I don’t hear the phrase much today, but when I was in college I would hear it often. Instead of talking about when someone became a Christian, people would often talk about when they “found” Jesus. I can remember using the phrase over and over again when I would share my testimony with a group of kids. Then one day it dawned on me, I didn’t find Jesus—He found me!
This is our fourth and final week taking a look at Jesus and the beggar who was born blind but healed by Jesus. I wish he were able to be with us this morning because there are few people in Scripture who are a more vivid example of how the Lord pursues us. The nameless blind man wasn’t looking for Jesus when Jesus found him sitting outside of the temple begging for money like the men and women you see every day holding signs while they stand at the corner of Penn and Memorial. The man didn’t ask to be the object lesson for the disciples who wanted to know whose sin caused his blindness; was it his parent’s sin or his own sin that led to his blindness? The man didn’t ask Jesus to heal him. He had never known a day when he was not blind. He wasn’t looking for an ophthalmologist, faith healer, or Messiah to suddenly restore his vision. He was just minding his own business when Jesus knelt down, spit in the dirt, made some mud that He rubbed on the man’s eyes, and said,
7 “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing. (John 9:7 NIV)
His friends and family members couldn’t believe their eyes, the Pharisees got involved to try and disprove everything that had happened, and the man didn’t know what to say other than to share what had happened to him. He refused to change his story. When we come to John 9:34 the religious leaders decided to throw him out of the temple. He was excommunicated, cut off from the people of God. What a tragic ending to a remarkable, amazing story. It was the end of the story as far as the religious leaders were concerned. They were finished and done with him; he was out, his name was stricken from the rolls of the temple. But it wasn’t the end of the story. Turn with me to John 9:35-40 and let’s read what happened after the man was thrown out by the religious leaders.
35 Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.” 37 Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.” 38 Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. 39 Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” 40 Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?” 41 Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains. (John 9:35-41 NIV)
Jesus heard about what had happened to the man and He sought him out. Jesus found him. The man wasn’t looking for Jesus when he was blind and he wasn’t looking for Jesus after he had been healed, but Jesus found him. I’ve been thinking about this during the week and how it relates to my own life. I wasn’t looking for Jesus when He found me either. I was consumed with myself and nothing else when Jesus found me. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was lost, as lost as lost can be when Jesus found me.
I’m reminded of the stories Jesus told in Luke 15, three stories in all. Each of the stories describes some thing or someone that was lost and was eventually found. There’s the shepherd who had 99 sheep safe in the sheep pen, but he left them to go looking for the one sheep that wandered away and was lost. There’s the second story of the woman who had ten silver coins, but somehow one had become lost. She lit a lamp and swept out her whole house looking for the lost coin until she found it. Then there is the story that many of you are familiar with—the story of the father who had two sons. One of the sons, by his own choosing became lost as he could be because of the decisions he made. He would have never described himself as “lost,” he was a determined young man who wanted to get what he wanted, to chart his own course, and take the reins of his life. Finally, Luke tells us, “…he came to his senses…” He knew he would be better off living as a hired hand in his daddy’s house then to continue to live like he had been living while he had been calling the shots.
The young man got up and began his journey home. He was nervous as a cat. He rehearsed his lines on the long walk home. Something really strange happened as he turned the corner onto the road leading up to his father’s house. Luke tells us in Luke 15:20,
20 …But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. (Luke 15:20 NIV)
The father ran to his boy and smothered him in his arms with love as he received him back into his home. The son began with the lines he had rehearsed like he was going to audition for the role of the leading man in a Broadway play. “Dad, I’m so sorry. I don’t deserve to be your son. If you will let me come home I’ll put my stuff in the servant’s quarters. I know that…” The father interrupted him by turning to his servants who were looking on, wondering what would happen next. The father said, “Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” So they began to celebrate. (Luke 15:22-24 NIV)
Jesus told the parables to illustrate the heart of our God. He is the God who goes looking for the lost and the blind beggar is such a beautiful example of this biblical truth. The man had been rejected by the religious leaders. He had basically been abandoned by his parents when they sensed the heat was being redirected at them. Rejected and abandoned Jesus found him. When Jesus found him, He asked the man, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
It’s important to understand how the man’s beliefs about Jesus had changed since he first encountered Him. The first time he spoke about Jesus, in verse 11, he referred to Jesus by saying, “The man they call Jesus…” (John 9:11) Then, in verse 17, the Pharisees pressed him, “What have you to say about him?” He said, “He is a prophet.” Sixteen verses later the man boldly proclaimed that Jesus is from God. He said, in verse 33, “If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” (John 9:33 NIV) The man’s beliefs about Jesus had radically changed in just a few verses. He went from simply acknowledging Jesus to believing He was a prophet sent from God.
We’ve been studying the Minor Prophets during Sunday school for the past three months. We’ve learned that a prophet is a man who brings God’s Word to people. The prophet Amos once said,
7 Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets. (Amos 3:7 NIV)
The blind man knew there was something special about Jesus—He was sent from God. At this point in the story the man already believed more than a growing number of people who call themselves followers of Jesus today. Our society is full of people who call themselves Christians and yet, when pressed about Jesus’ claims to be God Incarnate and the only way to God, the only Redeemer for humanity, they are more comfortable saying that Jesus was a great teacher or simply one of the ways to God.
The man’s knowledge of Jesus was growing, but he still didn’t know all that Jesus wanted him to know so Jesus asked him the question, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” The man said, “Who is he, sir?” There’s something really interesting about his response in verse 36, “Who is he, sir?” and his response in verse 38, “Lord, I believe.” The words, “sir” and “Lord” are exactly the same word in Greek. It is the word, “??????” (kurios) and it means, “Master, Lord, or it can be used as a title of honor or respect and reverence.” Some translations like the King James Version and the New American Standard Version translate the word, “lord” in both verses, but that really doesn’t allow us to see the change that took place in the man once Jesus told him that He was the Son of Man.
When he was asked, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” he asked, “Who is he, sir?” At that point he didn’t know Jesus as the Son of Man, or Messiah. Jesus answered his question, “Who is he, sir?” by saying, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.” (John 9:37 NIV) The man immediately said, “’Lord, I believe,’” and he worshiped him.” (John 9:38 NIV) Same Greek word as was translated “sir” in verse 36, but in verse 38 he was acknowledging Jesus as “Lord,” as the long awaited Messiah, so he fell down on his face and worshiped Jesus.
The word that John uses to describe what the man did as he confessed his belief in Jesus as the Son of Man is very interesting in light of what so many are saying in our society today. There are many people who say that Jesus never claimed to be the Messiah, He never desired worship from His followers, and He certainly never saw Himself as God. The Greek word that John used in John 9 to tell us that the man “worshiped” Jesus is interesting when we read other occurrences of the word in the New Testament. John uses the verb, “?????????” (proskuneo), which means, “to worship, or to fall upon the knees and touch the ground with the forehead as an expression of profound reverence.” The word is found in 54 verses in the New Testament. We don’t have time to look at all 54, but I want to show you one that really should bring the debate about the nature of Jesus to a grinding halt. In Revelation 7:9-12 we find a great multitude of people before the throne of God. Listen to this.
9 After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.10 And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” 11 All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying: “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!” (Revelation 7:10-12 NIV)
Jesus is the Lamb of God who came to take away our sin through His crucifixion. He is worthy of our worship. The angels of heaven bowed in worship, the elders bowed in worship, the four living creatures bowed in worship, and we should bow and worship our King as well. Over and over again we find people in the Gospels bowing before Him in worship and never once did Jesus refuse their worship.
James Montgomery Boice told a story about Gautama Buddha and his followers. Just before his death Buddha’s followers asked him, “How can we best remember you?” Buddha told them they weren’t to trouble themselves by such a question. His point was that remembering him was of no value, but what was of great value was their remembering his teaching, his teaching of the Way. Boice writes,
In this respect, his teaching had the characteristics nearly of a truth of science, which exists entirely apart from the one who discovers it. This is not the way of Christian truth, for Jesus pointed men and women to himself. In our text He asks, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ Later he instituted the Lord’s Supper with the words, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me…This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ (1 Corinthians 11:24-25) (Boice, James Montgomery. The Gospel of John: Volume 3. pg. 725)
Throughout the New Testament we are taught that we are to place our faith in Jesus. He is our Peace, our Redeemer, our Reconciler, and our Savior. Jesus’ teachings are the greatest teachings in the history of the world, but memorizing and following Jesus’ teaching will not make you right with God. Buddha may have wanted his teachings to be preeminent in the minds of his followers, but Jesus wants to be the focal point of the hearts and minds of His followers. We are called to believe what Jesus said about Himself. We must fall on our faces and with the blind man who had been healed say, “Lord, I believe!” Jesus said,
36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them. (John 3:36 NIV)
Just three chapters later in John’s Gospel Jesus was asked, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6:28-29 NIV) Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Acknowledge that He is the One who came to rescue you from yourself, to pay the debt for your sin that you could never pay by going to Calvary’s cross in your place, and trust Him every moment of every day of your life. The more you “believe” in Him, the more you will trust Him, the more you trust Him, the more you will find joy in living for Him, and the more joy you find in living for Him, the more this broken world will see Jesus in you and me.
Jesus welcomed the worship of others because He was worthy of their worship. On the other hand, there were also people who fell down before Jesus’ followers to worship them and never once did they receive their worship. They stopped them on the spot and corrected their thinking. Turn with me to Acts 10:25-26 and let me show you one place where this same Greek word appears. Let me set the scene for you. Peter was contacted about going to Caesarea to visit a Gentile named Cornelius who had been visited by an angel and told to send for Peter. Peter made the trip from Joppa to Caesarea and we’ll pick up the story there.
25 As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. 26 But Peter made him get up. “Stand up,” he said, “I am only a man myself.” (Acts 10:25-26 NIV)
Cornelius fell at Peter’s feet just like the man fell at Jesus’ feet and just like the angels, elders, and four living creatures fell before the throne of God. It’s the same Greek word in each instance, but the great difference is that Peter told Cornelius to get up. He said, “I am only a man myself.” Jesus is no man. He is God Incarnate and that is what makes His “finding” us, His willingness to seek out people like you and me so mind-boggling.
Apart from His enabling grace we would never seek after Him because we are born spiritually dead. Paul wrote to the folks in Rome and drove home the truth that their best efforts to be “good,” or to follow the Law, could not save them. He said,
10 As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; 11 there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. 12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12 NIV)
We are born alienated from God. We bristle at the thought that we need God to justify us through His Son. This doesn’t mean that we don’t do everything under the sun to try and justify ourselves. We all have an innate sense that something isn’t right in ourselves and in this world in which we live. The sense of “gone-wrongness” begs us to find a solution and there are countless ways we go about trying to solve the problem apart from turning to God. Some seek to “justify” themselves through accomplishments in the workplace. A big raise quiets the discontent for a while, but it’ll return, just give it time. Some seek pleasure to distract them from the storm raging in their soul, but yesterday’s pleasures most often turn into tomorrow’s addictions. Still others, like the Pharisees in our story this morning, try to justify themselves through religion—a rigorous adherence to a set of rules that deceives the individual into believing they’re living a good life.
After the man confessed his faith in Jesus and fell down on his face to worship Him, Jesus spoke up. Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” (John 9:39 NIV) There were Pharisees present who witnessed the man worshiping Jesus and they spoke up with sarcasm, “What? Are we blind too?” In their minds there wasn’t even a remote possibility that what Jesus was saying had any application for their lives at all. They had 20/20 vision and even more importantly they had the Law. Yet, Jesus knew they were spiritually blind and become more blind by the minute. F.F. Bruce writes,
To be so self-deceived as to shut one’s eyes to the light is a desperate state to be in; the light is there, but if people fail to avail themselves of it, but rather deliberately reject it, how can they be enlightened? (Bruce, F.F. The Gospel of John. pg. 221)
He was right in front of them, but they could not see, they refused to see that Jesus alone could open their blind eyes and enable them to see that He alone is the Light of the world. This morning, there are some very religious people among us. You go to church like clockwork, you read your Bible, and can even quote long passages of Scripture, but the question is, “Can you see?” Can you see your need for Jesus this morning? Are you aware that apart from Him you are blind to the truths of God? Will you trust Him to open your blind eyes and allow you to see His glory and majesty? Will you allow Him to open your blind eyes and enable you to see the futility of your efforts to be good and do good? Will you allow Him to open your blind eyes and enable you to see how you are investing your time and money in temporal things while you are neglecting the things of eternity? Will you allow Him to open your blind eyes and enable you to see that you are so busy building your own kingdom that you have neglected His Kingdom? He’s found you this morning, but will you trust Him?
Britton Christian Church
922 NW 91st
OKC, OK. 73114
June 7, 2015