Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Faith that Sees, pt. 1

In the Gospel of John, Jesus is often referred to as "light" (John 1:4-5, 9, 3:19-21, 8:12).  Particularly, before healing the man born blind, Jesus claims, "As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world," (John 9:5).  As I was shown by Pastor Bill Cook at 9th and O Baptist Church in Louisville, Jesus demonstrates Himself as the light through healing the man born blind, helping him see both physically and spiritually.

First, Jesus spits on some mud and rubs the play-doh mush on the man's eyes.  Then, he tells the man to go wash it off in a particular pool.  Even at this point, John may be hinting that this man has faith (why not wipe the mush off immediately or in the nearest bucket of water?).  This healing (of course on a Sabbath) sparks more controversy with the Jews.  They want to know what happened so they question him and his parents repeatedly.  Interesting is the progression of both the blind man blessed with sight, and the Pharisees plagued with blindness.

The Pharisees are first divided over whether Jesus could be from God: "This man is not from God, for He doesn't keep the Sabbath!"  But some of them claimed, "How can a sinful man perform such signs?" (John 9:16).  Jesus had already rebutted the charge against his works on the Sabbath.  First, after healing the lame man on the Sabbath, Jesus said, "My Father is still working, and I am working also," (John 5:17).  He is in effect saying, as God, I don't take a day of rest.  And the Jews recognized this claim, "This is why the Jews began trying all the more to kill Him: Not only was He breaking the Sabbath, but He was even calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God," (John 5:18).  Second, Jesus exposed the Jews own hypocrisy with regards to Sabbath law.

Consider this: Moses has given you circumcision - not that it comes from Moses but from the fathers - and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath.  If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses won't be broken, are you angry at Me because I made a man entirely well on the Sabbath?  (John 7:21-23)

Jesus claims they perform circumcision on the Sabbath, which serves to make one well by being obedient to the Lord (spiritually healthy).  Yet, they oppose Jesus for healing a whole man?  This is absurd.

While the Pharisees are still blind on the Sabbath issue, the once-blind man has begun to see spiritually.  When asked about Jesus, he proclaims, "He is a prophet," (John 9:17).  Prophets spoke for the Lord.  Thus, the once-blind man falls on the side that believes Jesus is from God.

After questioning his parents, the Pharisees again question the once-blind man, and they've internally decided Jesus must not be from God, "We know this man is a sinner!" (John 9:24).  To this, the once-blind man replies, "Whether or not He's a sinner, I don't know. One thing I do know: I was blind, and now I can see!" (John 9:25).  This man understands the situation with far more clarity than the supposed teachers of the law.  When they ask him again about the miracle (the third time in ch. 9 he is asked), he replies, "I already told you...You don't want to become His disciples too, do you?" (John 9:27).  Having his eyes open has already changed this man to where he sees that Jesus is from God, and now he is teetering on the verge of discipleship.  Certainly this question alone could have been leveled as a rebuke to the Pharisees, but when they reply "You're that man's disciple," the man does not object (John 9:28-33).

As the man sees more and more clearly, the Pharisees sight continues to dim.  After claiming to be Moses' disciples (creating a false antithesis between Moses and Jesus), they say, "we don't know where He's from!" (John 9:29).  They have circled this argument from both sides.  Earlier, they claimed, "no prophet arises from Galilee" so as to rule that Jesus could not be the Messiah, for "the Messiah comes from David's offspring and from the town of Bethlehem," (John 7:52, 42, and of course, Jesus is one of David's offspring, and was born in Bethlehem, but this fact was not publicly known).  So, earlier, the Pharisees ruled he could not be the Messiah because they knew where He was from.  Now, after Jesus says, "you don't know where I come from," (John 8:14) they say in effect, "indeed we don't, so you must not be the Messiah." What a circuitous turn of logic - whether they know where He's from or not, they deem He cannot be from God, let alone the Messiah.

Finally, the once-blind man openly rebukes the Pharisees for their shady rationale, "If this man were not from God, He wouldn't be able to do anything," (John 9:33).  The Pharisees recognize this man has assumed the role of teacher and hurl an insult at him (claiming he was born in utter sin) before booting him out.

The once-blind man then is found by Jesus (as are all of us who are blessed to believe in Christ), and his eyes open fully to belief in Christ, "I believe, Lord," he says before worshiping Jesus.  Jesus has blessed this man with sight.

Jesus concludes, "I came into this world for judgment, in order that those who do not see will see and those who do see will become blind," (John 9:39).  Thus, Jesus, as the light of the world, reveals what is in man's heart, and those whom the Father draws to repentance and belief are those who, like the man healed, will see.  But, also as the light, Jesus reveals that many who think they can see well are actually blind spiritually, and do not believe in God at all.

For us, this story is both encouraging and revealing.  Christ blesses and divides.  He blesses in that He brings the truth to light, and through repentance and belief in Him, we can see things clearly and live with Him forever (the ultimate blessing).  He divides in that He exposes the darkness and blindness of men's hearts, and those who choose to reject Him, and refuse to repent, are then in darkness, and sadly, "remain under God's wrath," (John 3:36).  For those who believe in God, ask Him to continue to expose those parts of your heart and life that do not please Him, and though potentially painful, He will graciously help you see and live more and more clearly.  For those who do not believe in God, I dare you to pray that God help you see who He is and who you really are.

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