Monday, March 14, 2011

A Man Blind from Birth (Jn. 9:1-3)

This is a personal summary of the preaching of Rev Dr Stephen Tong on 6 March 2011 in True Way Presbyterian Church. It was preached in Chinese with English translation.

Passage: John 9:1-3

Jesus saw the world differently from us. Sometimes we see actively and sometimes passively. When seeking after something, we see actively and selectively. In Jn. 9:1, Jesus was actively seeing but the disciples were passive. They just followed Jesus.

Jesus saw a man, blind from birth. He first saw that the person was made in the image of God, created by God’s word, exists to glorify God.

If we can see someone in this way first before looking at all his problems, we will treat the person differently. We cannot have good relationships because we do not see this. When we see a person with weaknesses, we need to first respect his humanity, then look at his weaknesses. If we look at the weakness first we start to despise the person. This is the difference between a good and bad minister, a good and bad teacher. We need to first recognise that every man is made in the image of God and not merely judge by appearance.

Any common man who saw this man will first see that he is blind. But Jesus first saw a man made in the image of God. Jesus Christ the Son of Man shows us how to live, how to look at a human being. He never rejects the greatest sinner and never accepts the tiniest sin. In His flesh, He demostrates His divine nature. He healed the most despicable man. When Jesus saw this man, He saw His humanity, the perfection in creation in this man who was born blind. God create us perfect, why do we then equate people with their weaknesses when we see them?

On one hand we need to acknowledge what is wrong but we also need to ask people to repent with the love of God. Francis Schaeffer opened the L’abri ministry to welcome anybody who had nowhere to go and wanted to find answers about life. It is a shelter for many intellectuals who had lost their faith to come with honest questions. His books, “The God who is there”, “Escape from Reason”, “He is there and He is not silent” and “How then shall we live” are targetted to address honest doubts about faith.

Schaeffer said that Christians should respond to this world, to give honest answers to honest questions. We should not reject people just because they do not believe or despise them because of their weaknesses. This will influence the way the church grows. When there is lack of respect and empathy and pastoral work, people will leave the church.

When seeing the blind man, Jesus’ disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (Jn. 9:2) If it is the man himself who sinned, what sin did he commit and how did he commit it before he was born? Could it be his parents’ sins then? Humans like to ask this kind of curious questions. When reason observes things it cannot understand, it tries to compare and question.

We often try to find who is to be blamed for something that goes wrong. When we see problem, we cannot save and cannot comfort, and what we can do is to find who to blame for the problem. Most people do not contribute to the society. All they do is to look for scapegoat to blame. When we see problems in the society, we blame the government system, the media and everyone else. This is not the way to solve problem.

Jesus’ attitude was different. He answered: “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” (Jn. 9:3). Jesus’ reply is philosophically significant. People tend to have either-or thinking which locks them into narrow answers, but Jesus’ answer is neither-nor. His paradigm is different because He is the Son of God. We are created, limited and polluted. We are not Creator, so we cannot be so right. We are so limited ourselves so we should not expect too much from others. We are polluted so there is no ground to be self-righteous.

Jesus Christ is indeed the truth. His response was not to play the blame game, but to accept reality and recognise God’s sovereignty. This is the best general direction to solve problems. Jesus said, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

We need to learn from Christ. Pray to God to enable us to recognise His works. What is God’s will and plan above all the sufferings and difficulties in life? The message of Christianity gives the answers.


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