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Focus! Keeping Your Eyes on Jesus in a Near-Sighted, Distracted World! (The Blind Man in John 9 – Part 10)

Have you ever seen a super-religious person get really, REALLY MAD? It is not a pretty sight. And this is what happens in our story of the man born blind.

In this series of blog posts on FOCUS I want to examine my own vision and ask if my spiritual eyesight is getting dim, distracted, or damaged by choices I make. We will be looking at a number of key biblical passages which emphasize this sense of sight. I am particularly looking forward to pondering the healing miracles which turned blind people into sighted people.

We’ve seen that the Pharisees are not at all happy with the miracle Jesus has performed — on the Sabbath! They gave the man born blind’s parents a chance to deny that he was their son or say that he wasn’t born blind. And they passed the buck and sent the Pharisees back to grill their son.

“A Pharisee’s Gotta Know His Limitations!” So they move to round two of their inquisition of this man who undoubtedly wanted to be released to go do some sight-seeing. They hit him with the same questions: “WHAT DID HE DO TO YOU? HOW DID HE OPEN YOUR EYES?” Losing all restraint the man born blind responds with equal directness: “I told you already! And you did not listen!” He then questions their motive: “Why do you want to hear it again?” (v. 27).

An Infuriating Question: But the Coup de grâce (a death blow to end the suffering of a severely wounded person or animal) is the man born blind’s last question: “Do you want to become his disciples too?” You can see the smoke coming out of their ears and the flames torpedoing from their eyes at this most inappropriate question! The Greek is very interesting here — μὴ καὶ ὑμεῖς θέλετε αὐτοῦ μαθηταὶ γενέσθαι; The little negative μὴ (mē) is used by John to indicate a question which expects a negative answer. What the man born blind is really asking is, “Surely you don’t want to become his disciples too, do you?”

Today’s Challenge: Although this man is not yet saved, he does not hesitate to tell what he knows — and to challenge those who deserve to be challenged. Ask the Lord to give you courage today to speak the truth — in love — but to do it with boldness!

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2021 in focus

 

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Focus! Keeping Your Eyes on Jesus in a Near-Sighted, Distracted World! (The Blind Man in John 9 – Part 9)

There are, of course, two kinds of blindness — physical and spiritual. In this extensive telling of the man born blind’s story, Jesus heals the first kind. The second kind is becoming more and more evident as we move through the details.

In this series of blog posts on FOCUS I want to examine my own vision and ask if my spiritual eyesight is getting dim, distracted, or damaged by choices I make. We will be looking at a number of key biblical passages which emphasize this sense of sight. I am particularly looking forward to pondering the healing miracles which turned blind people into sighted people.

“You’re Now Under Oath!” The efforts of the Pharisees to get at the “truth” they wanted have failed. The parents of the man born blind were of no help at all. They now summon this unnamed now sighted person and grill him a second time. But this time they put him under oath. When they say “Give glory to God” they are referring back to the story of Achan in Joshua 7 who stole some of the “devoted things” and Joshua says to him, “My son, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, and honor him. Tell me what you have done; do not hide it from me.” (v. 19). What the Pharisees were really saying to the man born blind was, “You’ve been lying to us up to this point. Now tell the truth!”

The Issue of Knowledge: The Pharisees declare, as they put the man under oath, that they know Jesus is a sinner (v. 24). But their certainty is under attack and the man born blind simply responds, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know.” (v. 25). It’s important to state what one doesn’t know. But he goes on to say, “One thing I do know. I was blind, but now I see!”

Today’s Challenge: They are many things that you and I don’t know. What do you know for certain? We have the sure and certain Word of God which declares to us our rescue by Jesus. Let’s speak clearly of what we do know so others will see their need to be rescued!

 
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Posted by on September 3, 2021 in focus

 

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Focus! Keeping Your Eyes on Jesus in a Near-Sighted, Distracted World! (The Blind Man in John 9 – Part 8)

Jesus is in the business of helping blind people see. And this miracle, the most extensively reported miracle in the entire Bible, gives us dramatic testimony of a man who was born blind.

In this series of blog posts on FOCUS I want to examine my own vision and ask if my spiritual eyesight is getting dim, distracted, or damaged by choices I make. We will be looking at a number of key biblical passages which emphasize this sense of sight. I am particularly looking forward to pondering the healing miracles which turned blind people into sighted people.

Meet the Parents: The Pharisees were locked into their logic which produced no small amount of cognitive dissonance with them! They had already concluded that Jesus couldn’t be from God (He has broken the Sabbath). But they still had a man claiming to have received his sight standing in front of them. So they move to Plan “B.” Plan B involves denying that a miracle took place which necessitated interviewing the parents. They sent for the parents and grilled them with two questions: (1) “Is this your son — the one you say was born blind?” and (2) “How is it that now he can see?”

Fear Answers: This mother and father had every reason to deny that this man was their son or to say that he had not been born blind. But they tell the truth. “We know he is our son. And we know he was born blind.” They tell what they know for sure. They then respond to the second question: “But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know.” So they destroy the assumption of the Pharisees that the man was not born blind and that a miracle had not occurred.

Passing the Buck: This mother and father were not interested in tangling with the Pharisees, so they send them back to their son: “He is of age — ask him!” We’re not sure how old the man born blind was, but he was old enough to defend himself. We learn of the motive of the parents in verse 22, for they feared the Jewish leaders. They knew that anyone who acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue.

Today’s Challenge: Do you and I tell the truth, even when we are afraid of the consequences? Fearing the Lord is a good thing. Fearing human beings (more than we fear God) is a trap of the Evil One. We are to speak the truth in love. Will you do that today if the Lord gives you a chance to do so?

 
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Posted by on September 1, 2021 in focus

 

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Focus! Keeping Your Eyes on Jesus in a Near-Sighted, Distracted World! (The Blind Man in John 9 – Part 7)

At this point the inquisition gets quite, please forgive the pun, muddy! Jesus “made mud” — and to the Pharisees this was WORK! And a man of God doesn’t work on the Sabbath!

In this series of blog posts on FOCUS I want to examine my own vision and ask if my spiritual eyesight is getting dim, distracted, or damaged by choices I make. We will be looking at a number of key biblical passages which emphasize this sense of sight. I am particularly looking forward to pondering the healing miracles which turned blind people into sighted people.

A Simple and Logical Conclusion: Although it is not specifically stated, Jesus’ making mud on the Sabbath violated the Sabbath (in the eyes of the Pharisees). A Sabbath-breaker simply could not be from God. The logic was clear. Given the premise (that making mud as a step to giving a man sight for the first time in his life was a breaking of the Sabbath), the conclusion followed.

A Practical Division: But there was a formerly blind person standing in front of them. So some of the Pharisees couldn’t help but ask, “How can a sinner perform such signs?” A very legitimate question! Sometimes our logic gets us in trouble, even when a work of God has been done right before our eyes!

The Troublemaker’s Response? In their division these spiritual leaders of Israel turn their guns on the man who has been healed. I don’t imagine their question was asked with any kindness. “What have you to say about him?” And, perhaps to make him feel guilty, they add, “It was your eyes he opened!” The blind man might have thought, “Oh, great. Make me feel guilty for getting healed!” I wonder if the man born blind thought much before he answered. I suspect he just wanted these angry, irritated Pharisees out of his face. So he blurted out, “He is a prophet.” What he was saying was that Jesus was a man of God on God’s mission. And that’s the last thing the Pharisees wanted to hear from him.

Today’s Challenge: How does your logic sometimes get in the way of recognizing a good work that God has done in your life? What assumptions do you or I make that confuse our thinking? Submit your mind and your reasoning to the Lord today.

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2021 in focus

 

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Focus! Keeping Your Eyes on Jesus in a Near-Sighted, Distracted World! (The Blind Man in John 9 – Part 6)

Now the inquisitions will begin with this man born blind who has been healed by Jesus! His sense of sight has been given by the grace of God, but his sense of hearing and his ability to speak will be greatly tested by those who don’t care for Jesus.

In this series of blog posts on FOCUS I want to examine my own vision and ask if my spiritual eyesight is getting dim, distracted, or damaged by choices I make. We will be looking at a number of key biblical passages which emphasize this sense of sight. I am particularly looking forward to pondering the healing miracles which turned blind people into sighted people.

The Pharisees Who Don’t . . . See! The man is brought to the Pharisees, the religious leaders of Israel. Motive? If we give them the benefit of the doubt, these neighbors and those who knew the man born blind may well have brought him to the Pharisees for their approval, their blessing. But one crucial fact is now brought out: “Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath.” (v. 14) The Pharisees saw themselves as the protectors of the Sabbath and viewed Jesus as one who disregarded their leadership.

The First Inquisition: A second inquiry into how the man was healed takes place (note the word “also” in v. 15). Why did they want to know about the process? Probably to conclude that work was done . . . on the Sabbath!

Short and Sweet! The man’s answer is reduced to three steps: “(1) He put mud on my eyes: (2) and I washed; and (3) now I see.” He kept his answers brief. The last thing this man wanted was to be grilled by these self-righteous hypocrites who had it in for Jesus.

Today’s Challenge: How do you and I deal with really religious people who want nothing to do with Jesus? I think we should tell our story of salvation with simple words, and without fear.

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2021 in focus

 

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Focus! Keeping Your Eyes on Jesus in a Near-Sighted, Distracted World! (The Blind Man in John 9 – Part 5)

This man who has been miraculously healed by Jesus does not hesitate to self-identify as the blind beggar everyone knew. But now he could see!

In this series of blog posts on FOCUS I want to examine my own vision and ask if my spiritual eyesight is getting dim, distracted, or damaged by choices I make. We will be looking at a number of key biblical passages which emphasize this sense of sight. I am particularly looking forward to pondering the healing miracles which turned blind people into sighted people.

In our discussion of this most extensive description of a miracle in all of the Bible, we have seen the disciples’ asking about the cause of the blind man’s disability. We noticed that Jesus didn’t mind their multiple choice question. He just objected to there being only two possible answers in the minds of the disciples. Jesus declares that neither the man born blind nor his parents were to blame for his “handicap,” but this happened “so that the works of God would be displayed in his life.”

Details! Details! Well, one work has already been displayed! The man obeys Jesus, goes and washes off the mud in the pool of Siloam, and comes home SEEING! The neighbors and those who knew him from his daily begging want the facts about how he got healed. When I was a kid, TV was in its infancy — and one of my favorite shows was Dragnet! Sergeant Friday’s classic challenge to a witness of a crime was, “The facts, Ma’am. Just the facts!”

The Bare Facts: That’s what these people wanted from the man born blind — the facts. And that’s what he gives them. I’ll bet he ticked off the six points of his healing, holding up his fingers as he went over the steps:

Geographical Ignorance: They then ask him where this Jesus is and he says he doesn’t know. It is interesting that Jesus doesn’t tell the man to go wash and come back. The man could have easily not come back to where Jesus was (although the story sounds like it took place close to where he lived, or at least begged). I suspect he wanted to thank Jesus for the miracle of sight.

Today’s Challenge: This man knew virtually nothing about Jesus. “The man they call Jesus,” he said. And the man is not yet saved. But Jesus had compassion on him and healed him. How has Jesus healed you? Thank God today for the simple steps He took to bring you into His family!

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2021 in focus

 

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Focus! Keeping Your Eyes on Jesus in a Near-Sighted, Distracted World! (The Blind Man in John 9 – Part 4)

Although this man remains anonymous throughout the story, he was well-known in the community. When he comes home from obeying Jesus’ call to wash off the mud on his eyes, a fascinating debate takes place!

In this series of blog posts on FOCUS I want to examine my own vision and ask if my spiritual eyesight is getting dim, distracted, or damaged by choices I make. We will be looking at a number of key biblical passages which emphasize this sense of sight. I am particularly looking forward to pondering the healing miracles which turned blind people into sighted people.

Returning Home: In today’s verses we see what happens when the man born blind returns home. Two groups meet him — his neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging. This man was a known quantity to them. Some lived close to him and his parents. Others knew him publicly as the born-blind-beggar they might have walked around or, perhaps, even dropped a few small coins into his begging basket.

An Identity Crisis: Rather than rejoicing in his healing, a dispute erupted over whether this was the same man who had been living his life begging. Some said it was the same man. Others said, “Nah. But it could be his twin!” (or words to that effect).

Sometimes those who aren’t sightless treat those who are as if they are also deaf! But this man-born-blind heard their argument and jumped in! He declared, “I am the man!”

A Personal Story: When I began my teaching career, the Bible college where I taught was going under financially. So I had a friend take a picture of me in my best teaching pose (I couldn’t find the original, but that young man looked a bit like me). I sent that picture to several seminaries to apply for a position. Notice that I had a Greek sentence on the board to impress any future employers. And the translation — “I AM THE MAN!” — wasn’t on the original picture. This is a direct quote from our text here in John 9. I don’t think the seminary that hired me noticed the not-so-subtle reference to the blind man’s statement!

A Courageous Choice: You know, the man born blind had an option. He could have denied being the beggar they all thought they knew. He could have said, “Beg?! I’ve never begged in my life!” But he didn’t. He declared who he was and his declaration would lead to some serious consequences.

Today’s Challenge: May I ask you — do you correctly identify yourself as one who has been touched and healed by the Lord Jesus? Such a confession involves admitting your need and giving God credit for what He’s done in your life. And spiritually sighted people do just that!

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2021 in focus

 

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Focus! Keeping Your Eyes on Jesus in a Near-Sighted, Distracted World! (The Blind Man in John 9 – Part 3)

As we continue to work our way through this most extensively described miracle in all of Scripture — the story of the man born blind — we have seen several important truths. This man’s lack of vision, as we will find out, will be healed by Jesus.

In this series of blog posts on FOCUS I want to examine my own vision and ask if my spiritual eyesight is getting dim, distracted, or damaged by choices I make. We will be looking at a number of key biblical passages which emphasize this sense of sight. I am particularly looking forward to pondering the healing miracles which turned blind people into sighted people.

In our study of John 9 we’ve seen that the Lord Jesus had to correct the multiple choice question the disciples asked, for they thought that either the man born blind or his parents were the cause of his blindness. Instead Jesus declares that this happened “so that the works of God might be displayed in him” (v. 3). The works of God will focus on this man’s receiving his physical vision for the first time in his life.

A Strange Action: We do not know if the man born blind heard what Jesus said to His disciples. If he did he must have been overjoyed that neither he nor his parents were somehow under the judgment of God! What we do know is what Jesus did next. He spat on the ground, made a mud mixture, and put it on the man’s eyes. (v. 6). There was nothing magical about the mud. Perhaps He did what He did so that when the man received his sight, people would remember the physical connection between Jesus and the man born blind.

A Clear Command: Jesus’ words to the man weren’t “I’m really sorry you’ve having to go through this” or “It must have been hard facing people who thought you were under God’s judgment!” No. Jesus issued a seven word command: “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam.”

A Simple Obedience: And the man born blind does exactly what Jesus told him to do. The Bible is beautiful in its simplicity. “He went therefore and washed, and he came seeing.” [I’ve written up this story of the man born blind’s healing in a kind of fictional narrative which I will share with you after our study is done. But the process of the man’s washing the mud out of his eyes and seeing for the first time . . . priceless!]

Today’s Challenge: As we will see this story has many spiritual implications. The clear one today is to immediately do what Jesus asks us to do. What has He asked you to do? Then, by God’s grace, do it!

 

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2021 in focus

 

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Focus! Keeping Your Eyes on Jesus in a Near-Sighted, Distracted World! (The Blind Man in John 9 – Part 2)

We are taking a number of our posts to work our way through this most extensively described miracle in all of Scripture — the story of the man born blind. His lack of vision, as we will find out, will be healed by Jesus. And there are a number of spiritual lessons for us as we look at his life.

In this series of blog posts on FOCUS I want to examine my own vision and ask if my spiritual eyesight is getting dim, distracted, or damaged by choices I make. We will be looking at a number of key biblical passages which emphasize this sense of sight. I am particularly looking forward to pondering the healing miracles which turned blind people into sighted people.

In our study of John 9 we’ve seen that the Lord Jesus knew that this man was blind from birth (perhaps from hearing his unique begging call). The disciples asked Jesus a profound question of causality — “Who sinned? This man or his parents that he was born blind?” Jesus then corrects the disciples’ poor multiple choice question, for it provided only two possible responses, both of which would have been wrong.

Instead Jesus declares that this man’s birth defect was not the result of God’s judgment on him or his parents. And Jesus dogmatically proclaims why this happened to this man: “This happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him” (v. 3). The works of God will focus on this man’s receiving his physical vision for the first time in his life.

Our passage further reads: As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

Day or Night?: After answering the disciples’ question, Jesus makes an enigmatic statement about day and night. He says that “we must do the works of him who sent me” as long as it is day. We will discover later that the miracle Jesus will do for this man will be done on the Sabbath!

I worked for seven long years for UPS from about 11 at night until 4 in the morning while going to graduate school. Modern electricity turns night into day — and people work all hours of the night. In Jesus’ day when the sun went down the work stopped. Night prohibited most labor.

The Light of the World: This reference to day and night might symbolically be speaking of the presence of the Lord Jesus in the world. “Night” (His death, burial, and resurrection) will come and He will return to the Father. But at this moment He is in the world, doing the Father’s will, embodying light itself. It is fascinating that the Lord Jesus says of His followers in Matthew 5:14 something quite remarkable: “You are the light of the world. A town build on a hill cannot be hidden.”

Today’s Challenge: Would you say you are doing the works of the One who sent the Savior into the world? Are you taking advantage of the “day”? How do you and I practically flesh out being “the light of the world”?

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2021 in focus

 

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Focus! Keeping Your Eyes on Jesus in a Near-Sighted, Distracted World! (The Blind Man in John 9 – Part 1)

It is very hard to focus when one has no sight. In our passage for the next several posts, we get to examine the most extensive miracle story in all the Bible. This story of the man born blind proclaims with utmost clarity some of the most critical truths upon which we are to FOCUS.

In this series of blog posts I want to examine my own vision and ask if my spiritual eyesight is getting dim, distracted, or damaged by choices I make. We will be looking at a number of key biblical passages which emphasize this sense of sight. I am particularly looking forward to pondering the healing miracles which turned blind people into sighted people.

I wonder how Jesus knew this man was “blind from birth” (v. 1)? As God the Son He knew all things, of course. However, one explanation that I find possible is that this man had a particular begging call. Perhaps his begging call was, “Blind from birth! Please help me! I’m blind from birth!” The text doesn’t tell us, but what we know is that this man had never seen anything in his life. He did not lose his sight from an accident or injury. He was born that way. Sightless.

An Amazing Question:  What is immediately fascinating is the question Jesus’ disciples ask Him: “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (v. 2). Their question was an honest one — and they actually believed that Jesus could authoritatively answer it. But they were not prepared for the answer they were going to get.

I’ve taught undergrad and seminary students for over 20 years. The real bonus of being a faculty member is that I no longer have to take tests! I give them! And one kind of test is a multiple-choice test. Is it “A” or “B” or “Sometimes ‘C’” or “None of the Above.” The disciples’ question was a multiple choice question: “Rabbi, is it “A” or “B”? “Was it this man’s sin or his parents’ sin that caused him to be born blind?”

A Flawed Multiple Choice Question: One of the worst things a teacher can do on a multiple-choice exam is . . . not have the right answer among the choices! And Jesus’ disciples limited Jesus’ possible answer to two options, unaware that there was a third which they hadn’t thought of!

The common Jewish theology was that if you were suffering greatly, there was a strong possibility that you were under the judgment of God. The Old Testament book of Job shows that both Job’s friends as well as Job himself held this view. But sometimes things just “happen.” The causal factor is not man, but God!

A Denial: Jesus challenges the disciples’ either/or question by stating, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned.” Only GOD would know that, right? Jesus could categorically pronounce both this man and his parents innocent of any transgression that led to God’s punishment of blindness at birth.

A Declaration: And notice the answer Jesus gives. “But this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (v. 3) Wow! Jesus knew why this man was born blind. And it was not for no reason. There was purpose in his pain — and that purpose could not have been a greater one! Somehow, someway “the works of God” would be displayed in his life. The immediate work of God, as we will see later, will be Jesus’ giving sight to this man.

Today’s Challenge:  Today’s Challenge: Would you say that the works of God are being “displayed” in your life? Have your eyes been opened by the saving work of Christ? What do you see?

 
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Posted by on August 18, 2021 in focus

 

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