RSS

Tag Archives: sin

The Theology of Calvin . . . and Hobbes (Rejoicing in Evil)

851218
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 20, 2021 in Calvin & Hobbes

 

Tags: , ,

Focus! Keeping Your Eyes on Jesus in a Near-Sighted, Distracted World! (The Blind Man in John 9 – Part 15)

With these verses our study of this most extensively described miracle in all of the Bible comes to a close. The man born blind has been healed. He has been tossed out of the synagogue. He has been insulted and excommunicated. All that remains is a proverbial “moral of the story.”

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.

Jesus’ Mission: There are several places where Jesus declares why He came. For example, in John 10:10 Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” In John 12:47 Jesus says, ““If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.” However, here at the end of this great miracle, Jesus says, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” (v. 39).

His coming, according to this text, involves two purposes: (1) “so that the blind will see” (which has happened in two ways to the man born blind), and (2) so that “those who see will become blind.” The blindness of the religious leaders of Israel could not have been made plainer than here in the story of this healing.

An Outraged Question: Some of the Pharisees heard Jesus say this and they respond, “What? Are we blind too?” (v. 40). The Greek reads: 40 ἤκουσαν ἐκ τῶν Φαρισαίων ταῦτα οἱ μετ’ αὐτοῦ ὄντες, καὶ εἶπον αὐτῷ· Μὴ καὶ ἡμεῖς τυφλοί ἐσμεν; Literally, this sentence is translated as: “The ones from the Pharisees who were being with him (presumably Jesus) heard these things, and said to him: ‘Surely we also ourselves are not blind men, are we?”

The way they word their question contains that negative we touched on before in one of our posts. What they are really asking is this: “Surely we are not blind too, are we?” Their question is one of outrage, thinking that Jesus is somehow lumping them in with the man who, in their opinion, was “steeped in sin at birth.” Their question, in the way it was worded, expected a negative answer. They expected Jesus to respond with something like, “No! Not at all. I’m certainly not implying that you Pharisees are blind!”

It is interesting that their question implies that the man born blind is still blind! They refuse to acknowledge that he has been healed.

Jesus’ Authoritative Conclusion: The last statement in this miracle story is Jesus’ response to these Pharisees. He says, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains” (v. 41). So this miracle account is about much more than a man born blind receiving his physical sight. This story is about sin and guilt and claiming to see and actually being blind.

I believe what Jesus is saying to these religious leaders is quite stark and direct: “If you were blind — and you’re not! — you would have an excuse for your refusal to believe in me. The fact is, you claim you can see, but you don’t see your own guilt which is right in front of you!”

By the way, this miracle is referred to once more in the gospel of John. In the very next chapter the Jews accuse Jesus of being demon-possessed and some respond, “These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?” (Jn. 10)

Today’s Challenge: Would you say that your spiritual blindness has been healed by the Lord Jesus? If so, will you pray that God would lead you and me to more clearly FOCUS on Him and what He wants to do in and through us?

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 15, 2021 in focus

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

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.

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 12, 2021 in focus

 

Tags: , , , , ,

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”?

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 20, 2021 in focus

 

Tags: , , , , ,

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?

 
1 Comment

Posted by on August 18, 2021 in focus

 

Tags: , , , ,

Image

The Theology of Calvin . . . and Hobbes (Irrelevant Tangents)

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 1, 2021 in Calvin & Hobbes

 

Tags: , , ,

Image

The Theology of Calvin . . . and Hobbes (Unconditional Love)

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 30, 2021 in Calvin & Hobbes

 

Tags: , , , ,

Image

The Theology of Calvin . . . and Hobbes (Where Babies Come From)

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 16, 2021 in Calvin & Hobbes

 

Tags: , , ,

Image

The Theology of Calvin . . . and Hobbes (Television)

 
2 Comments

Posted by on July 14, 2021 in Calvin & Hobbes

 

Tags: , , ,

Image

The Theology of Calvin . . . and Hobbes (Sin)

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 6, 2021 in Calvin & Hobbes

 

Tags: , ,