Sermon Notes – March 22, 2020


John 9:1-41

And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birthAnd his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?

Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.   I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.  As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay,  And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.

The neighbours therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged?

Some said, This is he: others said, He is like him: but he said, I am he.

10 Therefore said they unto him, How were thine eyes opened?   11 He answered and said, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash: and I went and washed, and I received sight.   12 Then said they unto him, Where is he? He said, I know not.

13 They brought to the Pharisees him that aforetime was blind.   14 And it was the sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes.  15 Then again the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. He said unto them, He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see.

16 Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them.

17 They say unto the blind man again, What sayest thou of him, that he hath opened thine eyes? He said, He is a prophet.

18 But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind, and received his sight, until they called the parents of him that had received his sight.  19 And they asked them, saying, Is this your son, who ye say was born blind? how then doth he now see?

20 His parents answered them and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind.   21 But by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself.   22 These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.  23 Therefore said his parents, He is of age; ask him.

24 Then again called they the man that was blind, and said unto him, Give God the praise: we know that this man is a sinner.   25 He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.

26 Then said they to him again, What did he to thee? how opened he thine eyes?   27 He answered them, I have told you already, and ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again? will ye also be his disciples?

28 Then they reviled him, and said, Thou art his disciple; but we are Moses’ disciples.  29 We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence he is.

30 The man answered and said unto them, Why herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes31 Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth32 Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind.  33 If this man were not of God, he could do nothing.

34 They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out.

35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God?

36 He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him?

37 And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is He that talketh with thee.

38 And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.

39 And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.

40 And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also?   41 Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.

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We’ve all experienced “invisible” people in our lives. People we don’t bear any ill will toward, or dislike, but people we and most of society disregard. The teenage cashier at the coffee shop, the homeless man asleep on the park bench, the person in the next seat on the bus.

It’s not that we are selfish and disregarding, it’s just that society, as it rolls along, ignores those who are inconvenient and pushes them aside. They become part of the scenery.

In Jesus’ day, people with disabilities like the man born blind in John 9 were part of this invisible category. They were completely dependent on the kindness of the society around them — there were no social services or other support systems. They would beg at the gates and the synagogue, wherever people were gathered.

Folks back then were so worried about their own survival that it was difficult to help the invisible people. They did — in some ways better than we do — but survival for a person with a disability was brutal and meager.

With this context in mind, our passage today throws emotional punches from the start. Turn with me to John 9.

As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. (John 9:1 ESV)

Jesus “saw” him. Jesus stops in his very important and increasingly dangerous journey to “see” an invisible person. The contrast is even more stark when we think that this man, who could never see, was seen by the Lord.

What follows is one of the most confusing he said/she said scenarios of Jesus’ career. First, Jesus sees and heals the man with mud he made from his own spit. Then Jesus tells him to wash in a nearby pool and then he takes off.

The locals see the guy and realize he’s the one who was born blind and now he can see. They ask him over and over what happened, and he tells them. They ask him where Jesus is, and he says he doesn’t know.

They bring the recently blind man to the Pharisees to make sense of it, which spurs a theological debate among them. How can someone who doesn’t follow our traditions be from God? How can someone who is not from God do stuff like this?

They demand the exasperated recently blind man tell them what happened, and he essentially says: “I don’t know how it worked, I don’t even know who the guy was really, but I know I can see!!!”

They ask his parents what’s going on and they jump out of the conversation quickly so they won’t get in trouble. They come at him again and then cast him out of the synagogue which is basically like cutting him out of the community.

Jesus finds the man and reveals who he is to him in a one-on-one conversation.

Read this fast enough and it sounds like a slapstick comedy with characters running back and forth across the screen.

  • aren’t you the blind guy?
  • Who did this to you?
  • I’m not sure — I don’t know!
  • Is that your son? We don’t want to get involved!
  • We’re confused!
  • So are we!

The story of “Jesus and the Invisible Man” tells us a lot about Jesus. Not just the unsettling and bizarre occurrence of a miracle, but also his heart as he interacts with one of the invisible people in society.

Three points today as we ask the most important question. We don’t first ask: how does this apply to us? We ask: how does this apply to God, then how do we apply ourselves to that reality?

Three points then in applying ourselves this reality:

  • Jesus sees us.
  • Jesus draws us into his story
  • Jesus finds us


We’ve talked about the amazing opening line of the story:

As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. (John 9:1 ESV)

All through Scripture, we see God drawn to the outsider, the ones society doesn’t see. Jesus’ birth is announced to redneck ranch hands and foreign pagans. The first missionaries Jesus appoints are a demon-possessed man with a mental illness and the woman at the well — a relationship addict who’s a member of a cult.

Since the very beginning, God sees those we don’t. In Genesis 16, we see Abraham’s servant Hagar on the run in the desert, pregnant and alone. She’s visited by the angel of the Lord who comforts her and promises her a legacy. She praises God and calls Him “El Roi”—the God who sees me.

El Roi — the God who sees.  The God who seeks out the banished in the desert and the forgotten by the side of the road.

This is a painful contrast to the Pharisees, who later only take notice of the man because something’s wrong. They pay attention to him only when something’s out of place and their delicate balance of power and ritual is thrown off. They don’t realize that Jesus is about to blow it all up.

Are there “invisible” people in your life? How would it change things for the better?  How would it reflect the kingdom, if you started seeing them? I don’t mean tossing gospel tracts on the table for your waiter, I mean paying agenda-free attention to that person — seeing them like Jesus does.


And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (John 9:2-3 ESV)

This was some of the theological speculation of the time. People believed that disability was caused by the parents’ sin, and perhaps even by the baby sinning in the womb. Even though the book of Job — whose basic message is that suffering is NOT a result of sin — was central to this community, they still believed this. So, the disciples’ question: “who caused this suffering?” was a normal question.

Jesus disrupts this kind of small theological thinking. He says that this man’s suffering is somehow part of the greater story. That this invisible man is part of God’s great work in the world.

Is that a point-blank answer to the problem of suffering? No, I don’t believe so. But Jesus is saying that this man’s suffering is neither meaningless, nor is it this man’s fault. Resurrection will be found even in the darkness of this man’s life, and his story has disrupted narrow, legalistic thinking about who God is.

Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). (John 9:6-7 ESV)

Here Jesus disrupts the story again with one of his signature habits, especially in this part of the Gospel of John. He’s going against their understanding of the Sabbath. First, he makes a paste out of mud and spit, which was against the rules about working on the Sabbath. He also performs a healing, which was also against the rules.

The Sabbath wasn’t something they’d just come up with or a suggestion they tried their best to live by. A few generations before Jesus, the Jewish community was persecuted for keeping their rituals. People — recent ancestors of these people talking to Jesus — had died because they kept the Sabbath. In Jesus’ time, keeping the ritual was a matter of religious and ethnic identity.

What Jesus reminds them of (reminds us all of) is that the incoming of the kingdom trumps keeping rituals. Healing someone, helping the vulnerable – these are more important than the minutia of keeping rituals. The ritual is supposed to point toward the healing, not the other way around.

Before he’s even healed, this man has become part of the big story of Jesus: pointing us to our need not for more teaching, not for more rules and rituals, but for a complete change of heart.

So he went and washed and came back seeing. (John 9:7 ESV)

Now, come with me in a helicopter for a moment and we’ll look at how all this fits into the greater story of John. Through the first half of the book, Jesus is constantly disrupting the story and getting in trouble. He keeps showing up at symbolic occasions and in symbolic places and saying that all of it points to him.

He cleanses the temple and then declares that He is the temple — the true place where heaven and earth meet, which will rise up three days after they destroy it. He goes to the sacred well of Jacob and declares that he is the living water. At the Passover feast time, He creates a miraculous meal for thousands and then claims to be the bread. At the Feast of Tabernacles, celebrating the deliverance of Israel, He claims to be the water from the rock in the desert.

Jesus is interacting with metaphors all through here, disrupting and reforming them around Himself. He keeps telling the people that the rituals they have are just a shadow of the things to come — Himself.

If we take our helicopter back down into this story, we can see some of the details in a new way. Jesus continues his metaphor here, bringing his metaphors of water, bread and temple to a climax.

“We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing. (John 9:4-7 ESV)

Jesus is the figurative light of the world that brought light to this man’s vision. These rituals and customs only point to the reality that is to come, and now that reality is here. Jesus brought metaphor and reality together.

The light that gave light. The life that gave life. The resurrection who was physically, bodily resurrected.

Jesus draws this nobody into his story. He gives sight to the invisible man and brings him into the vision (to mix metaphors a bit).  In one odd encounter, Jesus brings his greater story into play, disrupting the story of unhealthy culture worship, exclusion of those with special needs, narrow theology and finally exploding the story of physical reality by healing blindness.

Jesus draws us into His transformative story of the whole world, no matter how insignificant we may think we are.


This encounter takes a strange turn. Jesus exits the stage immediately. The people are completely confused about the blind guy they probably saw every day suddenly walking around blinking in the sun. The guy’s parents get involved, and then immediately jump out of the conversation because they don’t want to get banished from the synagogue.

Getting “thrown out of the synagogue” meant they were pushed out of the center of community life. They would be whispered about and excluded from the cultural center. This was devastating. They threw out followers of Jesus because it meant they were no longer under Jewish protection. The Roman powers left the Jewish community alone, at least for their religious observance, but the Christians didn’t have this protection. This left the new believing community unguarded.

So now this man is without a home. Even his own parents distanced themselves from him because of what happened. Yet over and over we hear the same thing from him: “Ummm…. I don’t know how it all worked or who exactly that was, but now I can see!” Whatever happened, it worked!

I think of that sometimes when it comes to mechanics of how faith works. Knowledge is very important, but it will only get us so far — there’s still much that’s a mystery about how the gospel works. But it does! Lives are healed, people are transformed, even though the exact details of it are above our ability.

If we had to understand something fully before we believe it works, none of us would breathe or speak or even walk. We still only scratch the surface of understanding these things. That’s part of the message of this story — the disciples, the Pharisees, the locals all try to put a grid over what happened and understand it and they can’t. They can only behold it. The blind man is the only one who gets it: “Whatever happened, I can see now!”

But Jesus finds us.

Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. (John 9:35-38 ESV)

Jesus, the one who sees him, now goes to find him.  Jesus finds the invisible man – the one no one else thought of as useful, who was considered a burden. Even after the coldness of his parents who left him out on his own because they feared the cultural machine, Jesus finds him. And in this exchange, we see one of few interactions where Jesus explicitly addresses His identity and accepts worship.

Here we have one of the few converts (at least that we have record of) that are made by Jesus in person. Again, he skipped over the government officials and cultural rock stars and military heroes to choose outsiders like this.

So this man was without a family and a home and now he’s part of the family of God, welcomed by Jesus himself.

Jesus sees you.

Jesus Includes you in his story.

Jesus finds you.

Let him find you today and make you part of the great story of redemption that started before the beginning of time.  He doesn’t need youbut he wants you.  You’re never invisible to Jesus.


Read John 9:1-41

We talked about how Jesus “saw” the man born blind (verse 1). He was nearly invisible in that culture – a dependent nuisance who was mostly disregarded. It becomes all the more meaningful that Jesus “saw” him.

  • Do you feel like Jesus “sees” you?
  • How does it change your life to know you’re seen by him?

Jesus also puts us into a new story. He disrupts the cultural story by healing and working on the Sabbath because of the greater story of God’s healing behind it all. He draws this “invisible man” into the story.

  • Do you feel like Jesus has done this for you?
  • Has he ever drawn you into something he’s doing in the world that was greater and larger than you ever thought possible?

Jesus finds us. Jesus finds the man in verse 35 after this strange exchange, after the man had been exiled from the community.

  • What does it mean to be found by Jesus?
  • What has that meant in your life – to be adopted into God’s family?

Bringing these two things together, we see the Prince of the Universe walking into the everyday, irritating situations of being human. Helpless people, stubborn tradition, family strife – stuff that’s all-too-familiar comes up right here. Yet Jesus acknowledges that it’s all part of the story, even of the galactic and mind-bending story of God’s work in the universe.

  • Do we think of our lives this way?
  • Do we think of ourselves as we are — adopted sons and daughters of God?


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