Jn 9:1-41; Ephes.5:8-14.
In these dark days of winter and of darkness penetrating many areas of our fractured culture I am reminded that Jesus’ birth is described as the unquenchable light shining in the darkness. We are now in the season of Epiphany where the birth and significance of Jesus was revealed to three wise men from the East as a bright new star in the heavens [possibly a Super-Nova] they were motivated in their spirits to follow the star which guided them to where Jesus was born.
Light is the energy source upon which all life exists and is maintained. This was one of the first acts of God in creation; He spoke let their be light, and there was light in the creation of stars. Life receives light by a process of photosynthesis carried out by chlorophyll bearing organisms that convert solar energy into chemical energy. The source of this light is our Sun. If the world became blind to light, for some reason plunged into darkness unable to receive light through, say, a thick blanket of dust cloud, all advanced life would soon cease. Light is also very important to us in revealing the make up of things around us we “Hold things up to the light to help us to see the detail of what things look like, to avoid obstacles in our path.” Without light things are hidden from us, often dangerously so. Imagine walking blindfold along the road outside your house. You would be feeling your way groping and stumbling over obstacles that are in your way. You would risk bumping into people and falling down man-holes! What a daft thing to do you would say!
But spiritually this is the exact cause of humanities problems. We are groping around unable to see who we are, where we have come from or where we are going. We go through life blindfolded, groping in the darkness, stumbling and tripping over many obstacles. The man Jesus saw was blind from birth (Jn.9:1) but are we not all born spiritually blind at birth, worse still we are born into a dark world without light.
God saw that what we needed was light to drive away the darkness. According to Strongs concordance there are over 250 references to light in the Bible about a hundred of them in the New Testament. God’s love and grace made provision to meet our need. Jesus came as Light for our Darkness. He describes himself by the words: “I am the bread of life. I am the door. I am the good shepherd; I am the way, the truth and the life, I am the resurrection and the life; I am the light of the world.” Jesus Christ is the light of the world. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things were made through Him and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” Jn.1:1-4. We need Light to see; and what we see with our eyes is only possible when there is light. When there is absolute darkness, we cannot see anything even with exceptionally good eyesight. When however the problem is with the eyes no amount of light will enable us to see unless sight is first restored.
The man Jesus met was born blind and for him everything was in darkness since the day of his birth. He had never seen the light of day and, since he couldn’t work, was forced to beg. Asked by the disciples the reason for the man’s blindness Jesus declared that he was born blind so that God could reveal his great work of salvation in him; so that God, through Jesus, could show his majesty, his power and his great mercy (Jn.9:2-3). In the sovereign providence of God, this man was born blind so that the Lord Jesus Christ could heal him of his physical and spiritual blindness as a symbol or a sign for all mankind.
Since we are all born spiritually blind into a dark world because of sin, we need Christ the light of the world, to restore our sight. Jesus is the great sight giver. Without this inner sight we grope around in a spiritual darkness. What does this imply?
When we are spiritually blind we are unable to discern the truth (Ephes.5:9 ) and as a result we cannot see things as they really are and therefore run the risk of valuing the wrong things. Without light and without sight we cannot see and understand the truth about God. Our eyelids are often closed over those weaknesses in ourselves. Sometimes when the light exposes these things to us we develop spiritual cataracts of guilt which blind us to the solution. Only Jesus can restore our sight to enable us to see things as they really are; illuminated in the light of Christ.
The tragedy for many people is that they are not conscious that they are blind and are in darkness because they have rejected the light. Why? Because one of the properties of light is that it exposes things that are hidden in the dark.(Ephes. 5:11-13) We often are fooled by the dark into believing we do nothing wrong. We often do things in secret that we do not want others to know about. We prefer to live without the light because being in the light means that we have to give up too much.
The Pharisees accused the blind man of being “steeped in sin at birth” (Jn.9:34). What they did not see was that they too were sinners who needed to be saved. They were blind to their own sin and the need for salvation. Instead of rejoicing that people were being healed and lives changed and taking advantage of the healing taking place they were only concerned about the observance of the Sabbath (Jn.9:16). Keeping the Sabbath was more important to them than caring for the needs of others. Because of their blindness they did not realise that God never intended the Sabbath to prevent an act of mercy or kindness.
Christ the light of the world disperses our darkness and restores our sight. He brings us into the light so that we can also become light (Ephes.5:8). When certain materials are exposed to light they absorb that light and re-radiate it in the form of fluorescence. Paul asserts that we should witness to others the difference that light makes in our lives. We should live as children, a re-radiance, of that light. Many of the people that Jesus healed wanted to go with him. He always refused and advised them to stay where they were to serve as a fluorescing light for those who had known them and where the difference in their lives was evident for all to see. Christ came into the world to give light but it is left to us to accept that light or reject it. The gospel is not only good news to those who receive it but bad news to those who reject it. The gospel heard and accepted is life ; the gospel heard and refused is death.
The story of the healing of the blind man is both a miracle and a drama of central conflict going on in the gospel. When first healed and asked about the miracle the man replied that “a man called Jesus” healed him (Jn.9:11). The next time he was asked he replied that “He is a prophet”. When pressed again about Jesus he asserts: “If this man were not from God, He could do nothing.” And when he finally came face to face with Jesus, he fell down and worshiped him. The man who was healed gained not only physical sight but also spiritual sight as he recognised Jesus as his Lord. Contrasted with this is the hostility of the Pharisees. At first some of them defend Jesus but soon they all decide that Jesus’ defiance of the Sabbath is inexcusable and they told the man who had been healed to “give glory to God,” declaring that they new him, Jesus, to be a sinner.
Light represents what is good and holy and darkness what is sinful and evil. In the dark good and evil look alike. In the light they can clearly be distinguished. Just as darkness cannot exist in the presence of light, so sin cannot exist in the presence of a Holy God. Let us come into the light and put aside our sinful ways of living.
There is to be a distinct walk on the part of those whose sight has been restored and who are in the light. It is a walk and lifestyle that is different from that of the world. It is a life that is blameless and pure. We are to live in such a way that our behaviour is above reproach (Ephes.5:9 -11). It is not living a perfect life, but a life that nobody can point a finger at. We should live a life that will astonish a darkened world. “People may doubt what you say, but they will always believe what you do”. As people in the light we are to be light. It is only when we feel at home in the light of Christ that we can face many challenging temptations, which come to us in the ordinary experience of life. Whenever Jesus performed a miracle, it provoked all kinds of questions. Often these questions give the believer an opportunity to witness for the Lord.
The man who had been blind, at first did not know how or why he was healed, but he knew that his life had been miraculously changed and he was not afraid to tell the truth. His testimony was simple, yet convincing. Like the blind man we do not need to know all the answers to share the light of Christ with others, it is only necessary to tell others how he has changed our lives.
Unfortunately the world seems to prefer the darkness to light. We live in a fallen world, in a culture that today I believe has lost its way and gone astray blindly groping in its own way, where absolute God given morality has given way to relative personal standards of liberality, blind to the light of guiding star that leads to Jesus; the source of eternal truth and true freedom. When blind to the light of Jesus we trip and fall down the ‘man-holes’ of life. Today Jesus has sent us the gift of Holy Spirit to heal us and and remove the cataracts from our spiritual eyes.
Those who admit they cannot see are given sight, but those who insist that they can see perfectly, without Jesus, are confirmed in their blindness. Spiritual sight comes from a personal encounter, an Epiphany, with Jesus and leads to a new life in relationship to Him. In the world today there is light and darkness. There are those who accept to live in the light and those who chose to remain in the dark. Darkness prevents us from seeing things clearly. It hides the reality from us. It also hides the dangers that threaten our well being and even our life itself. Light enables us to see clearly. We can see where we are going, see what we are doing and have a fuller awareness of all that surrounds us. Turning on a light in a dark room brings darkness to an end. Jesus is the light for our darkness. By his death on the cross he has disarmed and overcome the powers of darkness so that we can turn away from the darkness, come into the light and become a light. The light of Christ will never be overcome by darkness; nor will those who live in the light.
Those whose blindness Christ has restored, those who see the light of our Lord Jesus Christ become children of the light and will remain in his light forever.
Do you have a clear vision of your future with Christ? Are you sharing that vision with others who may yet see? I hope so.