Theme: Received by Jesus
In this week’s lessons, we look at the story of the man born blind, and learn that Jesus not only heals physical blindness, but spiritual blindness as well.
Scripture: John 9:1-41
The second thing they try to do is to separate the healing from Jesus. They had to acknowledge the healing because they eventually could not escape it. So they try to attribute it to some other source. They say, “Look, give glory to God. God’s the one who does miracles.” And that’s right, isn’t it? God is the one who does miracles. But what they refused to admit was that God, in Jesus Christ, is the one who did the miracle. So although they were trying to get away from Jesus as the source of the healing, in the end, of course, they couldn’t do it because Jesus had done the miracle, and the only adequate cause was God. That meant that Jesus Christ was God. So their second approach did not work either.
The third thing they tried to do is to retreat back into the Law of Moses. They say, “Well, we don’t know what’s happening here in this case with Jesus, but one thing we do know is that God spoke through Moses, and so we stand on the law God gave him.” Now they are trying to drive a wedge between Moses, who had been the channel of the law, and Jesus. They wanted to claim to be faithful to God through their commitment to Moses, while they were willing to reject God’s Son who was now right in front of them.
Sadly, that kind of thing is often the case among religious people. They love their traditions, valuable as they may be in their own place, more than God himself. Therefore, as the real work of God is taking place, they say, “Well, we’ve never seen it like that before. We’ve never done it that way, and therefore it must be wrong. It doesn’t conform to our tradition. That’s not the way Presbyterians do things. That’s not the way Episcopalians like to have it happen. It never happened that way in a Baptist church before. You’ve never seen anybody converted like that in a Methodist church before. We don’t want that sort of thing.” In other words, they retreat back in their traditions because that protects them. Their religious veneer becomes a curtain that shades them from the light of Jesus Christ that is clearly at work. Of course, that approach fails too.
At the very end of the story, they do what is the final means of trying to escape: they simply aren’t going to listen to it. And the way they put that into effect is by excommunicating the man who had been born blind. He is arguing very cogently at this point, you see. They had retreated to Moses saying, “We don’t even know where this man comes from. Moses is the one we know; we know that God spoke to Moses.” To which the man says, “What a remarkable thing. You don’t know where this man comes from, and yet he opened my eyes.” In other words, he’s saying, “It is your business to know where he came from. If someone opens the eyes of the blind, which he obviously did for me, God must have sent him. We know God doesn’t listen to sinners, and God listened to him. You know, you ought to be able to see that. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”
Well, their response to that kind of rebuke or correction is to accuse him of being born in sin, no doubt the same sort of thing the disciples were speculating on at the beginning. At which point they threw him out of the synagogue. It means they excommunicated him; he was not welcome there any more. That carried a lot of weight in that day. That man would have a hard time getting a job. He wouldn’t enter into decent company. This blind beggar who had been healed by Jesus would have a hard time now doing anything more than begging. Yet, while he is cast out, Jesus comes to him and reveals himself. And the man falls down at his feet and worships Jesus.
That’s the way the unbelieving world acts. If they can’t squelch your testimony or force you to compromise, the world will throw you out, because they don’t want you around anymore. The opportunities they consider invaluable will be closed to you. Sometimes that even happens with one’s own family. Someone becomes a Christian, and all of a sudden the rest of the family wants nothing to do with him or her.
However, the glorious thing to know is that when we’re thrown out by the world, the arms of Jesus are there to take us in. And that’s what happened to this man. If you want an explanation of what Jesus was doing, you find it in the next chapter, because Jesus begins to talk about himself as the shepherd who calls his own sheep by name and he leads them out. That’s exactly what he had done to this blind beggar. He had given him sight, he had called him out, he made him a member of his church, and he began to add to that company. It began as a small group at first, but then grew and grew as the centuries continued, as millions have come to know the light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
We’re part of that number, too, by that same grace of God. That’s a wonderful thing. Don’t get hung up on the world and all its pleasures. The world has them, of course, and the world has gotten better and better over the millennia in flaunting them before us. The world is hostile to our Savior, and that world will throw you out if you profess him. But, you see, that world will pass away. It’s going to perish, while those who belong to Jesus Christ are going to endure forever. That’s the great thing. And we need to rejoice in that and tell others about it, for his sake.
List and describe the other three approaches the Pharisees use to try to avoid what really happened to the blind man.
What does it mean when it says that the Pharisees threw the man out of the synagogue? What were the implications for the man?
Application: Do you know anyone who when they became a Christian lost some of their old relationships because they were rejected? Has that happened to you? How can you encourage one another for whom this kind of treatment has occurred?