Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Religious Outcast and a Vision Test

The other day I was reading in John 9 about Jesus healing a blind man.  What really struck me about this passage this time around was the pharisees response to the blind man at the end of the passage.

I encourage you to go to John 9 and read this whole passage.  It is fascinating.  To summarize, here is the scene...

Jesus just performed a miracle and opened the eyes of a man who had been blind since birth!  However, the pharisees were outraged because Jesus performed this miracle on the Sabbath.  How dare he heal on the Lord's day!  Right?  These pharisees were more blind than the man who was healed!  Their self-righteousness and pride blinded them from seeing the truth.  Their hearts were hardened.  Compassion was calloused and their only concern was protecting their "religion" and selves.

The pharisees claimed that Jesus was a sinner and could not have healed this man and opened his eyes.  I love the healed man's reply...

"Whether He is a sinner or not I do not know.  One thing I know; that though I was blind, now I see."

Then this man went on and began preaching to the pharisees, the religious priests who thought they had it all figured out.

"Why, this is a marvelous thing that you do not know where He is from; yet He has opened my eyes!  Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him.  Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind.  If this man were not from God, He could do nothing."  John 9:30-33

This man who was once blind could preach!  I am sure he was just as stunned as we are that these pharisees were so missing the miracle!  Hello!!!  I WAS BLIND, BUT NOW I SEE!!!

The pharisees did not like this nobody preaching to them.  After all, who is this man?  He is just a man that Jesus touched and healed.  They were the religious elite.  How dare he presume to preach to them.

You can hear the pharisees' hard heart as they answer the man:

"They answered and said to him, 'You were completely born in sin and are you teaching us?' And they cast him out."  John 9:34

The pharisees forgot that they too were born in sin.  They forgot that they too needed a Savior.  This man who was just healed, and had just experienced God's miracle working power firsthand was "cast out".

The pharisees just flat out missed it.  They too could have rejoiced and experienced the glory of the Lord. Their blindness narrowed their sight to only focusing on who was at fault for this man being healed on the Sabbath.  Then, in their arrogance and pride they cast him aside.

Today, we have pharisees too.  They are more concerned with legalities being followed, protecting themselves and their "religion" or religious circles, than they are about people and what the Lord is doing in the hearts and lives of His people.  These people do not know they are blind.  They think they are fine and even work hard serving the Lord.  However, their hearts are void of compassion for the blind sinners of this world.

It is just as baffling today as it was 2,000 years ago that there would be people who would "cast out" one who once was blind but now can see.  

Many people don't go to church today because a pharisee cast them out or treated them as a second class citizen.  Friends, please hear me from the bottom of my heart.  If that is you, forgive them.  They are blinded by self-righteousness and spiritual pride. Self-righteousness and spiritual pride are sin and some of the ugliest and yuckiest because they are often hidden and unknown to those trapped in them.

Don't allow yourself to stay blind because their heart was hard and they could not see the hurt they caused you.   By holding onto that hurt, you are keeping yourself from being able to step fully into the light and see clearly.

The story doesn't end with the man being cast out.  In John 9:35, Jesus went searching for the man when he heard he had been cast out and found him.

Jesus is searching for you today too.

Jesus asked the man this question when he found him:  "Do you believe in the Son of God?"

"The man replied, 'Lord, I believe!" And he worshiped Him." v. 38

Today, I want to ask you the same question.  "Do you believe in the Son of God?"

Do you believe in this God, Jesus, who opened your eyes and caused you to see?  He is real.  He longs to have a closer relationship with you.  Don't let anyone who has hurt you or cast you out keep you from experiencing all the joy He had for you.

Come and worship Him.  Experience His presence.

And if you think you may be guilty of playing the pharisee in this story.  If your heart of compassion has grown cold or you have been more concerned with protecting your own interests than showing love to others, ask the Lord to open your eyes so you can see.

The pharisees didn't think they needed their eyes opened.  They thought their eyes were already open.  That is where they were deceived.  We must always be willing to ask the Lord to open our eyes and examine our hearts to see if there is anything unpleasing to Him.  It is when we think we see perfectly that we are truly blind (John 9: 41).  

Oh Father, we thank you for opening our eyes.  Thank you that you heal us and that you pursue those who have been hurt or cast out by religious people.  Father, I ask you to heal every heart and open every blind eye reading this today.  Oh, how we need you.  Lead us to a more intimate place with you and open our eyes so we can see. We love you.  In Jesus' Name, Amen.    


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