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Posted By Nan

John 9:1-41 (continued)
In these final verses of John 9, the man who was blind was thrown out of the temple. Jesus went looking for him. When He found him He asked him if he believed in the Son of Man. The man believed in the Son of Man and was prepared to follow Him, but he did not know who He was. He had faith in Jesus that He could show him the Son of Man. Jesus revealed Himself as the Son of Man and the delighted man accepted that, believed in Jesus and worshipped Him, giving Him the reverence due to God. In healing this man of his blindness, Jesus has also healed him of his spiritual blindness. He stated that He had come into the world to judge it so that the blind could see and those who could see would become blind. By this He meant that those who claimed to know God would be revealed as not knowing God at all and would be blind to the evidence of Jesus. Those who were not bound by the beliefs of the Jewish religious leaders would be able to see Jesus.
By contrast, some Pharisees who were nearby and heard what happened asked Jesus if they were blind too. These were men who claimed to see God and the true way to worship Him. They claimed to know what was right and wrong in God’s eyes. Jesus told them that if they were blind (they did not know God) they would not be guilty of sin. However, these men claimed they did know God so therefore they were guilty. Their guilt and failure to follow the God they knew about rendered them spiritually blind.
I see this as a warning to those of us who profess to be Christians. We have heard and accepted the good news about Jesus. When we fail to continue to live in Jesus, seeking to serve Him alone, then we risk spiritual blindness. When we place greater importance in the traditions and rituals of our faith and our place of worship, then we risk spiritual blindness. We need to guard ourselves against the temptation to become more concerned with the politics and doctrine of faith than in Jesus. A devotion to secular pursuits such as power and ritual will lead to spiritual blindness. It is vital we never lose our connection with God through Jesus by reading our Bibles often and spending time in prayer. If you have a bookcase full of books telling you how to live your Christian life, put them aside in favour of the Bible and only read them occasionally. Your primary focus should be directly on God through the Bible, not through the medium of a third party who wrote a book. By all means read those books, but do not make them your primary focus and always follow any reading with prayer and meditation on the Bible. Ensure you keep your spiritual eyes healthy and never lose sight of the source of your Salvation – Jesus Christ.

 
Posted By Nan

John 9:1-41 (continued)
Today I am continuing on my discussion of the story of Jesus’ healing of the man who was blind at birth. In the last blog, the man was questioned about what had happened. The Pharisees did not want to believe Jesus’ had performed this mighty miracle, so they sent for the man’s parents. They were terrified. It had been made clear that anyone who supported Jesus would be cast out of the temple. In Jesus’ time the temple was the source of a person’s social connections. To be cast out of the temple cut a person off from much social contact. This was quite a daunting prospect for the man’s parents. To avoid being cast out they admitted he was their son and had been born blind. However they would not answer as to who had healed him. They told the Pharisees to ask their son because he was of age.
That is such a cowardly thing to do. They were prepared to put their son at risk in order to save themselves. On the one hand I can understand their fear. I know how I have battled over the years to have the courage to speak out about my faith. Fortunately, I have found it much easier as time has gone on. It is hard to know whether this man’s parents had any faith in Jesus. Were they delighted at their son’s healing? Did they see this miracle and secretly worship Jesus? Was their refusal to answer the question due to a fear to acknowledge Jesus or did they not care or believe? We will never know the answer to that.
What I also find remarkable in this interaction is the lengths the Pharisees went to in order to avoid acknowledging that Jesus had performed a miracle in God’s name. They knew if they acknowledged the miracle they would have no excuse not to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah. I wonder what fear drove them that they would deny God and the Son of God?
So they called the man back and told him to give glory to God because they knew Jesus was a sinner. The man answered simply and honestly that he did not know if Jesus was a sinner or not. What he did know was that he was blind and now he could see. (v25). Still not wanting to believe, the Pharisees asked him how Jesus did it. The man answered that he had already answered that question and they did not listen. They never wanted to listen. How often we do the same in refusing to believe things we are told because of the cost to us of believing and having to change.
The man innocently asked the Pharisees if they wanted to be told again about the miracle because they wanted to become Jesus’ disciples. This was too much for the Pharisees. The hurled insults at the man and accused him of being a disciple. They proclaimed they were disciples of Moses. Of course if they were true disciples of Moses they would have recognised Jesus for who He was. Instead they repeat the old line they cling to. They knew God spoke to Moses but they do not know where this man came from.
The man’s innocent response to this remark is that he found it remarkable that they did not know where Jesus came from yet He opened his eyes. He stated what the Pharisees should have been saying. He knew, as they claimed to know, that God does not listen to sinners but only those who are Godly. Therefore this meant that Jesus was from God, because if He was not, He could do nothing.
This was an amazing statement but was too much for the Pharisees. Unable to continue to call Jesus a sinner they instead accused the man of being a sinner and cast him out of the temple. If you can't shoot the messenger, get rid of those who believe them instead!
I think we do this often ourselves. We like to have our lives ordered and predictable. When God challenges us through other people, instead of considering prayerfully and with reference to the Bible what has been said, we reject the messenger. Yet in doing that we fail to serve Jesus and become more like the Pharisees and the blind man's parents.

 
Posted By Nan

John 9:1-41 (continued)
Today I am looking at the events surrounding verses 13 to 16. The man, having been healed, is brought before the Pharisees. The day of this miracle was the Sabbath. The main Pharisees stated “This man is not of God because he does not keep the Sabbath……..” v16. These Pharisees were very set in their ways. They were very stuck in the beliefs they held and felt very uncomfortable when they encountered anything outside that safe area of belief they inhabited. So their reaction to anything that challenged their safe world view was to not believe it. So they were cut off from belief in Jesus because of their fear.
Some of the Pharisees, however, were more open to events that challenged their beliefs. They contended that a sinner could not perform such a miraculous sign (v16).
When I was a child I heard these stories and thought how terrible those nasty Pharisees who opposed Jesus were. Now I am older and a little wiser, I can see that they were not completely nasty, just very scared and stuck in their safe existence. That fear did make them nasty and even commit murder but they were in their core very scared people.
There are many in the modern Christian church who behave like the Pharisees. They are frightened and cover their fear by narrow, harsh and oppressive doctrine. Sadly, those few are often the ones the world sees and uses as the model of what a Christian is. Nothing serves to keep a person stuck in their safe zone than rigid adherence to a belief and a determined focus on the negative.
How do we protect ourselves from being caught up in that climate of fear? How do we keep ourselves open to God’s challenges? How do we ensure we do not deny the messengers of Jesus, as Jesus was denied? 1 John 4:18 tells us that perfect love drives out fear. Therefore, to avoid becoming like the Pharisees we need to trust God, allow ourselves to believe in His perfect love, which is evident in Jesus, and cling to that love. God will send us discomfort and challenge us often. That is for our good. Never forget. God is with you and His perfect love, as evidenced in the life, death and resurrection of our Saviour Jesus, will drive out all fear.

 

I will not be loading a blog this Saturday as I am going to Rockhampton to celebrate my daughter’s 21st birthday and to praise God for that lovely gift he gave my husband and me to love and raise all those years ago. She is now a beautiful young woman of God.

 

May God bless you over the next week and may you walk in His perfect love.

 
Posted By Nan

John 9:1-41
This section, about the healing of a man born blind, is long and contains many points I wish to highlight.
The first section is verses 1-12. Here Jesus is travelling past the pool of Siloam with His disciples and sees a man who was born blind. His disciples ask Him who had sinned that this man was born blind. It was taught by the Pharisees of the time that bad things happened to those who sinned. If someone was blind it was because they had sinned, or in the case of a child it might have been the parents who sinned. The Pharisees believed a child could sin before birth so sometimes it was the child’s fault. Sadly, throughout the history of the church, some people have believed this lie. Here in verse 3 is the proof that it is a lie. Jesus said that no one had sinned. This man was blind so that Jesus could bring glory to God by healing him. He saw the man’s blindness as the opportunity God provided to show his work in the man’s life. He counselled the disciples that it was important to do God’s work. This applied to the disciples as well. They had been sent out by Jesus to heal and tell the people about Jesus (Luke 10:1-24) so they would have been familiar with the concept of doing God’s work.
In verse 5 Jesus says He is the light of the world. Just as God led the people for forty years in the desert by appearing in a pillar of fire, Jesus is in the world to lead the people and provide light. It is particularly apt that He should state this when He is about to give a man light in his world. In Isaiah 29:18, 35:5 and 42:7 giving sight to the blind was spoken of as a Messianic activity. For those who knew the scriptures well, this should have been further proof of Jesus’ identity.
Jesus healed the man by putting mud on his eyes and telling him to wash it off. By the time he returned from the pool, Jesus was gone. The man could see! People were amazed and asked him who had done this. “A man called Jesus” was his reply (v11). The people asked where Jesus was. Maybe they were amazed at someone performing an amazing miracle and not staying around to get the glory. Their knowledge of God did not extend to understanding the necessity to give the glory to God not a person. Of course Jesus is deserving of great glory, He is after all our Saviour, but in this event He identified the man’s blindness as being there to show the work of God in the man’s life (v3). Jesus talks about not seeking human acknowledgement for our good deeds in Matthew 6. I know there are times when I do something and feel sad it was not acknowledged. I know God will reward the things I do in secret but the desire to gain human approval is very strong. To do as Jesus did and step back to allow God to get the glory is a great sacrifice of praise to God.
In the next blog I will look at what happened after the man regained his sight.

 
Posted By Nan

John 8:48-59
These verses seem to be more of the same. The Jews have not liked Jesus words so they accuse him of being a demon-possessed Samaritan. They seemed intent on intimidating Jesus. Jesus, however, resists them and continues to state the truth that God is glorifying Him and He seeks to speak God’s words. He takes it one step further and states that if anyone was to keep His word they would not die. This just draws more accusations of demon-possession. They are annoyed at his perceived arrogance. After all, Abraham and the great prophets died. This isn’t strictly true because the Bible records Elijah was taken up into heaven and did not die (2 Kings 2:11-12). Jesus continues to speak of God’s desire to glorify Him. He states that Abraham rejoiced at the thought of Jesus coming to fulfil the promise he was part of. The people can’t comprehend this. Jesus is too young to have known Abraham. Then Jesus utters the ultimate heresy in their eyes. He says that before Abraham was born “I am”. Not only is he saying that he was alive before Abraham was born, but He is referring to himself with the same words God used to describe Himself (Exodus 3:14). This is the final straw. He has committed blasphemy. They try to stone Jesus, but He slips away. His time has not yet come.
Yes, it does seem to be more of the same but there are differences. Each time Jesus talks to the people, He reveals a little more. The people hear what Jesus’ says and each time they refuse to accept His words. There must have been people who heard Him and believed, but John doesn’t record that. He is concentrating on the way the Jews in the Temple refused to believe what Jesus told them. Sometimes life can seem this way. We struggle to be heard in a world of disbelief. Jesus struggled, but He also persisted. He persevered and didn’t give up. Sometimes He must have felt he was saying the same thing, but He continued. Sometimes in our service of God things can seem that way. These are the times when it seems pointless to continue. Maybe it is trying to teach a friend about Jesus or witness to a disinterested group of school children. Just as Jesus continued, so must we. John does not say whether these people eventually believed Jesus’ words but some may have. You never know when the words you speak will leave a seed that will one day blossom into an amazing mustard tree

 


 
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Nan
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