Text: John 8:12; (John 9)
We saw last time that the background to the “I Am” saying of Jesus is Exodus 3. When the Old Testament was translated into Greek, God’s revealed name “I am that I am” was translated by two Greek words ego eimi (I am I am). Outside of the seven “I am” sayings these words ego eimi are found in a few other places in John’s gospel. For instance, in John 8:53 the Jews asked Jesus, “Who do you think you are?” In response Jesus says in vrs 58, “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am! (ego eimi)” The Jews responded by wanting to stone Jesus because of his direct claim to deity.
I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD
The background to John 7-10 is the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles. During this festival people lived in booths to remind themselves of how their forefathers had wandered in the desert. During the evening there would be the temple light show. The four towering menorahs were lit so that the temple was bathed in light and the priests would put on a light show and perform torch dances while the Levites sang and played music. Can you see then why Jesus would say in 8:12; I am (ego eimi) the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life. Jesus repeats himself again in 9:4, 5; as long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” It is with this backdrop of the Feast of Tabernacles that in John 9, Jesus meets a man blind from birth and heals him. He uses this healing as a launch pad to speak about blindness darker than physical blindness which he can heal as well.
- THE BLESSING OF SPIRITUAL SIGHT
As Jesus and his disciples were walking, at the beginning of chapter 9 they came across a man who had been blind from birth. What happened next? Look at vrs 6; having said this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, wash in the Pool of Siloam. So, the man went and washed, and came home seeing. This healing was merely a sign of the greater healing that Jesus would do in this man’s life. It is fascinating in the interviews that follow how this man’s spiritual sight is gradually improved. He starts in vrs 10 by saying, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes.” When he was asked by the Pharisees for his opinion about Jesus his sight had improved. The man replied, “He is a prophet.” When he was interviewed a second time by the Pharisees his understanding had sharpened. In vrs 33 he said, if this man were not from God, he could do nothing. The Pharisees are furious and throw him out. In vrs 35 Jesus met the man and asked, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He eventually replied, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshipped him. Do you see this man’s progression to spiritual sight (the man they call Jesus to a prophet, to a man from God, to the Son of Man)?
- THE TRAGEDY OF SPIRITUAL BLINDNESS
Jesus had just performed a marvelous miracle and once again the Pharisees are so short sighted that they can’t marvel at the miracle that had just been performed. All that concerns them is that it was done on the Sabbath. Whereas the blind man was increasingly becoming sighted the sighted Pharisees were becoming increasingly blind. The miracle of healing a blind person should have alerted them to the possibility that they were wrong. After all one of the OT signs of the coming of the Messiah (Isaiah 29:18; 35:5; 42:6, 7). The miraculous healing of a man blind from birth should have alerted the Pharisees to the fact; “maybe we are seeing things wrongly.” But no! Though seeing they become increasingly blind until their world becomes pitch black. Is this not what Jesus said in vrs 39? For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind. You see those who acknowledge their blindness will see because they see the need. Those like the Pharisees who think that they can see will remain blind because they don’t see the need. Look at vrs 40, 41; Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, ‘What? Are we blind too?” Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.”