The Light that Dispelled the Darkness
September 15, 2019

The Light that Dispelled the Darkness

Speaker:
Passage: John 9:1-7

What is your understanding of the problem of evil? In your world-view, do you have room to acknowledge both the suffering of mankind and the goodness of God? Are they odds with one another? Does one disprove the other, or is one evidence the other must exist?

Where do you place yourself on the spectrum of good and evil? What do you believe you deserve? And if God is just, and the sovereign ruler of the universe, what does that mean for yourself? Or those around you? Is your blessed circumstance a result of your spiritual goodness? And what about the circumstance of those around you? How do you explain your prosperous situation, or your health? Are you more deserving than those who have less, or are born with physical infirmity? Or, do you see yourself as having less than others, and do you feel less than because you have a physical infirmity?

The gospel message is good news, precisely because there is a problem of evil. I declare to you this morning that the Light has come to dispel the darkness. We are in the book of John. Chapter 9 is the last of the events at or around the Feast of Booths.

We will look at the passage under the following headings:

Who Sinned? V1-2

The Display of the Glory of God v3

The Light that Dispelled the Darkness v4-7

The Sent One… v4, 7

John 9:1–7

[1] As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. [2] And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” [3] Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. [4] We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. [5] As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” [6] 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 [7] and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing. (ESV) [pray]Who Sinned? V1-2

[1] As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. [2] And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

Here’s the underlying assumption of the question: circumstances of life are a direct result of spiritual aptitude. Based on that belief, a man born blind must be suffering the consequence of great sin, either of his parents, or himself. The pharisees used this line of reasoning: The greater the suffering, the greater the sin committed to deserve the suffering. And the reverse is true: if my lot in life is good, I’m healthy in body and mind, I have possessions and wealth, I must be highly favored of God. Look what I’ve earned! I must be doing something right to be materially blessed the way I am. 

Friends, this is the root of the prosperity gospel, which is no gospel at all. It reveals a pride, a sense of personal worthiness that puts God in your debt. Do you see this belief playing out in your own thinking? 

How did Jesus respond? [3] … “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents…

Jesus rejected the spiritual cast system of man. The suffering one endures, whether by disability or circumstance, is not an indication of being more or less acceptable to God. But suffering the consequence of sin in the world. 

I’m going to read, briefly, the curse delivered to Adam: Genesis 2:16–17

[16] And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (ESV)

Genesis 3:17–19 … “Because you [disobeyed…] cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (ESV)

Because of sin, life is hard, work is hard, and the consequence of sin is death! Sin  entered with Adam, but what about us? Paul wrote in Romans 5:12–14

[12] Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—

When sin entered the world it affected everything— the substance we were made of, the earth, and all that we were given dominion over. All of creation was made subject to futility because of our sin, and by sin, given over to death. 

So, who sinned? This man or his parents? The answer is— both! And, everyone since Adam. The disciples asked the wrong question. They asked, why this man?What did this guy do that he deserved blindness? When they should have asked, why not me? 

They were just as much a son of Adam. They were just as much children of the dust, under the curse. Why should they not also be born blind? Why should they not also suffer shame as spiritual outcasts? Why should they not also suffer?

Jesus gave an answer to their question: Why did this man suffer? His response:

The Display of the Glory of God v3

[3] Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.

I want to make a clear that the word Jesus used was to set in contrast the disciples assumption and a right understanding of suffering. They assumed it was his specific sin which garnered punitive judgement from God. Jesus didn’t attribute the suffering of man to the punitive measure of God upon a person, but the result of sin in the world. Is suffering a result of sin? Yes, but the curse is a pronouncement of the result or reality of sin. It is a work of the devil, whose work is to kill and destroy.

So, the answer to why this man? Is that the redeeming work of the Son of man would be displayed, to destroy the work of the devil. The work of God is the redemption of man from the curse of sin. Blindness is the physical outworking of curse of sin upon humanity. Jesus came to give sight to the blind. Deafness, mute, disease, sickness, and death are all the work of the devil upon humanity. Jesus came to display the glory and power of God, to heal and give life. He came to reverse the curse, to redeem the dust. This is the work of God.

Why was that man blind? Because of the curse of sin. Why, specifically, this man at this time? That through the work of Christ God might display his glorious work of redemption in him.

Revelation 21:5

[5] And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”The Light Dispels the Darkness v4-7

[4] We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. [5] As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” [6] 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 [7] and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.

There are specific connections we must see in order to understand the power of this passage. Jesus stated that this man was blind that works of God might be displayed. Then he tells his disciples that they “must work the works of him who sent me while it is day.” 

Light and dark, day and night, are a theme John had thread throughout his gospel account. Let’s understand this metaphor: Jesus is the Light of the world. As the metaphor plays out, He is the sun. When the sun is down, there is darkness. They must work the works of God, to redeem, to heal, to restore, to reverse the curse, while the Son of God shines upon the earth. Just as the sun dispels the dark, so the Son of God dispels the darkness of sin. 

There is a greater metaphor here. We will dig into this more in the coming weeks. One who is blind is in permanent darkness. This man was without light, one might even say he was a slave to darkness. This is an analogy for all mankind, as children of darkness. The Son of God set’s him free. The light of the glory of Christ shone upon him, and gave him sight. He is the Light of the world, doing the works of God.

This was not the only metaphor at work in this passage. Does anyone else find it odd that Jesus would spit on the ground and anoint this man’s eyes with dust and saliva? And then go tell him to wash in a pool? Couldn’t Jesus have commanded him to see, as he did other places? 

Jesus’ actions were not inconsequential, and John described these elements so that the readers would understand. It’s right to seek to understand what these actions meant, but we should not over-analogize any element. Why did Jesus spit? Saliva was offensive and unclean. Why did he spit in the dust? Creation dies and turns to dust. That’s also unclean. Did Jesus’ spit have healing properties? A lady was healed by touching his garment, why not saliva? What about the dirt? Is the dirt in the temple holy? 

We don’t know the answers to these questions, but we do have one clue that revealed what this passage was about. John is sure to reveal the meaning of the pool, Siloam. The word means sent. The pool is located in the temple, and the water was sent by aqueduct from the Gihon spring outside Jerusalem. It was sent to Jerusalem for its health and protection. This is considered “living water,” for it is flowing in, and not stagnant. It is at the pool of Siloam that the priests would draw water and it pour out at the Feast of Booths, which they had just celebrated. The feast had deep meaning and connection with their expected Messiah, who was to be sent to them. Are you seeing the connection? 

At the feast, the priests would recite Isaiah 12:3 “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation!” And Jesus proclaimed, “If anyone thirsts let him come to me and drink!” (John 7:47) Jesus was the sent one.

Jesus was the one by whom saving waters flowed into Jerusalem. He was…

The Sent One… v4, 7

[4] We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day;

Jesus was on a mission... we need to understand what that mission was and where it came from. He was on a mission…

From whom? From the Father. was he sent? Jesus had told them plainly. “I have come down from heaven…” (Jhn 6:38) The Father sent me (6:44, 7:16), I am from above (7:23), He who sent me is with me (7:29).

For whom? For the world.

For God so loved the world that he sent his only Son… (Jhn 3:16a)

For what? To dispel the works of darkness and reveal the glory of God. The healing of the blind man was an analogy for his greater work of salvation. He heals the eyes of the spiritually blind, sets free those who are bound as slaves of darkness, so we may see the glory of the gospel—His glory and live! He redeems the dust, my friends, and fills us with glory, the knowledge of his Son.

So what?

First, we must understand that our privileged position, as people who live in a dangerously prosperous country, is not because of our spiritual aptitude, but by God’s providence. He has a purpose for it, and it is all grace. If you’ve lived in relative health, it’s by grace, not by what’s owed you. When suffering comes, and it inevitably will, what will your response be? Will you look to the sky and curse God, or will you trust him in your suffering and say, why not me? 

What happens when the suffering is not dispelled?

A few years ago, Matt Chandler, pastor and author of Village Church in Texas, learned he had brain cancer. When many would be tempted to ask the question, why me? he instead asked, why not me? Does sin still have effect in the world? Yes. Does God heal every believer? No. So, if Jesus dispelled the darkness, what do we do in the midst of our suffering?

Fanny Crosby, famous hymn writer, lost her eye sight at 6 weeks of age. That’s as good as being born blind. She wrote songs such as: To God Be the Glory, Blessed Assurance, Praise Him! and All The Way My Savior Leads Me. She was asked if she would like to be healed as she lived in the here and now. Her response: “If I had a choice, I would still choose to remain blind...for when I die, the first face I will ever see will be the face of my blessed Saviour. It seemed intended by the blessed providence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank him for [it] (the dispensation.)”

Maybe Fanny recalled the words of our Savior as he placed Thomas’ hands in his side: “Because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)

Our suffering remains in order that His power may rest upon us.

2 Corinthians 12:8–10

[8] Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. [9] But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. [10] For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (ESV)

Our suffering remains in order that our character is shaped.

Romans 5:3–5

[3] Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, [4] and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, [5] and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (ESV)

Do we view our suffering as an opportunity for God to display his power? 

Is your sickness, your shortcoming, a means by which God’s glory is revealed and you are shaped? Suffering has a means of humbling us, and drawing us to lean not on our own understanding, or our own power, but God’s.

He suffered once for all, so our suffering is not permanent. 

Jesus, the Messiah, was sent to suffer, once for all, so that the suffering of our sin would be broken. This is the greater point of the passage: He was sent to heal all of humanity from the sickness of sin and death. He did so by his death on the cross, by which the curse of sin was broken and death lost its power over us! This is the work of God. This is how God dispelled the darkness over man. 

Hebrews 2:14–15

[14] Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, [15] and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. (ESV)

The Son has set you free… He has dispelled the work of darkness. 

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