Miracle - Return
PRINCIPLES OF THE MIRACULOUS
The Principle of Return
By Mark E. Hardgrove, D.Min.
Text: John 9
The Principle of Return
By Mark E. Hardgrove, D.Min.
Text: John 9
We’ve been talking about miracles, and today I will be looking at the seventh principle of the eight principles of the miraculous that we have extrapolated from the signs listed in John’s Gospel. Before I introduce the seventh principle, let me ask a question. The question is this: What does God get out of the miracles He performs on our behalf? Does He deserve to receive anything in return for the mighty works He manifests in response to our needs? This is, of course, a rhetorical question. I am implying an answer in asking it. Of course God deserves to get something in return for His mighty and merciful acts of power in our lives. This is, then, what I am calling “the principle of return.”
In our text, which will include the entire chapter, we will see some of the things that Jesus gains in return for graciously performing a miracle in the life of this poor blind man.
At the beginning of this message, I want to draw your attention to some things that are distinct about this miracle:
First, Jesus found this man, the man did not come seeking or calling out to Jesus. There were others that Jesus came looking for in Scripture: The Samaritan woman, The Crippled Man at the pool of Bethesda, the Demoniac of the Gadarenes.
Like so many others, Jesus came to a man who wasn’t looking for Him. The songwriter expresses it this way:
He came to me, He came to me
When I could not come, to where He was
He came to me.
That’s why He died, on Calvary
When I could not come, to where He was
He came to me.
I believe that God often performs miracles in our lives that we didn’t even know we needed. Miracles on the highway as God prevents a wreck that we never saw coming. Miracles in our health as God heals a sickness or disease we hadn’t even had diagnosed yet. He often comes to us before ever have the chance to get to Him.
Second, Jesus did not ask this man what he wanted.
Often Jesus would ask people what they wanted, even when the need was self-evident. I think that Jesus did this so that the people could speak their need, they could articulate it and hear themselves expressing their need to God. But the Bible says, “Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask Him” (Mat. 6:8).
Not only does God know your need before you ask, He has the answer before we even know we have a problem. This man never told Jesus that he wanted to be able to see again, but Jesus knows the desires of our hearts. In fact, the Word promises us that if we will delight ourselves in the Lord, He will give us the desires of our heart (Ps. 37:4).
I have seen God work miracles in my life, and provide blessing in my life that I never asked for. He tells us to ask. He said, “Ask and ye shall receive.” But there have been times when Father God just dropped a blessing on me that I never even saw coming.
I was in the "Bath and Body Works" store the other day and I bought some things for my wife. Not for her birthday, not for our anniversary. I just bought them because I love her. The woman at the counter said, “The ‘just because’ gifts are the best kind.” And that’s what God does sometimes. He doesn’t ask what we want, and we haven’t asked Him for anything, but just because He loves us, He drops a blessing on us.
Third, Jesus did not make reference to the man’s faith.
This miracle was not prefaced upon this man’s faith, but upon God’s grace. Later, the man’s salvation was based on grace through faith when he said, “Lord, I believe.” But this work in this man’s life was intended to build faith. Jesus was making an investment in this man’s life, expecting a return. Sometimes Jesus says, “Be it unto thee according to thy faith.” But not here. Jesus simply did a miracle in this man’s life and as a result of that miracle, faith was born.
Sadly, I’ve known people who have seen God do great miracles in their lives, or in their family, and still they refuse to put their faith in God. How does God respond? He says “Take it from him and give it someone else.” God expects a return.
Fourth, Jesus did not accomplish an immediate miracle.
This miracle took place in stages. There are other miracles recorded that took place in stages. Outside of Bethsaida Jesus spit in a blind man’s eyes and touched him and the man saw partially, he saw men walking as trees. Jesus touched him again and the healing was completed. In another place Jesus told the lepers to go and show themselves to the priests, and as they went, they were healed.
Sometimes we miss our miracle because we fail to understand that this miracle will take place in stages and that it will require our trust and obedience to see the end result. What looks like mud in your eyes, may just be the first part of a powerful miracle. The completion of that miracle may be determined by how you respond to phase one.
The better job you’ve been praying for may come in phase one with a termination of your present job. Can you trust God in phase one? The healing you’ve been praying for may come in phase one with a surgery that you didn’t want. Can you trust God in phase one? It may look and feel like mud, but keep on keeping on, it may be a miracle in the making. The world may mock you and tell you the God has forsaken you, but you’ve got to keep on, keeping on because you know that you are on your way to miracle. You need to get to where He sent you, you need to do what He told you to do.
So we see in this miracle, that Jesus worked in some unique ways to bring the miracles of healing and salvation to come to pass in this man’s life. This story illustrates that we cannot put God in a box and tell Him that this is the way and the only way God works. He is still sovereign and He can still override all our preconceptions and preconditions to accomplish in us what needs to be accomplished.
Maybe God is doing some things in your life today that you don’t understand. Trust Him who has begun a good work in you to perform it until the day of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:6). I want to ask you to stand to your feet. There are some of you here today who are on your way to your miracle, but all it feels like right now is mud. There are people trying to tell you that God isn’t working it out and God isn’t moving in your life. But you have already heard His voice, and you have already felt His touch.
I could preach a message just on these points alone, but I only have time to point these distinctions out and to continue to engage our text. Today I want first of all to look at the actions of Jesus, and second, to look at the acts of the man in response to Jesus, and what the man did in return for the miracle that Jesus performed for him.
To summarize the acts of Jesus we could say that Jesus saw, Jesus spit, Jesus sent, and Jesus saved. Look at your text with me.
[A.]Jesus Saw (v. 1)
Look at verse 1. “Now as Jesus passed by He saw a man who was blind from birth.” What did Jesus see? He didn’t see a problem; He saw a possibility. He didn’t see an imposition; He saw an invitation. He didn’t see an outcast; He saw an opportunity.
Each day, every day we pass people by that we never see. We fail to see the pain on their face. We fail to see the tear in their eyes. We fail to see the lonely, the lost, the least and the last. But thank God, Jesus saw. We need to pray that we see could see through the eyes of Christ at all the possibilities and opportunities that we are too often blind to.
Notice that this man could not see Jesus and was apparently unaware of the presence of Jesus. This man is not calling out to Jesus. This man is not begging Jesus to open his eyes. This man did not see Jesus, but Jesus saw Him.
How many of you know that Jesus saw you, before you came looking for Him. When you didn’t know how to pray. When you were lost and undone without God or His son, He saw you. People around you saw a mess, but God saw the possibility of a masterpiece. You looked in the mirror and saw a failure, but God saw a future.
Jesus’ disciples saw a man who must have done something to deserve his fate. They expressed the popular opinion of the day that either this man or his parents must have done something wrong for this man to be born blind. There were even some extreme teachings of that time that a baby in the womb could commit a sin and thus be born with a defect.
We know that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, and when Jesus responds, He is not addressing the subject of original sin. But Jesus is responding specifically to the issue raised by the disciples. Namely, is every bad thing that happens in our lives the direct result of some sin that we have committed?
There are people in the church who will assume that if your children run wild, it is because you did something wrong as a parent. If your finances are in a mess, it is because you don’t know how to handle money, and you probably didn’t pay your tithes. I know a young woman who was raped and who refused to have an abortion, but instead gave birth to a beautiful little girl. But everyone who saw this single mother assumed that she must have been out doing things she shouldn’t have.
If only we could learn to look through the eyes of Christ. We would see everything differently and we would react differently. We would see possibilities where others see problems. We would see invitations, where others see imposition. We would see opportunities where others see outcasts. We need to pray, “Open the eyes of my heart Lord! I want to see you. I want to see you hungry, so I can feed you. I want to see you naked, so I can clothe you. I want to see you in prison, so I can visit you.”
Jesus responded to the disciples by telling them that this man’s blindness is not the result of a sin on the part of him or his parents. But this man’s blindness is God’s opportunity to become manifest in miraculous works. Jesus said, “This is my opportunity to reveal who God is.” In verse 4 He said, “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is yet day; the night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
This man had lived in darkness for His entire life, but that was before Jesus found him. This man had never seen the light of day, but that was before Jesus found him. This man had never seen a rainbow, never seen field covered in flowers, never watched an eagle mount the winds and soar in bright blue skies. But that was before Jesus found him.
[B.] Jesus Spit (v. 6)
Jesus saw a man who had never seen Him. Jesus knew about a man, who had never known Him. And Jesus went to a man, who had not come to Him.
What did Jesus do? The man probably heard the conversation. With his sense of hearing acutely tuned-in to what was going on around him, he probably heard Jesus and the disciples coming toward him. Then he hears something unusual. He hears Jesus spit on the ground, and then hears Him stirring His finger in the dirt. Next he feels someone rubbing something upon his blinded eyes.
One can only wonder what was going through the blind man’s mind at this point. Normally, one would get angry at such an act. One would recoil in disgust. But there must have been something in the touch of Jesus that was unlike anything this blind man had ever known before. Something that caused him to stand there and allow this man called Jesus to rub spit and dirt on his blinded eyes.
Friends, if you have ever been touched by the Master’s hand, you know what it was that this man felt. If you’ve ever felt that touch in the midnight of your storm. If you ever felt that calming touch in the midst of your turmoil. If you’ve ever felt that healing touch in the midst of your sickness. If you’ve ever felt that peaceful touch in the midst of your war. If you ever felt that familiar touch, in the midst of your loneliness. Then you know what this man felt and you know why he stood there and allowed this man named Jesus to rub the clay upon his eyes.
[C.] Jesus Sent (v. 7)
After touching this man, after rubbing clay on the blind man’s eyes, Jesus told Him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam (which is translated, Sent).” Jesus sent this man to the pool to wash.
Imagine the looks and comments that this man got as he made his way to the pool of Siloam. They probably thought that someone had played a cruel joke on this blind man. Some may have offered to wash it off. But I can hear this man say, “No thank you, He touched me. Oh, He touched me. And Oh the joy that flood my soul. Something, happened, and now, I know, He touched me, and made me whole. Then He told me to wash in the pool of Siloam, and I’m not going to stop until I get there.”
We need to have that attitude. I may not look like a finished product right now, but I’m on my way. I may not look healed, but I’m on my way. It may not look like our marriage is restored, but I’m on my way. It may not look like my finances are any better, but I’m on my way. It may look to you like I’ve got mud on my face, but it’s not mud, it is a miracle in the making and I’m on my way because Jesus said to go.
[D.] Jesus Saved (vv. 35-38)
Jesus wasn’t done with this man. Jesus sent this man out, and this man was evidence to anyone with eyes to see, that He was the Son of the Living God. He was the Messiah who would come to give sight to the blind. But later, in our text, Jesus finds the man again. Up to this point there has been no reference to the faith of this man. But after defending Jesus, and after bearing witness to the work of God through Jesus, verse 35 says Jesus “found him.”
Jesus asked the man if he believed in the Son of God. The man didn’t know much about Jesus, but he knew that Jesus had healed him.
He said, “Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him.”
Jesus said, “You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you.” To which the man said, “I believe!”
Jesus saved the man. This is the first purpose of the miraculous. That you might believe in His name and that believing you might have everlasting life. God was able to reveal His power, His love, and His presence through the infirmity of the blind man. Your problem is God’s opportunity if you will trust and obey.
II) THE MAN
Having looked at what Jesus did, let’s consider this man. What did this man do in return? What did Jesus get out of this miracle? We can summarize this man’s actions by saying that this man went, he washed, he witnessed and he worshipped.
[A.] He Went (v. 7)
We have already discussed the principle of obedience and we see it come into play here in this miracle as well. This man did not respond angrily to Jesus. He didn’t say, “Hey, brother, if you’d heal me first, it would make the trip a lot easier.” He didn’t say anything to Jesus; the man just did what Jesus told him to do. He went where he was sent. Sometimes we have a problem of going where we are sent. But this man went. Despite any mocking or jokes made at his expense, he just went. Regardless of the unanswered questions, and the uncertainties, he went.
If you have to have all the answers before you will do what God tells you, then you’ll never go, and you will never know what God could have done, if only you had been willing to trust and obey, rather than doubt and delay.
[B.] He Washed (v. 7)
Often the miracles of Jesus were intended to communicate something. They became an illustration for the teaching of Jesus. The blindness of this man illustrated the condition of all sinners. Sinners live in spiritual darkness, they are blind to spiritual realities. But by making clay from the ground Jesus was illustrating a recreation. Just as man was initially created from the dust of the earth, and was created righteous, Jesus makes clay and puts something of Himself into the clay that goes on the man’s eyes.
In addition to the clay, Jesus instructs the man to go the pool of Siloam and wash in the water there. This water symbolizes the cleansing that comes from Christ and restores our sight. The Apostle Paul speaks of the washing of the water of the by Word (Eph. 5:26).
The word Siloam means “sent”. The man went to where he was sent, and there he experienced a cleansing, and with it, a renewal of sight. Too often, we fail to go to where we are sent. We fail to find that place of cleansing and renewed vision. We press along doing our own thing, going our own way and expecting God to bless us with miracles and provision. If this is where God sent you, then let the washing of the water by the Word open eyes of faith to see what God is able to do in your life.
This man went and washed and was healed. Verse 7 says “So he went and washed, and came back seeing.” When he told his neighbors what had happened, he said, in verse 11, “So I went and washed, and I received sight.”
[C.] He Witnessed (vv. 11-34)
What did this man give God in return? In going to the pool of Siloam the man gave obedience and trust. But now, as neighbors see and hear him, this man is giving witness. God wants us to tell the story. What God does in our lives powerfully illustrates the presence and power of God in our lives and in His church.
The writer of Hebrews tells us that God confirms His Word “with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will” (Heb 2:3-4). We ought to be bearing witness to God and giving glory to Him for every miracle that He performs in our lives.
You may not stand behind a pulpit and preach to crowds, but your witness to friends and neighbors is an important return on the investment that God makes in you by giving you your miracle.
They brought the man to the Pharisees and they tried to deny that Jesus could have performed this miracle. They claimed that Jesus broke one of their laws by making clay on the Sabbath. They wanted to say that Jesus was a sinner.
The man who had been touched, who had been healed and who was now standing looking at those who were trying to deny his miracle, could not be convinced to deny the miracle in his life. He simply said, “Whether He is a sinner or not I do not know. One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.”
You can argue with a man who has an idea, or a teaching, or a doctrine. You can argue with suppositions and superstitions. But you cannot argue with someone who has had an experience.
Jesus gave this man a miracle and in return Jesus was getting a witness. A witness to friends and neighbors. A witness to the religious elite. A witness to anyone and everyone who had ever known him before his encounter with Jesus, and after that encounter.
Our encounter with Jesus ought give birth to a powerful witness. People who knew us BC (before Christ), ought to be able to see and hear the difference in us AC (after Christ). Our experience and our transformation from darkness to light ought leave no doubt in anyone’s mind that Jesus is alive and well and still in the miracle business. Peter writes in his Epistle:
9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. (1 Peter 2:9-10, KJV)
You may be going through this test and you may have wondered why you have been going through what you’re going through. But God is able to do a miracle; He is able to turn your test into a testimony. He is able to turn your problem into a powerful witness if you are willing give Him the glory for what He is doing in you.
Even the Pharisees acknowledged that God ought to be glorified for the miracle in the man’s life. The irony was that they were blind to the fact that Jesus was God in the flesh, the Son of God walking in their midst and they could not see Him for who He was and is.
The Pharisees were so blind that when an unlearned former blind man overturned their own logic they just threw him out of the temple. Sometimes there will those around us, even in religious circles who will not accept that fact that Jesus has done something in us. What Jesus has done will not fit into the nice little box that they carry God around in. And when they cannot deny the work they will just reject the witness.
[D.] He Worshipped (v. 38)
But when the word rejects us, when religious folks reject us, when people who do not have the faith that you have reject you, when family and friends reject us, Jesus will still be there. He is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Jesus heard about what had happened to this man and Jesus went to find this man. “And when He found him, He said to Him, ‘Do you believe the Son of God?’ He answered and said, ‘Who is He that I may believe in Him?’ And Jesus said to him, ‘You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you.’ Then he said, ‘Lord, I believe!’ And he worshipped Him.” (Vv. 35-38).
This man worshipped Jesus. He didn’t worship Jesus to get something out of Him. He worshipped Jesus for what He had already done. I don’t come to church and worship Jesus because I think that I will get more goodies from God. I don’t come to worship Jesus so that I can get Him to bless my business or multiply my money. I come to worship Him because of who He is, and because of what He has already done in my life. If He never did another thing, He still deserves my highest praise.
This man went, he washed, he witnessed and he worshipped. He gave obedience, he gave God the glory, he gave Jesus witness, and he gave Him worship. Jesus invested a miracle in this man’s life and gained a return on His investment.
If I were to ask everyone here today how many of you have seen God work miraculously in your life, most of you would raise your hand. The truth is that salvation itself is a miracle. If you could see where Jesus brought me from, and where I am today, then you would know the reason why I praise His name, and you would know the magnitude of the miracle of salvation that was wrought in me. So every one of you who have received Christ into your heart as Lord and Savior, every one of you who have known the joy of having sin and guilt and condemnation lifted off your shoulders, everyone who is Born Again has been touched by the miraculous. What is the return God has gotten from this investment in your life?
Some say Jesus doesn’t ask anything in return. But the parable of the talents teaches otherwise. Jesus expects us to do something with what He has given us. The kingdom of God is build upon the fact that those who have freely received will freely give (Mat. 10:8). Those who have been redeemed are to become instruments of redemption in the hands of God. Give God the return He deserves for His investment in your life. Give Him obedience. Give Him glory. Give Him witness. Give Him worship. If God can trust you with His initial investment then He can trust you with more. He promised that if we could be faith in little, then He would trust us with much (Luke 19:17).
Do you want to see God’s miracles in your life? Then we need to consider the principle of return. We need to be honest with ourselves and ask if God’s investment in our lives has resulted in Him getting the glory, in Him getting our witness, in Him getting our obedience in Him getting our worship.
In the parable of the talents, the man who did nothing with the investment given him lost all that he had and it was given to another who did something with the investment. I don’t intend to forfeit my blessing. I don’t intend to loss what has been given to me. I want more of God, more of His presence, more of His power, more of Him in my life. I want to be found faithful and to be someone whom He can trust to give Him a good return on the miracles He performs in my life.
What has God gotten in return from the investment He has made in your life? Are you ready to witness? Are you ready to worship? Or are you hear today and feel the need to wash in the water by the Word? Maybe you need a refreshing and renewing of your vision. Whatever you need today I’m here to tell you that if God can get it through you, He can get it to you. Are you ready?