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Focus! Keeping Your Eyes on Jesus in a Near-Sighted, Distracted World! (The Blind Man in John 9 – Part 13)

The Pharisees are brutal with the man born blind. They grill him on how he got healed because they want reasons to reject Jesus. And the interrogation continues . . .

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.

Summary of the Scuffle: The man born blind uses sarcasm to criticize the Pharisees for not even knowing where Jesus is from. He then gives them a theological lecture (“Prayer 101”) about the person God hears and the person God doesn’t hear. Next he reminds them that nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. Then he concludes: “If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” (v. 33).

A Pathetic Response: To the man born blind’s logic the Pharisees could only bring out their club in response. They first make a pronouncement about the man born blind’s sinfulness: “You were steeped in sin at birth!” (v. 34). But, wait a minute, weren’t each of us “steeped in sin at birth”?

34 ἀπεκρίθησαν καὶ εἶπαν αὐτῷ· Ἐν ἁμαρτίαις σὺ ἐγεννήθης ὅλος, καὶ σὺ διδάσκεις ἡμᾶς; καὶ ἐξέβαλον αὐτὸν ἔξω.

34 To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out.

This expression “you were steeped in sin” is technically “you were wholly born in sins.” One translation (The Complete Jewish Bible) translates this verse as: “’Why, you mamzer!’ they retorted, ‘Are you lecturing us?’ And they threw him out.”Mamzer is Hebrew (and Yiddish) for “bastard.” In common parlance, mamzer is a very derogatory reference to a difficult or unpleasant individual. But in Torah, mamzer refers to a Jewish person who was born into a certain situation and is therefore disallowed to marry most fellow Jews.” (https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/4007896/jewish/What-Is-a-Mamzer.htm).

Other translations of John 9:34 have — “You misbegotten wretch!” (Phillips), “You illegitimate bastard, you!” (The Living Bible), “You’re nothing but dirt!” (The Message). So the Pharisees resort to an ad hominem argument (an argument against the person) and then move to the argumentum ad baculum argument (an argument of the club) we mentioned in our last post. They “threw him out.”

How Should They Have Responded? Instead of ridiculing his birth and rejecting his statements, how should the Pharisees have responded? They should have agreed with his logic, they should have said “Of course! We were all steeped in sin at birth!”, they should have repented of their rejection of Jesus, and they should have praised God for this man’s healing! But this isn’t the end of the story . . .

Today’s Challenge: The Bible doesn’t sugarcoat the truth of our sinfulness and need of a Savior. Self-righteous religion is no substitute for the faith and repentance God requires to get right with Him. Pray for someone today that you know who needs God to deal with their sin issue.

 

 
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Posted by on September 12, 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 12)

In their interrogation of the man born blind, the Pharisees have found an intellectually capable opponent. This man acts like he has nothing to lose. And he’s willing to go toe to toe in challenging these “experts.”

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.

Sarcasm from a Sinner? When the Pharisees admit they know virtually nothing about Jesus, the man born blind doesn’t let them off the hook. His response, presumably outloud, is, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes!” (v. 30). A supernatural miracle took place and they weren’t even up on local geography!

A Theological Lecture: The man born blind now has the audacity to put himself into the same category as the religious leaders when he says, “We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will.” (v. 31). The last thing these Pharisees expected was to be lectured to by the man born blind! But his logic is sound: (1) God doesn’t listen to sinners; (2) He listens to the godly person who does His will; (3) God has listened to Jesus who has healed me! First conclusion: “Jesus is godly and is doing God’s will!” Second conclusion: “This man Jesus must be from God, otherwise he could do nothing!”

Argumentum ad Baculum: The Pharisees have no logical response and can only react to the man born blind by using force. This is called “argumentum ad baculum” (argument with a club!). This argument is a fear of force and is defined as “the fallacy committed when one appeals to force or the threat of force to bring about the acceptance of a conclusion.” Reason has failed the Pharisees. All they have left is . . . power.

34 To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out.

Their assumption about this man born blind (that his disability was the result of somebody’s sin) and their conclusion (there is no way that Jesus is from God) have been dismantled by this man’s logic. They then make a pronouncement of condemnation, followed by an expression of outrage, finishing up with a violent action. We’ll look at their response in our next post.

Today’s Challenge: You and I don’t really face such Pharisees today, do we? Yes, in the sense that it is quite difficult to change people’s assumptions. But that’s where boldness and prayer come in. We pray for the Holy Spirit to change hearts even as we present the facts as best as we can!

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2021 in focus

 

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The Joy of Unit-Reading #18 (Amos)

Continuing our journey in reading 65 (of the 66) of the books of the Bible in one sitting, we look today at the Old Testament “minor” prophet Amos.  Some of the longer books may take an hour or two.  But there are benefits to reading a whole book at one time — and that’s called unit-reading.Screenshot 2016-01-06 10.27.20

"Go to Bethel -- and SIN!"

“Go to Bethel — and SIN!”

 

 

 
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Posted by on January 28, 2016 in unit-reading

 

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A LITTLE BIT OF SARCASM: PIPER NEEDS NO DEFENDING!

In all the hub-bub about Rob Bell’s book Love Wins, a number of us Bible-thumping, Jesus-story-hijacking, toxic Evangelicals have responded with virtual tomes of refutation.  Bell raises significant questions (350 of them by one person’s count!) and has a clear agenda of trying to prove that the traditional view of eternal conscious punishment should be replaced by a much better story.

Frankly, I think Pastor John Piper might have had the best response when he simply tweeted “Farewell, Rob Bell!”  Piper has been castigated for “dismissing Bell from the Evangelical fold.”  I think Bell did that quite well by himself.  Doug Pagitt criticized Piper for such a dismissive comment.  Some of us were castigated for criticizing Bell’s book before it was

"See ya', Rob."

released (the promo video was quite incendiary).   Pagitt skewers Piper for his tweet, accusing him of threatening all young Evangelicals of the penalty of following Bell!

Frankly, I’m going to side with Piper on this one.  Sarcasm can be either hurtful or therapeutic!  Sarcasm has a long tradition in the Scriptures (see the many OT texts which mock idolatry), and is used by the Lord Jesus on several occasions.

Sarcasm might bring someone to their senses, a verbal cup of cold water

thrown in the face as it were.  It might seem like pepper spray, but “peppered by Piper in the puss” might shock one back into Scriptural reality!

Discussion Questions:  What do you think?  Was Piper’s dismissive comment about Rob Bell well-intentioned sarcasm?  Wouldn’t it be GREAT if Dr. Piper responded to this blog with his explanation and comments?!

 
 

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