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John 9:35–41 (ESV) 35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” 38 He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. 39 Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.”   40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?”   41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.

Jesus finds the man whom the Pharisees had thrown out, since he urgently needs help, and above all needs to know the identity of the one who had healed him and whom he had steadfastly refused to deny.

The question that Jesus directs to him does not mean, “Do you believe in the existence of the Son of Man?”, but rather, “Do you put your trust in the Son of Man?

Throughout Scripture blindness is used metaphorically to represent fallen man’s inability to comprehend divine truth.

  • Isaiah 43:8 (ESV)  8 Bring out the people who are blind, yet have eyes, who are deaf, yet have ears!
  • Isaiah 56:10 (ESV)  10 His watchmen are blind; they are all without knowledge; they are all silent dogs; they cannot bark, dreaming, lying down, loving to slumber.
  • Jeremiah 5:21 (ESV)  21 “Hear this, O foolish and senseless people, who have eyes, but see not, who have ears, but hear not.

It continues today even in the Church:

  • John 3:19 (ESV)  19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.
  • Acts 26:18 (ESV)  18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’
  • 2 Corinthians 4:4 (ESV)  4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
  • Ephesians 4:18 (ESV)  18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.
  • Revelation 3:17 (ESV)  17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.

Have It Your Way

Those who willfully continue to walk naturally in darkness may also find that God judicially blinds them, giving them over to the darkness they love (cf. Rom. 1:21–25).

  • Romans 1:21–25 (ESV)  21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.   22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools,   23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.   24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves,   25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

The Lord spoke to the crowds in parables because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says,

  • Isaiah 6:9–10 (ESV)  9 And he said, “Go, and say to this people: “ ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’   10 Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”
  • Isaiah 29:9–10 (ESV)  9 Astonish yourselves and be astonished; blind yourselves and be blind! Be drunk, but not with wine; stagger, but not with strong drink!   10 For the LORD has poured out upon you a spirit of deep sleep, and has closed your eyes (the prophets), and covered your heads (the seers).
  • Isaiah 44:18 (ESV)  18 They know not, nor do they discern, for he has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, and their hearts, so that they cannot understand.

As spiritually blind sinners, the unsaved are confined to the darkness, unable to see the light of divine truth.

  • They “walk in the ways of darkness” (Prov. 2:13; cf. 4:19; Eccl. 2:14);
  • “substitute darkness for light and light for darkness” (Isa. 5:20);
  • grope along with no sense of direction (cf. Acts 17:27),
  • since the one who “walks in the darkness does not know where he goes” (John 12:35; 1 John 2:11);
  • “participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness” (Eph. 5:11);
  • belong to “the domain of darkness” (Col. 1:13);
  • and do not have fellowship with God, who is Light (1 John 1:6; cf. 2:9).

The only cure for spiritual blindness is saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The Old Testament predicted that the Messiah would bring spiritual sight to His people

  • Isaiah 9:2 (ESV)  2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.
  • Isaiah 29:18 (ESV)  18 In that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see.
  • Isaiah 42:7 (ESV)  7 to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.
  • Isaiah 49:6 (ESV)  6 he says: “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

More light in the Gospel stories:

  • Matthew 4:16 (ESV)  16 the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.”
  • Luke 1:79 (ESV)  79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
  • Luke 4:18 (ESV)  18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
  • John 8:12 (ESV)  12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
  • John 12:46 (ESV)  46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.

Light in Believers:

  • 2 Corinthians 4:6 (ESV)  6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
  • Ephesians 5:8 (ESV)  8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light
  • Colossians 1:13 (ESV)  13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:4–5 (ESV)  4 But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief.   5 For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness.
  • 1 Peter 2:9 (ESV)  9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.