13.5 John – Calloused, Hardened and Blind

Last week we saw, in John 8, Jesus take the name for himself that God had given for himself to Moses, “I am”.  It is a very interesting word.  While names are nouns, that particular name is actually a verb.  Not only that, but it is a verb in the first person singular imperfect tense.  This means it is an action of God that was in the past, is in the presence and will continue to be in the future.  God is, by this very phrase, eternal and eternally moving and active.

But, the Pharisees that we see in John 9 are not modeled in that image.  They are, at a best, a snapshot.  They see their adherence to the law as a trophy, something to be layered and polished and protected and placed up on a shelf.  Each day they take it down to apply another coat of lacquer to harden it and make it shine.  They buff it and show it off.

The it, of course, is their heart and their faith.  What they see as a beautiful trophy, Jesus sees as a stone.  What they have polished, Jesus sees as calloused from rubbing.  What they see as gold plated, Jesus sees as dead and rotting on the inside.

They don’t move.  They don’t dance.  They don’t rejoice and give thanks.  They don’t scream amen and hallelujah.  They are proper.  They are refined.  They are pillars of the community and the tabernacle.  They are upright and admired.

God is not a statue.  Man has made plenty of statue gods and our God despises them all.  Being like God is not a trophy, it is not hard and polished.  Being like God is being alive and active, or more importantly, being flexible and loving and desiring to have His spirit move and shake and dance and serve and sweat and hug and cry with others through us.

When you read the list of character qualities you answer on #14 – Don’t polish them and put them on a shelf.  Our God is alive!

My Answers:

12.
a.
Jesus returns to him after he was exited from the temple and revealed himself to be the Son of Man, the man accepted Jesus as his Lord and gave him the ability to see.

b.
Lord, I believe.  Thank you, Jesus!

13.
The pharisees had access to the scriptures, they should have seen, but they refused to look with the power of the Holy Spirit.  They rejected Jesus from entering their hearts because they were hard and inflexible.  To be flexible would be to admit they were wrong and that would have lowered their stature and self-worth.

14.
Compassion, creator, healer, wise, just

13.4 John – 3 Blind Groups

In our lesson today we get to see three different blind groups.

The first group, the neighbors, suffered from a blindness many of us possess as well.  Here was a man who had grown up near them and with them.  He lived in their presence every day.  Yet, all they know him as was “the blind man,” “the man who sits and begs.”  No one calls him by name.  Many do not recognize him at all since the only identity he had to them was “the blind man.”  They appear to be in awe and inquisitive, but not neighborly.  They don’t celebrate with him.  They don’t rejoice.  He is an oddity, something they don’t know what to do with.  So, like they would someone who comes down with a strange skin disease, they take him to the Pharisees for examination.

How many of your neighbors do you not see?  How many could have a major life event occur and you not even know?  Who do you pass each day that you know only superficially?  The guy with the big dog.  The lady with a hat.  The man who mows every Sunday.  The Broncos fan.  What would it take to see them differently, or to just see them?

The second group are the Pharisees.  These guys were blind to God’s love, since they had walled themselves into a dark corner by God’s law.  The fact that this work was done on the Sabbath was, under their interpretation of the law, a grievous sin.  It was like the teacher who is handed a 40 page term paper, but on page 16 there is a period that smeared slightly so it looks a bit like a comma, so they throw the entire paper out.  To them, grace and mercy are things you earn through fastidious adherence to ever dot and tittle of the law.  They have zoomed in so close to the picture of God that they see only the dots that make up the picture and they are blind to God Himself.

What automatically rejects someone from you showing them grace and mercy?  What box do you wall Christianity into?  Is it only people that look like you? Act like you? Speak like you?  Do you throw someone away because of certain infractions? (remembering that one of the last people Jesus spoke to from the cross was a condemned murderer to whom He promised paradise).  Do you see God’s grace and mercy as something earned/deserved or as the free gifts that they are?

The third group, and to me the most touching, are the parents.  We can be very quick to see the parents as weak.  They speak the truth, but very cautiously and, to a degree, they throw even their own adult child under the bus rather than face the wrath of the Pharisees.  But, in fairness, I think we need to look back to the opening of this chapter.  Even the followers of Jesus assumed the blindness of their son was the result of either his sin or their sin.  These innuendos and rumors and outright charges had followed them since his birth.  They may have even believed it themselves, punishing themselves for what they might have done to cause this.  We can assume they have been “beaten up” over this from every front for years and years.  Should we then be surprised that they are timid and afraid?  Their blind son would not have ever been welcomed into the temple as a cripple, but they would have been allowed, but only under great suspicion and constant rumor and admonition.  All of that baggage weighed them down and made them blind to the miracle and freedom that had come.  Not only was their son healed, but that should have stopped all the accusations that followed them. (although the Pharisees always seemed to have more accusations they could muster).

What past wounds from those in the church do you still carry that make you blind to the glory of God?  What looks, words and actions reveal the accusations you have for others in your heart?  Who have you “beat up” with the bible?  What baggage have you put upon yourself to carry?  It is difficult to be bold and testify, when we shrink back from fear of attack or burdened with baggage of past hurt.

Isn’t it somewhat funny that the only 2 people in John 9 that don’t suffer from a form of blindness in the story are Jesus and the person we know only as “the blind man”?

My Answers:

9.
Neighbors were mixed in their approach/questioning but none committal.  Brought him to Pharisees who were aggressive and attacking and very judgmental.  Parents were honest but restrained (didn’t want to be thrown out of the temple).  They didn’t investigate, they searched for things to support their conclusions and attacked anyone who didn’t support them.  The Pharisees acted a lot like our modern day political pundits!

10.
At first he just came home seeing.  Next he spoke factually about the healing but with no witness about the healer, then he spoke factually and identified Jesus as a prophet.  Then he said factually, “whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know.  One thing I do know: I was blind but now I see!”  Then he asked if the pharisees wanted to be Jesus’ disciples, when rebuked, He states, If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.

Faith grows through attacks and challenges.  It also grows by knowing the Word of God.  My has grown as I’ve relied on God in prayer to step in and bring peace in the midst of being under attack.

11.
I speak the truth.  I am not called to convict or convince others – that is the work of the Holy Spirit.  My job is to be honest witness, to speak the truth and be bold.  I am more confident today than ever before because I know that I deserve none of the credit and it is all God’s glory.

13.3 John – Light is Required

If our role, through the works of our hands, is to reflect the light of God into the world, then it is impossible to do that without the light.  It is impossible to do God’s work, without God.  Can God insert Himself in the work of non-believers? Absolutely.  Are those non-believers doing God’s work?  No.

God is not interested in our “good works.”  We do good works to shine His light into the world.  We open and work in homeless shelters, we support the poor, sick, hungry and oppressed, we care for orphans and widows, we provide shelter and food and love and everything other generous thing.  But, we do all those things not because they are right or good, but because God is Right and God is Good and we want others to see.

All of those works pass.  The person we feed is hungry again.  The blanket wears out.  The hug or even the medicine only lasts so long to cover the pain.  But the Light of the World shines forever.

Access to the light is only available while we are alive.  We either choose to accept it and live within it, or we reject it and choose to die in the darkness.  Without being saved, death is a pathway to eternal separation from God, to eternal darkness.  The work is not what is important for helping people make the right choice, it is the light we reflect in that work that is.

As a parent, I remember the mad last minute scramble to get batteries for the “batteries required” gift that I was wrapping the night before Christmas.  Don’t let your gift to others be a broken one, one that doesn’t work or puts a burden on them.  Package it with the “light required.”

Col 3:23-24: Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

My Answers:

6.
As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me.  Jesus was always in the will of God and focused on honoring and obeying the Father

7.
We are called to live out of faith, to first believe and then to demonstrate the love we have for God and His love for all of us through the way we reflect His light into the world

8.
They looked for someone to blame, who is at fault?  Jesus looks to God’s glory.  It would be good for me to start each day and each encounter with the question on my mind, “How can God be glorified through this?”

13.2 John – A Gift vs. The Gift

I will preface this illustration with the acknowledge that people are suffering from real pains and traumas, sometimes their own and sometimes those that loved ones are undergoing.  I do not in any way mean to be callous or uncaring about those, God is neither and I desire only to reflect Him.  My illustration is meant to provide a different perspective to something that many struggle to comprehend about God.

 

Take a colored pencil and make a single dot.  For illustration purposes, let’s say you make that dot on the floor and we’ll say it is an orange dot.  Now, imagine immediately next to it you make another dot, so close they are touching but of a different color, we’ll say yellow.  Next to it you place another yellow dot, then another and another and another.  You continue until the pencil is exhausted, sharpened down to the nub.  Then you get another pencil and continue, then another, then another until you have filled an entire truck full of the nubs of the pencils.  The line at this point stretches on for miles, farther than the eye can see.  We zoom up into the air (let’s say in a helicopter) and look down on it.

What color is the line?

The message behind this is that, for believers, our entire life on earth is comprised within that first dot.  Our eternal life, the yellow dots, starts on the day we are saved and continues on… for eternity.

No one starts life with a yellow dot.  We are all born into a broken and fallen world.  We all sin.  We all fall short.  We all have trials and tribulations.  We all have aches and pains and handicaps.  We all have things we wish we did not have.  We all get sick.  We all die.

Jesus gave the blind man an amazing gift.  It was a gift, unrequested, undeserved, unearned.  It was not based on any condition other than a single act of obedience.  But, in perspective, when Jesus comes back to the man the second time and reveals Himself as “the Son of Man,” that was a far bigger gift.  Even though the man had been given vision, he still suffered other things in life.  He still had heartache and pain.  He had immediately been kicked out of the temple, the center of everything involving life as a Jew.  The man went on living, but he would have gotten sick like everyone else and he would have died.

We are tempted to look at this story sometimes and say, especially when we have a loved one who is sick or hurting, if Jesus healed that man why doesn’t he help my loved one?  The answer is, that He does.  He gives the same offer he did to the blind man – see me and believe.  We know that those who believe are given the gift of eternal life.  We know that we will be raised up by Jesus, in the same way that He defeated death.

So, when we are tempted to say, “why me, Lord,” might the better question be, “how will God be glorified through this?”  “How might I participate in using this to show God’s attributes to others?”  and “in the perspective of eternity, is my focus on the orange dot or the yellow line?”

For those that do not believe, they see nothing but the orange dot.  But for believers, we become “far-sighted” and can see far beyond the troubles of this world and see the bright light of our risen savior on His throne.

My Answers:

3.
Sin is not left unpunished, travels to 3rd and 4th generation, but God is compassionate.  Jesus said this blindness was not because of sin but that God might be glorified through it

4.
Only God can create sight.  He was blind from birth, so eyes were not developed.  He was blind, not seeing impaired.
1. God might be displayed in a blind man, 2. As long as it is day we must do the works of the Father, 3, Jesus power to create (spit/mud/new eyes).

5.
What is there that He cannot overcome?