Preaching on John 9: The testimony of a man born blind

I spoke on John 9 last night at Haddenham Baptist Church. It’s a wonderful passage, that comes at the end of the Feast of Tabernacles where the Jews would remember their time in the wilderness, living in tents while waiting for their more permanent home.

The things that I found most striking about this passage were:

Jesus isn’t the main character

After a pretty intense couple of chapters, set during the second half of the Feast, where Jesus talks about who he is, we arrive at the healing of a man who had been born blind. Jesus makes mud and puts it on his eyes and then sends him off to wash in the Pool of Siloam. That’s about it from Jesus until the end of the chapter when he comes to find the man he’d healed so that he can know who Jesus really is.

The rest of the chapter is the man’s testimony, first to his neighbours and then to the Pharisees about what had happened to him.

Fake news isn’t new

Anyone who thinks that fake news is a social media phenomenon needs to think again. This passage is littered with groups trying to put their own spin on the man’s story to suit their worldview.

18 The Jewish leaders still refused to believe the man had been blind and could now see, so they called in his parents.

They already had the testimony of the people to say that this was the man who was once blind, and the statement of the man himself.

24 So for the second time they called in the man who had been blind and told him, “God should get the glory for this, because we know this man Jesus is a sinner.”

The Pharisees had made their mind up as to who Jesus was, despite evidence to the contrary.

29 We know God spoke to Moses, but we don’t even know where this man comes from.”

This is a complete lie. In the previous chapters, the Pharisees had already commented on the fact that Jesus had come from Galilee.

In clinging to their own world view, the Pharisees can’t see the truth of the evidence put before them.

Seeing clearly

It’s interesting that the first time the blind man gets to see Jesus is at the end of the passage. He would have set off to the pool in the opening verses without having seen Jesus and by the time he came back Jesus was gone.

So the main bulk of his testimony was based on the understanding that being healed in this way could only be done by someone good with power over creation.

Then in the last few verses, he meets Jesus, and understanding fully worships him.

All that evidence

There’s a sting in this story for the Pharisees.

41 “If you were blind, you wouldn’t be guilty,” Jesus replied. “But you remain guilty because you claim you can see.

All the evidence the Pharisees have. Not just in what they have seen over the last few days, but all the knowledge they have in knowing the Scriptures, means that they should really be able to interpret what’s going on and who Jesus is – but all that knowledge seems to mean nothing.

There’s a caution for us in there too. Do we misinterpret evidence because of our own ideas and biases? Do we avoid asking questions because we are afraid of the answers we may get (or just ignore the answers anyway)?