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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?

 
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Posted by on September 15, 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 14)

Being kicked out of the synagogue was about the worst thing that could befall a Jewish person. And these religious leaders threw the man born blind out! Being excluded from the center of religious life meant, to many, that one was under the judgment of God. What the man born blind’s parents feared has happened to him.

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.

Sought Out by the Savior: We read that Jesus heard that the man born blind had been thrown out of the synagogue. And He seeks him out. Jesus doesn’t say to the man, “I’m really sorry for the third degree you had to endure!” Or “How’s it going with your vision?” No. Jesus goes directly to the most important point of all: “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” (v. 35).

The expression “the Son of Man” was a Messianic title. “Any Bible reader will instinctively recognize that all this takes its place in the larger sweep of Messianic expectation that finds its fulfillment in Jesus the Messiah, the uniquely qualified divine-human king. And in fact Jesus himself confirms this for us, explicitly associating himself with Daniel’s “son of man” (Matt. 26:63–64). This is in fact his favorite self-designation, recurring some eighty times in the Gospels, and becomes on his lips a Messianic title. Jesus is the Son of God. He is also the Son of Man.” (https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/essay/jesus-christ-son-man/).

A Direct Claim of Messiahship: The man born blind asks who the Son of Man is so that he can believe in him. Jesus declares, using third person language, “You have now seen him; he is the one speaking with you.” I’ll bet the word “seen” meant a lot to this man who had been born blind! Jesus is saying, “He is standing right in front of you — and you can see Him!”

A Logical Response: We read that the man said, “‘Lord, I believe,’ and he worshiped him.” (v. 38) Worship is the natural response of personal faith in Jesus. While the religious leaders of Israel rejected Jesus, this man, this one “steeped in sin at birth,” worshiped Him!

Today’s Challenge: Are you worshiping Jesus as the promised Messiah? Faith is not mere intellectual assent. Faith shows itself by worship. How might you express your worship of the Lord Jesus today?

 
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Posted by on September 13, 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 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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Focus! Keeping Your Eyes on Jesus in a Near-Sighted, Distracted World! (The Blind Man in John 9 – Part 11)

The interrogation of the man born blind decidedly goes downhill from this point on. He has referred to Jesus as “a prophet” (i.e. a man of God) and has declined the expert opinion of Israel’s religious leaders that Jesus is “a sinner.” But the story 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.

Hurling Insults: The Pharisees lose it when the man born blind says to them, “Surely you don’t want to become his disciples too, do you?” (v. 27). That was the last thing these Pharisees wanted! So they engage in hurling insults against the man. Verse 28 reads 28 ἐλοιδόρησαν αὐτὸν καὶ εἶπον· Σὺ μαθητὴς εἶ ἐκείνου, ἡμεῖς δὲ τοῦ Μωϋσέως ἐσμὲν μαθηταί. (Literally, “They insulted him and said, ‘You are a disciple of that one, but we are disciples of Moses.'”)

This verb loidorēō is used only four times in the New Testament. Here in John 9 it can be translated “scoffed.” In Acts 23:4 it is translated as “insult.” In I Corinthians 4:12 Paul is speaking of the Apostles’ response to persecution and says, “When reviled, we bless.” And in I Peter 2:23 we read of the Lord Jesus: “When he was insulted, he did not respond with an insult; when he suffered, he did not threaten . . .” People resort to insult when logic and reasoning fail them — and they feel threatened!

Knowledge and Ignorance:  The Pharisees protest that they are disciples of Moses. They declare, “we know that God spoke to Moses . . .” Their knowledge was certain and sure — and they were convinced that they were in the right.

It is interesting that Jesus says in John 5:46- “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. These Pharisees admit their ignorance about Jesus when they say, “but as for this fellow we don’t even know where he comes from.” (v. 29).

Here these religious leaders of Israel have the opportunity to learn about Jesus from someone who has been the recipient of one of His miracles. But they argue for their complete loyalty to Moses, failing to realize Jesus was, in a real sense, the new Moses.

Today’s Challenge: In a sense, everyone is a disciple, a follower, of someone, even if that someone is . . . themselves. As disciples of Jesus, we need to speak the truth about Who He is and why He should be followed. And we do that with our words and our behavior.

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 7, 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 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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The Theology of Calvin . . . and Hobbes (Lying)

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2021 in Calvin & Hobbes

 

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IF THE GOSPEL REALLY IS TRUE . . . We Have a HOPE! (Part 8 Final)

I don’t agree with Karl Barth on much, but his question — “Is it true? Is the Christian faith true?” is essential to biblical Christianity. We’ve seen that certain conclusions follow IF Christianity is true. For example, we have a message for the world which is both good news and bad news. Second, we have every reason to challenge other worldviews and religions as to their response to the gospel. Third, if the gospel is true, we have a complete justification to make the Bible our absolute guidebook for life. Fourth, we agreed that we desperately need the people of God, the church. Our fifth conclusion was that we can honestly face the suffering in the world without becoming cynical or callous. We have a theodicy which helps us understand evil and suffering.

Let’s look at a sixth — and final — conclusion and it is this —

IF THE GOSPEL IS TRUE, THEN . . .

We can be biblically hopeful about the future because our God is sovereign. Someone has posted the following on Facebook —

I think that’s a terrific way of thinking about the Christian life! Despite life’s challenges, the follower of Jesus is, in a sense, neither a pessimist nor an optimist. He or she is a realist who is eternally grateful that his cup “runneth over”!
%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%We have an eternal hope that God will wrap up history, exercise righteous judgment, reward the godly, forever separate the ungodly from His kingdom, and will usher us into an eternity of worshiping and serving our blessed Savior! There is no greater hope, is there?

What might be some characteristics of one who is biblically hopeful? Several occur to me: (1) We will not overestimate man’s abilities to solve his own problems. We will care about our world and cooperate to alleviate man’s suffering, but will recognize that only the Lord can meet a person’s deepest needs;
(2) We will cling tightly to the truths of Scripture and allow its worldview to be our worldview. This means identifying and rejecting the “wisdom of the world” and being determined to stand with God’s people, even when they are suffering;
(3) We will affirm with the Apostle Paul that “our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Cor. 4:17) What’s the “them” in that text? Logically, the “them” refers to our troubles, our outwardly “wasting away” (v. 16)

Today’s Challenge: Do a bit of a word study of the term “hope” in the Scriptures. What are several truths you can share with those who read this blog?


 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2021 in gospel

 

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