Sunday, May 22, 2011

Blind Man Healed Rejected by the Jews (Jn. 9:24-34)

This is a personal summary of the preaching of Rev Dr Stephen Tong on 8 May 2011 in True Way Presbyterian Church. It was preached in Chinese with English translation.

Passage: John 9:24-34

Christ came to save His people, to call sinners to repentance, to give His life to redeem sinners, to fulfill the law, to do the will of the Father. The seventh declaration is He came to be King.

Christ did not preserve His own life. When asked if He was the Son of God, He could say He was the Son of Man, and that was not wrong either. But in the face of the question which brought life danger, Jesus did not withdraw. He spoke the truth. He knew He must die. Christ died not because He did wrong, or said anything wrong, but because of His identity. Compared to the things we could have done and said, something more fundamentally more important is to know our status. If we understand our position, we can see our responsibilities and do what is right.

This blind man is no ordinary person. Although he was a beggar but he was of a great character. He was despised by society but was a bold witness in face of danger. After his parents’ response, the Pharisees asked the man to give glory to God but they contradicted themselves, not only they asked the man to give glory to God but also to acknowledge that Jesus was a sinner (Jn. 9:24). This is very scary. Religious leaders experience God’s grace on one hand, but did not believe in Him on the other hand.

But having experienced God’s grace, this man produced a very pure instinctive response. In many pulpits we hear both responsible and irresponsible sermons. It is the responsibility of the audience to differentiate what is true and what is false. If a preacher honestly preach the word, the listeners should accept humbly. But if a preacher preaches error and listeners just blindly accept, the future of the church will be dark. This blind man did not accept blindly what the Pharisee said about Jesus. He refused to say Jesus is a sinner. He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”

Then they asked again, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” (Jn. 9:26)

He started to become angry. He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?” (Jn. 9:27) A person of higher social status usually finds it very hard to listen to someone of lower position.

When the religious leaders heard these words of rebuke, they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.” (Jn. 9:28-29) They did not realise that Moses would worship Jesus Christ. They looked highly at Moses because Judaism began with Moses. The Panteteuch started from Moses. It is like the way Chinese look at Confucius.

The Jews think they have known what needs to be known. Since they do not know where Jesus came from, they assume He is not from God. Most people are trapped in history and past successes, which caused them huge losses in the future. We should consider potential future losses, not just the successes of the past.

Moses is from the past. Jesus is from eternity. If you do not know Jesus, you lose your eternity. Moses is not the highest. Before he died, he said God will raise a prophet from among them like himself, it is a prophecy of the coming Messiah. But the Jews took hold of Moses and neglected the Messiah. They were proud of what they know and not humble enough to learn what they do not know.

The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will. Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” (Jn. 9:30-33)

Clearly the man has not understood that Jesus Himself is God as yet, but based on his limited understanding he spoke simple some truth. The Jews were not aware of their blind spot. God used a beggar who was born blind to rebuke these people who were blind spiritually. Very few people are bold enough to do this. This man was bold, although his theology was only partially correct. He said God did not listen to sinners, but God would listen to sinners’ cry for repentance. He was also very confident that such a miracle as a man born blind was healed had never happened before. It is true that he had never heard of it, but it does not mean it never happen. So what he said did have some errors. The main issue with his statement is that it was not a conclusion based on research or study, but based on his own judgement.

The religious leaders were angry and replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out. (Jn. 9:34) They believed that the man of such low social status was unworthy and had no right to correct them. They chased him out of the synagoges.

From culture privileges, it is an unimaginable pain to be thrown out of the synagogues. It is a horrifying punishment, it is as though your citizenship and rights are taken away and considered a traitor. This is why the parents were afraid of the Jews. They played safe and escaped being chased away, but their son was thrown out.

This man’s system of thought ran against the Jewish system so he was considered a cult and was thrown out. He would have lost his social identity and human rights. His life would be lonely and full of suffering. And he did this because of faith in Jesus Christ who healed him.