Monday, April 18, 2016

The Trust of Belief (John 9)

Compare the sixth sign in John to the third:

With the sixth sign in John’s Gospel we see a trusting belief.

Jesus finds a man who has been blind since birth. Jesus’ disciples question whose sin had led to the man’s suffering, his or his parents? Jesus denies that this individual suffering is the result of an individual sin, but rather an opportunity for God’s power to be seen. The Bible clearly teaches that, while suffering and evil in this broken world is a direct result of mankind’s sin, individual suffering is not always a consequence of a specific sin.

It is important to see here that Jesus heals the man, however, He also heals him in such a way that demands trust and obedience of the man. Jesus, not the man’s obedience, nor the spit, nor the pool heal the man. Just as we saw in chapter 5, faith is nothing more than trust in God, and it is God who works in the lives of those who trust Him. In this case, the man does trust, but Jesus initially works in his life before that trust is demonstrated.

Unlike the lame man, who tried to cast blame on everyone else, this man simply tells his story exactly as it happened. Even with a threat of being cast out of the religious community, he sticks to his testimony. What had the synagogue ever done for him? Jesus had given the man his sight. He must be very good and very great.

Just as in chapter 5, the Pharisees are not interested in any miracle or sign of God’s power in their midst. They are too concerned with keeping their power and enforcing the rules. God has moved in power, yet all they see is a threat to their own power! Jesus finds the man again and asks him now if He believes in the Messiah. When the man asks who that is, Jesus says that it is He. How does the man respond? He continues to believe (trust and follow) Jesus.

John uses this sign to highlight the truth that we are all born spiritually blind. We cannot see the reality of the brokenness around us until we encounter the Light of the World. Jesus declares that his coming has served as a judgement. The way people respond to Him and his truth exposes their condition. Those who humbly realize they have been blind are rescued and given sight, but most believe that they understand the world on their own. Their pride leads them to reject the Truth, and they remain captive in their blindness. The Pharisees here reinforce His point for Him.

“If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say ‘we see’ your sin remains.”

It calls to mind Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. If you find Jesus’ last statement to the Pharisees confusing, consider it in light of the Cave Allegory and it becomes clearer.

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