Greetings, everyone! God’s joy and peace to you today in the name of Jesus, and welcome to Monday’s edition of EDiBS. I’m glad to have you along today as we begin another week together, and I want you to know that I continue to keep you in my prayers as we endeavor to grow together in the Scriptures. I’ve mentioned it before and I’ll mention it again: how precious it is to long, as the apostle Paul says, “…to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so to attain to the resurrection from the dead!” That’s what we’re all about here at EDiBS, and I always want our Lord, His cross, and His resurrection to be in our crosshairs. Let’s pray as we prepare to study God’s Word, today returning one final time to the ninth chapter of John.
Lord Jesus, we thank you for your good gifts to us — the forgiveness of our sins, abundant life, and the promise of life forever with you. Please teach us through the Scriptures today…your Word, given for our blessing and benefit…that we learn to know you more and grow in our faith. In your most holy name we pray, amen.
As we get started today, we come to the close of John chapter 9, but in doing so we also come to the opening of a new chapter in the life of the man who was blind but now can see. Our focus: a new focus!
35Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?" 36"Who is he, sir?" the man asked. "Tell me so that I may believe in him." 37Jesus said, "You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you." 38Then the man said, "Lord, I believe," and he worshiped him. 39Jesus said, "For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind." 40Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, "What? Are we blind too?" 41Jesus said, "If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.
Our mama pig had just given birth to piglets. There was a lot of joy because it was her first litter, but there was also a little sadness, because some of the babies were stillborn. Because of the fragility of life and the simple reality that raising animals means sometimes losing animals, we always said to our kids as they were growing up, “That’s life on the farm.” It was important for them to learn about life and death and the reality of things in the world, and one of the blessings of having our little menagerie of animals was that they created some very teachable moments from time to time.
After that whole pig drama, and after we had sold several piglets to neighbors, we had two remaining piglets that the kids convinced us to keep. I think that Taylor and Jacob were more attached to them than the piglets’ mother was, and as such, they were fiercely protective of those babies and would do almost anything for them. In fact, at any given time of the day, you might find one, the other, or both of my children making their way to the pig pen to seek out the newest members of our animal family so that they could love them and care for them and be for them whatever those piglets needed them to be.
As we go to God’s Word today and close out our look at the man born blind but healed by the Lord Jesus, what might have ended on a decidedly sad note ends instead on a hopeful note, a new note. We should be quick to point out that what the text gives us is not some kind of Pollyanna, happily-ever-after gobbledygook; no, the text gives us reality, and in some ways it is a hard reality — a life-on-the-farm reality. Having been healed by the Lord and having steadfastly kept to the truth of that healing, refusing to recant the miracle and refusing to be bullied by the religious leaders in authority who were trying to manipulate him, our newly seeing man has paid a steep price for his principles. He has been loyal to Jesus, a Man he really knows nothing about — and at this point, it seems that he has lost because of it.
Verses 35-38: Yet as we pick up at verse 35, notice the very first thing we see. Jesus has heard about what happened. And hearing what has happened, hearing that the man He healed has been exiled from any chance at a normal life just when it seemed that it was finally within his grasp, Jesus seeks him out. I love that. Jesus is always the One doing the seeking, all through this Gospel. And having found the man, what does Jesus do? He extends to him His protection, His glorious, wonderful, heavenly protection. Stepping into a moment of abject despair, into the midst of a seemingly uncertain future, He creates a teachable moment in this man’s life; one that will forever transform him.
In essence, what we can say here is that the miracle Jesus had begun earlier with the restoration of the man’s physical sight is now made complete through the bestowal of spiritual sight. Jesus has made His way to this man to love him and care for him and to be for him what the man needs for Him to be – the One who will save him. No one else can provide that. No one else can offer that. But Jesus, now speaking to one who is looking to Him, now speaking to one who is ready to receive whatever He has to offer, now opens the eyes of the man’s heart. And in the flash of a moment a life destined for exile becomes a life destined for exuberance. A life consigned to loneliness becomes a life co-opted for loveliness. And finally, we must not fail to mention this: a life destined for judgment becomes instead a life destined for joy, both temporal and especially eternal. As Jesus reveals Himself to the man as God, the God who saves, the response is worship…and the result is new life.
Verses 39-41: Incidentally, we need to mention the shift from judgment to joy because of the manner in which Jesus puts a wrap on this matter. Verses 39-41 tell us that Jesus brings this man to a place of new life, life abundant, life overflowing, and that despite the sentence of excommunication that the religious leaders have just pronounced upon him, our Lord is doing it in the presence of some of the very Pharisees who have put the man out. To be sure, the Pharisees had spoken their words of judgment. Here, then, Jesus speaks His own words of condemnation, and they are enough to make anyone shudder: "For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind."
“Now who might that be directed to?” the Pharisees wonder. “Surely, Jesus, you aren’t referring to us,” they say with confident haughtiness. “Are we blind too?” The answer is made clear for us and them in verse 41, and I can’t tell you how tempting it is to paraphrase our Lord’s words by channeling Forrest Gump here. Jesus might as well be saying to the Pharisees “Stupid is as stupid does,” but that would not be in keeping with His integrity nor with the chilling gravity of His exact phrase, so let us simply close today by repeating Jesus word for word. To those Pharisees in His midst He says, "If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.”
When we closed out our time together on Friday, I told you that the conclusion we would see today was not only one which would bless the blind man, but by extension, bless us as well. His ending, I said, would be our ending. His new hope would be our new hope. What did I mean by that? As we wrap up for the day, let me encourage you to take a moment and do something a little bit different than usual. Before you log off and go on with the rest of your day, go to back to the remarks we made on verses 35-38 and make one small adjustment. As you read through those sentences, take out the blind man and put yourself in his place. Whatever it is that’s going on in your life right now, know this: You are the one Jesus seeks out. You are the one being extended His protection. You are the one when, in your moments of abject despair and deepest uncertainty over what the future holds, Jesus steps in to teach you in a life-transforming way. Do you get the idea? Do you see what I want you to do? Go ahead and give it a try right through to the end of the passage, because the reality is that all Jesus did in His healing of the blind man, Jesus does for you and me as well. Your life may seem destined for judgment – but in Jesus Christ it is destined for joy. Believe it and live! Take care everyone, and I’ll see you back here tomorrow to begin anew in John 10. God’s peace, and have a great day!