At our church we’ve recently appointed a new Minister for Youth and Families, a guy called Olly. Before he arrived, none of us knew him. But imagine if we all decided to try and guess what he was like.
- Someone might say, I think he’ll be really chatty and like cooking.
- Someone else would say, No, I’m pretty sure he’ll be into sport.
- Perhaps someone would add, I’ve heard a rumour he’s actually really shy and his favourite colour is red.
Any of that stuff might be true. But who knows? The only way we can be sure is if Olly turns up and introduces himself. Until then, we’re all in the dark. Lots of people have their own ideas about God, about who he is and what he’s like. Any of that stuff might be true. But who knows? We’re in the dark.
And then Jesus comes along and says I am the light of the world. I am God himself, come looking for you. The big idea in John 9 is this: Jesus is the light of the world, and he brings God to us. That might not sound very exciting. But it’s the very best news you could hear this morning if you don’t yet know God, and it’s the very best news you could hear if you do.
The first thing we see is that because Jesus is the light of the world, he brings understanding. Look with me at v2-3. They meet a man blind from birth. The disciples ask Jesus, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ That was the common view of the day. If you are suffering, it’s because you sinned. It’s also a common view today. If someone has a bad run of circumstances, they ask, what have I done to deserve this? If a Christian suffers, we might think, is it my fault? Jesus says, probably not.
Of course, sometimes our sin does result in our suffering. If you commit adultery, you will hurt yourself and your family. But it is not necessarily the case that my individual sin is the cause of my individual suffering.
That can’t be the rule, can it? Just think about the cross. Jesus suffered on the cross, yet he was without sin. The truth is, most of the time we suffer because we live in a messed up world. Jesus the light of the world shows me that my suffering is not necessarily the result of my sin. He brings understanding.
But he doesn’t stop there. He also brings healing. In v7 Jesus heals the man blind from birth. That is Jesus’ answer to our suffering. He heals us.
Now listen carefully, because this is important. There are two things you can be sure of as a Christian.
Number 1 – Jesus won’t heal everything now. He gave this blind man his sight; but the blind man went on to live, get ill, suffer, and die. Jesus still heals people today. Many of us here this morning can tell of times he has healed us. But he won’t heal everything now. Unless he returns first, in this life you will get ill, suffer, and die. Many Christians run aground when they ask Jesus to heal them and he doesn’t. My friends, don’t fall into that trap. He never promised to heal everything now.
Number 2 – if you are a Christian, Jesus will heal everything one day. He has promised to do that.To heal you, inside and out. To heal creation, and make it new. One day. When he returns. And this miracle shows that he can. He’s the light of the world, and he will make the world light.
Thirdly, Jesus brings God to us. It’s crucial that we understand what Jesus means when he says “I am the light of the world” in v5. He’s not claiming to have the newest or cleverest opinion about who God is. He’s claiming to be God, turning up in person and introducing himself. Look with me at v32. The previously blind man hits the nail on the head: ‘Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind’. This bloke had never been able to see. So Jesus didn’t restore his sight. He gave him new eyes. This isn’t a miracle of restoration. It’s a miracle of new creation.That might be why Jesus heals him by putting mud on his eyes. Back at the start of the Bible, God created Adam out of mud. And here’s Jesus creating new eyes out of mud.
If an old Michaelangelo needs restoration, you bring in an expert to touch it up. But the expert restorer can’t make a new Michelangelo. Only the original artist can do that. Jesus is doing what only God can do – a work of new creation. He is the original artist. And we’re supposed to draw the obvious conclusion – Jesus must be God himself.
Now notice this – the blind man doesn’t go looking for Jesus. Jesus finds him in v1.The blind man doesn’t initiate the conversation about healing – Jesus makes the first move.That’s how the light of the world works. He doesn’t sit there hoping that we will grope around in the dark to find him. He has come to find us. We are all blind towards God. Literally, in the sense that we can’t physically see him. And spiritually, because we can’t figure out what he’s like or what life is for.
You might spend your time on a spiritual quest for God, trying different religions and philosophies. But you can’t ever be sure you’ve got it right. That’s why Jesus is such good news.
Because Jesus says, stop searching for God in the dark. Through me, God has turned on the lights, and come to find you. The evidence proclaims that Jesus is the light of the world, and he brings God to us.
But what does that mean for you and I? Firstly, don’t avoid him. Look at the blind man’s parents in v22.The Pharisees ask them how their son has been healed. But they won’t answer. They dodge the question, and v22 tells us why: ‘His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue’.
These parents can see the evidence that Jesus is the light of the world. He’s just given their son new eyes! But they avoid responding to Jesus themselves because they fear what other people will say and do.
Imagine a stag do at a safari park. It’s getting a bit out of hand, as stag do’s sometimes do. Then some bright spark suggests climbing into the lion’s enclosure. The lion keeper spots the gang in with the lions, and he shouts at them, Get out! Those lions are hungry! The bright spark who first climbed in says to his mates, Rubbish! Climbing out is for chickens. I’m staying here – who’s with me?
What do you do? What it boils down to is this – what do you fear most? Losing face in front of your friends, or losing your face to a hungry lion? I’m sure you’d all climb out. It’s better to be on side with the lions than your crazy friend. Don’t avoid responding to Jesus because you fear what others may say. It’s better to be on side with God than other people.
Secondly, respond to him. What’s the high point of this story? We stopped at v11, and by that point the amazing healing has already happened. But the story keeps on building to its climax, when Jesus comes to find the man again in v35. Then Jesus speaks about the Son of Man, which is Bible language for the ruler of everything. The blind man asks, Who is this Son of Man? Jesus replies in v37, ‘You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you’. And the previously blind man believes and worships. Do you see what this means? The decisive moment isn’t when the blind man gets healed. It’s when he sees and responds to Jesus.
Maybe you’re not yet sure whether you want to be a Christian. Perhaps you’re here because you want to find out more, so you can assess it all for yourself. That’s a really good thing to do. But you need to be clear about one thing before you go on. Christianity doesn’t claim to offer you a philosophy for life, a way to find meaning and eternity. If it did, it would be just like all the other religions.And you could never be sure which one was true. Instead, Christianity offers you Jesus. A man who claims to be God himself, come looking for you.
Exploring Christianity is about getting to know a person, not investigating a set of ideas. So you go about it the same way you would get to know any other person. Listen to what he says and see what he does – in the Bible.Talk to him – in prayer. Hang out with others who know him well – in church. But be clear on this – ultimately, you need to respond to Jesus yourself. Until you have personally responded to Jesus, you are nowhere with God.
Finally, tell people about him.Look at what the previously blind man says in v25: ‘Whether Jesus is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.’ Isn’t that brilliant? He basically says, I can’t answer your questions about law and morality and all that. But I can tell you what Jesus has done in my life. So can we. This is something we can do. We won’t have the answer to every question. We may not know our Bibles back to front. But if we follow Jesus, we can all say what he has done in our life.
And notice this – the blind man tells people about Jesus. You can see that in v11, v17, v25, and v33. All the way through, he is speaking to others about Jesus. Not about God. Not about religion. Not about church. Not about faith. But about Jesus.To outsiders, ‘god’ is an idea, religion is a way of life, church is an institution, and faith is a spiritual ability only certain people have.But Jesus is a person. We can debate ideas, disagree with a way of life, dislike institutions and dismiss spiritual abilities. But Jesus is a person, and you have to meet a person before you can honestly do anything else. Speaking about Jesus to people won’t turn them all into Christians. But it will mean they are starting in the right place. Not with our thoughts about God. But with God himself, come as a person we can still meet today through his Bible.
So let me encourage you to do one small thing this week. Whenever you’re about to use the word ‘God’ in a conversation, swap it for the name ‘Jesus’. This is such good news if you find evangelism a bit scary, like I do. If God is an idea, you have to persuade people like a philosopher. If it’s all about a different way of life, you have to act like a salesperson. But because it begins with Jesus, you just have to introduce a friend. Jesus is the light of the world, and he brings God to us. Jesus sells himself. Jesus persuades people himself.We just want others to meet him. And that begins by talking about him like he’s a real person you can meet and know.