Blindly Riding the Hobby Horse

November 27, 2019 at 10:48 am | Posted in Biblical Eyesight, John | 1 Comment
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They brought to the Pharisees him that aforetime was blind.

John 9:13

The reason that the man’s acquaintances brought him to the Pharisees after they saw that he had been healed of lifelong blindness was probably because such an astounding miracle required, they thought, some type of religious explanation. Of course, the Pharisees had a special hobby horse they liked to ride called “How many ways can people violate the Sabbath?”

And it was the sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes. Then again the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. He said unto them, He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see.

John 9:14-15

They were interested in the method of healing used because the Pharisees were experts at finding Sabbath-violations. If Jesus mixed water with dirt to make clay (mud) they could accuse him of “kneading” on the Sabbath, and people weren’t allowed to knead dough for bread on the Sabbath. It was a stretch, but they were already biased against Jesus and looking for a way to say that, even though He had miraculous healing powers, He couldn’t really be sent from God because He was a sinful Sabbath-breaker.

Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them.

John 9:16

No Christian has complete and total victory over sin in every single area of his or her life – at least not all the time. What’s more, many of us would admit to struggling with certain sins on a daily basis, and having some particular types of sins which have given us trouble for years. However, I’m guessing that there are at least a few categories of sin where God has given you significant victories, and possibly some where you never faced great temptation to begin with, and that you really can’t understand how some people can sin so egregiously in those areas. Perhaps people who are compulsive liars really get on your nerves (the 9th Commandment). Maybe it’s children who rebel openly against their parents (the 5th Commandment). What about people who steal other people’s property (the 8th Commandment)? Are they the ones who really get your goat (figuratively if not literally!)?

For the Pharisees who opposed Jesus during His earthly ministry, their “pet peeve” seems to have been people who were lax in their observance of the Sabbath day (4th Commandment). They were so keen to prevent the Sabbath commandment from being violated that they fashioned a bunch of additional cautionary rules around it to keep people from even coming close to breaking it. Maybe they originally had good intentions, but the problem was that, over time, they considered these man-made safeguards to be co-equal with the Law of God itself. In other words, they began to worship the Sabbath itself rather than the Lord of the Sabbath.

Let us not fall into this same trap. If you are exceedingly honest, you probably have a bias against liars. If you have worked hard to provide for your family, you probably have a strong dislike for thieves. And if you respect and honor your own parents, you might have little patience for rebellious, sarcastic, and disrespectful children. However, we must remember not to worship honesty, hard work, or filial respect. Instead, we worship the God of truth, provision, and authority, and, if He has communicated those attributes to us, we recognize them as gifts to bring Him glory, not as proud accomplishments with which to demean others.

The Pharisees found themselves in a quandary, though, because, if they claimed that sinners could not do miracles, then the fact of the miracle must mean that Jesus WAS NOT a sinner.

They say unto the blind man again, What sayest thou of him, that he hath opened thine eyes? He said, He is a prophet.

John 9:17

The blind man had not yet come to saving faith in Jesus as the Son of God, but He clearly knew that Jesus was the “real deal” and had at least as much spiritual power as a true prophet from God.

But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind, and received his sight, until they called the parents of him that had received his sight.

John 9:18

The Jewish religious leaders suspected that maybe the man had been able to see at some point in his life, so the healing was not really miraculous. Only his parents could testify that he had truly been BORN blind.

And they asked them, saying, Is this your son, who ye say was born blind? how then doth he now see? His parents answered them and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind: But by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself.

John 9:19-21

This does not tells us the age of the man who had been healed, but it does tell us he was at least 13, because that was considered to be “of age” back then. A 13 year old boy/man could testify legally in court. His parents didn’t want to get in trouble with the Pharisees, but they did confirm that he was born blind before passing the buck by saying, “He can speak for himself about how it happened and what He thinks of Jesus.”

These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.

John 9:22

This lets us know that the Pharisees were not only actively plotting the death of Jesus, but had instituted serious persecution against those who would worship and follow Him. Truly following Jesus has always been costly.

Therefore said his parents, He is of age; ask him. Then again called they the man that was blind, and said unto him, Give God the praise: we know that this man is a sinner. He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.

John 9:23-25

The Pharisees then turned on the healed man again, trying to get him to denounce Jesus, but you can see he was starting to suspect their ulterior motives.

Then said they to him again, What did he to thee? how opened he thine eyes? He answered them, I have told you already, and ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again? will ye also be his disciples?

John 9:26-27

This was a very sarcastic response because obviously the Pharisees did not want to be Jesus’s disciples, but it was like saying, “Why are you so interested in Him? Is it because deep down you know He might be the Messiah?” This made them very angry.

Then they reviled him, and said, Thou art his disciple; but we are Moses’ disciples. We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence he is. The man answered and said unto them, Why herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes.

John 9:28-30

It sounds like the healed man was really having fun with them now. They were claiming to be the representatives of Moses, but they didn’t even recognize that Moses testified about a greater Prophet who would be sent from God.

Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth. Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind. If this man were not of God, he could do nothing. They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out.

John 9:31-34

This sums up the Pharisees’ biggest problem: the prideful denial that they were born in sins. All of us were born in sin, and Jesus will forgive us, but the condition is that we have to recognize that we are sinners and always have been, and therefore we NEED to be forgiven and saved. The Pharisees could not or would not do this, so they could not “see” who Jesus really was.

Here’s Mud in Your Eye

November 13, 2019 at 5:04 pm | Posted in Biblical Eyesight, John | 2 Comments
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Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.

John 8:28

Historically, there have been great blessings attached to being Jewish, tempered by great persecution. (Haman and Hitler are two obvious examples.) The Abrahamic Covenant or blessing has been their great claim to God’s favor. Christian children today are taught to sing, “Father Abraham has many sons,” and challenged with the question, “Are you one of them?” The Jewish religious leaders who confronted Jesus would have enthusiastically answered, “Yes, we are!” but were they really?

If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you. I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father. They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham. Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God. Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.

John 8:36-45

One of the things I often hear is that, “We are all God’s children,” or some similar sentiment. This is true only in the limited sense that all people are created by God and bear His image. Jesus, who often gets a bad rap these days as sort of a touchy-feely, mealy-mouthed, self-help guru, was, in reality, not averse to sharing some blunt truth when called for, and that’s what He did in John 8:44, telling the people who opposed His ministry that they were children of the devil!

Your conduct determines your spiritual paternity. Your freedom (from sin) determines your spiritual paternity. Whose Word you believe and obey determines your spiritual paternity.

Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

John 8:58-69

There is no doubt Jesus claimed to be God, and His enemies knew it.

And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?

John 9:1-2

What is the relationship of sin to physical illness or lifelong infirmities?

1. They are not always related specifically in each individual case. A person’s illness or infirmity may not be caused by his specific sin.

2. Sometimes, though, they are directly related.
a. They may be related as a “natural” cause and effect. For example, fornication may result in syphilis or some other sexually transmitted disease, or chronic drunkenness may result in cirrhosis of the liver.
b. In other cases, someone’s illness or infirmity may be allowed or inflicted upon him supernaturally by God as a an act of chastening or punishment. As finite human beings, not privy to the secret will of God, we can not know when this is the case, so we do not diagnose a person’s illness or infirmity as God’s punishment or chastisement, even though we remain aware that it is a possibility.

3. In a larger sense, all illnesses and injuries and infirmities are “caused” by sin as a result of the Fall and Curse which God pronounced upon mankind after Adam’s sin in the Garden of Eden.

When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.

John 9:6-7

Jesus made a mud pack from the dust of the earth (possibly reminiscent of the way God had used dirt to make Adam). Sometimes the mind makes strange connections. Years ago a singer named April March wrote an English translation of an old French song called “Laisse Tomber les Filles,” which means “Leave the Girls Alone.” It’s a song about a womanizer finally getting his comeuppance at the hands of the ladies he had used or mistreated. The English version has a line that goes, “You’re gonna see the reason why, When they’re spittin’ in your eye.” There is also a common expression heard in old movies from the 30s and 40s, in which characters about to throw back a shot of alcohol often propose an odd toast: “Here’s mud in your eye!” For some reason these weird references are what popped into my head when I was studying John 9:6.

Jesus, who had the power to heal with a mere word or touch, chose on at least three occasions in the Bible (including Mark 7:33 and 8:23) to heal people using His own saliva. In John 9:6 he combined it with dirt to make a mud mask. Why do you think that He did this, and what can we learn from it? We can ask the Holy Spirit to “illuminate” (open our eyes to) the Word and help us.

Here are some possible reasons why He may have used spit:

1. To demonstrate His reversal of “curses.” Spitting on someone has always been seen as an extreme insult or way of cursing someone. Jesus is the One Whose blessing “reverses the curses.”
2. To show the Jewish religious leaders that His true purity did not care about their ceremonial taboos against bodily excretions.

After applying the mud to the man’s eyes, Jesus “sent” – as Jesus has been explaining that He was “sent” from the Father – him to go wash in the pool of Siloam, which is connected with the Old Testament prophecy of Christ as “Shiloh.”

The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.

Genesis 49:10

Light Produces Life

August 19, 2011 at 9:15 am | Posted in Biblical Light, John | 6 Comments
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Living things need light. A plant will die if it is left in the dark. Human life as we know it on Earth requires sunlight.

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

Genesis 1:3

For Christians, Jesus is the Light which gives us life.

In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

John 1:4

Jesus was present and active in the creation of man. The “divine spark” which God placed in Adam, giving life to the human race, came from His Divinity. Since the beginning He has associated light with life.

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

John 8:12

Jesus’s deliberate use of “I AM,” God’s Self-revealed Old Testament Name, showed that He was in fact God incarnate, possessing not only the power to create original life, but the power to create the new life we receive when we trust Him as Savior.

As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

John 9:5

How bright is the world around you? Has your life grown dark? Only Jesus Christ has the power to illuminate spiritual darkness.

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:

John 11:25

Our lost friends, family members, co-workers, and neighbors are spiritually dead. But the Light of Jesus Christ is so bright and so powerful that it can bring them to life. Jesus’s Light produces life because He Himself is “the Life.”

A Neighborly Anniversary

January 3, 2011 at 12:15 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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In honor of the second anniversary of this blog, I’m reposting my third most popular post:

What the Bible Says about Neighbors

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?

Matthew 5:43-46

You may have heard the common expression, “Good fences make good neighbors.” As Christians, God has specified two groups of people that we are commanded to love: our neighbors and our enemies. It may be that God grouped these together because they are often the same people!

In several previous posts we have opened the Bible and learned to “S.W.I.M.” (see what it means) concerning some of the doctrines in the Word of God relative to our neighbors. Now we will use an acrostic – N.E.I.G.H.B.O.R. – to help review those lessons.

N.otorious and N.eedy neighbors (Luke 10:25-37): No one would have expected a notorious Samaritan to help someone in need, but Jesus used this as an illustration for us to consider before we decide who is, and who is not, our neighbor.

E.quivocal neighbors (Psalm 12:2-3): Equivocation is “doublespeak” or duplicitous language. We must be wary of neighbors who say one thing and mean another.

I.nsurgent neighbors (Joshua 9:15-16): Obedient Christians are anxious to be “neighborly” toward outsiders, but we are cautioned by God to be careful of those who would pretend to be something they are not in order to disrupt Christian fellowship.

G.lorified neighbors (Luke 14:12-14): Christians ought not to cultivate influential people as our favored neighbors, hoping to get something in return, while neglecting those around us who are truly in need.

H.ypocritical neighbors (Psalm 31:11,15): Our highest level of trust should be reserved for God. There are some neighbors who are friendly when things are going great, yet they are nowhere to be found when trouble comes.

B.eneficial neighbors (Ruth 4:16-17): Believers should teach their children – and encourage one another – to be a blessing, instead of a burden, to their neighbors.

O.bservant and O.btuse neighbors * (John 9:8-10): Remember, your neighbors are watching you. When God blesses your life, do not let “luck” or “chance” take the credit. Be sure to let your neighbors know more than “how” you were blessed. Make sure they know by “Whom” you were blessed.

R.epudiated neighbors (Ezekiel 16:26): As faithful children of God we should do our best to maintain a good relationship with our neighbors. However, we are commanded not to give in to the temptation of joining in with sinful practices, even if it means the breaking off of fellowship.

* most viewed post in this series

What the Bible Says about Neighbors

August 31, 2009 at 9:19 am | Posted in Biblical neighbors | 5 Comments
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Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?

Matthew 5:43-46

You may have heard the common expression, “Good fences make good neighbors.” As Christians, God has specified two groups of people that we are commanded to love: our neighbors and our enemies. It may be that God grouped these together because they are often the same people!

In several previous posts we have opened the Bible and learned to “S.W.I.M.” (see what it means) concerning some of the doctrines in the Word of God relative to our neighbors. Now we will use an acrostic – N.E.I.G.H.B.O.R. – to help review those lessons.

N.otorious and N.eedy neighbors (Luke 10:25-37): No one would have expected a notorious Samaritan to help someone in need, but Jesus used this as an illustration for us to consider before we decide who is, and who is not, our neighbor.

E.quivocal neighbors (Psalm 12:2-3): Equivocation is “doublespeak” or duplicitous language. We must be wary of neighbors who say one thing and mean another.

I.nsurgent neighbors (Joshua 9:15-16): Obedient Christians are anxious to be “neighborly” toward outsiders, but we are cautioned by God to be careful of those who would pretend to be something they are not in order to disrupt Christian fellowship.

G.lorified neighbors (Luke 14:12-14): Christians ought not to cultivate influential people as our favored neighbors, hoping to get something in return, while neglecting those around us who are truly in need.

H.ypocritical neighbors (Psalm 31:11,15): Our highest level of trust should be reserved for God. There are some neighbors who are friendly when things are going great, yet they are nowhere to be found when trouble comes.

B.eneficial neighbors (Ruth 4:16-17): Believers should teach their children – and encourage one another – to be a blessing, instead of a burden, to their neighbors.

O.bservant and O.btuse neighbors (John 9:8-10): Remember, your neighbors are watching you. When God blesses your life, do not let “luck” or “chance” take the credit. Be sure to let your neighbors know more than “how” you were blessed. Make sure they know by “Whom” you were blessed.

R.epudiated neighbors (Ezekiel 16:26): As faithful children of God we should do our best to maintain a good relationship with our neighbors. However, we are commanded not to give in to the temptation of joining in with sinful practices, even if it means the breaking off of fellowship.

The How versus the Who

July 3, 2009 at 9:39 am | Posted in Biblical Eyesight, Biblical neighbors, John | 12 Comments
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The Lord Jesus was known for healing the blind. He did this not only out of compassion and to prove He was the Messiah, but also as the prelude to a spiritual lesson. Once, when He encountered a beggar who had been blind since birth, Jesus made clay out of spittle, and applied it the man’s eyes. When the man obeyed Jesus, and washed the clay from his eyes, he could see for the first time!

Almost immediately, the man’s neighbors, who had known him to be blind his whole life, began to question the miracle.

The neighbours therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged? Some said, This is he: others said, He is like him: but he said, I am he. Therefore said they unto him, How were thine eyes opened?

John 9:8-10.

When Christ miraculously changes the life of a believer today, this pattern will often still hold true. First, the neighbors will notice. Second, they will begin to wonder “how” the change was wrought. However, this is really the wrong question. What the observers in John Chapter 9 should have been asking was, “Who?” instead of “How?” When your neighbors see a God-made change in your life, and want to know “how” it was done, take that opportunity to tell them instead by “Whom” it was done.


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