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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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The Theology of Calvin . . . and Hobbes (Work Ethic)

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2021 in Calvin & Hobbes

 

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

What do you and I do with our LEISURE? We can’t work 24 hours a day. And some have made a great case that the Sabbath is specifically given to give us rest and leisure. Certainly we should spend significant time and energy in worshiping the Lord, but I appreciate the perspective that the Sabbath should be consciously non-productive! How do you spend your leisure?

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2020 in Calvin & Hobbes

 

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The Great Invitation (A Study of Matthew 11:28-30) Part 10b (Conclusion)

Friends: I consider it a great privilege to work on my blog every day. And for the next few posts I’ll be examining one of my favorite passages, Matthew 11:28-30. This is a text worthy of memorization (which I’m very bad at). I want to slowly go through these verses with you and see as much as we can, with the Holy Spirit’s help. Let’s look at that famous text once again:

We’ve seen the context of this incredible invitation, noticing some of the Koiné Greek and its implications. We began to outline the passage, observing that Jesus’ invitation is a qualified one, inviting not all, but all who are weary and burdened. We’ve also seen two great promises and two challenges to work and to learn of Him. In our last post we looked at His promise of SOUL-REST.

I. The Great Invitation (v. 28): “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened . . .”

II. The Great Promise (v. 28): “and I will give you rest.”

III. The Great Command (v. 29): “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.”

     A. We are to WORK!

         and —

     B. We are to LEARN!

IV. A Second Great Promise — of Soul-Rest (v. 29)

As we conclude our study, let’s notice —V. A Great Explanation (v. 30)

Jesus says, “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” This seems to be Jesus’ explanation as to why we should come to Him to work and to learn. Or  is it the reason why we should come to Him at all? Some might look at these two seemingly oxymoronic expressions (an “easy yoke” and a “light” burden) and respond, “An easy yoke? A light burden? Yes, that’s what I want!” But let’s examine the text carefully.

A. His Yoke Is Easy

Let’s not miss the fact that there is, indeed, a YOKE for the follower of Jesus! But it is of Jesus‘ construction (some commentators suggest that “easy” here means “non-chafing”) and fits us precisely. Notice that He describes it as “easy,” a term (χρηστός)  which is used 7 times in the New Testament and has the meaning of “fit for use,” “useful,” “mild,” “pleasant.” It is opposed to harsh or hard or bitter. It is the opposite of burdensome here in Matthew 11:30. We read of the kindness of God in Luke 6:35 and Romans 2:4 and I Peter 2:3 (“you have tasted the kindness of the Lord”). We are told in Ephesians 4:32 to “be kind” to one another. “Kind” or “non-chafing” seem better translations than “easy.”

B. His Burden Is Light

The term φορτίον (“burden”) is close to the word “burdened” in verse 28 (πεφορτισμένοι). The prefix περι can mean “about, concerning, around.” One is only concerned with one’s concerns, surrounded by worries! Those who “are burdened” in verse 28 are, in a sense, over-burdened. When one comes to Christ, he or she does not begin to live a burden-free life, but the burdens are given by Christ Himself. Someone has said that a burdened heart is a healthy heart!

What are we to understand by the term “light” (ἐλαφρόν)? This term “light” is an adjective meaning “light, not burdensome, not heavy.” It is only used 2 X in the New Testament: In our passage here in Matthew 11 and also in 2 Corinthians 4:17 where we read, “For our momentary lightness of affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison . . .”

What is meant by Christ’s burden being “light”? Well, we are yoked together with Him, so whatever burden we carry, HE is also carrying! We get in trouble when we think we are the only one under the yoke!

Jesus’ explanation of His yoke and His burden is counter-intuitive. This yoke, properly constructed to fit His servant, and this burden, designed not to crush His child, both raise many questions. But His invitation and His promises must draw the child of God to Him.

Conclusion: There is so much here in Matthew 11. You may have heard the following story: John Stott discusses how an invitation often has the cryptic letters “RSVP” at the bottom of the invitation.   This is a French request to “please reply to the invitation.” Stott says, “There was a couple who found political asylum in this country during the Second World War. They came from East or Central Europe. And they were not really well-versed in Western culture. One day they received an invitation to a wedding. And there, at the bottom of the invitation, were those cryptic letters: RSVP. And in his thick European accent, the husband said, “VIF, VAT does it mean?   ‘RSVP’? I don’t know VAT it means!” So they thought for a while and then suddenly inspiration dawned on him. And the husband said, “VIF. I know VAT it means! It means ‘REMEMBER SEND VEDDING PRESENTS!”

The only gift we give the Lord is . . . ourselves! And then He chooses to use us and give us His rest. Thank God for Matthew 11:28-30 today!

 

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2020 in Matthew 11

 

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The Great Invitation (A Study of Matthew 11:28-30) Part 10a (A Two-Part Conclusion)

Friends: I consider it a great privilege to work on my blog every day. And for the next few posts I’ll be examining one of my favorite passages, Matthew 11:28-30. This is a text worthy of memorization (which I’m very bad at). I want to slowly go through these verses with you and see as much as we can, with the Holy Spirit’s help. Let’s look at that famous text once again:

We’ve seen the context of this incredible invitation, noticing some of the Koiné Greek and its implications. We began to outline the passage, observing that Jesus’ invitation is a qualified one, inviting not all, but all who are weary and burdened. We’ve also seen two great promises and two challenges to work and to learn of Him. In our last post we looked at His promise of SOUL-REST.

I. The Great Invitation (v. 28): “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened . . .”

II. The Great Promise (v. 28): “and I will give you rest.”

III. The Great Command (v. 29): “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.”

     A. We are to WORK!

         and —

     B. We are to LEARN!

IV. A Second Great Promise — of Soul-Rest (v. 29)

As we conclude our study, let’s notice —V. A Great Explanation (v. 30)

Jesus says, “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” This seems to be Jesus’ explanation as to why we should come to Him to work and to learn. Or it is the reason why we should come to Him at all.

ὁ γὰρ ζυγός μου χρηστὸς καὶ τὸ φορτίον μου ἐλαφρόν ἐστιν.

A. His Yoke Is Easy

This word “yoke” has already been used in verse 29 – “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.” We going to wear somebody’s yoke — why not Christ’s? What makes His yoke different?

We are told that His yoke is “easy.” Yes! That’s what we want! An EASY yoke! But what’s meant by that word χρηστὸς?

The term χρηστός is used 7 times in the New Testament and has the meaning of “fit for use,” “useful,” “mild,” “pleasant.” It is opposed to harsh or hard or bitter. It is the opposite of burdensome here in Matthew 11:30. We read of the kindness of God in Luke 6:35 and Romans 2:4 and I Peter 2:3 (“you have tasted the kindness of the Lord”). We are told in Ephesians 4:32 to “be kind” to one another.

Apparently this word χρηστός (an adjective) comes from the verb chraomai, a word meaning “employed” or “useful” or “better.”

[I can’t help but observe that this word is very close to the word for Christ: χριστος. Χριστος is χρητος!] (We will look at the second descriptive term “light” in our last post).

Today’s Challenge: If you are a Jesus-Follower, do you give the impression to others that your being yoked to Christ is an act of His kindness? Do you feel useful to Him? Has that pleasantness somehow dissipated? If so, why?

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2020 in Matthew 11

 

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The Great Invitation (A Study of Matthew 11:28-30) Part 7

Friends: I consider it a great privilege to work on my blog every day. And for the next few posts I’ll be examining one of my favorite passages, Matthew 11:28-30. This is a text worthy of memorization (which I’m very bad at). I want to slowly go through these verses with you and see as much as we can, with the Holy Spirit’s help. Here’s that famous text for us to examine once again:

We’ve looked at the context of this incredible invitation and some at the Koiné Greek and its implications. We started to outline the passage and saw that Jesus’ invitation is a qualified one: He invites not all, but all who are weary and burdened.

I. The Great Invitation (v. 28): “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened . . .”

We then noticed the second major truth in this text: Jesus’ promise!

II. The Great Promise (v. 28): “and I will give you rest.”

The rest that Christ gives is refreshment, a soothing. One may cease from his trying to work for his salvation — and find rest in Christ! We can’t refresh ourselves.

Let’s move on and see Christ’s great command in verse 29.

III. The Great Command (v. 29): “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.”

A. We are to WORK!

The term “yoke” is used twice in our passage. A “yoke” was used to bind two animals together to help them . . . WORK! There is work to be done for Christ — and we get yoked together with Him! The Apostle Paul tells us that we are “co-laborers with Christ” — “For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.” (I Cor. 3:9). We are also called “God’s co-workers” in 2 Corinthians 6:1.

(In our next post we will see that we are to LEARN!).

Today’s Challenge: Has it dawned on you that you are a co-worker with Christ, yoked with Him to do God’s will in this world? Wow. It is only by His grace that we can be partners with the Second Person of the Trinity! Praise Him for this truth today!

 
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Posted by on August 3, 2020 in Matthew 11

 

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The Great Invitation (A Study of Matthew 11:28-30) Part 4

Friends: I consider it a great privilege to work on my blog every day. And for the next few posts I’ll be examining one of my favorite passages, Matthew 11:28-30. This is a text worthy of memorization (which I’m very bad at). I want to slowly go through these verses with you and see as much as we can, with the Holy Spirit’s help. Here’s that famous text once again:

In our first post we thought a bit about the context of this incredible invitation. Our second post on this text looked a bit at the Koiné Greek of this passage and we saw certain terms repeated with a variety of important implications. In our third post we began outlining the passage. And we noticed —

I. The Great Invitation (v. 28): “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened . . .”

Did you see that the great invitation is not given to all? What?! Not all are invited to come to Jesus?! Yes! Notice how the Lord Himself qualifies His invitation: “all you who are weary and burdened . . .” But let’s not be too hasty. He does use the term “all.” So the invitation is all-inclusive . . . for those who are described as “weary” and “burdened.” In our culture (which seems to worship inclusivism) Jesus’ invitation is exclusive to those who fit these two categories.

The term “weary” is the Greek word οἱ κοπιῶντες. This verb (whose root is κοπιάω) is in the present active participle form and includes both the idea of 1) the passive state of being weary from labor and 2) the activity of hard labor, sometimes to the point of exhaustion.

The verb means “to grow weary, to toil, to work with effort (of bodily and mental labor alike).” Its cognate κόπος refers to “exhausting labor, to labor until worn-out, depleted.”

Used 23 times in the New Testament, Matthew 6:28 speaks about the flowers of the field who “do not labor or spin.” In Luke 5:5 we learn of Simon’s complaint that “we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything . . .” Sometimes the word simply means “tired” as in John 4 where we read that “Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well.” Forms of the verb are found later in John 4 where Jesus says, “38 I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”

In Acts 20:35 Paul is addressing the elders of Ephesus and says, “35 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”

Other uses of this verb include Romans 16:12 (“12 Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, those women who work hard in the Lord. Greet my dear friend Persis, another woman who has worked very hard in the Lord.

We read in Ephesians 4:28 that the one who steals must steal no longer, but rather he must labor . . . with his own hands.” In Philippians 2:16 Paul fears that he has toiled in vain. I Thessalonians 5:12 tells us we should appreciate those “who diligently labor among you . . .” Paul challenges ministers to discipline themselves and says, “it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers” (I Timothy 4:10). We read of hard working preachers in I Timothy 5:17 and hard working farmers in 2 Timothy 2:6. The church in Ephesus is commended in Revelation 2 for their deeds and their “toil.”

Today’s Challenge: Are you exhausted? Worn out from trying to work out your own salvation (in a wrong way)? Come to Jesus. Bring your weariness. And you will be glad you did!

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2020 in Matthew 11

 

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“Working for Your Joy” (A Study of 2 Corinthians 1:24)

Friends: If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know that my friend Frank (in New Jersey) and I have been doing an email Bible study for over a year. We read the same chapter every day for a week — and then send a brief email of encouragement to each other. We’ve completed most of the epistles of the New Testament — and it’s been a great discipline for both of us.

We’re now working our way through 2 Corinthians. Here’s my outline for several verses in chapter one:

“Working for Your Joy” (A Study of 2 Corinthians 1:24)

Notice the words “we work with you for your joy.” What a fascinating statement. Joy is WORK! And sometimes we need others to assist us in achieving that joy. The Darby translation renders this verse as “Not that we rule over your faith, but are fellow-workmen of your joy . . .” Fellow-workmen. We can join others and labor for their joy.

The Living Bible has the following translation: “I want to be able to do something about your joy: I want to make you happy, not sad.” Joy is deeper than happiness, isn’t it? Happiness often depends on happenings. Joy is much more solid, grounded, resistant to the joy-killers that surround us. [I’m working on a short book on the uses of “joy” in Philippians tentatively called “Finding Deep Joy in a Sad, Shallow World”].

Please note Paul’s justification for his laboring for the joy of the Corinthians: “because it is by faith you stand firm.” When we waffle in our faith, when we collapse under the attacks of the world around us and the doubts within us, we lose our joy. But God wants His people — you and me! — to stand firm, to lean on our trust in Christ, to be people of contagious joy!

Today’s Challenge: Got anybody who is working for your joy? Are you laboring to help others re-discover and re-deploy their joy in knowing Christ? It’s time to get to work — and do so joyfully!

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2020 in joy

 

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

Grabbing life by the throat and living on one’s own terms — That’s takes a lot of cash, doesn’t it?! In the Bible work is described as honorable. And the one who will not work — should not eat (2 Thes. 3:10)!

Work was not a result of the fall in the Garden — weary work was. Let’s work hard today — for the Lord! And let’s do it with “attitude”!

 
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Posted by on May 17, 2020 in work

 

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The Theology of Calvin . . . and Hobbes (Life Too Inconvenient)

We were never created to have everything handed to us. Work was not a result of the fall in Genesis 3, but weary work. We were made in God’s image to be creative and to work hard at caring for His creation. Yes, life can be “inconvenient,” but biblical Christianity provides the strongest foundation for living a productive, God-honoring existence!

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2020 in work

 

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