I did think it was interesting that in the movie Ray, about the blind musician Ray Charles, the actor that played Ray Charles Jaime Fox insisted on being blind every day. The actor didn’t just wear dark glasses and pretend to be blind. Instead, when he woke up early in the morning, he would eat breakfast, and then he would put on some sort of blindfold that would cover his eyes, and he wouldn’t remove it, not even for a break or for lunch or dinner – he wouldn’t remove that blindfold until the very end of the day. As a professional actor, he wanted to feel what it was like to be blind. Can you imagine doing that, even for one day?
I can’t imagine what it would be like to be blind. To not be able to see the face of Niki, the woman I love. To be unable to read the books in my library, to not be able to drive my truck or watch the Aggies play ball (even if they lose!) Or to see my children grow up. To be unable to watch a beautiful sunset, or my favorite TV show. Or to be able to walk down the street without someone helping me. I can’t imagine living life completely in the dark. Can you?
But there’s something else out there perhaps even worse than physical blindness. I’m talking about spiritual blindness. Not knowing where your life is going. Not knowing if you’re right with God. Not knowing if you’re going to go to heaven when you die. Spiritual blindness is much more tragic than physical blindness in the end.
I believe that there are spiritually blind people all around us. Some people cannot see how much God loves them. Some people cannot see how much God wants to forgive them. Some people cannot see any hope for tomorrow.
Maybe you are getting ready to make some decisions about the direction of your life, and you are blind to the pain that those decisions will bring to you and the people that surround you. Right now, you’re stumbling along, and you’re getting all bruised up because of all the things and people that you’re bumping into along the way.
Do you believe that Jesus can take away your blindness? Jesus is the Light of the world. He can cause you to see. But that depends on another question. Do you want Jesus to take away your blindness? Let’s take a look at how a miracle happened in the man that Jesus encountered that day. In John Chapter 9 Jesus heals a man that was blind. There are different types of blindness. There’s physical blindness, and there’s spiritual blindness. In the passage we’re looking at today, we see Jesus healing a man’s physical blindness, and in the process we discover the spiritual blindness of some of those looking on. Blindness in the Bible is a metaphor for Spiritual Darkness.
Are we open to seeing God at work in every circumstance or are we blinded by our past experiences, our pride, our sin, our hard heads? It’s easy when you’re strongly convinced of your particular position to close your mind to anything that falls outside the familiar. It is possible to have our sight and yet be blind to what is going on around us. In our text I want us to see 4 things that keep us from all the Christ intends and keeps us in the dark spiritually.
WHAT IS BLINDING ME?
1. Am I Blinded By Prejudice?
1 As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. 2 “Teacher,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it a result of his own sins or those of his parents?” 3 “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “He was born blind so the power of God could be seen in him.
What did the disciples say when they walked up on the man? “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
This was a common belief among the Jews of that day. Many Jewish people believed that if someone was born with a handicap, then someone in your family must have sinned. Either you sinned in the womb, or one of your parents did. I have told you before about the rabbinical teachings of Jewish Rabbis to elaborate on the Old Testament laws. Such as “a married man should not look a woman, and even if he looks down at her heel, there’s a chance that his children could be born handicapped. Another tradition says that if you sleep with your wife during the uncleanness of her monthly period, there’s a chance that any future children will be born with a handicap.
You and I know that these ideas are crazy. But the rabbis taught things like this. They even believed that a baby could sin while it was inside the mother’s womb, and if it sinned bad enough, it could be born handicapped. And the disciples were brought up on teaching like this.
So, for the disciples to ask that question was not out of the ordinary. However, in order to ask a question like that you have to think a few things about yourself.
If sin caused things like that, then you must be all right with God because you are all right.
If someone had something wrong with him or her, then they must not be all right with God.
What happens when we begin to think that way? We begin to think that we are better than other people.
We may not believe that when someone has something wrong with them today that God is punishing them or their parents. We have been educated to know that sickness and disease are not always a punishment for personal sin, but sometimes a natural cause of sin in general. However, I do think that we are sometimes blinded by judgment. The Disciples saw in the blind man a theological debate, and Jesus saw in the blind man someone in whom the work of God could be made known.
Are you tempted to be prejudiced? When you hear that some homosexual men die in their 40’s because of aids, are you tempted to say, “That is what they deserve.” When you see a teenage mother struggling to raise her child alone, are you tempted to say, “Well, she should have waited until she was married.” When you see the effects of alcoholism on the lives of people, are you tempted to say, “They don’t deserve any better!”
It is so much easier to sit back and debate the theological ramifications of bad decisions that other human beings make. It is much harder to see how you can make a difference in the lives of people who are hurting because of a bad decision they or someone else has made for them. It is easier to judge then to heal.
We should not let prejudice blind us from the fact that we are to be instruments of healing and not finger pointing. What would happen if instead of judging the homosexual man who is dying of aids, we would do everything we can to make sure that his last days on this earth are spent with Christian people who love him and are concerned for his soul? What would happen if instead of condemning the teenage mother, the church would offer help and encouragement and ensure that she knows of the love of Jesus? What would happened if instead of shaking our heads in disgust at the alcoholic, the church and its people would be a safe haven and a source of encouragement and hope for those who are struggling with that disease?
What would happen? God’s people, instead of judging the world, would see the world and its people as a place in which the work of God can be done.
- Am I Blinded By Skepticism?
8 His neighbors and others who knew him as a blind beggar asked each other, “Is this the same man—that beggar?” 9 Some said he was, and others said, “No, but he surely looks like him!” And the beggar kept saying, “I am the same man!” 10 They asked, “Who healed you? What happened?”
What happened when this man returned to the people who knew him?
– Some didn’t believe it was him
– Others demanded him to tell how this happened
The neighbors and those around were skeptical of what had happened. In their defense, it would have been hard to believe what they were seeing. They remembered this man as being blind and begging at the Temple gate, and now he is up walking around. I am sure some of them wondered for the rest of their lives, “Was he really blind, or has been doing this in order to be a beggar?”
How many of us struggle with skepticism? I will be the first one to raise my hand. I am skeptical of what some people claim. There are people who claim to have healing powers from God, to that I am skeptical. There are people who claim to have a special revelation from God, to that I am skeptical.
However, the one thing in which we should not be skeptical is the power of Jesus to change lives. Take a look around your world. Odds are there is someone that you don’t think can ever be reached by Jesus. What would happen if God’s people everywhere would stop being skeptical of the power of Christ? Would we reach out to our neighbors, would we be more involved in missions giving, praying and going? I believe millions of lives would be changed forever.
It is time that we as God’s people believe that Jesus can change lives! We should keep reaching out to our community, to our world through missions and to that relative, neighbor or coworker that we don’t think will ever respond to Jesus. Jesus can change lives but we may not see it because of our prejudice and skepticism. In the next post we will look at two more attitudes that may be blinding us.