Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg
with Tom Fuller
Now I can see
Our bodies are an amazing creation. Millions of cells working together in perfect harmony (well, most of the time). We breathe, our hearts beat, our organs function?all with nearly no input or oversight from our conscious brain. One of the senses we take most for granted is our sight. Your eyes are among the most complicated and incredible parts of your body. Did you know that what you see is actually a compilation of images that by themselves make no sense but are processed by the optic nerve (actually a part of the brain that sits behind the eye) and put together into images that make a complete image? Your eyes and brain actually filter out a lot of content that comes in so that we can focus on what we need in order to survive.
We depend on our eyes for so much it is hard to imagine doing without them. If you have ever stubbed your toe in the middle of the night you are just beginning to understand what it would be like to get along without vision. Now I know we have made a lot of accommodations these days and we have blind skiers and blind people doing all kinds of jobs. But a blind person is never going to be a bus driver or air traffic controller (although some experiments have been done that allow people to ?see? with other senses).
As important as our eyes are, there is a kind of ?sight? that is even more important?the sight of the soul. Seeing with your heart or soul helps you to understand your own condition and to see the right path to survival eternally. Today in John 9 we see two groups and the condition of their ?sight? both physically and spiritually. It really parallels what happened in chapter 5. There Jesus met a man who was disabled physically but became abled both physically and spiritually when he opened his heart to Jesus, contrasted with the Pharisees who were physically able but spiritually paralyzed.
Here you have a blind man who meets Jesus and gains sight and insight both physically and spiritually?contrasted with the Pharisees who are so blind spiritually that they stumble around in the darkness and miss Jesus entirely.
1 ? 2
As Jesus and his disciples are going along they come across this blind beggar. They must have known him or known about him because they knew it was congenital blindness. It becomes a theological curiosity rather than an opportunity to minister.
The disciples bought into a myth that was derived from Exodus 34:7 ??visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children?s children, to the third and the fourth generation.? Rabbis of the day had also postulated that a person could sin in vitro. Jesus rejects both arguments. (Exodus 34 by the way, says that for those who hate God).
3 ? 5
We don?t know how old this person was, but we do know that he was an adult. Doesn?t it strike you as odd that God would allow a person to go through a lifetime?s worth of struggle just to heal him on one particular day? It?s actually not odd at all. For this man, he could have had sight all his life but been blind to Jesus. Two things happen here: a man gets sight both physically and spiritually, and the Lord is glorified.
You might find that you go through very difficult times and sometimes wonder why God would allow the suffering to continue if he really loved you. I?d like to suggest that you can gain some comfort from this story. In your story, God will bring about a great healing if you turn to him. It might not be physically here on this earth, but I promise that it is the most wonderful spiritual healing you could ever want?a healing that will bring you benefits into eternity. But it can also bring God glory as you suffer patiently, even joyfully as the Spirit gives you the power.
Jesus worked now with the shadow of the cross looming over his shoulders. Soon darkness would fall as he allowed men and the enemy to take over, however briefly, to accomplish the ultimate goal of salvation. But while he was there, he was a source of incredible light and healing.
6 ? 7
Jesus used a variety of methods of heal people. Why? I have no idea. Some suggest that it was the touch of Jesus? hands, and the weight of the clay that gave the blind man an idea that something was going to happen?but notice Jesus doesn?t tell him that he?ll be healed, only to go and wash. The Pool of Siloam was quite a distance away so his journey there must have been a real venture in faith!
8 ? 12
The miracle is so astounding that people thought that it was the blind guy?s twin rather than believe that someone had been healed of blindness from birth. The man isn?t focused on anything at this point except the fact that a man named Jesus came, gave him some instructions, which he followed, and now he can see. Is it any more complicated than that for us when Jesus speaks words of the way of salvation? The neighborhood didn?t know what to do so they brought him to the Pharisees.
13 ? 17
Aha ? Jesus healed on the Sabbath again. Didn?t he have a calendar handy? Jesus always sparks that which keeps us from coming to him to force us into a choice. For the Pharisees the choice was between sticking to their own rules or acknowledging the truly miraculous thing that had happened.
The man very simply repeats the story but the Pharisees immediately conclude that Jesus couldn?t be from God because he did it on the Sabbath. Some, though, begin to realize that a true miracle could not be done by someone without a relationship with Yahweh. They apparently don?t know what to make of Jesus so they ask this guy?which is a little odd since they seem to in control of everything. The guy doesn?t really know either so he says ?he is a prophet.? But instead of accepting the truth of their own eyes, they find any excuse they can to deny the miracle.
18 ? 23
Have you ever met someone who says they want a straight answer but only the straight answer they want to hear? I worked for an organization one time where the boss would make it clear that his way was the only way then demand that we all say we were behind it and then use that as support for his position to others. But we all knew that if we disagreed we?d be tossed out on our keisters!
The Pharisees here put the parents of this guy into a no-win situation. They?ve already said that if anyone confesses that Jesus is the Messiah that they?ll be thrown out of the synagogue, tantamount to being completely ostracized from society. They know the truth so they do the only thing left to them?say they don?t know, ask their son. This was probably pretty upsetting for the Pharisees. They aren?t getting their way so they go back to try and badger the poor blind guy.
The Pharisees are being pretty heavy handed now. They bring God?s name into it. ?Give glory to God? would be like saying ?admit the truth.? They had already prejudged him, but look at how the guy answers?this is great!
This should be the cry of every person who has met Jesus Christ: ?I was blind, but now I see.? This guy didn?t get all the intricacies of Jesus? ministry or theology. He only knows that he met a man who made him well. Is that not the basis for all of our testimony? We were blind in a dangerous universe. Jesus gave us eyes to see our sin and provided a way to heal our blindness and take away our sin. That?s all we need to know and all we need to say. Now the Pharisees think Jesus put some sort of hex on the guy.
26 ? 27
I can?t really tell if this is irony here or what. Perhaps the guy really thinks they are interested in Jesus, but it is so precious.
28 ? 34
?Just look at the evidence,? the guy says. How could someone who is a sinner do these miracles? God will not listen to sinners. He?s right. Just check out Job 35:12, Isaiah 1:15. But the Pharisees aren?t interested in evidence, only in putting down a threat to their own power. That is the same dilemma we all face. We are born loving ourselves above God and we will try to survive in that self reliance with all of our might. But we do it to our own peril.
The Pharisees reject this man and they reject Jesus. They go back to that myth that the disciples brought up at the beginning, that it was some sin at birth that caused the blindness. They cast him out. It?s like he has been cast adrift from a dead religious system and now is the perfect time for Jesus to come and explain just why this guy has changed so much.
35 ? 41
Jesus is asking the man if he believes Jesus is the Messiah. It?s not just intellectual belief he is talking about but wholehearted trust. The man says ?who is he that I may believe?? and Jesus makes this great statement that really has a double impact. The man can see with his eyes but more importantly, he can see with his heart that Jesus is his Lord, his Messiah, his Savior.
And so Jesus concludes this great object lesson by telling us that those who were blind will see, and those who thought they could see will find out they are actually blind?even by choice they have become blind to the truth.
The Pharisees claimed they could see but it is a claim to their own condemnation.
Jesus says in Matthew?s gospel:
Matthew 12:37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.\"
The three words Jesus is looking for are just what the man said ?Lord, I believe.? You recognize that Jesus is the only way and you put your trust and confidence in him.
Some people aren?t blind, they just don?t have any light. It?s our job to bring that light to them by sharing the simple truth of what Jesus did for us. It doesn?t have to be slick or complete or even logical from a human standpoint. It just needs to be your story.
The Pharisees rejected Jesus in the face of overwhelming evidence. They had a genuine miracle, eye witnesses, testimony about what Jesus had done?testimony that didn?t change despite their withering questioning. It?s sad, but true. There are people today that also reject Jesus despite the overwhelming evidence that shows clearly that he is indeed the Son of God who lived a perfect life, demonstrated over and over that he was a singularly unique human, who voluntarily died then came back from the dead, promising to give that new life to anyone who would put their trust and confidence in him.
So are you a person without light or a person who purposefully shuts the door on the light?
Finally, and we?ll see this theme repeated, when something bad happens, do you think God caused it because of something you did? Sometimes that is the case, but it isn?t God that does it, it?s us! But when we find ourselves in difficulty it is always so that we can bring God glory as we see him work. So don?t fret, have patience, and look for God to turn your trial into an opportunity for others to see Him more clearly!