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Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Good Shepherd, Part 2 (Love For The Flock)

The Good Shepherd, Part 2
(Love For The Flock)
John 10: 11-21

In November of 1932… only two months before the Nazi takeover of Germany… the protestant established churches of Germany held an election of new presbyters and church officials.

There were two opposing groups vying for control of the Old-Prussian Union Evangelical Church.  They were the Nazi supported and extremely nationalistic German Christian movement… and the Young Reformers who were supported by evangelical pastors such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Karl Barth.

Despite the efforts of Bonhoeffer, Barth and many other pastors… the rigged election gave controlling power within the church to the Nazi backed German Christian movement.

Bonhoeffer, and many others, remained vocal in their opposition to the direction that the Nazi party was taking their country… and their church.  Two days after Hitler was installed as Chancellor, Bonhoeffer delivered a radio address in which he attacked Hitler and warned Germany against slipping into an idolatrous cult of the Fuhrer (leader), who could very well turn out to be Verf├╝hrer (mis-leader, or seducer).  

And just as we see today… when those who are in control don’t like what’s being said, cut off your microphone… Bonhoeffer was also cut off the air in the middle of his sentence.

He was the first to raise his voice for church resistance to Hitler's persecution of the Jews, and he worked unceasingly behind the scenes to turn the German church away from its Fuhrer worship… back to Christ-centered biblical teaching and worship. 

Because of his continued defiance of the Nazi regime… and his efforts at its overthrow… Bonhoeffer was condemned to death on April 8th, 1945 by an SS judge.  It was a drumhead court-martial… no witnesses were called… no records of proceedings were kept… no defense allowed. 

At dawn the next day… April 9th, 1945… Dietrich Bonhoeffer was stripped of his clothing and led naked into the execution yard… where he was hung… just two weeks before soldiers from the United States 90th and 97th Infantry Divisions liberated the camp.

A student and friend of Bonhoeffer's, writes of a man who saw the execution: "I saw Pastor Bonhoeffer... kneeling on the floor praying fervently to God. I was most deeply moved by the way this lovable man prayed, so devout and so certain that God heard his prayer. At the place of execution, he again said a short prayer and then climbed the few steps to the gallows, brave and composed. His death ensued after a few seconds. In the almost fifty years that I worked as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God."

*  *  *  *  *

Folks… there are shepherds… and then there are shepherds!  Dietrich Bonhoeffer is an example of a shepherd who had a true love for… and devotion to the church of Jesus Christ.

He had a deep seated desire to preach the gospel… to build up the body of Christ and keep it focused on Jesus Christ as its Head.  He was an outspoken advocate of the downtrodden and persecuted… and despite living under the rule of an anti-Christian, Jew hating dictatorship… at the cost of his own life, he remained faithful to his calling and His Shepherd… to the very end.

But, there are other shepherds who are little more than hirelings.  They aren’t the owners of the sheep… but are hired to watch over them for a time.  They seek their own gain, and mind their own things.  They won’t risk their lives for the flock under their care… so when the going gets tough… they pack up and get going.

As we learned last week… Jesus contrasted Himself with the religious leaders of His day.  The Pharisees are likened unto the “strangers” in verse 5… the “thieves and robbers” of verse 8… and today, they’re the “hirelings” of verses 12 &13. 

Christ, on the other hand, revealed Himself as the “door” in verses 9 & 11… and today, we see that He is the Good Shepherd.

And as the Good Shepherd of the sheep… the first characteristic we see is that…

I. He Dies for Them

Joh 10:11-13 NKJV "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. (12) But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. (13) The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep.

Joh 10:17-18 NKJV "Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. (18) No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father."

Frequently… throughout the OT… the Lord God is shown to be the loving Shepherd over His sheep, Israel.  For instance… David declared to us in… Psa 23:1 NKJV The LORD is my shepherd…

And then the rest of that psalm describes the loving concern and divine providence the Lord shows toward His sheep.

In Psalm 80… Asaph calls God the Shepherd of IsraelPsa 80:1 NKJV …Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, You who lead Joseph like a flock…

And then through Isaiah, it’s revealed that… Isa 40:10-11 NKJV …the Lord GOD shall come with a strong hand, And His arm shall rule for Him; Behold, His reward is with Him, And His work before Him. (11) He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, And gently lead those who are with young.

But now… in this 4th “I am” statement of Christ that we see in John… He boldly tells us… and the Pharisees that He’s been speaking to throughout this discourse… that He is the “Good Shepherd!”

He’s set apart from all other shepherds.  He’s the perfect and authentic Shepherd who is in a class all to Himself.  He is preeminent above all others.

He isn’t like the Pharisees who were carnal and self-serving… They were shepherds who were more concerned with being seen and admired for their position… than anything else. 

They were like many shepherds are even today.  Shepherds who are only interested in advancing their own agendas… Shepherds who stir up racial strife in order to be seen by the world as “leaders”… Shepherds whose primary concern is the size of their bank accounts… their homes… their cars… their airplanes.

Shepherds who think that successful ministry is measured by the size of the church they pastor… rather than the lives truly changed by the grace of God.

No… Jesus is the Good Shepherd… not a self-serving one.  And that He uses this adjective… “good” in reference to Himself is also telling.  Because we see elsewhere when He’s approached by someone else who calls Him “good”… that He question their understanding of the word, and its implications.

He asked the rich young ruler… Mar 10:18 NKJV …"Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.

It’s as if He were saying, “Since only God is good… do you understand what you’re saying when you call me good?”

But Jesus is the faithful, “good Shepherd” who is not only willing to risk His life to protect His sheep… He actually will lay it down”.   In less than a year from this point, He’ll die at the hands of the Romans in a horrible, but completely voluntary and sacrificial death on the cross.

And though they may think that they’re the ones in control… that His death will be no different than the thousands of others they’ve already crucified… Jesus makes it clear who is actually in control when He says…

Joh 10:18 NKJV  No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father."

It couldn’t be said any clearer that His death would be completely voluntary.  Jesus would not only die for the salvation of all who will believe… but He will also take that life up again by rising on the 3rd day!

And that voluntary and vicarious death (meaning that He took our place)… was an actual atonement for our sins.  Now, a simple method I learned as a child to understand what atonement means is that it’s “At-One-Ment”.  We were meant to be one in fellowship and unity with God… but because of sin, we’ve been separated from that fellowship. 

Since there can be no forgiveness without the shedding of blood… Heb 9:22 NKJV And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.

The Second Person of the Trinity came to this earth in human form in order to become the sacrificial Lamb of God on our behalf to atone for our sins.  Rom 5:8 NKJV But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

As the “Good Shepherd”… He was willing to do all of this for “His own sheep”, because…

II. He Loves Them

Joh 10:14-15 NKJV I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. (15) As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.

You know… I’m so thankful for my wife.  There is no other person on this planet who knows me better than she does.  And you know what’s amazing about that?  She still loves me.  Even after knowing just about everything there is to know about me… she loves me anyway.

And here we see that in a very similar way that my wife knows me… Jesus knows me better still.  I can’t honestly say that I tell my wife every little detail of my life… and there are some things I’m pretty sure she can’t see in me.  But nothing is hidden from the Good Shepherd.

He knows me even better than I know myself.  And not only does He know me… He knows each and every sheep that the Father has given to Him.  He knows them by name… and He has the same affection and intimacy with them that He does with me!

The Good Shepherd knows His sheep.  Sometimes… we might be deceived.  Some that we think of as “sheep” are actually “goats”.  Some that we look at and think, “They’re outside the flock”… are actually in the “flock”.

For example… who would have thought that Lot would be considered a “righteous man”, if the Bible didn’t tell us that?  Also… when Jesus sent Judas out with the 12 to preach the gospel… none of the disciples knew that he was of the “devil”.

The Good Shepherd knows His sheep… and He tells us that His sheep know Him.  He says that He is… Joh 10:14 NKJV … known by My own.

Just as we spoke of last week… those who belong to Christ… recognize His voice… and they follow Him.  We follow the Shepherd because we know Him experientially and personally.  Through the new birth, He gave us new life and the He empowered us for that life by sending His Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

It doesn’t get more experiential or personal than that.  Jesus Christ isn’t simply some outstanding figure in history to us… He’s the savior of our souls.  And get this… the love and affection and intimate knowledge that exists between the Good Shepherd and His sheep is similar to that which exists between the Father and the Son!

Joh 10:14-15 NKJV … I know My sheep, and am known by My own. (15) As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father…

Isn’t that amazing!  As the Father knows the Son and the Son knows the Father… so also does Christ know His sheep and His sheep know Him.

Now I don’t claim to fully understand this.  I think this is one of those things that we’ll completely understand only when we’re with Him in glory.  But whether we understand it or not… it’s the Truth of the Bible.  There is an intimate relationship that exists between us that surpasses our understanding… but because of it… our Good Shepherd was willing to lay down His life for us.

Joh 10:15b NKJV … I lay down My life for the sheep.

“I give my life as an atoning sacrifice for their sins. I die in their place, to redeem them from sin, and danger, and death.”

And… now the third thing that the Shepherd does for His flock is that…

III. He Unites Them

Joh 10:16 NKJV And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.

Joh 10:19-21 NKJV Therefore there was a division again among the Jews because of these sayings. (20) And many of them said, "He has a demon and is mad. Why do you listen to Him?" (21) Others said, "These are not the words of one who has a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?"

The “other sheep” that Jesus is speaking of here, are the Gentiles.  They aren’t of the “fold” of Israel that He’s been speaking of… but are of another fold.  The Good Shepherd will gather “His own” (as He calls them in verse 3 & 4) out of these two folds and will combine them into “one flock” under Him as the “one Shepherd”.

That much is pretty straight forward and easy to understand.  However, I want to point out a couple other things that might not be quite as obvious.  The first is that Jesus tells us… Joh 10:16 NKJV And other sheep I have…

These aren’t other sheep that He’s “going to” have.  They aren’t sheep that He “shall” have.  No… He’s very clear in this.  These other sheep… “I have”.  They are as much a current possession of His… as eternal life is a current possession of ours!

He has them because they were given to Him by the Father, from eternity!  Eph 1:4-5 NKJV just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, (5) having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will

They can be just as much His current possession from eternity past as they are one day in the future because time and space don’t mean the same thing to the Creator of Time and Space as it does to us, who were created within Time and Space.

To us, a thousand years are like an eternity… but to our Creator… Psa 90:4 NKJV … a thousand years in Your sight Are like yesterday when it is past, And like a watch in the night.

Time and Space mean very little to the One who sits outside of Time and Space.

And the second thing I want to point out is that these other sheep that Jesus has as His current possession… He says… Joh 10:16 NKJV … them also I must bring

He not only has them… He must bring them.  There’s no uncertainty here.  There’s no possibility of failure.  Those who believewill be saved… because from the foundation of the world… the Son covenanted with the Father to redeem “His own”… and that they would hear His voice… and that they would be brought into one flock.

And that not a single one of them would be lost!  Joh 6:37, 39 NKJV (37) All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. (39) This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.

And as is always the case… both then… and now… the teachings of Jesus will cause division.  Those who aren’t His… will dismiss His words without a thought.  They’ll ridicule Him and His followers.  They’ll reject out-of-hand, the salvation He offers.  And they’ll call Him a liar… a fraud… a charlatan…

But there will be some others… who aren’t so blindly biased.  And that voice of the Shepherd… that used to be muddled and garbled in their ears… will become clearer and clearer… until finally, one day, they hear Him say...

“Follow me”.

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Man Born Blind, Part 3 To See Or Not To See

The Man Born Blind, Part 3
To See Or Not To See
John 9:35-41

Last week, we saw that the man born blind… stood his ground really well against those who not only wanted to derail his newfound faith… but they were primarily seeking something that they’d be able to use against Jesus.

But folks… a man with an encounter with Jesus Christ, isn’t easily swayed by men who only have preconceived notions… or faulty logic.  They could claim, all they wanted, that he had never been blind—but the truth and testimony of witnesses who had known him and seen him for years would destroy that accusation.

They could also claim that it was God… but not Jesus, who had performed this miracle… because Jesus was a sinner.  They could say this all they wanted… but again… the truth… and this man’s flawless logic, would show them wrong.  After all… how could Jesus be a sinner when He’s done something like this that had never been done before?

This man had sight given to him.  It can’t even be said that his sight had been restored… because that would imply that he had it at some point but lost it.  No… sight was given to him… and it was sight as fresh and new as the sight of a newborn baby when he first opens his eyes.  And these brand new… new born eyes could see far better than the eyes of his inquisitors.

Because not only could he now actually see the world around him… but the eyes of his heart had also been opened at the same time.  He now saw spiritual things that had been hidden from him before, and because of this… he had the wherewithal to withstand the questions and accusations that were thrown at him.

He had only a little bit of light in comparison to the Jewish leaders who were interrogating him—yet he remained faithful to that measure that had been given to him… and now, more would be given.

Mat 13:12 NKJV For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.

By honoring God… and remaining true to the One who gives sight to the blind… the Lord would honor him.  Christ would give him more revelation of Himself… than He had given to anyone… except maybe the Samaritan woman. 

He would very soon… openly declare His deity to this man by revealing Himself to him as the Son of God.

I. To See

Joh 9:35-38 NKJV Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him, He said to him, "Do you believe in the Son of God?" (36) He answered and said, "Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?" (37) And Jesus said to him, "You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you." (38) Then he said, "Lord, I believe!" And he worshiped Him.

I want you to take notice of the first few words of this passage.  It says… Joh 9:35a NKJV Jesus heard that they had cast him out  

How like it is of our Savior that once He begins a work in someone… He stays tuned in to them.  He may have removed Himself from the picture for a while… and allowed this new creature to face some difficulties… to go through some trials… but He was aware of what he was going through.  “Jesus heard…” He was cognizant of this man’s tribulations… just as He is cognizant of ours.

Heb 4:15 NKJV For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Also take note that this man was “cast out” of this religion that had turned it’s back on God… all because he wouldn’t exchange the truth that he knew… for a lie that was being fed to him.  And because he remained faithful to Christ… he becomes the first of many in a long line of believers who prefer the truth of Jesus Christ over the lies of false religion.

Folks… it is far better to be cast out… or to come out… because of faithfulness to Christ… than to remain in a Laodicean system which will one day be spewed out.

Rev 3:16 NKJV So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.

I’d much rather be on the outside with Christ… than on the inside with posers who don’t know Him…. How about you?

*  *  *  *  *

So after taking the initiative in seeking this man out twice… once to make him whole… and then to find him after he’s been excommunicated… Jesus next asks him the most important question you can ask anyone…Joh 9:35b NKJV  …"Do you believe in the Son of God?"

It’s the question that’s put forth to the conscience of every man, woman and child… and the answer given will determine everyone’s eternal destiny.

Joh 9:35b NKJV  …"Do you believe in the Son of God?"  Or as some manuscripts say, “Son of Man”… It really makes no difference because both are declarations of His deity…

So what does it mean to believe?  Is it the same kind of belief that I have that a chair will hold me?  Or my belief that a plane I’m in won’t fall out of the sky?

Or is it the kind of belief that one gains through a learned creed that we’ve memorized by heart?  Or the belief that I learned as a child because I was taught that “Jesus loved me” in Sunday School… but now… after being away from the church for years and seldom thinking about Christ… I still have a nominal belief because I haven’t replaced it with anything else?

People… there’s a difference between the knowledge you possess in your head… and the passion that rules your heart.  The belief we’re speaking of here is a true and lively assurance that Jesus Christ is indeed the Son of God… who is the promised Messiah who was to come into the world!

It’s the trusting assurance that He will do what He has promised… that He will fill all who come to Him with “living water” so they’ll never thirst again.  That He will open our eyes and illuminate our souls with the knowledge of Him as the “light of the world”, so that we’ll not walk in darkness anymore.

It’s displayed in humble obedience… by faithfully going to wash in the pool of Siloam when He tells us to.  And it’s the unwavering assurance that all who truly believe in Him… will be saved… so therefore I don’t have to earn salvation… it’s the gift of God… lest any man should boast!

This blind man (I wish I knew his name so I could quit calling him that…) had begun to display this kind of “belief” in Jesus… through his obedience to Jesus’ command and then his refusal to deny Him before men.  But he still had to answer the question… just as all of us have to answer it one day…

But the knowledge he had was still limited.  He still didn’t know who Jesus was.  He wanted to believe in the Son of God… He was ready to believe, because of that work of grace he had experienced… but how would he be able to recognize Him?  So he asks… Joh 9:36b NKJV … "Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?"

Both times he stood in front of the Sanhedrin, he had been bold and confident… because as it says in… Pro 28:1b NKJV … the righteous are bold as a lion.  But when he stands before the Son of God, a change comes over him… he’s meek and lowly and calls Him, “Lord”. 

And he’s rewarded with an explicit declaration of Christ’s divine Sonship.  He’s told…Joh 9:37 NKJV … "You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you."

Now, when Isaiah saw Christ in His heavenly glory… he fell to his face and cried out… Isa 6:5 NKJV …"Woe is me, for I am undone! … For my eyes have seen the King, The LORD of hosts."

And so this man… when his newborn eyes beheld Christ in His earthly humility… All the remaining remnants of spiritual darkness were dispelled… and he saw clearly who Jesus is… Joh 9:38 NKJV Then he said, "Lord, I believe!" And he worshiped Him.

The inevitable result of the revelation of Jesus Christ upon the soul of the repentant sinner is always worship.

On this passage, about worshipping Christ… Charles Spurgeon wrote, “…blessed be his holy name, he is God; and we feel that it is the supreme delight of our being to worship him.  We cannot veil our face with our wings, for we have none; but we do veil them with his own robe of righteousness whenever we approach him.  We cannot cover our feet with our wings, as the angels do; but we do take his blood and his righteousness both as a covering for our feet, and as wings with which we fly up to him; and though as yet we have no crowns to cast at his dear feet, yet, if we have any honor, any good repute, any grace, anything that is comely, anything that is honest, we lay it all at his feet, and cry, ‘Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake.”

But those who continue in their unbelief… despite the evidence that’s right in front of them… are those who choose…

II. Not To See

Joh 9:39-41 NKJV And Jesus said, "For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind." (40) Then some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words, and said to Him, "Are we blind also?" (41) Jesus said to them, "If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, 'We see.' Therefore your sin remains.

So… what’s this mean?  When Jesus says here… Joh 9:39-41 NKJV …For judgment I have come into this world

Isn’t this a contradiction of what He told us back in… Joh 3:17 NKJV For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

And to make it even more confusing… we also see in the 5th chapter of John where Jesus says that He will “judge” the world… Joh 5:22 NKJV For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son

So what’s He talking about?  Did He come to judge the world?  Did He come to save it?  I know it seems confusing, but I think that these are two complementary truths… two sides of the same reality… or two sides of the same coin, if you would.

You see… as John MacArthur points out… “to reject Jesus’ peace… is to receive His punishment.  To reject His grace is to receive His justice.  To reject His mercy is to receive His wrath.  To reject His love is to receive His anger.  To reject His forgiveness is to receive His judgment.”

Jesus did come to save the world… not to condemn it.  Joh 12:47 NKJV And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.

But the fact remains that all those who reject Christ… and refuse to believe the gospel condemn themselves… and will be judged by that which they rejected.

Joh 12:48 NKJV  He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him--the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.

So what we’re seeing here is that the object of His mission on earth is salvation… but the moral effect is judgment…  All those who reject the object (salvation)… will receive the effect of that rejection (judgment).

The simple fact that the perfect and sinless Son of God came into the world means the salvation of some… but the judgment of others.

Joh 9:39b NKJV …that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.

All of those who recognize their blindness and believe in Christ… will be made to see.  Their spiritual eyes will be opened and their minds will be illuminated by the “light of the world”.

But all those who claim that they see already… on their own… and apart from Christ… have deceived themselves and will remain blind.  Like we spoke of last week… “None so blind as those that will not see.”

People don’t like to hear it… but there may come a time in this life, where God just leaves you alone.  Take another look at Romans, chapter 1, verses 18-32.  Count how many times you see the phrase, “God gave them up”, or “God gave them over to”.

These are describing people who have become so arrogant and prideful that the grace of God no longer has any effect.  Therefore, God will loose the reins and “give them their head”.  He’ll allow them to do what they want, without constraint, because… 1Pe 5:5c NKJV … "GOD RESISTS THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE."

*  *  *  *  *
And as is usually the case… wherever Jesus went… there were some Pharisees who followed along.  Some were possibly like Nicodemus… who had a sincere desire to hear what Christ said.  But undoubtedly… others tagged along to refute His teachings whenever possible… and to gather evidence to be used against Him.

We’re not absolutely sure which group it is that speaks up now… but from Jesus’ response… I take it to be that they were from the 2nd group.  Those who were tagging along simply to build a case against Him.

Joh 9:40 NKJV  Then some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words, and said to Him, "Are we blind also?"

Their question, “Are we blind also?” implies that they expect a negative answer.  After all… the Pharisees were the elite…  They were the self-proclaimed experts in the Law…  They were disciples of Moses… and the off-spring of Abraham.  Surely, Jesus couldn’t possibly be saying that they were spiritually blind like the masses of common people!

But as we’ve seen already… those who are prideful, can’t see their own need.  The person who is so wrapped up in their own self-righteousness is incapable of recognizing their need of a Savior.  Their hearts and minds are darkened, and they refuse to acknowledge that maybe they don’t know all that they think they know.

So the answer that Jesus gives them isn’t what they expected at all.  They wanted Him to acknowledge their self-righteousness… and to tell everyone that they were ok… that they were on the right path.  But He can’t do that… because they’re not on the right path.

When He tells them… Joh 9:41 NKJV …If you were blind, you would have no sin…  He is in no way excusing ignorance.  Just as the person who has a terminal disease, but doesn’t know it… will still die from that disease… so also the person who is ignorant of sin… will be held accountable for that sin.

Instead of excusing ignorance… He’s telling them that ignorance is easily cured.  Those who are blind… know they’re blind… and pray for sight.  Those who are ignorant… know they’re ignorant… and pray for truth.

But the Pharisees aren’t ignorant… They’re arrogant.  They don’t believe they’re blind…  Joh 9:41 NKJV  …but now you say, 'We see.' Therefore your sin remains.

If they weren’t so full of themselves, they’d be able to recognize their lack… and the salvation that Christ offers would be theirs for the taking.  But because of their pride and self-sufficiency… they don’t see their need for anything Jesus has to offer them… Therefore… their sin remains.

*  *  *  *  *
Ignorant, or arrogant… it seems to pretty much describe our world today.  Further evidence of the “timelessness” of the Word of God.  People are the same… regardless of the century they lived in. 

Two thousand years ago… Ten thousand years ago… Today.  People are either ignorant or arrogant.  And as I said … ignorance can be cured with the truth. 

The truth is that Christ came into this world to save your sinful soul from the fires of hell. 

The truth is that if you believe in Him… repent… and trust in Him… you will be saved.

The question that Jesus asked the former blind man… is the question that He asks you today. 

Joh 9:35b NKJV  …"Do you believe in the Son of God?" 

The Good Shepherd, Part 1 (The Doors)

The Good Shepherd, Part 1
(The Doors)
John 10:1-10

The other night, my wife, Terri was reading the 9th and 10th chapters of John… and she asked me, “Is this still the 8th day?”  Now… this might seem like an odd question to some… but I knew exactly what she was asking.

You see… the 8th day she was referring to was the day after the 7 day festival of Tabernacles.  As I mentioned in the “Christ at Tabernacles” series… chapter 8 begins the day after Tabernacles…  The festival is officially over, and everyone is packing up and beginning their journey home.

At the beginning of chapter 8, Christ returns to the Temple in the early morning and begins to teach once again.  He’s interrupted almost immediately by the Pharisees with a woman they caught in adultery.  After dealing with this… He tells the Jews that He is the “Light of the World”… which then led into another lengthy argument with the religious leaders.

The grand finale of this argument is when He declares to them that He is none other than the Yahweh of the OT by saying, “…before Abraham was, I AM.”  The Pharisees, of course, were infuriated and began picking up stones to throw at Him… but as the Scriptures tell us… He “hid Himself” from them and “going through the midst of them”… He “went out of the temple.”

Now… the end of chapter 8 just seems to flow smoothly into chapter 9, where we read...  Joh 9:1 KJV  And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.

So it seems to indicate that this is still the same day… That as Jesus left the temple… He saw this man (remember… Bob?), and took a few moments to heal him.  And this healing, of course, being done on a Sabbath, led to a couple more run ins with the Jews. 

The first run in is Bob’s defense of Christ before men… and then his excommunication.  The second is Jesus revealing Himself as the Son of God and then telling the Jews that though they claimed to “see”… they were really “blind”.

Now… in chapter 10, Jesus is still talking to the same Jews of chapter 9…  There’s no pause or break in this confrontation… but He does change His approach by turning away from the direct question and answer and accusation… to the more indirect use of illustration to make His point.

You see, all through His ministry, Jesus has warned against following the Pharisees because they were… Mat 15:14 KJV  … blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.

He called them hypocrites and false teachers who… Luk 11:39 KJV  … clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness.

And that they would… Mat 23:15 KJV  … compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.

These were educated and trained men who claimed to be the “leaders” of the people.  They were “rulers” of the synagogues and temple.  They were the teachers and the shepherds of the sheep

But just as they were actually “blind guides”, and “hypocrites” and “false teachers”… Jesus also makes it clear that they were also false shepherds who forced their way into the fold rather than entering in the proper manner…

Which is through…

I. The Door of the Sheepfold

Joh 10:1-2 KJV  Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.  (2)  But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.

The first door of three doors that we come to in this illustration is the door of the sheepfold”… but before I go any further with that… it might be better if I first explain what a “sheepfold” is. 

Today, in our part of the world, we’d call it a “pen” or a “corral”.  The difference being that the “corrals” we’re familiar with are mainly designed to keep animals in.  They don’t keep thieves or predators out too well.  They usually aren’t too tall for someone to climb over… and they also have large spaces between the crossbars that wolves, coyotes, or others animals can get through.

In contrast to this… the ancient, Middle Eastern “sheepfold”, was designed to have walls that were of a more solid nature… with only one opening that acted as the door.   The walls would be made of whatever the most readily available materials were… wood… or mud brick, and they would stand anywhere between 7 to 10 feet high.    

Each village would have a large communal sheepfold for the shepherds to bring their flocks in for safety at night.  They would leave their sheep in the sheepfold under the care of the porter, who was hired to watch and protect the sheep while the shepherds slept. 

If the sheepfold had a door or gate, the porter would lay on guard, through the night… to protect against thieves or robbers or wild animals that might breech the walls in some way.  If the doorway was just an opening… he’d lay on the ground in the opening… keeping the sheep in… and predators out.

Then, in the morning, the porter would allow each shepherd to enter through the door to call his sheep out to pasture.

Now this illustration is filled with symbolism.  And as an explanation of one of the symbols… Jesus tells us that He’s the “door” of the sheepfold.  The “door” is the rightful… or lawful way for the shepherd to gain access to his sheep.  And as we’ll see… Jesus is not only the door… but as the Shepherd… He’s also the only one who has the right to go through the door.  Any others who climb over the walls… or try to break through… are thieves or robbers.

Some say that the symbolism of the sheepfold is that it’s Heaven… but I don’t think this is the case because thieves and robbers can’t force their way into Heaven.  Others say that the sheepfold is the Church… but I don’t think this is right either because the Shepherd doesn’t lead his sheep out of the Church… as He does from this “fold”.

No, I think that this sheepfold here represents Judaism… which the Shepherd gathers “His sheep” and leads them out of into “green pastures”.

So as the “door of the sheepfold”… Jesus presented himself to the Jews in the rightful and lawful way… demonstrating that He not only fulfilled all the prophecies concerning the Messiah who was to come… but that He also fulfilled the law perfectly.

As the promised Messiah, then, Jesus was… Mat 15:24 KJV  … not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

In other words… as the Messiah, Jesus was sent by his Father to the Jews.  That was His primary ministry.  To bring God’s people… His elect… out of an apostate religion ruled by men and tradition… and into… or rather “back to” the understanding that… Gal 3:11 KJV  …The just shall live by faith.

So… when the Pharisees “cast out” the beggar… the reality was that the Shepherd was leading him out of the barren wasteland of Judaism and into the green pastures of Christianity.

Now… the second door that we see here is…

II. The Door of the Sheep

Joh 10:3-7 KJV  To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.  (4)  And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.  (5)  And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.  (6)  This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them.  (7)  Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.

The Shepherd of the sheep is given entrance into the sheepfold by the porter… and the sheep that He calls out are “His own” and He knows them by “name”.  Now… this is an important distinction to understand, because when the Shepherd entered the sheepfold… His call went out for all to hear.  But only “His own” responded.

And they responded because… Joh 6:37a KJV All that the Father giveth me shall come to me…  And also because they were… Eph 1:4a KJV  … chosen… in him before the foundation of the world

Those who are called, respond because… Joh 10:3-4 KJV … he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.  (4)  And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.    

An illustration of being called by the Shepherd and recognizing His voice is seen in the apostle, Matthew as he sat at his table, collecting taxes.  The Shepherd saw him, called him… he recognized His voice when He said… Mat 9:9 KJV  …Follow me. And he arose, and followed him.

As Jesus passed through Jericho, He saw Zacchaeus and called him by name… Luk 19:5 KJV …Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.  Zacchaeus heard the Shepherd’s voice and responded immediately… Luk 19:6 KJV …he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.

In John 1:43-49 we read the story of how Philip heard the Shepherd’s call and responded by not only following Him… but by bringing Nathanael with him… who also recognized the Shepherd’s voice and followed.
In the coming weeks we’ll be reading about Lazarus… who heard the Shepherd’s voice from beyond the tomb.  He heard… he responded... and came forth!
The Scriptures are filled with examples of God’s elect, hearing the call of their Shepherd and then following Him.  But the greatest example we know of isn’t found in the Scriptures at all… but in our own lives.  Every person in here today who trusts in Christ as their Lord and Savior has heard the voice of the Shepherd of their souls… and responded in faith.
And so it goes throughout the ages.  A general call goes out for all to hear and believe the Gospel… Mat 20:16 KJV …for many be called, but few chosen.  But only those who are “His own” will respond.

Not only will they respond to the Shepherd’s voice… but they won’t respond to anyone else’s.  Matter-of-fact… their response to a stranger might be running away.

Joh 10:5 KJV  And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. 

A mark of being one of Christ’s sheep is that they will not follow the “false” shepherds, or the stranger.  Now this does not mean that they will never be deceived or respond to a false shepherd… because the Devil is highly skilled in mimicking the Master’s voice… But it does mean that if they are of Christ’s flock… when He calls… they will hear… and they will follow.

(I’d like to take a couple minutes and show you a video I found on YouTube…)

(Show YouTube video clip) 

Isn’t that amazing?  I also read a story that during WWI, some Turkish soldiers tried to steal a flock of sheep from a hillside near Jerusalem.  The shepherd, who had been sleeping… woke up to find his flock driven off.  He couldn’t recapture them by force… so he called to them from a distance with his distinctive call.  The sheep heard, and came running to their rightful owner…  The soldiers couldn’t do anything to keep them from returning to their shepherd’s voice.

Joh 10:6 KJV This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them.

Can you see the contrast in this verse to everything else we’ve just been talking about?  While Christ’s sheep recognize His voice and follow… those who aren’t His… don’t understand” the things that are plainly said to them.  To those who are not Christ’s sheep… His voice sounds like the voice of the mother or the teacher in the Peanuts cartoons. (Wah…wah…wah, wah)

They can hear something… Joh 10:6 KJV … but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them.

So as we’ve seen… Jesus is the “door” and the “door of the sheep” who presented Himself as the only rightful and legal way “His own” can exit their apostate religion.  But now we also see that He is…

III. The Door of Salvation                                        

Joh 10:8-10 KJV  All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them.  (9)  I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.  (10)  The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

Almost universally throughout the Scriptures… whenever you see the words “thieves” and “robbers”… the words imply deception and violence.  “Thieves” are generally those who use deception to steal things… and “robbers” take from others through violence or threats of violence.

Now we know that people like Moses, Joshua, David and the prophets… just to name a few… can’t be included in the classification as a “thief” or “robber”.  So the word, “all”, that Jesus uses here simply can’t be taken absolutely.

Not every teacher or shepherd of Israel who came before Christ was a “thief” or “robber”… obviously.  And if this is case… then who is He speaking of?  Well, I’m thinking that He’s speaking of the Scribes, Pharisees and Sadduccees… the religious leaders who had perverted the Jewish faith into it’s current, apostate form.

Few things are as despicable to Christ and should be exposed, opposed and rebuked by the Church today… as false teachers of false religion.  Some of the strongest words ever spoken by Jesus and the Apostles, were spoken against false prophets and false shepherds.

For example… Jesus said… Luk 11:52 KJV  Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.

The Apostle Paul said… 2Co 11:13 KJV For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.

Peter called them… 2Pe 2:17 KJV  … wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever.

There is never anything good said about false shepherds or false teachers in the Bible.  They try to lead the flock astray through their lies and deception… and they hinder the spreading of God’s truth and the revelation of Jesus Christ.

They are to be exposedopposed… and rebuked by the Church, and there can be “no quarter” given when the souls of men are at stake!

Jesus tells us in verse 9… Joh 10:9 KJV  I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. 

Earlier He’s revealed to us as the “door” through which “his own” escape false religion.  Now… He says… “if any man enter in, he shall be saved”

Up to this point… He’s been speaking of the “elect” of Israel and leading them out of Judaism…  Now, He’s looking forward to the “elect” among the Gentiles!  He’s no longer only the door out of false religion… but He’s also the door into true religion and salvation.

And that door is thrown wide open to “any man” who will “enter in”.  To the Jew first… and also to the Greek is the way Paul put it.  Jesus is telling us that anyone who enters through Him… will be saved… without exception… and that He will lead them to pasture… He will provide all their needs, wherever they go.

He does this because… Joh 10:10b KJV …I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

Folks… this abundant life that Jesus promises to those who “enter in”… has nothing to do with the “health and wealth”, or “name it, claim it” false doctrines that have infected the Church of Jesus Christ.

The abundant life that Jesus promises to those who “enter in” is salvation!  It’s the matchless and free gift of eternal life that exceeds all expectation.  It’s eternal life… right now… with more abundant evidence of it in our lives than was displayed under the previous covenant.  And it means having a stronger faith in it, and a more lively hope of it.

And as I said before… it includes the promise that no matter where we go… or what we do… He will always be there as our Shepherd… providing all our needs and protecting us from any harm that may come our way… as we… “go in and out, and find pasture”

Oh the wonderful and marvelous and infinite grace of God, that’s given to all who hear the Shepherd’s voice and enter into the eternal life that He so freely offers.

And it’s available to all who respond in faith… when they hear the Shepherd call their name.

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Man Born Blind, Part 2 Persistent Unbelief

The Man Born Blind, Part 2
Persistent Unbelief
John 9:13-34

The 82nd Psalm, is a psalm by Asaph where the Lord God is scolding earthly, human judges for not doing their jobs.  Instead of judging fairly and righteously… they instead show favoritism toward the rich and the wicked.

In verse 5, we read… Psa 82:5 NKJV They do not know, nor do they understand; They walk about in darkness…

Matthew Henry, in his commentary on this verse, wrote… They know not because they will not understand. None so blind as those that will not see. They have baffled their own consciences, and so they walk on in darkness, not knowing nor caring what they do nor whither they go.”

“None so blind as those that will not see.”  This is a well known and well worn quote.  Nearly everyone has heard it.  Many have used it in some form or another.  Few know that its origin is biblically related.

“None so blind as those that will not see.”  It speaks of those people who refuse to acknowledge the truthfulness of something… regardless of the evidence.  It speaks of pre-conceived notions that people stubbornly cling to in the face of knowledge or evidence to the contrary.

For example… the lack of any real scientific evidence that proves global warming… doesn’t hinder the global warming faithful in the least.  As they have been caught doing in the past… when there’s no proof, there’s no problem… they’ll just make it up.

Another example of pre-conceived notions that people stubbornly cling to… despite evidence to the contrary is evolution.  The truth is… there is no observable scientific evidence for macroevolution… or in other words… the evolution from one distinct “kind” of organism to another “kind”.

Neither is there any fossil record that shows any sort of transition from one “creature” into another “creature”…  Paleontologist, Niles Eldredge, who is, by the way, a very “bitter” opponent of creation science, has acknowledged that… “There is little, if any, evidence of evolutionary transitions in the fossil record.  Instead, things remain the same!”

Yet… despite the lack of evidence… and his acknowledgment of that lack… he stubbornly remains an evolutionist.

“None so blind as those that will not see.”  Atheists claim that there is no such Being as God.  Where the Christian believes that in the beginning there was a Supreme Being who created everything… the Atheist would say that in the beginning there was nothing… that exploded into something.

They will adamantly claim that the notion of a Supreme Being is an ancient superstition from our cave dwelling days that must be cast off in order for mankind to make any real progress…  When the truth is that all evidence shows that when God is taken out of the picture… man doesn’t “progress” at all… he “regresses”.

An illustration of this would be a garden.  If the gardener is removed from the picture… will the garden progress?  Or will it regress into a tangled mess of weeds, brambles and plants that have gone to seed?

When God is removed… then there is no “ultimate moral authority”.  Morality then becomes defined by what I want at any point in time.  I can do whatever I want… and change my “morality” as needed.  I can murder.  I can rob.  I can rape.  Anything I want to do is ok because I am my own moral authority. 

Atheist existentialist, Jean-Paul Sartre claimed that “If God does not exist… man is in consequence forlorn, for he cannot find anything to depend upon, either within or outside himself” 

The atheist would have us remove God from our existence… not because he has evidence that God doesn’t exist… but because he simply doesn’t want Him to exist.  Because if those Theists are right, and God, as the Law Giver, does exist… then there is an ultimate right and wrong… and Man will be held accountable.

But… I don’t want to be held accountable… so I will just choose to “not believe”.  This is exactly what atheist, and comic artist, Martin Rowson, said when he wrote that even… “If God proved he existed, I still wouldn’t believe in him… I don’t believe in God, not because I can’t but because I don’t want to”

Finally… an atheist who admits the truth that...  he doesn’t believe, because he doesn’t want to.

Rowson… along with these others… are examples of people who stubbornly cling to pre-conceived notions… despite evidence to the contrary.  Their unbelief is “persistent”, and has so infected them that they’re unwilling to hear an opposing view.

And this attitude of willful and stubborn unbelief isn’t unique in this enlightened age that we live in.  As we can see from our passage today… Jesus, and any others who believed in Him and followed Him… had to deal with the malignant unbelief and preconceived notions of the Jewish authorities in almost every encounter they had with them.

After healing the man who had been born blind… Jesus steps out of the picture while the newly healed man faces an inquisition concerning this miracle that’s been done to him.

And it’s during this initial questioning by the Jewish authorities, that their unbelief is revealed as an…

I. Inconsistent Unbelief

Joh 9:13-16 NKJV They brought him who formerly was blind to the Pharisees. (14) Now it was a Sabbath when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes. (15) Then the Pharisees also asked him again how he had received his sight. He said to them, "He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and I see." (16) Therefore some of the Pharisees said, "This Man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath." Others said, "How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?" And there was a division among them.

Once again, John makes a special point of telling us that this healing occurred on a Sabbath.  And it’s possible that the Jews might not have even taken notice of this healing if it weren’t for that. 

Now, these Jews that are questioning him, had probably passed by him many times, and hadn’t given him a second glance…  Some may have tossed a coin into his cup now and then to show everyone how generous they were. 

But most of them, probably walked right on by… resting in their confidence that he was blind because he was a sinner and deserved this punishment.

But now… he’s not a blind beggar anymore.  Now he’s something else… something they have to take notice of.  Because what’s happened to him… if it really happened… occurred on a Sabbath.

So, why would Jesus deliberately and consistently provoke the religious leaders by disregarding their Sabbath regulations?  Well first, He did it to show His divine authority as the Lord of the Sabbath. 

He also did it to emphasize the oppressive nature of the Jewish Sabbath regulations.  Through their traditions they had turned a beautiful day of rest and worship into a burden that few people could bear. 

But Jesus had already taught back in… Mar 2:27 NKJV …The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.

But because this healing… and the method used… occurred on a Sabbath… a division arose among the Pharisees.  You see, this division came about because there were two opposing schools of thought at the time… which were lead by two different teachers…

Rabbi Shammai taught his followers that “anyone who breaks the law is a sinner”, regardless of the outcome.  But Rabbi Hillel taught more from an “end result” viewpoint.  In other words… if God has blessed someone to heal or be healed on a Sabbath… then that is evidence that they didn’t sin.

So, their unbelief is inconsistent.  Some say He’s a sinner… but others wonder if that’s actually the case… both though, persist in their unbelief… showing us…

II. Intractable Unbelief

Joh 9:17-24 NKJV They said to the blind man again, "What do you say about Him because He opened your eyes?" He said, "He is a prophet." (18) But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind and received his sight, until they called the parents of him who had received his sight. (19) And they asked them, saying, "Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?" (20) His parents answered them and said, "We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; (21) but by what means he now sees we do not know, or who opened his eyes we do not know. He is of age; ask him. He will speak for himself." (22) His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had agreed already that if anyone confessed that He was Christ, he would be put out of the synagogue. (23) Therefore his parents said, "He is of age; ask him." (24) So they again called the man who was blind, and said to him, "Give God the glory! We know that this Man is a sinner."

The fact that Jesus had performed a miracle was obvious.  The evidence was standing right in front of them… and they’re at a loss to explain it.  And the proof of that is that they ask the beggar himself… Joh 9:17 NKJV …"What do you say about Him because He opened your eyes?"

These Pharisees were so arrogant and full of themselves that they would never seek the counsel or opinion of someone like this beggar, if they could come up with some explanation themselves.  But in this division that arose among them, they turned and asked his opinion… but they didn’t like what they heard, at all.

Joh 9:17b NKJV … "He is a prophet."  I want you to take note of this mans progression in understanding.  When he’s first asked about the person who gave him sight… he responded with, “a man called Jesus” (9:11).  But now, Jesus has grown in his estimation to “a prophet” (9:17)… which is probably the highest designation he could think of, because a prophet is one who speaks for God.

But we can see his spiritual growth continue throughout the chapter, because in (9:27), Jesus is one who would be followed by disciples… and then in (9:33), He’s “from God”… and then finally in (9:38), Jesus is “Lord” and is worthy of worship.

You know… a similar progression is seen in our own understanding, isn’t it?  When I finally gave my life to Christ… I had no real understanding of who He was.  Even though I was a preacher’s kid and raised in the church… I had been away from Him for so long… that my life and understanding was a crowded and confused mess of brambles and weeds… like that garden I mentioned earlier.

All I had been told was that God still loved me… regardless of what I had done… and that if I repented of my sins… He would forgive me.  My repentance and faith was toward God… But in His infinite grace and mercy… He continued that work He had begun in me, and brought me to a fuller… and more mature understanding of what He had done for me through His Son.

And now my faith is in the Son of God who paid the debt I couldn’t pay… and washed me clean with His blood.

And this poor beggar’s faith and understanding is growing in a similar manner... but the Jews aren’t.  They’re firm and intractable in their unbelief.  And because they refuse to give Jesus any acknowledgment… they decide instead that this man had never really been blind at all.  Joh 9:18 NKJV But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind and received his sight

So they bring his parents into the picture in order to verify… or disprove his claim.  But because of their fear of being put out of the synagogue… all they get out of them is… “Yes. He’s our son.”  “Yes. He was born blind.”  “We don’t know how this happened.  Ask him.”

Apparently, the beggar had been removed from the room while his parents were interrogated, but now he’s brought back in for a second round.  And they tell him to… Joh 9:24b NKJV …"Give God the glory! We know that this Man is a sinner."

Now it could be that they still thought he was lying… so they invoke God… in the same way that Joshua did with Achan, after the defeat at Ai.  Or it could be that they’re willing to acknowledge that he’s received his sight… but give God the glory… not Jesus… because He’s a sinner…

Like the atheist who looks at the beauty and order in the universe, and says it’s due to random “chance”… these Pharisee’s also refuse to acknowledge what’s right in front of them.

Their unbelief is not only inconsistent and intractable… it’s also…

III. Irrational Unbelief

Joh 9:25-30 NKJV He answered and said, "Whether He is a sinner or not I do not know. One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see." (26) Then they said to him again, "What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?" (27) He answered them, "I told you already, and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become His disciples?" (28) Then they reviled him and said, "You are His disciple, but we are Moses' disciples. (29) We know that God spoke to Moses; as for this fellow, we do not know where He is from." (30) The man answered and said to them, "Why, this is a marvelous thing, that you do not know where He is from; yet He has opened my eyes!

The fear that his parents displayed toward the Pharisees… isn’t seen in their son.  And this is really unusual, I think… because the threat of excommunication would typically cause most people to shut up and defer to the religious leaders.  The synagogue and the temple were the life of the Jewish nation.  To be cut off from them by excommunication would be similar to becoming a leper.

But with this young man… we can see not only a growing faith… but also a growing animosity toward these men who obviously consider themselves his “betters”.  Because first, he refuses to agree with them that Jesus is a sinner. 

Then, we can almost hear a rising level of frustration in his voice when he said… Joh 9:27 NKJV … "I told you already, and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become His disciples?"

And then finally his animosity and frustration is vented with sarcasm… Joh 9:30 NKJV … "Why, this is a marvelous thing, that you do not know where He is from; yet He has opened my eyes!

And I wondered what would cause this man to display such boldness and lack of concern?  And I came up with two thoughts on the matter.  The first being that he had already been an outcast all his life.

He was blind from birth… defective… and most people thought of him as a sinner.  He sat on the side of the road begging from the day he was weaned.  He had no place in the synagogue… never did.  So the threat of being “cut off” by these Pharisees didn’t carry much weight.

But beyond this… we can see that he had something that was even more important than a place in the synagogue…  He had something no one could ever take away… his testimony.  Joh 9:25b NKJV …One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.

All the sarcasm… anger… arguments… or threats mean very little to someone who’s had an encounter with Jesus Christ.  You can say whatever you want… but when the Son of God opens your eyes and you can now see the glory of God in the face of Christ… nothing is going to change your mind.

And this so frustrated and angered the Pharisees that they began heaping verbal abuse on him.  And this is always the sign of a defeated opponent.  When the name calling begins… you know they “got nutt’n”.  When you’re called a racist… a hater… a homophobe… an islamaphobe… a “whatever”… you know they’re at their wits end.

So these Pharisees pull themselves up by their self-righteous bootstraps, and fall back on Moses… claiming to be his disciples… but… Joh 9:29 NKJV… this fellow, we do not know where He is from.

Stubborn rejection of facts is irrational… just as it’s irrational for those who have heard and know the gospel truth… to continue to cling to their sin and unbelief.

It’s stubborn… it’s irrational… it’s…

IV. Insolent Unbelief

Joh 9:31-34 NKJV Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him. (32) Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind. (33) If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing." (34) They answered and said to him, "You were completely born in sins, and are you teaching us?" And they cast him out.

The beggar becomes the teacher.  He turns their own logic against them because they said that they knew that Jesus was a “sinner”.  But if this is so… then how did it come about that God worked this miracle of miracles by Him?

No one has ever opened the eyes of someone who had been born blind… “Since the world began…”  Not even Moses.

If “this man” were the sinner they claimed Him to be… then God wouldn’t hear Him!  Even the scriptures tell us that there’s a link between a person’s righteousness and God’s responsiveness to his prayer…

Pro 15:29 NKJV The LORD is far from the wicked, But He hears the prayer of the righteous.  (See also Psa 34:15-16; 66:18; Pro 15:8)

But apparently… God did hear “this man” whom they despise so much they can’t even bring themselves to say His name.  The proof is standing right in front of them… It’s irrefutable.  And his logic is irresistible.

And it so enrages them that they resume their verbal attack… and finally… kick him out of the synagogue.

*  *  *  *  *

“None so blind as those that will not see.”   You know… I’d like to say that this level of unbelief was unique.  That this level of illogical and stubborn refusal to see what’s so clearly seen, doesn’t have it’s counterpart in today’s world.

But as I pointed out in the introduction… truth means nothing to those who refuse to believe it.  I can argue my point until I’m blue in the face… but if the other persons mind and heart are closed… there’s nothing I, or anyone else can do.  Only the Holy Spirit of God can soften a petrified heart.