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Oct 23 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

October 21, 2012 – John 9:39

Why Did Jesus Say That?

And Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind” John 9:39

INTRO: Barbara’s mom used to say,
“I’m a black and white person. I’m not one of those mercy people.”
– it was true, that she tended to have a narrow, rigid standard regarding right and wrong
– but it wasn’t completely true
• there was too much of Jesus in her — at times the mercy she showed others was remarkable

The tension in this story is between “right and wrong” people and the “mercy” Person
– the question raised here is, Can the Pharisee’s religion accommodate Jesus?

The Pharisees depicted in the gospels are a caricature

What we usually encounter are the worst examples
– there are exceptions, like Nicodemus – but they’re rare

Why do the gospels paint these pictures of the Pharisees and include them in Jesus’ story?
– they perfectly reveal what humans normally do with religion
• reduce it to moral rules, then use those rules to justify selves and condemn others
Early on in church history, monks fled to the desert in search of a deeper relationship with God
– result: some of them immediately created a new strain of Christian Pharisaism
– a similar situation occurred with the Puritans, who wanted to purify Christianity
• then it happened again with Christian Fundamentalism
– it’s naive to think it can’t happen to us

The Pharisees play an important role in this chapter

It begins with beggar who was blind frm birth
– the disciples made an assumption about him, raising a theological issue
• Jesus let them know, their assumption was wrong
• he then healed the blind man

When the blind man came back from the pool of Siloam seeing, it created problems
– neighbors and others who knew him asked how it happened?
– unable to get a satisfactory answer, they took him to Pharisees
• it was their job to investigate and make judgment on this sort of thing
• was it a miracle of God or an instance of ungodly magic?

When they questioned the (formerly) blind man, they learned Jesus had made clay
– immediately, some gave their verdict, “This man is not from God”
• but they were divided on the issue – so there was further investigation
• they called in the man’s parents, and then the blind man again

We’ve already met someone with a personality that is similar to the
– the Samaritan woman had his same spunk, only:
• she began sarcastic and sassy, but became serious
• the blind man, however, began serious, but then got sarcastic and flippant
v. 27, “You do not want to become His disciples too, do you?”
v. 30, “Well, here is an amazing thing, that you do not know where He is from . . .”

When the blind man made a convincing argument that Jesus must be from God, the Pharisees cut him off from the religious community

The Pharisees, priests, and elders had taken over religion

They set up the rules – defined good and evil, right and wrong
– their moral theology put them in charge of judging the actions of others and of God in their world

In effect, they would ask, “Do you follow our rules? If so, you’re one of us. If not, then you’re not of God and we don’t have to love you. In fact, we have the power to label and excommunicate you.”

– they decided that Jesus could not be from God, because he didn’t play by their rules

They were blind to:
– how their control over the interpretation of the law allowed them to manipulate religion
– how their version of religion accommodated their egos, will, pride, and so on
– how they had immunized themselves against Jesus

The Pharisees could not loosen their grip on the truth – i.e., their view of what could and could not be done on the Sabbath
– they could not give their interpretation of the law enough freedom to be modified, corrected, or improved
• they could not allow themselves to see the truth in a new light
• otherwise, they risked the collapse of their whole invention

The person whose faith is in God, however, can let the whole world disintegrate
– can let heaven and earth pass away, without their heart and mind being shaken

Whether He is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see (v. 25)

After the blind man was rejected by the Pharisees, Jesus found him

Jesus: Do you believe in the Son of Man?
The (formerly) blind man: Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?
– he was ready to go over to Jesus
• he had nothing to lose – he had no investment in religion
• he began at the margin of society and he had been kicked to the curb again
– he was prepared to believe in Jesus and worship Him

That is when Jesus made the statement about judgment
– on the one hand, it is a comment on the events in this chapter
• “blind” is a condition that Jesus can work with, if the blind person is willing to admit they cannot see
• those who think they see, aren’t eligible for the miracle

“For judgment” – wherever Jesus went, a division occurred (v. 16)
7:43, “So a division occurred in the crowd because of Him”
10:19, “A division occurred again among the Jews because of these words”
– not a division between good people and bad people or right people and wrong people, but between those who do not see and those who see

Why did Jesus say this?

  1. Because of what was right in front of him
    – here was this religious system that people thought was absolute
    • but it wasn’t working–e.g., the way blind man treated throughout
    • it needed to be interrogated – it needed to be judged
    – he was looking at this abusive system that not only oppressed people, but constructed a worldview that justified oppression
    • a theology that eased everyone’s conscience
    ○ they had no obligation to the blind, the deaf, the disabled
    ○ they were that way because of sin – it was punishment
    • so if God was against them, I don’t have to do anything for them
  2. Because he saw the balance tipped in favor of the strong
    – the wealthy, the educated, and the healthy over against the disabled
  3. Because he wanted to change religion
    – he reveals a different way, “the works of God” (v. 3)
    • that way is compassion for the weak and disabled
    • if we can’t heal them, then we take their hand and guide them to wherever they need to go
  4. Because to Jesus, everyone is blind
    v. 5, “While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world”
    – Jesus wants people to discover they are blind
    • and this is so true!
    • there’s nothing we’re more blind to than ourselves!
    – he wants us to come to him to receive our sight
  5. Because Jesus wanted to win the Pharisees over, too
    – and it is this desire of Jesus that reveals my blindness
    • I see myself as a mercy person
    • I am offended by the Pharisees who justify their hatred for “sinners”
    ○ I don’t want Pharisees in my spiritual community
    ○ I don’t want to have to love them
    – but why were these Pharisees “with him,” as John says? (v. 40)
    • why did they ask the question about their blindness?
    • hadn’t they been drawn to Jesus, too?
    ○ hadn’t they felt his power? Been moved by his compassion?
    – they needed a different approach than others, but Jesus still went after them
    • their sin was their resistance to Jesus – their refusal to let him open their eyes
    • that is why they continued to miss the mark
    • it was a different kind of miracle, but he was opening their eyes, too

CONC: It doesn’t matter who we are today

Perhaps there’s a division among us – one we don’t know about
– maybe some of us are in the class of “right and wrong” people
• and others are “mercy” people
– it makes no difference, we all need to hear Jesus’ judgment on us
• if he tells us we can see, then we need to walk in his light
• if he tells us we are blind, then we can choose to pray, “Open my eyes”

Why did Jesus say, “For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see”?

Because seeing changes everything

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