|Preacher||Rev. Maurice Roberts, Inverness|
|Sermon Title||Christ's Mission of Judgement|
|Text||John ch.9 v.39 |
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"And Jesus said, For judgement I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind" (John 9, 39).
This chapter records for us a miracle: the miracle of healing in the case of a blind man. It is profitable to ask what a miracle is. What do we mean by a miracle? The answer we must give is something like this. A miracle is an event in the world of nature, which has no other explanation that the will of God alone. You may ask - Is conversion to Christ a miracle? I answer - No, not in a technical sense. I want to explain why. Conversion to Christ involves the infinite power of God changing the human heart; so conversion is something supernatural which has God for its Author. However, we don't call it a miracle and I shall explain why not: a miracle is something you have to be able to see with your eyes and hear, perhaps, with your ears. At any rate, it is something observable. Conversion is not something observable - you can't see God changing someone's heart. You can, after a time, see that change has occurred but you can't see the actual change. So we say that conversion is supernatural but not a miracle. A miracle is something you can see, such as a man who was lame suddenly leaping up and walking, or a deaf man suddenly hearing, or a blind man suddenly seeing. We must conclude then that all miracles are supernatural but not everything supernatural is a miracle. A miracle, I say, is one of those events which has no other explanation than the will of God alone. Such a thing we have recorded here in this very chapter.
This man was born blind. I remind you that this was a multiple miracle because, if a person has some congenital weakness and cannot see and, after the hospital performing an operation his sight is restored, it takes a long time for that person to be able to see properly. The brain hasn't learnt to recognise all the things it is now able to see with the operation. It takes a long time for the brain to realise that these are people and that these are curtains and these are walls. It may take years before a person can really learn what things are which they see. We take it for granted because we were born with the power of sight - we have grown up with it - but this miracle was a multiple miracle. This man, in a moment, could not only see but he could interpret everything he saw. The miracle was done in his eyes evidently, and in his brain as well. It was a marvellous event.
Why did Jesus perform these miracles? - there are many of them in the Gospels. Jesus did these miracles because they were proofs that He is what He claims to be. They are evidences and proofs that He is God come into the flesh - the Son of God, the Saviour of the world. The miracles are signs and our Lord continually tells us that that is so. In John 4, 10 He meets the woman at the well who is waiting to get water. Our Lord says, "If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water" - meaning Himself and His Holy Spirit and the grace of God in your heart; and - she got it. In John 6, 35 He tells the people whom He has just fed with the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand that, "I am the bread of life" - meaning that if they were to believe on Him they would not only have bread for this life but bread for eternal life. On and on He goes like that, showing that these miracles are signs, evidences and proofs that He is what He claims to be: the only Saviour of the world, the only One who can forgive sin, the only One who can open up the gate of heaven and let us in. So He does this miracle here of healing the blind man. You will notice that at the very end of this chapter, Jesus takes up this idea of sight and He compares natural sight to spiritual sight. He has a play on words. He says there are some who see and yet they are blind, and there are some who are blind and yet they see. Read my text again: "For judgement I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind" (text).
Let me begin by speaking briefly about the miracle. How did Jesus Christ perform this miracle of healing? We are told at the beginning of the chapter that He tells this blind man to go to the pool of Siloam and wash his eyes because Jesus had spat on the ground and made spittle. He had then taken this mud and put it on the eyes of this man. The man obeyed Christ and came seeing - his sight was miraculously restored and he came back. When he came back we can see that our Lord begins to preach a sermon in connection with spiritual sight. Notice that Christ can perform miracles in all sorts of different ways. Christ healed many people who were blind - not just this man. He did it in different ways. Remember the story about blind Bartimaeus (Mark 10, 46). No mud was put on his eyes; Jesus simply spoke the word and he had his sight restored - no mud, no pool of Siloam. So Jesus performed the same wonderful miracle in different ways. Not only can He perform all miracles but He can do them in any way He wishes. He can use means or He can do it without means. There is a lesson for us in that: when Christ heals men's souls and brings them to faith in Him, He does it in different ways. You can imagine this man who went to the pool of Siloam. Let's imagine he had met up with Bartimaeus and they had begun to have a conversation. Bartimaeus could have asked him how Jesus had healed his blindness and the man would say that Christ had put mud on his eyes and then he had washed it off in the pool of Siloam as Jesus had told Him and then he could see. Bartimaeus would tell the man that Jesus had not done these things to him and yet he was given back his sight too. The other man may not believe him because the method was different to his own. It is like that with spiritual sight. Just because you were converted in one way doesn't mean Christ is going to convert everybody in the same way. God can give sight by our upbringing and our education, by our coming to the services. He can also give spiritual sight to those who simply hear a few words preached in the open air who never had an upbringing of the Gospel, whose parents are not Christians and have no Gospel light and yet they are converted. We must remember that - Christ can perform His wonderful works with means, without means or above means. That is all part of the miracle He brings about here.
Not everybody who received miraculous healing was actually saved from their sins. You mustn't thing that because Jesus healed certain people that they were all saved from their sins and became believers; they weren't - some were, some weren't. Some were healed but they benefited nothing from it, just as it is in this life. When God deals with some people through sickness or trouble they start to pray and God gives them spiritual light. Many people are converted through their own troubles and sicknesses. Other people learn nothing from trouble and sickness. So it is with these miraculous healings. Some who receive miraculous healing were converted and some were not. The proof of that is to be found in the ten lepers in the Gospel of Luke 17, 12. Ten leprous men once came to Christ and He healed them all with His word. But only one of them came back to praise God for his healing. Jesus said, "Where are the nine?" (Luke 17, 17). These nine did not come back and they did not thank God, evidently. So you see, one of the ten was saved as well as healed; the others were healed but not saved. The most important thing of all is not the miracle - the most important thing of all is being saved. Therefore, at the end of this chapter here, Jesus doesn't talk about ordinary forms of healing or even miraculous forms of healing; He talks about spiritual healing: the healing of the soul, the giving of spiritual understanding to men and women. That is what He speaks about in my text: "For judgement I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind" (text).
This man in this chapter was not only healed but he was also saved. This man was saved. I want to show you that that is very definitely the case. Let me give you the evidence. The first proof that this man was brought to faith in Jesus Christ and therefore saved from his sin is this - that as soon as he was given his miraculous healing, trouble, criticism and affliction enters into his life. There is a good test for a person who is truly saved - trouble and affliction immediately come into their lives. My dear friends, that's the way it is. God has ordained it so. When we come to Christ we must expect temptations, tribulations, sorrows and losses to try our faith. That is how some people who hear the Gospel and make some profession of faith, eventually fade away. If they don't have real saving faith, of course, they will drift back into the world. Unless we are truly converted we shall not stick to the truth - but this man does. As soon as he is converted to Christ, he is laid under trials, temptations and criticisms, even, of course, from these religious leaders here - these so-called Pharisees and leaders. They don't like that he has had his sight restored and they complain that this was done on the Sabbath day. If Jesus Christ was a man of God or a prophet as He claims to be, He would not heal, they say, on the Sabbath day. That is their conclusion - that Jesus is no true Prophet. This man challenges that; he said it was a wonderful thing. "You men say that Jesus Christ is not a Prophet. From the beginning of the world whoever heard of a man born blind receiving his sight. If this man were not of God He could not do anything - God would not hear Him. But here I am! I can see! He has done it!" You see, he is not afraid to testify for Christ. There is the proof of a real conversion - someone who is prepared to suffer for Christ; someone who's prepared to testify to the truth of Jesus Christ. You notice how he contrasts so strongly with his own parents. It is very interesting how this is written in the Bible here. The Pharisees didn't go to the blind man first, they went to his parents and said, "Is this your son who was born blind? By what means was he healed? Who did it?" The Pharisees conduct a visitation, if you like, an inquisitorial visitation. They come to the parents and they want know, "How does your son see? If he was born blind, what is the explanation that he now sees?" The parents equivocated - they hummed and hawed, as we say. They didn't want to tell the whole truth of the matter. They were afraid to do so because they knew that the Pharisees had said that if anyone confessed Jesus Christ to be the Christ, he would be put out of the synagogue: excommunicated, struck of the list, taken off the communion roll, thrown out. That is what the parents knew and they were afraid of this so they hummed and hawed. "This," they said, "is our son, certainly. And he was born blind but by what means it happened and who did it, we just don't know." See the difference between him and the parents: they had no faith, he did. There's the difference.
As a further evidence of the conversion which had occurred in this man's life - his coming to faith - as an evidence of that we have this exquisitely beautiful section at the end, just before my text. It is very hard for me to describe this to you without emotion; it is so beautiful. When they had thrown this man who was born blind out of the synagogue and struck him off their communion list, we are told Jesus heard of it and He searched for this man and found him. He had an interview with him and said, "Dost thou believe on the Son of God?" (v.35). And the man meekly says, "Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him?" (v.36). Jesus replies, "Thou hast both seen him, and he it is that talketh with thee" (v.37). The man goes down on his knees, puts his hands together and he worships Him, "Lord, I believe" (v.38). You see the evidence that this man was not simply healed in his body but in his soul; he became a Christian, a disciple of Christ: to believe that Jesus Christ is indeed the very Son of God. He now understands the truth.
Let me express to you the secret of my heart when I say this - O please God, for people like this. Please God for more of those who are not ashamed before men to confess Jesus Christ, who care nothing for what men do to them, say of them or say to them, but to confess Christ because they know from their own heart experience that He is the Son of God and the Saviour of the world. Those are the genuine Christians - the ones who worship in Spirit and in truth. These are the ones who set the joy-bells of heaven ringing with their honest confession of the Lord. These are the very ones who make the angels sing for gladness on earth when they hear the faithful, unashamed testimony of men and women who know Christ, and are not afraid of men to say that they know Christ as this man does. We are told here he said, "Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him" (v.38). O, my friends, what a sacred, beautiful picture: a man born blind, yet, made able to see. One of this worlds nobodies - we don't even know his name, do we? I don't see it anywhere here. We are not told he was a scholar, we are not informed that he was a political genius, just one of this world's nothings and nobodies and yet, precious in the sight of God; a whole chapter devoted to his life, conversion and healing. Why was he so important in the eyes of God that he had to have a whole chapter written about him? Because he came to faith in Christ and he believed that Jesus is indeed the Son of God.
My friends, if you want God to notice you and to notice your life, there is only one way to get that great honour - it is for you to do likewise and believe in this same Jesus Christ. You may become great in the eyes of the world - famous and important - so that the headlines of the newspapers are always talking about you and whatever you do. Whatever you say may go into banner headlines. The world notices what you are, what you say and what you do but God won't pay any attention to that. But He will pay attention to you if you believe in His dear Son, Jesus Christ. That is why this man who was a nothing and a nobody in the eyes of the world, who was thrown out of the church because he was bold enough to confess the truth, that is why he was given a whole chapter in the sacred, blessed Scriptures by God. Because he was not ashamed of Christ - "Lord, I believe", he says. "I believe in Thee. I know Thou art the Lord of glory."
All right my friend, sitting here tonight, how is it with you? Boys, girls, young men and women, older people - how is it with you? Are you able to do what this man does? Face it now honestly; face yourself and face this truth: Are you a believer in this Lord Jesus Christ or not? Have you given your life to Christ or not? Are you living for yourself or for the glory of God? Face the question because if you don't believe in Him, you will have a very long time to face that question in another world and no opportunity for change for the better. So Jesus does this wonderful miracle. The greatest and most wonderful thing He ever does is to give us a new heart, eyes to see the truth, ears to hear the truth and a heart to love Him more than everything else in the world.
I hurry on to speak of this mysterious statement that Jesus makes in our text: "And Jesus said, For judgement I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind" (text). Let's look at those words. I wonder if you have ever thought about them before. They are deep words aren't they? "For judgement I am come into this world," He says. Let me explain that.
What our Lord does not mean is that His main reason for coming down from heaven into this world - being born in Bethlehem - is in order to judge the world. He doesn't mean that because that wasn't the first reason why He did come. He didn't come first of all to judge the world but to save the world. He came to be born to live a holy life and to die on the cross: He came to suffer for us; that is the main reason for His coming - to be our Saviour. He shed His blood and died for us. He died as a sacrifice to satisfy the justice of God. That is why He mainly came. The principal reason for His coming is to die for us, to shed blood for us, to suffer for us as the atoning Sacrifice and propitiation to remove the wrath and anger of God against us for being sinners. That's why He first of all came, and He will judge the world at the end of history. Every person living, dead, and to live still, will have to face Christ in the day of Judgement. It is not simply God who will judge the world in the end of history but it is Christ - He will judge the world. I then have to explain what He means when He says here: "For judgement I am come" (text). He means that it is inevitable that because He is the Person He is, having come into this world, that His ministry and life show what is true to be true, and show what is false to be false. The coming of Christ into this world shows us everything in its true light and in its true colours.
Perhaps you find that difficult to follow. Let me put it in another way. Let me draw a little picture for you to make it easier still. We have a blind man, on his own. We have Pharisees - very devout religious leaders. If we were to call upon the press and the Television crews to come into the room we would ask them which of these two parties was the truly God-fearing one. Is it the man who has just been healed or is it all these devout Pharisees standing here with their black clothes and hats. We know the answer that they would give. All the television crews and all the press men would say with one voice, "O, it is these devout and religious men; they are the God-fearers. This other man is a nobody who doesn't deserve to be put in the reckoning." You see how wrong they are because, in the judgement of Christ, this man only had true godliness. These Pharisees were a pack of hypocrites - and He tells them that over and over again. They were devout and religious in their own way but they didn't have new life as he did; they weren't converted as he was; they had never been born again as this man now showed himself to be. The proof is that he worshipped Christ, they didn't; he acknowledged Christ, they wouldn't. That is what our Lord means when He says, "For judgement I am come into this world" (text) - to show things as they truly are, to show who really are those who fear God and those that don't: the true from the false, the real from the spurious, the genuine from the hypocrite. That is exactly what our Lord has done and that is what preaching does. When it is the preaching of the Word of God it cuts like a knife and it exposes the hollow and the empty and vain and the hypocritical. And it shows that real godliness doesn't consist in outward things but in love - love for Christ, love for the Bible, love for other Christians and love for God Himself. You can see what he means when He says, "For judgement I am come into this world" (text).
My dear friends, are you judging according to the outward sight of your own eyes or are you judging according to the judgement of God? Do you realise the emptiness of all religion which does not bring you to faith in Christ? There is nothing more empty than empty religion. There is nothing more worthless than a religion that doesn't bring people to love God. I have to ask you - Have you got that religion? Have you got that real thing? Tell me! Do you love God? Do you pray to Him? Do you delight in Him? When you are lying in your bed at night, do you think of God? Do you bless Him that He made you and that He sent Christ to be the Saviour? Do you sing His praises? Do you read His Word with gladness? Do you love to meet His people or do you say - O there is one of those old-fashioned Christians; let me cross the street to get away. "For judgement I am come into this world" (text). The true Christian, as he goes about His life in this world, is a sort of touchstone of what men and women are. Nobody could be indifferent to Christ; nobody could be indifferent to the Christian. They either love Him or they hate Him. They either follow Him or they despise Him, and the Pharisees hated and despised Him. Here was this single man standing on his own, testifying - He is the Son of God; He has healed me! I have to ask you if that is your style of life? Are you prepared to stand before anybody in this world and say - "Christ is mine; He has saved me. He has made all the difference to my life. I used to be blind like others, now I see. I can't understand all the theology of the Bible, I leave that to the experts, but one thing I know, I was blind but now I see. I see Christ by faith, I know He is mine and I am His." Is that the way you talk? That is the main thing. You may not know the answer to all the questions in the Bible any more than anybody else does, but if you know Christ Himself, this is the way you will talk. So Jesus says, "For judgement I am come into this world".
Notice what He says next, which will be our final point. He says at the end of our text, "that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind" (text). That is mysterious, isn't it? Our Lord no doubt intended it to be mysterious. He put it in that way to make us think. My duty is to open out the meaning so we can think more profitably about it. What is our Lord saying here? I shall put it very simply. This is what our Lord surely means: it is one and the same Gospel that gives enlightenment to some people and hardens the hearts of other people, blinding them to the Word of God. That is what He says here in this text: one and the same Gospel that gives enlightenment to some, makes other people blind.
It happens like this. If you want to know Christ as your Saviour, then you will begin to pray to the Lord to open your eyes and to give you spiritual sight. If you are sincere and honest then you will say to God, "Lord, show me that Christ is the Saviour, if He is. Show mw Thy glory! Reveal to me the truth." If you pray like that God will certainly answer you and the Gospel, which you hear when you come to these services, will give you light. The Bible will give you light and God will give you light. But, there is another possibility, isn't there? That is that you don't want to know whether Christ is the Saviour of the world or not. You would rather not know because you want your life to be undisturbed by Jesus Christ. You want to be the master of your own life and the captain of your fate. You don't want God to spoil your life for you, so you would rather not know whether Christ is the Saviour or not. Therefore you don't pray sincerely and when you hear the Gospel you harden your heart against the truth. That is what Jesus means, "For judgement I am come into this world, that they which see not might see..." (text). They are the sincere ones. They are the ones who are praying for light from heaven.
Notice the other ones: "...and that they which see might be made blind" (text). That is to say, the very religion they adopt becomes blinding to their eyes. There are churches, sadly, and there are forms of Christianity, sadly, where people think they have the truth but they are really blind. They think they understand, but they are not sincere. They don't really give the whole of their heart to God. They are to be recognised because they are blind to the principles of the Word of God, blind to the righteousness of the Word of God, blind to the demands of God upon their lives. They live like the world; their hearts are in the world; they talk about the world. They are pious at times but their hearts are not with Christ, they are somewhere else. They never talk about the things of God. They hate to talk about spiritual subjects. Christ says that the same Gospel that is giving light to the honest and sincere enquirer gives only darkness to those who are insincere. All over the world you will find dead Christianity. How do you account for it? Thousand and millions are in the darkness of a dead gospel. How do you explain it? Right here in this text - those who thought they could see are blind.
Let me remind you of an experience I had some months ago which fits here exactly. As a young minister some years ago I was studying a subject which required me to go to Glasgow University to look at books. I went one evening and knocked on the door of this theological college - studying Bible subjects. It was a black man who kindly opened the door and let me in. I asked if I could consult his library as I had some study to do and I needed to find the answer to some questions. As he was talking to me, the professor's door opened along the corridor. He heard the noise and he shouted down the corridor, "Who goes there?" I marched up and he invited me into his room. I was wearing my clerical collar so he knew my business and my occupation. He sat down beside his table and I stood on the other side. He asked what he could do for me - he was a Professor of Divinity. I said I would be most grateful if I could go to the library and consult one or two books. He let out a terrible word, which I could not repeat in public or in private - a swear word. I ignored it and said I was sorry to trouble him so late but if he could give me the privilege, I would happy for a few moments to consult this book. Another terrible expletive came out of his mouth. I then thanked him and went on my way; I had had enough. He was a man whose name is well known in the circles of religion - a Professor of Divinity - yet swearing, openly and unashamedly to a man he did not know and who was a minister of the Gospel. "For judgement I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind" (text). You can't have it both ways. Either you give your whole heart to Christ and become a genuine Christian or, if you don't, and you go on hardening your heart, you will be made blind. You will think you see things you don't really see. The tragedy will be when you wake up in hell - then you will know you were not able to see at all but that you are blind!
Therefore as I close, my dearly beloved, I say to you, O believe in this holy, gracious Saviour Jesus Christ. He will beautify your life. He will fill you with blessings. He will save you from your sins. He will take you to glory when you die. He asks nothing in return except only that you believe in Him and confess Him in this world. That is what this blind man does. Will you do so?
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