First Baptist Church of Valdosta began a special needs ministry called PURE about two years ago. We have experienced many wonderful events including multiple Respite evenings and the highlight of the year was Tim Tebow’s sponsored Night to Shine. We have several families with special needs who are an essential part of our congregation and our prayer is to be a place where all are welcomed, loved, and ministered to. Not only does FBCV, but the the entire Body of Christ have a responsibility to love them, befriend them, to lead them to Christ, and to partner with them in ministry.
But what keeps this from happening in many churches? The following are some things that often keep believers from participating in these wonderful times of ministry, and how we can over come them.
The Problem of Misunderstanding (v. 1-2)
1As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
Jesus was escaping a mob who desired to kill Him. In chapter 8 Jesus was teaching among many things that, “anyone who was without sin should cast the first stone” (8:7), and the He was the Light of the World (8:12). Eventually, the Jewish people became so mad that they picked up stones to kill Jesus, but He slipped away.
In spite of the heavy mood, Jesus was never in too big of a hurry to minister to someone in need. While Jesus was looking to minister, the disciples were looking in judgment. With “who sinned,” the disciples assumed that it was someone’s sin that caused the man to have this condition. They believed that sin was the primary cause of all suffering. According to their dogma, if anything bad happened to you in life it was because of your sin.
We see the opposite in Job 1:8 when it says “Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” Job was righteous and blameless yet his worked was rocked.
Regarding families with special needs, there is no reason to blame, but every reason to support the family, and to help display God’s mercy, kindness, love, and hope in their lives and the life of the child. Families have questions that they may need help answering. “Why did God allow this to happen?” “Is it permanent?” “Can I afford the care?” “How do I discipline my child who has a disability?” “What do I say to people who stare at my child?” “Will my child ever be able to accept Jesus?”
The disciples were asking the wrong question, and instead of helping they were judging.
The Purpose of the Man’s Condition (v. 3)
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.
When it says, “this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life” we see that God seeks to display himself in the lives of those who follow Him.
What works of God were displayed?
A. God’s compassion was displayed. No one “saw” this man except Jesus. Many times those with special needs are ignored as if they are not there, or they are judged as inferior or being deserving of their condition. In some churches those with special needs are even asked not to come back because it makes people feel uncomfortable. In both of the churches where I have served and been apart of a special needs ministry, there are parents who have told me of horror stories of how they were asked or told not to come back. Jesus noticed him, explained that it was no one’s fault, and that God had a plan for this man’s life (as He does for everyone’s lives).
B. God’s person was displayed. Jesus healed this man showing all who saw that He was from God. Jesus said in
John 10: 25 “…The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me, …” Miracles were expressions of God’s salvation and glory.
When in jail John the Baptist sent some of his disciples to see if Jesus “was the one to come” (Matt. 11:3). Jesus told them to inform John of what He had done: “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor” (11:5). Miracles were proof of who Jesus was (God) and the presence of the kingdom of God (Matt. 12:39).
When John wrote about miracles that Jesus performed he believed that they held deep spiritual truth, demanding obedient faith. Thus, Jesus feeding the five thousand (6:1-15) was Jesus’ presentation of Himself as the True Manna, the one who gives life and sustenance.
In John 9 Jesus is presenting Himself as the light of the world. He gives spiritual light to all who are in spiritual darkness. Jesus also understood His miracles as evidences of the presence of the kingdom in His ministry (Matt. 11:2-5); 12:28). Every miracle was a sign that God’s salvation was present.
His miracles were performed on the most unlikely of people. Jesus brought the salvation of God to those who were rejected by society. He healed the lame (Matt. 9:1-8), the mute (Matt. 9:32-33), the leper (Luke 17:11-19), and the blind (John 9:1-3). Jesus brought the kingdom to all, regardless of their condition or social status.
C. God’s empowerment was displayed. Not only is he empowered with new sight but he was bold before the Pharisees and other religious leaders. John 9:30 says “The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will. Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”
This man who was blind from birth would have known nothing but begging his whole life, now he stands before the religious authorities and tells them spiritual things they can not understand. We are empowered by God whenever we tell others about Jesus. He will always give us the words to say and the Scripture to use. We are also empowered by God to do what ever it is that he has called us to do.
The Partnership of All Believers in the Ministry (vv. 4-5)
4As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
In the Jewish agrarian society all work had to be done during the day. When night came the work must stop. Jesus is saying that there will be a time when Jesus’ work would come to an end. We are to do the work that God has given us to do, and like Jesus that time is limited. All of our days are limited. In the time we have, we must work to build His kingdom.
Jesus is also clear that we are to partner with all believers in the work of God. Those with special needs are usually designated as receivers of ministry. But have we asked the question “What is their calling? What has God designed them to do for His kingdom?”
We are to partner with all believers and minister together. The church is to help people discover their calling in this life and to pursue God with all of their heart. 1 Corinthians 12:22 says, “on the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor.” (v.25) “ …its parts should have equal concern for each other.”
Jesus says, “I am the light of the world.” Jesus did not stop being the “light of the world” when he ascended into heaven, but the light was brighter when He was here. He continues to be the spiritual light of the world (salvation) and he is also the physical light of the world (healing this man’s eyes allowing him to see the light.)
The Power of The One Who Sends (vv. 6-7)
6Having said this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. 7“Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means Sent). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.
We are reminded here with “he spit on the ground” of Gen. 2:7 “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”
Siloam is Hebrew for sent. Jesus was the one who was sent by His Father to earth. Jesus sends the disciples to continue His work. Matthew 28:19 says, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” God used the man who was born blind in a way that he could never have used the disciples. The man was able to witness for Christ six times in verses 1-42.
Witnessing is nothing more than telling someone else what Jesus has done for you. The disciples can not share this man’s testimony with the same impact, and no one can tell your story with the same understanding. When we are obedient to Christ we too will see things that we never could have seen before. God always calls us to faith in Him, then washes us of all sin, and through this process we see things differently.
Having a relationship with Christ is the only way for us to see the world (and people)
as God desires for us to see it. Many of you have only been saved a few years but when you look back on the things you did and enjoyed when you were lost, you would say “WOW, look how I have been changed!”
There is understanding in a relationship with Christ, purpose in a relationship with Christ, there is fellowship and friendships in a relationship with Christ, and there is power in a relationship with Christ.
The Puzzlement of the People (vv. 8-13)
8His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” 9Some claimed that he was. Others said, “No, he only looks like him.” But he himself insisted, “I am the man.” 10“How then were your eyes opened?” they demanded. 11He replied, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.” 12“Where is this man?” they asked him. “I don’t know,” he said. 13They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind.
In ancient times, such severe physical deformities like congenital blindness sentenced a person to begging as the only means of support. But now he had been changed. “How then were your eyes opened?” The man simply tells what Jesus had done to him. He explained how he followed in obedience, and how he received his sight. People, when they see the change in our lives, will demand to know how you were changed.
“Where is this man? is the sensible next question for a person inquiring about the man who did this miracle. Another way to say this is “how can I meet Him?” “Can I be changed too?” If you have never met Jesus you can not lead another person to Him. He had not as of yet met Jesus. The man finally met Jesus in vv. 35-39.
35Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36“Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.” 37Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.” 38Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. 39Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”
Those who knew this man, his neighbors and acquaintances, saw him after the healing. Some believed, some did not. Why? Some people simply will not believe in Jesus simply because they choose not to, even though all the evidence they need is right there in front of them. These people were faithless by choice. All those who have received the saving power of Jesus, where he allowed us to see the truth (the light), have never seen the hand that healed them. We can only see the effects of Jesus in our lives.
A Man named Nicodemus came at night and asked Jesus some questions, and:Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” 9“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.”
Salvation may seem to be strange or mysterious but we can look at the event of this man’s life. First, Jesus noticed the man. He calls us at different times in our lives to salvation. Then he required that the man show faith in him to be healed. We show faith in Christ by believing that Jesus died for our sins, and that he rose again. We then are able to see things through a new pair of spiritual eyes.
If you have never met Jesus or understand who He is, ask Him to heal your spiritual eyes and He will.
 Jim Pearson. Exceptional Teaching. Cincinnati: Standard Publishing. p. 215.
 R. F. Youngblood ed. Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Nashville:Nelson Publishing. p. 847.
 John MacArthur. The MacArthur Study Bible, Nashville: Word Publishing. p. 1601.