep ocean of life. May he give us eyes to see and hearts to rejoice.

It’s just hard to see how we can stay in the dark after feeling the grit of grace bring us into the light. Amen

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