I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”
Augustus Toplady (1740–1778)
Jesus, thy light impart
And lead me in thy path;
I have an unbelieving heart,
But thou canst give me faith.
The work in me fulfill,
Which mercy hath begun;
I have a proud rebellious will,
But thou canst melt it down.
Sin on my heart is wrote,
I am throughout impure;
But my disease, oh Lord, is not
Too hard for thee to cure.
The darkness of my mind,
Lies open to thy sight;
Jesus, I am by nature blind,
But thou canst give me light.
Send down thy Holy Ghost,
To cleanse and fill with peace;
For O, my inward parts thou know’st
Are very wickedness.
Thy love all power hath,
Its power in me exert;
And give me living active faith,
That purifies the heart.
Unrival’d reign within,
My only sovereign be,
O crucify the man of sin,
And form thyself in me.
Thy blood’s renewing might,
Can make the foulest clean;
Can wash the Ethiopian white,
And change the leopards skin.
That, Lord, can bring me nigh,
And wipe my sins away;
Can lift my abject soul on high,
And call me into day.
Fulfill thy gracious word,
And shew my guilt forgiv’n;
Bid me embrace my dying Lord,
And mount with him to Heav’n.
—The Complete Works of Augustus Toplady (Sprinkle Publications, 1987).
The Gospel According to John
Christ Heals the Blind Man
9 As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. 2 And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.” 6 When He had said this, He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and applied the clay to his eyes, 7 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated, Sent) So he went away and washed, and came back seeing. 8 Therefore the neighbors, and those who previously saw him as a beggar, were saying, “Is not this the one who used to sit and beg?” 9 Others were saying, “This is he,” still others were saying, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am the one.” 10 So they were saying to him, “How then were your eyes opened?” 11 He answered, “The man who is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash’; so I went away and washed, and I received sight.” 12 They said to him, “Where is He?” He said, “I do not know.”
The chapter we now begin records one of the few great works of Christ which St. John has reported. It tell us how our Lord gave sight to a man who had been “blind from his birth.” Here, as elsewhere in this Gospel, we find the circumstances of the miracle narrated with peculiar fullness, minuteness, and particularity. Here too, as elsewhere, we find the narrative rich in spiritual lessons.
We should observe, first, in this passage, how much sorrow sin has brought into the world. A sorrowful case is brought before us. We are told of a man “who was blind from his birth.” A more serious affliction can hardly be conceived. Of all the bodily crosses that can be laid on man, without taking away life, none perhaps is greater than the loss of sight. It cuts us off from some of the greatest enjoyments of life. It shuts us up within a narrow world of our own. It makes us painfully helpless and dependent on others. In fact, until men lose their eyesight, they never fully realize its value.
Now blindness, like every other bodily infirmity, is one of the fruits of sin. If Adam had never fallen, we cannot doubt that people would never have been blind, or deaf, or mdumb. The many ills that flesh is heir to, the countless pains, and diseases, and physical defects to which we are all liable, came in when the curse came upon the earth. “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin.” (Rom. v. 12.)
Let us learn to hate sin with a godly hatred, as the root of more than half of our cares and sorrows. Let us fight against it, mortify it, crucify it, and abhor it both in ourselves and others. There cannot be a clearer proof that man is a fallen creature than the fact that he can love sin and take pleasure in it.
We should observe, secondly, in this passage, what a solemn lesson Christ gives us about the use of opportunities. He says to the disciples who asked Him about the blind man, “I must work while it is called to-day: the night cometh, when no man can work.”
That saying was eminently true when applied to our Lord Himself. He knew well that his own earthly ministry would only last three years altogether, and knowing this He diligently redeemed the time. He let slip no opportunity of doing works of mercy, and attending to His Father’s business. Morning, noon, and night He was always carrying on the work which the Father gave Him to do. It was His food and drink to do His Father’s will, and to finish His work. His whole life breathed one sentiment,—“I must work: the night cometh, when no man can work.”
The saying is one which should be remembered by all professing Christians. The life that we now live in the flesh is our day. Let us take care that we use it well, for the glory of God and the good of our souls. Let us work out our salvation with fear and trembling, while it is called to-day. There is no work nor labour in the grave, toward which we are all fast hastening. Let us pray, and read, and keep our Sabbaths holy, and hear God’s Word, and do good in our generation, like men who never forget that “the night is at hand.” Our time is very short. Our daylight will soon be gone. Opportunities once lost can never be retrieved. A second lease of life is granted to no man. Then let us resist procrastination as we would resist the devil. Whatever our hand findeth to do, let us do it with our might. “The night cometh, when no man can work.”
We should observe, thirdly, in this passage, what different means Christ used in working miracles on different occasions. In healing the blind man He might, if He had thought fit, have merely touched Him with his finger, or given command with His tongue. But He did not rest content with doing so. We are told that “He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay.” In all these means of course there was no inherent healing virtue. But for wise reasons the Lord was pleased to use them.
We need not doubt that in this, as in every other action of our Lord, there is an instructive lesson. It teaches us, we may well believe, that the Lord of heaven and earth will not be tied down to the use of any one means or instrumentality. In conferring blessings on man, He will work in His own way, and will allow no one to prescribe to Him. Above all, it should teach those who have received anything at Christ’s hands, to be careful how they measure other men’s experience by their own. Have we been healed by Christ, and made to see and live? Let us thank God for it, and be humbled. But let us beware of saying that no other man has been healed, except he has been brought to spiritual life in precisely the same manner. The great question is,—“Are the eyes of our understanding opened? Do we see? Have we spiritual life?”—Enough for us if the cure is effected and health restored. If it is, we must leave it to the great Physician to choose the instrument, the means, and the manner,—the clay, the touch, or the command.
We should observe, lastly, in this passage, the almighty power that Christ holds in His hands. We see Him doing that which in itself was impossible. Without medicines He cures an incurable case. He actually gives eyesight to one who was born blind.
Such a miracle as this is meant to teach an old truth, which we can never know too well. It shows us that Jesus the Saviour of sinners “has all power in heaven and earth.” Such mighty works could never have been done by one that was merely man. In the cure of this blind man we see nothing less than the finger of God.
Such a miracle, above all, is meant to make us hopeful about our own souls and the souls of others. Why should we despair of salvation while we have such a Saviour? Where is the spiritual disease that He cannot take away? He can open the eyes of the most sinful and ignorant, and make them see things they never saw before. He can send light into the darkest heart, and cause blindness and prejudice to pass away.
Surely, if we are not saved, the fault will be all our own. There lives at God’s right hand One who can heal us if we apply to Him. Let us take heed lest those solemn words are found true of us,—“Light has come into the world: but men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” “Ye will not come to Me that ye might have life.” (John iii. 19; 5:40)
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.