There is something profound in the claim that Jesus made in John 8:12. If we look at the properties of light, we will notice that we owe a lot to this object that we take for granted. Light gives sight, provides direction, offers comfort and safety, brings knowledge. But Christ was not just speaking about a normal ordinary light; He was speaking about a spiritual light, something that has much deeper meaning, both for our souls and for our spirit.
The church of Damansara Utama Methodist Church is currently going through a series of studies on the attributes of God and Christ. Most recently, Pr Datuk Kee Sue Sing shared a message on Christ’s identity as the Light of the World. The big idea surrounding this area of our faith is in stepping into the light and seeing what we should be seeing.
What exactly is contained in the revelation that Christ made regarding Himself as light? This claim of Christ took place during the healing of a blind man, and surrounding this event, there are much we can learn about spiritual sight and its converse, spiritual blindness.
Christ’s claim has a two-fold significance; firstly, it tells us something about the person of Christ, what He has to offer. In our world, in order to have light, we need a source from whence they come. Lost the source and we lose the light. For the Jews of Christ’s day, it was no different.
They had to light candles in their homes and even during the great Feast of Tabernacles, where great menorahs were lit in the Temple, these lights were only temporary. At the end of the seven days of the Feast, the lights would flicker and then die out. But the light from the menorahs was a reminder of an earlier time, during the Exodus, when the Spirit of God manifested as a huge pillar of fire, guiding the Israelites on their journey out of bondage.
Just like that pillar of fire that was ever-present with the Israelites, Christ claim to be the light of the world that would never die and who would shine forever. Guided by Christ as light we no longer need to stumble around in the darkness. We can count on Jesus to provide a direction for us and to keep us safe.
Having Jesus as our light is extremely important because sooner or later, as we grow up, we will learn that the world is full of darkness. Realities of sorrow, struggle, and at times, suffering are very real. These realities are reflected daily in the news, viewed in the media, and sometimes experienced in life. But there is also a higher reality, revealed in God’s word.
Pr Kee shared that it is one thing to claim to be the light. It is another thing to actually demonstrate that power. In healing the blind man, Jesus was demonstrating that He was who He claimed Himself to be. In order to witness this, we need to see with a deeper level of sight.
On the deeper level than natural sight, there is also spiritual sight. There is a difference between mere sight and vision. Helen Keller, a woman who was well-known for her courage and faith inspite of her blindness and deafness, once said “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” And interlinked with this spiritual sight is also our vision as a people of God.
However, despite Christ being the light of the world, we can still reject Him through many ways. In the short passage within John 9, we see all these at play.
Firstly, we see the blindness of theological defectiveness.
His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. (John 9:2-3)
The disciples were quick to jump to judgement. They thought that the blindness had something to do with the man or his parent’s sins. But Jesus replied, no one sinned, God does not inflict deficiencies on His people because of sin; rather, they were opportunities for His glory to be made known.
Secondly, there is the blindness of denial.
His neighbours and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” Some claimed that he was. Others said, “No, he only looks like him.” But he himself insisted, “I am the man.” (John 9:8-9)
As the neighbours displayed, we can see the truth right in front of our eyes and still remain blind. They could be rejoicing with the man. After all, they recognized him. And yet, they remained blind to what was clearly in front of them, denying what their own eyes were showing them. Instead of being happy for the man, they were demanding for explanation and distrusting their own senses.
Thirdly, as the Pharisees show, we can also be blind through pride and arrogance.
Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others asked, “How can a sinner perform such signs?” So they were divided. (John 9:16)
The Pharisees were fixated on the where and when of the miracle rather than its connotation and implication. They were so bound by their rules that they lost the big picture and became divided. When we are too rules-fixated, we can fix our eyes on the trivial rather than the larger spiritual aspects at work. The Pharisees only cared that Christ was breaking the rule of the Sabbath. When we are bound by the rules and not guided by the grace and Spirit of Christ, we are kept in the dark.
Finally, there is the blindness of selfishness.
But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself.” His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who already had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. That was why his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.” (John 9:21-23)
The blind man’s parents were blinded by selfishness. Instead of rejoicing at their son’s healing, they answered the way they did because they were afraid of the leaders. They were afraid of losing their position in the synagogue. Because of their fear, they refused to accept the truth. Pr Kee imparted that we need to have the courage of our conviction to stand up for what we believe in.
These groups of people establish that some will condemn the light while others will confess it. The biggest thing that we need to repent of is our stubbornness and unbelief. In John 9:35, we read that the people had thrown the healed man out because of his testimony and faith:
Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” (John 9:35)
Jesus made the effort to search for him. Pr Kee conveyed that this is who Christ is. In love and grace, He is still searching for those who have yet to know Him and who need Him.
In the healing of the man, there are two central larger truths. Even greater than the miracle of natural sight, the man was given spiritual sight. He recognized who Jesus was and gave his life completely to Christ.
On the converse, an even greater blindness than lack of sight is that of spiritual blindness. Even if we are blind but we are honest in facing up to our blindness, there is still hope for sight, for we have at least recognized the weakness. However, if we have pride of our own knowledge and think we have everything figured out in life by our own efforts, we will be left in darkness.
This story in Jesus’ life is more than that of the healing of a blind man. The man went on to have a resolution in life, having found Christ. So it is with all of Christ’s believers. Having been given the light and spiritual sight, we are also called to be the salt and light to the world, much like Christ was. Pr Kee imparted that we cannot just fight to be prominent in church, for the Church will lose its impact. Wherever we are, in our schools, at home, at work, in our neighbourhood, among our friends, we are called to shine for Christ.
NOTE: This is an adaptation of a message shared by Pr Datuk Kee Sue Sing at DUMC in a recent celebration service. It has not been vetted by either the speaker or the church. The original message can be accessed at DUMC’s YouTube channel.
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