In the gospel of John the ninth chapter Jesus gives sight to a man born blind on the Sabbath. As one would expect with such a miracle this news spread quickly throughout the whole town. Neighbors came by to see if what they had heard was true. Can’t you just imagine one of the man’s buddies walking up to the once blind man and pretending to slap him to see if he flinches? Quickly the man flinches. Yep, its true, he can see! It’s a MIRACLE!
In verse thirteen it tells us they brought the man who had been healed of blindness to the Pharisees. Now the Pharisees were religious leaders who were in charge of the Temple. No doubt, the family of the man healed of blindness took the man to the Temple to give praise to God for their son who was born blind now sees. This is a time for worshipping God. This man and his family and friends want to give praise to God, but instead of this miracle resulting in a praise gathering for God’s provision of sight, the Pharisees condemn this miracle because Jesus healed on the Sabbath.
The people are proclaiming Jesus as a prophet sent from God, but the Pharisees state Jesus was not from God because he did not keep the Sabbath law. There begins to be this intense dispute of whether or not Jesus was from God. The people proclaiming Jesus as a prophet of God. The Pharisees declaring Jesus to be a sinner. The people asking how can Jesus do such miracles if he is not from God? The Pharisees arguing no man who breaks the Sabbath law is from God.
The man who had been healed spoke up and here is what he says in John 9:31, “We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will.”
It is the statement “God does not listen to sinners” that I want to address. I’ve heard sermons and read articles stating that God does not listen/hear the prayers of sinners. I can see how one might come to that conclusion, because after all, if we take that statement on face value it appears that is what it says. However, to come to that conclusion is to take the verse out of context.
Here is a caution when reading the Bible - be careful of getting caught up in the details. Every teaching of Jesus while often he tells a story with great detail, it is not the details that are important, but the message.
Here is the context, and you probably already see it. Jesus gives sight to a blind man on the Sabbath. The Pharisees distract from this miracle and create a dispute of Jesus character and whether or not he is sent from God. The Pharisees, who are the religious leaders who have all the clout are rejecting Jesus as a prophet from God and declaring him a sinner. Here is the context in John 9:1 - “As he (Jesus) went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’”
There was this prevailing belief that God is good, and if someone is sick, or in this case blind it is because the man or his parents have sinned. Their belief was that sickness and evil did not come from God, but from the enemy of God. The Pharisees are accusing Jesus of being a sinner and declaring this miracle evil, and ultimately Jesus as evil because the miracle took place on the Sabbath. And the man healed of his blindness states, “If this man is a sinner how can he do something good as to heal me, because you Pharisees teach that God doesn’t listen, or work through sinners.
This man is not stating that God doesn’t listen to our prayers if we are sinners. He is declaring that there is no way Jesus is a sinner just because he done this wonderful miracle on the Sabbath.
The message has nothing to do with whether or not God listens to the prayers of sinners. The message is Jesus is sent from God and this miracle is proof!
Be careful of putting God and people into boxes and categories. God is more than we could ever imagine, and people are more than their past or someone’s opinion.