by Rob Tims
In the first few verses of John 9, Jesus comes across a man born blind … born blind so “that the works of God might be displayed in him” (v. 3). He spits on the ground, forms mud, rubs it on his eyes, and tells him to go wash it off in the Pool of Siloam. After doing so, the man is healed.
The drama that unfolds in the rest of the chapter is eye opening, not least of all for the four lessons it has for the local church.
- Churches must be certain that they are gospel-centered, not law-oriented. In vv. 13-17, the Pharisees quibble over the law rather than rejoice in the healing. There was no law against Jesus’ actions, but lovers of the law are quick to disregard grace. Long-time church members can easily become modern-day Pharisees … expecting conformity to law before the gospel can be shared. Yet there is no gospel when the law comes first.
- Churches must have boldness and courage to share the gospel when the heat is on. Parents of this blind man were quick to protect themselves from the social stigmas associated with belief in Jesus (vv. 18-23), and the same temptation exists today. Effective churches are comprised of leaders and members unashamed of the gospel regardless of its cost.
- Churches must have leaders and members who give witness to the gospel, share the gospel, and who are wise enough to know the difference. The blind man does a wonderful job giving testimony about Jesus (vv. 24-34), but he never actually shares the gospel (he doesn’t believe until the end of the chapter). Testimonies have value and should be known and shared, yet salvation comes through hearing the gospel, not just our personal experience. The “Good News” is not what happened to us when he heard it … it’s the news of who Jesus is and what He has done.
- Churches must have leaders and members who worship Jesus. Coming to the point of salvation, the seeing man now worships the one who made him see (vv. 35-38). Not only did Jesus give him physical sight, but spiritual sight as well. No wonder John Newton used this great story to speak of his own salvation: “I once was lost, but now I’m found. Was blind, but now I see.” Blind people who now see are worshippers.
When Jesus opened this man’s eyes, He shed light on so much more for His church. The question is if we will see it.
Rob Tims is husband to Holly and father to Trey, Jono, Abby Jane and Luke. He’s the author of Southern Fried Faith: Confusing Christ and Culture in the Bible Belt, and manages the team behind smallgroup.com at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville. He writes regularly at RobTims.com and blogs every Friday at Forward Progress.