Let me share with you my personal testimony….
For much of my life I was blissfully unaware of dark secrets in our home. On two occasions our Bishop visited he found me vacuuming the carpet. Our previous church, St John’s Stoke in Guildford, at the time, had more carpet than any other church in the Diocese. The Bishop wondered if this was why I had appointed – to clean the church carpets. But I was not a happy bunny. I became increasingly dissatisfied with our vacuum cleaner and sought counselling. I tried replacing the bags and checked the mechanism to see if it was blocked. I will never forget the day I found enlightenment and fulfilment in this area of my ministry. That morning I had already vacuumed the floor as usual. I had given up for the last time, went to a superstore and invested in our very first Dyson. I brought it home and vacuumed the same room once more. To my shame I had to empty the machine three times… I became a new man. I would get the Dyson out and show it off whenever visitors came to the house. I explained the power of its dual action cyclone. How the air inside reaches a speed of 924 mph creating powerful G forces that spin out the dust into a solid mass.
Whereas a traditional vacuum loses 50% of its suction after just one room, even with a clean new bag, a Dyson maintains 100% suction 100% of the time. Charles Dyson perfected his revolutionary machine after producing over 5000 prototypes. So impressed with the power of a Dyson, we bought a newer, more powerful machine, last year and donated our older Dyson to the Church. Is your life blessed with a Dyson? I will gladly give a demonstration if you remain sceptical. I am looking forward one day to owning the newest Dyson which is a robotic version guided by remote sensors so it will clean the house all by itself. But my next acquisition will probably be the Dyson bladeless fan. I cannot imagine life without a Dyson, or why anyone would not want to own one.
“Jesus said “I am the Light of the World, whoever follows me will never walk in darkness.” (John 8:12).
In the story recorded in John 9, Jesus went on to prove it was true. Jesus did something that had never ever happened before in all of history. Jesus gave sight to someone who had been blind from birth. And through this miracle he wants to teach us something very wonderful too. I want us to retrace this man’s spiritual journey from darkness to light.
I want us to see the three main sections of his testimony – before, during and after he encountered the Lord Jesus Christ. And as we consider this man’s testimony let us reflect on our own spiritual journey. Be reflecting on what your life was like before you met Jesus? How did you come to know Jesus as your Lord and Saviour? And what has life been like since you came to know and follow Jesus?
- What was his condition before he met Christ?
“As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (John 9:1-5)
We don’t know much about this man except that he was blind and as a consequence, poor. He was a beggar, dependent on the charity of others. He was not however, necessarily blind because he was a sinner. A common belief in Jewish tradition understood suffering to be the result of sin. We live in a fallen world where good behaviour is not always rewarded and bad behaviour not always punished. Therefore, innocent people sometimes suffer. Regardless of the reason for our suffering, Jesus has the power to help us deal with it. When you suffer, don’t ask, “Why has this happened to me?” or “What did I do wrong?” Rather, ask God to give you strength to cope. Remember Jesus words, “this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (John 9:3). And pray that God might be glorified in and through your suffering, whatever the outcome. What was the man like before he met Jesus? He was blind and poor, a helpless sinner. And that is what we too are without Christ.
2. How did he come to know Jesus Christ?
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.” “Where is this man?” they asked him. “I don’t know,” he said… Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see.” (John 9:11-15)
Jesus rubbed some wet mud onto the blind man’s eyes and told him to go and wash. What did the man do? He did as he was told and went home seeing! As the crowds debated whether it was him or not, he must have jumped up and down trying to be heard…. “It’s me! It’s me!” “Then who did this to you?” they asked. How did the man reply? Notice the four steps he takes to trusting in Jesus.
2.1 “The man Jesus did this.”
“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.” (John 9:11)
That was his first step into the light. Recognising the reality of Jesus. The historical person. He began to trust in Jesus. That first step is not intended to be a blind leap of faith but a sure and certain step into the light, as we begin to take Jesus seriously. But notice some people wouldn’t believe it was the same man. There is no joy shared, no praise to God for this miracle, just doubt, suspicion and prejudice. The people couldn’t make up their minds so they took him to the religious leaders. They too were full of intimidating questions. “Is this your son?” “yes”, “was he born blind?” “yes”, Here the man took his second step into the light.
2.2 “He is a Prophet”
“Then they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” The man replied, “He is a prophet.” (John 9:17)
Jesus must be inspired to do such a wonderful thing. That was his second step into the light – declaring Jesus was sent from God. What did the man do next? He wasn’t intimidated by their questions. Instead he grew more confident. He shared his testimony as far as he understood it. His story of what God had done in his life. The Jewish Sabbath, Saturday, was the weekly holy day of rest. The Pharisees had regulated what could and could not be done on the Sabbath. When Jesus made a paste of mud from some earth and a little spit in his hands, the Pharisees considered that work and condemned him. Jesus could have healed the blind man with a word. Why mud and spit? Perhaps Jesus was drawing a parallel with the way he created the first man in Genesis 2. The similarity is striking.
“Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7)
The Pharisees were sceptical because they were jealous of Jesus’ popularity. They denied the evidence staring them in the face. They were no longer interested in the facts, only with gathering evidence to incriminate Jesus. So the questions begin to fly again. It had turned into a show trial, the miracle was now really quite irrelevant. But not to this man. He couldn’t believe his eyes. This former blind beggar, used to being pushed around and moved on, turns the tables on these religious leaders. He is amazed at how illogical they had become. How unwilling they were to face the truth. He had already trusted the man Jesus. He had testified that Jesus was a prophet. Now he goes one step further.
2.3 “Surely such a man was from God”
“The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will. Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” (John 9:30-33)
The man had taken his third step. He now defends Jesus. He begins to see that it was not he but they who were really blind. Their blindness was however, self- inflicted. His testimony was based on two vital things. His faith was based on Knowledge – “One thing I know” (John 9:25).
And his faith was rooted in Experience – “I was blind but now I see.” (John 9:25). Knowledge and Experience – both are needed for an authentic contagious faith. They are a difficult combination to argue with. The man did not yet know how, or why, he had been healed. But he knew it was true because he could now see. That is the power of testimony. That is why he wasn’t afraid of the consequences. He told the truth and left them to work out the implications. You don’t need to know all the answers either, in order to share Christ with others. Tell people how your life has changed and is changing through meeting Jesus. Then trust God to use your story to help others believe in him too. But believing Jesus was a real human being, even believing Jesus was a prophet from God was not enough. This man needed to take one more step.
2.4 He received Jesus as his personal Lord and Saviour
“Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.” Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.” Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. (John 9:35-38)
The man put all four pieces of the jigsaw together and realised who Jesus really was. He calls Jesus Lord. The healed man finally looks upon his healer for the first time. What did he do? He fell to His knees in worship. This was proof of his faith in Jesus. Are you surprised? Jesus accepted worship that was due to God alone because that is who He is, God and man in the same person. The Son of God. The invitation to the man born blind had been accepted. But there is also an invitation to those who had seen, or have read about this miracle and who are in danger of becoming blind,
“For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too? Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.” (John 9:39-41).
What does Jesus mean? Light from the sun enables us to see. But the sun must be treated with respect. Just enough brings life and energy, too much and it brings cancer and decay. Sunlight may look harmless but it can also be very dangerous. Someone foolish enough to look at the sun through a telescope will go blind instantly, permanently.
But Jesus tells us there are worse things than physical blindness. People who look at the Son of God and refuse to accept his claims, ignore his credentials and spurn the evidence, become increasingly blind to reality, blind to the truth. Dio Chrysostom was a Christian of the first century. This is how he described those who reject Jesus. “Like men with sore eyes; they find the light painful, while the darkness, which permits them to see nothing, is restful and agreeable.” We have seen glimpsed this man before he met Christ – a blind beggar. We have seen how he met Christ.
3. How was his life changed after he met Jesus?
We simply don’t know what happened to this man – other than that he could now see and therefore work and provide for himself. His life was irrevocably transformed by Jesus.
We don’t even know his first name, but his testimony has been retold for two thousand years. If you have come to know Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, you have a credible testimony as well. If not, then perhaps you can identify with the blind man somewhere along his spiritual journey.
Think of the people whose lives could be transformed by hearing your testimony of what God has done in your life. They might not be convinced by your arguments or agree with your beliefs, but hearing your testimony may impact them powerfully. The man’s new faith was severely tested by some of the religious leaders. You too may face ridicule, hostility or even persecution. You may lose friends; you may even lose your life. But no one can ever take away what you have come to know and experience in Jesus. The question is – are you ready to share your testimony? I recommend you write down the key points – before, during and after you came to know Jesus, so that you will be ready to share your testimony when asked. You should have received some guidelines to help you write out your testimony. If not, pick up an outline before you leave, (or find them below these sermon notes). I invite you to write out your testimony then memorise it. I will gladly help you shape it up. Then you will be ready to explain why you are a Christian when anyone asks you for the reason for the hope within you. The longer this man experienced his new life through Christ, the more confident he became in the one who had healed him.
The same is true of us. It is often only when our faith is tested that we grow in confidence. Light always separates. Jesus had taken the initiative, intervened, meeting this person at his point of deepest need. He invited a response of faith. The man came into the light. But the Pharisees turned their backs on Jesus and walked away from the light. What about you? Through this story Jesus speaks into your situation and mine. He knows you better than you do yourself. Your needs, your hopes and fears, your future. Jesus brings the light of his understanding and the warmth of his presence into our dark world. He came that we might know, personally know, God as our Heavenly Father, through Jesus the Son. Four steps to spiritual sight, four steps to spiritual blindness. It all depends on what we make of Jesus. And oh yes, believing is indeed seeing. Let us pray.
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