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?
Some of you are aware that I’ve been engaged in a daily Bible reading program with my friend Frank in New Jersey for a couple of years or so. We choose a book of the Bible and read the same chapter each day for a week — then move on to the next chapter after that. Our procedure is quite simple and is explained here.
Well, I’ve started a small group of four men who are doing this kind of daily Bible reading and we’ve worked our way through Philippians and I Timothy, and are now going through I Peter. We drop each other a short email on Sunday about something we’ve learned in our reading together.
In reading through I Peter 2, I believe there are seven critical challenges that Peter gives us that are particularly relevant for us right now in our world. Here’s the third —
What in the world makes us believers think that all our desires have been purified at conversion?! No! We will battle “sinful desires” our whole Christian lives. And we are at great risk if we think otherwise!
This challenge is quite clear that we need to be urged to identify and to abstain from sinful desires. Is this referring to sinful desires outside ourselves? I don’t think so. These desires are at war — with our very souls!
We must take sin seriously, especially internal desires which sneak up on us and do battle against our very spiritual lives!
Today’s Challenge: Which internal “sinful desires” do you need to recognize and abstain from? Come on. Be honest. And, by God’s grace, choose abstinence as your weapon!
Many of you know that my New Jersey friend Frank and I are reading through God’s Word together (described here). We’re now in the book of Romans and are reading chapter 7 each day this week.
“That Sin Might Become Utterly Sinful” (A Study of Romans 7)
I am fascinated by verse 13 which says, “so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.” This section (Romans 7:7-13) has much to say about God’s LAW: the law is not sinful; the law makes us aware of what sin is; apart from the law sin was “dead”; the law caused sin to spring to life and led to the Apostle’s “death”; the very commandment intended to bring life brought death; the law is holy and God’s commandment is holy, righteous, and good; and it is through the commandment that sin might become utterly sinful. Whew!
We also learn a great deal about SIN! We don’t naturally know what sin is without the law; the law’s commandment against coveting helps us understand what coveting is; sin is personified: it seizes opportunities afforded by the commandment to produce in us every kind of coveting. Sin springs to life when the commandment came. A second time Paul says sin seized the opportunity and deceived me and put me to death. He then says, “in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it used what is good to bring about my death, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful. Wow. There’s a lot I don’t understand there!
How about you? As you read Romans 7, what is one truth that you take away from this text?
Our latest book, The Forgotten Third: Developing a Biblical Relationship with God the Holy Spirit, challenges the believer to genuinely “walk in the Spirit”! You can order this right now through Amazon or directly from me (send $10 [which includes shipping] to my address).
Dr. Larry Dixon
117 Norse Way
Columbia, SC 29229 Cell: 803-201-9745