We make two mistakes when we read the Bible. The first is to make into a mystical, magical book that floated down from heaven. The Bible doesn’t claim to be that and when we try are make it as such we force it into a box it doesn’t fit in. The second is to think that the Bible exist solely for theology. That is, we think of the Bible as a book filled with “theological correctness”. We turn it into a textbook on God. Again that puts the Bible into a category is was never meant to be in.
But when we read it like a collection of stories, thoughts, letter, songs, poems, and histories written by people who encountered God in a deep and real way and were then inspired to write it down. Then we get closer to reading the Bible correctly. And that’s why it’s important to keep reminding ourselves that John and Jesus were best friends. Because John has a different perspective and we want to be mindful of it.
Let’s dig in.
This sign begins with a question from Jesus’ disciples about a man who had been blind his whole life. They ask, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:2) That’s kind of a weird question, right? If he’s been blind his whole life did he somehow sin as a baby? And if it was his parents’ sins that made him blind that seems messed up. But they were expressing an honest belief of their day. They believed that a physical disability was the result of someone’s and they want to know whose fault it is.
However, in true Jesus fashion he replies, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (John 9:4-5) So Jesus took their question and flipped it. In other words he says, “It’s not about who sinned and who didn’t. The point is that God is going to work in this situation and show that I am the light of the world.” And that’s sign number six. Jesus is the dark destroying light of the world.
And who is in more physical darkness than a man who is unable to see light. And what better way to display Jesus’ dark destroying light than by healing that man.
This isn’t the first time John talks about Jesus as the light of the world. In the first chapter of John’s gospel he writes, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5) And here John is putting flesh on it. The sign in chapter nine is meant to be the physical manifestation of that claim. Light and dark are always in conflict and John wants his reader to see that Jesus defeats darkness.
But this story is bigger than just one man. The blind man is the representative of the human race, trapped in darkness from birth and Jesus is the liberating light. John wants us to make that connection. He wants this one event to be a sign of the deeper truth that Jesus is the light from heaven who crushes darkness.
We need Jesus’ darkness destroying light to shine into our hearts and minds so that we can, like the blind man, see who he truly is.