In John 9:39 Jesus said: “It is for judgement that I have come into this world, so that those without sight may see and those with sight turn blind”.
Didn’t Christ come to save us from our sins (cf. Matt 1:21; John 3:16)? Why then did he say that he has come to judge us? What did he mean by “those without sight may see and those with sight turn blind”?
Our Lord’s great design in coming into the world is the salvation of men. “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him” (John 3:17). But, in order to that salvation, it is necessary that men should know the truth about themselves, and should take up a truthful position before God, for God will not endure a lie, and neither will He save men upon false grounds. He will deal with all His creatures according to truth, if He condemns them it will be because equity requires it, and if He saves them it will be because He has found a way by which mercy and truth are met together.
So, then, everywhere throughout the world, wherever Christ comes—comes by His gospel and the consequences of it—a judgment is going on. Men are set before the judgment seat of their Saviour, they are tested, tried, made manifest, and declared. Light no sooner comes into the world than it begins to judge the darkness. Scarcely had it been known to be darkness if the light had not revealed the contrast. Where the gospel comes, some hearts receive it at once, and are judged to be “honest and good ground,” men who are willing to accept the gospel come to the light that their deeds may be made manifest that they are worked in God. Other hearts at once hate the truth, for they are the children of darkness, and therefore “they love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil” (John 3:19). You see, then, how without its being the main intention of Christ’s coming into the world, it yet becomes a secondary effect, and so far, an incidental purpose of His coming, that His very appearance among the sons of men should judge them. In this glass they see their own countenances, and discover their spots, by this plummet line they test their own uprightness, and see how far they lean towards evil. Under the sign of the gospel the Lord has set up a public weigh-house. Do you not see the great scales?—they are correct to a hair. Come here and test yourselves. Even in this banqueting house of love, truth marks her own, and sets her brand on counterfeits. God has a fire of trial in Zion, and a furnace of test in Jerusalem.
The blind man in John chapter 9 not only believed that he was blind and knew it, but he had a sincere desire to be enlightened. It was no grief to him that Jesus had come that he might see. It was an intense joy to hear that Jesus had opened the eyes of other blind men, and though he may have feared that his case was quite different—for since the world began it was not heard that any man had opened the eyes of one that was born blind—yet he was pleased to find that Jesus Christ had stopped and looked upon him, and was placing clay upon his eyes. He felt gladness and alacrity about his heart when he was bid to go to Siloam and wash, his whole manhood went with the Savior’s act and deed, he gave himself up to the surgery of the Christ with the full consent of his being.
This man is, again, a model to every other blind man because he was very obedient. As soon as the Lord said to him, “Go, wash,” he went. There was no question with him about Siloam; he had no Abana or Pharpar which he preferred to that pool. He was fully submissive. He stood still, and let the Master put the clay on his eyes. It did not look like an operation that could do him any good, but he believed that Jesus was a prophet, and so he waited, and let Him do whatever He pleased with him. That is a good word in the prophet, “Oh Lord, you are the potter and we are the clay.” Now, what can the clay do to help the potter? Nothing, only it must be pliable, it must yield to his hand. The clay must not be stiff, and hard, and unwilling to be molded, or it will be set aside. O, be submissive to the saving hand! When you are brought into such a state of heart that you are willing to be anything or nothing so that you may be saved, dear soul, you are near unto the kingdom. If you can say, “I would give my life to be saved, or if the Lord refuses anything at my hands, I will gladly consent to be nothing if He will but save me,” then you are on the doorstep of grace. I would so completely yield myself up to Christ as to feel what He would have me feel and nothing more, to be what He would have me be, and to do what He would have me do, and nothing beyond. If you are thus submissive, I tell you to take heart of hope. The Spirit of God is at work with you. You are very near to Christ. Believe on Him, trust in Him, and live, for He has come so that those without sight may see. Catch at that sacred purpose of amazing grace, and let your despair fly away.
The best thing about this man was that, when his eyes were opened, he wished to know more, and when Jesus Christ spoke to him, saying, “Do you believe on the Son of God?” He asked, “Who is He, Lord that I might believe on Him?” When He found that the Son of God was the same divine One who had opened his eyes, then we read that at once he worshipped Him. Notice that at the end of the 38th verse, “And he worshipped Him.” He was no Unitarian. In the man who spoke with him he saw the Son of God, and he reverently adored Him. If our Lord Jesus had not been God, He would have told the man to rise, and He would have torn His garments in horror at the bare idea of receiving divine worship, instead of which, our Lord instanced this as a proof that the man’s eyes were opened, and immediately said that He had come for that very purpose—that those that did not see might see. Friends, if you have not seen Jesus of Nazareth to be “true God of true God,” you have seen nothing. You cannot be right in the rest unless you think rightly of Him. Until you get to know that Jesus is both Lord and Christ, exalted on high to give repentance and forgiveness of sin, you still need that there should fall from your eyes, as it were, scales, for the eternal light has not come to you. He that once receives the true light from God will know the Lord Jesus, not as a delegated God, or a glorified man, but as God over all, blessed forever. He will have a God to save him, and nobody else, for who could save us but the Almighty?
But how is it that such blind men, do come clearly to see? The reason is sovereign grace, but still there are other reasons.
First, there is no conceit in them to hinder Christ. It is not our littleness that hinders Christ, but our bigness. It is not our weakness that hinders Christ, it is our strength. It is not our darkness that hinders Christ; it is our supposed light that holds back His hand. It is easier to save us from our sins than from our righteousnesses. Our self-righteousness is that hideous python which seems to coil itself round and round our spirit, and to crush out of us all the life that would receive the gospel of the grace of God. He that thinks that he knows will never learn. He that is blind and thinks that he sees will remain contented in the darkness all his life long. Now, dear friends, if you are in the state that you know that you are in the dark—a darkness that may be felt—if it seems horribly to cling to you, so that you cannot get rid of it, if you seem unable even to obtain a ray of light, then you are just in the right state to receive the eternal light from the Lord Jesus Christ.
The next reason is that such people as this always refuse to speculate. They want certainties. When a man feels his own blindness and spiritual death, if you discuss before him the fine new nothings of modern theology, he says, “I do not want them, they are of no consequence to me, there is no comfort in them for a lost soul.” But if Christ once deals with you—pulls you down to the last course, and digs your foundations up, then you will want a Christ that will begin with you upon no terms but those of free grace, and you will want a power that will work the whole miracle of salvation for you from beginning to end. If you are yourselves utterly without strength, that makes you reachable by the strength of grace. When a man gives up his pretty speculations and just sticks to the old teaching from the divine word, he wants a great Saviour to save him from a great hell, for he feels himself to be one who has been a great sinner, and greatly deserves the infinite wrath of God. If our salvation should be too big for us, that will be a great deal better than getting one that will be too small for us, yet, if we think that the salvation of Jesus is too great for us, it shows that we are not the man for whom it is meant. Our fear is that we are one of those that see but will be made blind. If we feel our blindness, and cry out to God about it, we are the man for whom the sight-giving Saviour died.
Again, people who are thoroughly blind are the kind of people who are glad to lean on God. A man that can see a little does not want to borrow guidance from outside. He says, “No, no! I do not want it.” So when a man comes to feel thoroughly guilty, he does not mind depending upon God. If we sinners think that we can do a little without God, or can do with just a little help from God, why then we will keep away from the Lord Jesus. But when we come to this, “I will perish if Christ is not everything to me”; why, then we will have Him, for He never refused a soul that came to Him in that style.
In conclusion, Christ came to save us from our sins, but he can’t do that without showing us the difference between good and evil, truth and falsehood. He once said: “Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your vision is clear, your whole body also is full of light. But when it is poor, your body is full of darkness. Be careful, then, that the light within you is not darkness” (Luke 11:34-35). We should pray without ceasing that our hearts and understandings may be opened, that we may profit by the light of the gospel we enjoy. And especially take heed that the light which is in us be not darkness; for if our leading principles be wrong, our judgment and practice must become more so.
Let us praise God with the song “All That Is Hidden”: