Monday, June 6, 2011

Greatest Story Ever Told - Part 6

This week we looked at the 6th of the "signs" accounted by the Apostle John. This is the account of the healing of a blind man in John Chapter 9.

The story began with Jesus seeing a man who had been blind since birth. His disciples ask Him if it was the man or his parents who had sinned. You see, it was commonly believed that, if a person had this sort of defect, that he or she must have sinned -- or his or her parents were in such terrible sin that they passed the curse down to their child. Some of the Pharisees even taught that it was possible for a baby to sin in utero, causing a birth defect. Certainly there is generational sin that gets passed on, but Jesus points out that this is not the case with this man.

Sure, all sickness, disease and general lack of "shalom" is due to some type of sin. Some of the problems we deal with are certainly because of our own sin. However, some things happen simply because we live in a sinful and messed up world. We become affected by the physical environment that our flesh lives in.

Understand that, while living under the Law, sin was defined and magnified. So, everything was thought to be related to sin. In this series, we have been talking about how religiousness looks at life in this type of context -- a Genesis 3 beginning context. Instead, we should look at life in a Genesis 1 begnning context. Life is more about restoring the shalom peace that was in the Garden and will exist again according to Revelation 21 and 22 than it is about controlling sin. We earnestly desire to control sin; we work at it with all our might, but it is not the real issue.

Jesus tells the disciples that neither the man nor his parents' sin caused the blindness. Instead, He says that it "happened" for the glory of God. Now, be careful not add a few words that are not there. Jesus did not say that God made the man born blind to bring Himself glory at this later time. He said it happened. God knows every move of the enemy and will take what he meant for harm and make it into something good.

This is also one of the few times where we see a miracle done where the person did not approach Jesus and ask to be healed. Jesus saw a need and acted. However, the completion of the miracle still required the man's decision to accept and obey the Word. He was not healed until he went and did what Jesus told him to do. God's power works through man's obedience.

After the man is healed, the Pharisees summon him to explain what had happened. You see, they were all upset because Jesus healed on the Sabbath. Some argued that, in order to heal, He must be of God. Still others argued that working on the Sabbath proved He must be a sinner.

They even questioned whether the miracle even took place. They called the man's parents in to verify that the man healed was their son and that he had indeed been blind since birth. They verified this and refused to offer any more information -- for declaring a belief that Jesus was the Christ was cause for excommunication.

They call the formerly blind man back in for another round of questioning. At the end of this set of questions, the "sinner" (defined by them because of his blindness), schooled the Pharisees. He pointed out their hypocrisy and stated his belief in Jesus as being from God. He is promptly excommunicated.

The next conversation he has is with Jesus who heard about the situation. Jesus gives him the opportunity to accept Him as the Christ and the man does.

This story illustrated the blindness that Jesus came to remove. In fact, throughout the book of Isaiah -- particularly in chapter 61, healing of blindness is a Messianic sign. Jesus Himself quotes it in Luke 4:18. The healing of physical blindness is actually a picture of the spiritual blindness that Jesus came to destroy. The Pharisees were spiritually blind. They were so concerned with sin and the Law that they refused to see the truth of the Messiah in front of them.

Oh, and they did not call Jesus to answer for this apparent infraction of the Law. Though He answered this question back in John 7:21. He pointed out to them that they were hypocritical in their questioning. They wanted to know why He would heal on the Sabbath. He pointed out that they perform circumcision on the Sabbath because the Law states that the circumcision is to occur on the 8th day -- which will sometimes fall on a Sabbath. However, Jesus (according to Isaiah 61 and Luke 4) is called to preach good news to the poor, set captives free and to bring recovery of sight to the blind. By healing on the Sabbath He was doing the same as them circumcising on the Sabbath.

Next week we will look at the 7th sign -- the raising of Lazarus from the dead -- and will wrap up this series. We will have a special message on Father's Day and will begin a new series on June 26th. See you at church! I Love my Church!