Picture of Pastor Gettys

Sermon delivered August 23, 2008 by Pastor Don Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New International Version NIV unless otherwise noted. Divine pronouns and titles are capitalized.

Eyes and Mud Pies

John 9:1-5

(RealAudio Version available)

I think the worst curse that could ever come upon a person would be to be blind.  I kind of enjoy seeing, about the best of all the senses.  In the Bible there was a blind man, and this man had been born blind.  Every day was the same for him.  He got up.  By the way, how do blind people know when to get up?  What if they got up in the middle of the night.  I guess the rooster tells them when to get up.  He ate his meager breakfast and then he grabbed his mat and went out, and groped his way out to the edge of the road and sat down on the mat and started begging, which he did for probably 10 or 11 or 12 hours a day, out there begging.  What can a blind person do for a living?  You can’t even operate a computer.  So here this man was, out there begging.  Sitting on that small mat in the hot sun.  He was down in the dust zone.  Have you ever sat beside a road in Palestine?  They’re all dusty.  They don’t have concrete or pavement or asphalt, and when you’re sitting on your mat, you’re in the dust zone.  Dust would cover him.  He couldn’t see it.  He couldn’t see if he was dirty or clean.  Dirt was his life.

And in fact, he never remembered seeing anything because he was born blind.  Totally blind from birth.  He couldn’t see light or dark.  His life was exceedingly hard.  Occasionally somebody would throw him a coin or they would give him a crust of bread.  A leftover.  Who was this man? 

He actually represents us, in my opinion.  He represents a lot of people today.  The majority of Christians today exist on scraps.  We have a full menu here.  We have a full potential, and we survive on tidbits.  We’re blind to the full supply that God has in store for us.

When I was young I remember going to a conference meeting.  On Sabbath after the morning worship service I didn’t want to purchase anything to eat, so I went back to my room and got ahold of my crackers and my peanut butter and my trusty pocket knife, and I went out on a bench and ate my delicacies, and I could hear sounds of people still in the main building.  Finally they started coming out and one of my friends saw me and he said, “Don, what are you doing out here with the crackers?”  He said, “They had a nice box lunch for all of us.”  A nice dry, crusty box lunch that I had missed.  Well, I didn’t know anything about it.  It was too late.  My friend gave me an apple that he had left over.  I had been blind.  Blind to the provisions that were there for me.  I had missed a full meal, and you know, Jesus has a full supply for us.  Don’t be blind to the vast blessings that God has for you.

The majority of passersby saw this blind man and they probably said, “You know, it serves him right.  Somebody has sinned here.  Either his parents sinned or he sinned, because he was born blind.”  And so people would curse him.  People would spit upon him, and he would just be in misery every day.  People probably said, “You should have thought about this before you sinned.  You deserve to be blind.”

So let’s follow this story along now, in John, chapter 9, which was the scripture reading this morning, and verse 1.  This is speaking of Jesus.  “As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth, and His disciples asked Him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’”  Obviously it has to be somebody’s fault, and so this story starts with finger pointing.  Somebody’s at fault here.  Who was it that sinned?  We always blame everything on somebody else, don’t we?  “Why does everybody have to blame me all the time?”, he probably thought.  But Jesus did not blame him.  Verse 3.  “’Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ said Jesus, ‘but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life’”.

That sounds bad.  He was born blind so that Jesus could come along and perform a miracle and prove that He was the Messiah.  Is that what it sounds like, a little bit, in that verse?  Actually, the truth is, Jesus did not make him blind.  It just happened.  In fact, it says in Ecclesiastes, chapter 9 and verse 11, “Time and chance are basically the causative components of much of what we see in life.”

Each of us, you see, are players, we’re troops, we’re soldiers in a thing called the great controversy between Christ and Satan, and there are going to be lots of casualties.  You are eventually going to succumb to the vices of the enemy.  If you are confined to a wheel chair, let others, at least, see your positive response to your problems and let them be saved by your cheerful example.  Display the work of God in your predicament.  Make the best you can of what you’ve got. 

One Sabbath here at McDonald Road church, one of our rather tall greeters came up to me and he came right up and he towered over me, and he said, “You’re kind of short, aren’t you?”, and I said, “Yeah. I guess so, but my feet are long enough to reach the ground.”  I can’t change the fact that I’m short.  I was born, I guess, to be short.  In life you just make the best of what you’ve got.  But some day all you tall people are going to be my height, or else vice versa.  One or the other.  My dad said, “Never worry about something that you can’t do anything about.”

Well the rabbis thought that there is no death without sin.  There is no suffering without iniquity, and so, if your parents didn’t do it, then you did it.  You sinned.  You brought it on yourself, and now I have a question to ask.  How could a fetus sin?  How could you bring blindness upon yourself?  You’ve never seen in your whole life, it’s either your parent’s sin or it’s your sin.  How could that be?  Can a fetus smoke a cigarette or get drunk or get into pornography or lie or cheat?  Can a fetus sin?  I don’t think so.  How could the disciples ever ask a question like that?

Let’s continue the story.  Verse 4.  “As long as it is day, we must do the work of Him who sent us. Night is coming, when nobody can work.”  Verse 5.  “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”  By the way, is Jesus in the world today?  Does He walk the streets of Collegedale?  Well, not really, so who is the light of the world today?  You are the light of the world because Jesus shines out in you.

Let’s go on.  A crowd of gatherers came and they saw Jesus and the disciples.  They saw the blind men.   They thought[snap], something's going to happen here, and so they started assembling, and Jesus started spitting.  Jesus started to spit on the ground.  Not on the man, but on the ground.  On the dirt, and then Jesus knelt down beside this man and started working with the dirt that the spit had landed on and started spitting more, because it takes quite a pile of dirt to make a poultice to cover your eye, and then Jesus’ warm and tender hands held the man’s face while He put the poultice around the eye.  And then Jesus started spitting again and making more mud, and people thought, “What is He doing?  He’s not making mud pies. He’s putting it on the man’s eye.”  And now here He is making more and finally Jesus puts some cool damp mud on the other eye.

And then Jesus spoke seven words.  In verse 7 there’s 7 words.  Jesus said, "Go, wash in the Pool of Siloam.", and I picture the man immediately getting up and moving toward the pool of Siloam.  Was there any promise, “If you go wash, you will be healed.”?   I don’t read that.  It’s not there.  He was just told, “Go.”, and immediately he got up.  Now keep in mind he was in the city of Jerusalem.  Where’s the pool of Siloam?  You’ve got to go on the other side of the wall, and so, here he is.  That’s a predicament for a blind man.  How does a blind man get from in here, clear out there and around and over to that pool?  That’s a hard order.  And so he starts groping away, and feeling his way, and probably the crowd are snickering.  “Look at the blind man.  Look at him.  He doesn’t realize that somebody has tricked him.  Somebody has put 2 mud blindfolds over this man’s eyes.  Look at how silly he looks.”  And yet the blind man doesn’t care.  He’s obeying Jesus.  And finally he gets to the pool.  He stoops down, and he begins to wash the mud away from his eyes.  Get the dirt out of his eyes. 

He opens his eyes and he can see.  For the first time in his life he could see.  He could see colors.  He looks up and there’s blue in the sky.  He can see his own face in the reflection of the water for the first time.  Imagine what that would be like.  He sees the colors of green and how tremendous.  Eventually he sees his mother’s face.  He sees a rainbow.  He sees a rose.  Everything he looked at was new, and he saw things that you and I have never seen.  Do you believe that?  He saw the face of Jesus.  He saw the face of Jesus.  I’ve never seen Jesus’ face.  And I kind of think that the man was healed, I think Jesus rewired his brain, because when you see, your eye reverses the image, and your brain puts it back, and I think Jesus re-programmed his mind so that he could interpret what his eyes were seeing.

Most people that Jesus healed, He touched, and He certainly did touch this man.  Notice what this men--this man did 2 things enabling this miracle to happen.  Do you notice in here what 2 things he did?  Number 1.  He allowed Jesus to touch him.  Now what is the most sensitive part of our body?  Would you say your eyes are probably the most sensitive?  I believe that’s true, and he allowed a stranger to touch his eye.  That takes trust.  He trusted Jesus, and secondly, the second thing that he did, he obeyed Jesus.  Jesus said, “Go and wash in the pool of Siloam.”, and like Naaman, he went to the correct pool.  He probably passed several other pools on the way.  There’s several of those in Jerusalem.  He went to the correct one, and he did wash.  He obeyed, and so you can sum this up, he trusted and obeyed.  Trust and obey.  That’s the key.

Now the heathen world...  They forbade people, the Jews did, of spitting to heal people, because the heathens believed that spit heals.  Have you ever thought about that?  My mother, who is here today, used to...  I had a cow-lick when I was...  I don’t have a cow-lick today.  She used to take care of that before we would get into church.

You know, Jesus broke several rules by healing on the Sabbath day.  First of all, He spit on the dirt and a good Jew would never spit on the dirt on Sabbath.  You could spit on the dirt on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday, but your spit had to land on a rock or on brick on Sabbath because you would be making clay, and to work with the dirt, that was illegal because you might be making a brick, you might be making something so that was illegal.  He couldn’t do that.  He couldn’t make mud on Sabbath.   Jesus was teaching a higher principle here.  What Jesus is teaching is that it’s OK to help somebody in a physical need on Sabbath.  That’s why if you’re a doctor and there is a genuine physical need, you need to minister to that person.  Or a nurse.  Now if you have a chance, get off on Sabbath.  You know, if you can switch things around, but if you can’t, it’s OK to help people on Sabbath.  Jesus taught that, and it’s also OK to help a person, not just in physical need, but in spiritual need on Sabbath. 

Never in the history of the world had anybody ever been healed of congenital blindness, and when Jesus healed this man, He was proving beyond a doubt that He was God.  That He was the Messiah.  Thousands of years before Jesus had said, “’Let there be light’, and there was light,” ‘cause see, Jesus is the Creator along with the Father and the Holy Spirit.  Isaiah 42, verse 7, predicted that the Messiah would open the eyes of the blind, and Jesus did that.

The true blind people that day were the Pharisees.  Would you agree?  Isn’t the word Pharisee an anomaly?  What’s the last 2 words in the word Pharisee?  ‘I see’.  They couldn’t see that Jesus was the Messiah.  They just couldn’t do it, and you know, they were the "bruised and bleeding" Pharisees.  This group of Pharisees, in order to escape the lust of the world, they would blindfold themselves everyday, put heavy thick blindfolds over, the “bruised and bleeding” Pharisees, and they would go about all day escaping lust, running into walls, running into posts, running into doorways and trees, and they would bleed, and they would have scars, and they would point to these scars as proof of their spirituality.  They were a mess.  They were blinder than a bat, in my opinion.

Life has dealt a poor hand to some people, and that is unfortunate.  Maybe you were born with a 1 star IQ in a 5 star world.  Maybe you were born with some birth defect, something ugly about you.  Maybe calories cling to you like metal particles to a magnet.  This man was born blind, but Jesus wants to rescue us from our ailments, and do you know what the worst birth defect is?  The worst birth defect that you can have is spiritual blindness.

We need Jesus.  We really do, and I could just picture Jesus working with mud at another time.  Remember when Adam was created?  Jesus worked with dirt, and it could not have been dry dirt, and how did He make it wet.  I don’t know, but He formed Adam out of the dirt.  We desperately need Jesus to recreate us.

Let me share something with you.  When he was a young man, William Frey volunteered to read to a blind student, who was in school.  The student’s name was John, and he would be read to every day, and eventually, one day the man asked John, “How did you become blind?”, and John said, “Well, when I was 13 years old, there was a chemical explosion that some things I was working with exploded and blinded me in both eyes.  I’ve never been able to see since then.  Since I was 13.”, and Frey asked, “Well, how did that make you feel?”, and John said, “I just felt like life was over.  I felt helpless.  I hated God.  For six months I did nothing but stay in my own room.  They would bring food to my room.  I would never eat with anybody else.  I ate alone in my room, and then one day my father came in and said, ‘John, it’s getting cold outside, and the storm windows need to be put up, and that’s your job.  I want them put up before I come home from work tonight.’”  And his dad went out and slammed the door. 

And John thought, “I can’t do that.  I’m blind.”  He became mad.  He thought, “Who does he think I am?  I can’t get out there and put up all these storm windows on this whole house.”  In fact, he was so angry, he decided to try.  He said, “I’ll just show them.  I can’t do it.”  And so he felt his way to the garage.  He found the windows all stacked up there.  He found a screwdriver, and he found a ladder, and he said, “I’ll just show them.  I’ll fall and they will have a blind and a paralyzed son.  That’s what’s going to happen.”

And John continued.  He says, “I got all the windows up, and I found out later that never at any moment was my father more than four or five feet from me.”, and that day changed his whole life.  He realized that within the confines of this harsh besetment he could actually accomplish quite a bit, and so, he decided to enroll in school, but he couldn’t read.  He couldn’t see the books, and that’s why he got Frey to help him, and it changed his whole life.

And you may have some severe deficit in your life.  Life is exceedingly hard for you.  Maybe something is wrong.  You’re going through a terrible storm in your life and you’ve got zero visibility, and you just know you’re going to fail.  Nothing is going to work out all right.  You can’t see your way out of your problem.  But with God there is a way.  There’s always a way out.  Jesus will help you, and let me tell you that Jesus will never be more than 4 or 5 feet away during that time, because doesn’t Jesus promise in Matthew 28, verse 20, He says, “Lo I am with you always, even unto” what?  “Unto the end of the world.”  Unto the end of the age.

Jesus completely healed the man that was born blind, and I will tell you that someday, because of Jesus, there is hope at the end of the tunnel.  There’s light; someday, everything is going to be rectified.  Someday, everything will be made right.  Someday, the lame will walk.  The blind will see.  These things are going to be righted.

I read a humorous story about Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.  They went on a camping trip, and after supper they got under the tent.  It was time to go to sleep and they got into their sleeping bags and they went to sleep.  Hours later Holmes woke up and nudged his faithful friend and said, “Watson, look up and tell me what you see.”, and Watson said, “I see millions of stars.”, and Holmes said,  “What does that tell you, Watson?”  Watson pondered a minute and he said, “Well, astronomically, it tells me that there are millions and millions of galaxies.  Potentially billions of planets.  Horologically, I deduce that there is approximately, it’s a quarter past three.  Theologically, I can see God as all-powerful and that we are small and insignificant.  Meteorologically, I suspect  that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow, far superior to yesterday.”  Watson said, “Why, what does it tell you?”, and Holmes said, “Watson, you idiot, somebody has stolen our tent.”

How often we are blind to what is going on right in our midst.  The Pharisees were blind.  They were blind.  People need to have eyes that are wide open.  Don’t ever be blind about what God is trying to do in your life.  Right?  We express unhappiness that the gasoline is so expensive, but look around you.  We have gasoline.  That’s a blessing.  We criticize the school system because the test scores in our schools are only 20 percent above the national norms.  Be thankful for that 20 percent.  That’s great.  That’s fantastic.  We get upset because food is so pricy.  We ought to be thankful that we have enough to eat.  We’re blind to the magnificent things that God is doing right in front of our noses, and the Pharisees were blind to Jesus.  Here the Creator of the world was standing in their midst and they couldn’t see it.

Don’t be blind as to what God is doing.  Blindness, someday, will meet the light of the world.  Right?  And blindness will be gone.  Someday death will meet the Life of the world and death will be forever gone.  A new day is coming.  Those who are filled with sorrow will meet the Joy of the world.  A new day is coming.  The blind are going to see.  The lame are going to leap for joy, and just as sure as the sunrise always conquers the darkness, just so, Jesus Christ will always conquer the challenges that you face.  Those will be gone.  All the wrongs will be righted.  You trust Jesus.  You let your love for Jesus lead you into a life of obedience to Jesus.  Trust and obey Him, and that all starts when you open your eyes.  Open your eyes to Jesus.  I will tell you that we need to look to Jesus.  We need to have our eyes wide open.  Wide open to the possibilities that He wants to do in our lives, because Jesus is our King.

I’m going to ask you now if you would take your hymnals and open them to 326.  We’re going to sing our closing hymn, and let’s sing this out.  Let’s sing it as a prayer.  Open My Eyes That I May See.

Hymn of Praise:  #538 Guide Me, Thou Great Jehovah
Scripture: John 9:1-5
Hymn of Response:  #326 Open My Eyes That I May See

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McDonald Road Sermon transcribed by Steve Foster 9/6/08