Saturday, October 15, 2016

"I was blind, but now I see!"

Day #290

Scripture Reading:  John 7 - 9 …

Can you hear what God is saying in His Word?  How have you responded to the testimony God has given in His Word regarding Jesus?  So many people fail to understand that the whole Bible points to Jesus as the perfect Son of God, true God and true man, who came into this world from heaven to be the Savior of all who believe in Him.  The entire Old Testament points ahead to Him, while the Gospels explain why He came and record the eyewitness testimony of those who were with Him, and the rest of the New Testament explains God's purpose in the Church and the Gospel and points to Jesus' return to establish His kingdom in a new heaven and a new earth.  

Jesus said to some of the Pharisees, the religious leaders of the Jews, "He who belongs to God hears what God says.  The reason YOU do NOT hear is that you do not belong to God!" (8:47).  As He performed miracles and taught, people began to wonder who He was.  The prophets spoke about a prophet who would come who would be like Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15). They predicted that an "Anointed One," a "Messiah" (the "Christ") would come, who would deliver those who believed from slavery.  The people were under the rule of the Roman Empire and they thought this ruler would deliver them from the tyranny of Rome.

As the time approached for Jesus to go to the cross, the Pharisees were trying to kill Him.  While it was God's plan that Jesus go to the cross to bear His wrath against our sins, yet it was wicked men who were responsible for sending Him to the cross.  Peter says it this way as he preaches in Acts 2:  "Men of Israel, listen to this:  Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through Him, as you yourselves know.  This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put Him to death by nailing Him to the cross.  BUT God raised Him from the dead … " (Acts 2:22-24).

As Jesus came to the feast in Jerusalem and began to teach at the temple, the Pharisees wanted to get rid of Him, but they were afraid of the people.  Since the Pharisees did nothing to stop Him, the people began to wonder, "Have the authorities really concluded that He IS the Christ?" (7:26).  Many began to put their faith in Him, but their understanding of why Jesus had come was still very limited.  As Jesus began to talk about going where they could not come, they did not understand that He meant returning to heaven.  As Jesus taught about where He was going and about the coming of the Spirit ("streams of living water will flow from within" - 7:38), the people were divided.  "Surely this man is the Prophet."  "He is the Christ."  "How can the Christ come from Galilee?" (7:40-41).  John records that "the people were divided because of Jesus" (7:43).

People are still divided because of Jesus.  No figure in the history of mankind has caused such a great division.  Every person has to answer the question, "Who is Jesus?!"  The unbelief of the Jewish leaders revealed their spiritual blindness, as Jesus exposed it in Chapter 8.  He shattered their understanding of the Law by forgiving the woman caught in adultery.  Was Jesus saying that Moses was wrong to declare that she should be stoned? No.  The Law was given to show people their sin before a holy God.  But all the Law could do was condemn.  Jesus came to fulfill the Law - to give Himself as the perfect sacrifice for all who would believe.  He didn't change the Law, but called people who couldn't keep the Law perfectly to believe in Him for forgiveness and life.

So many, even in the church today, still do not understand this.  The Law shows us our sin and points us to Christ.  As Paul, himself a former Pharisee, writes to the Galatians, "The Law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith" (Galatians 3:24).  Once we are born again by the Spirit we WANT to obey God's law and it can no longer condemn us. The Pharisees didn't understand grace ... couldn't understand grace, because their hearts were hard and their minds were closed.  They were utterly and totally spiritually blind!  They claimed to be the "children of Abraham," but Jesus confronted them with the reality that "You belong to your father, the devil" (8:44).  

The Pharisees not only rejected the teaching of Jesus and not only wanted to kill Jesus ... they were leading people astray and away from Jesus.  Some in the church today are saying that we must respect those who are doing the same.  Jesus says they belong to their father, the devil.  The Pharisees had the nerve to ask Jesus, "Are you greater than our father Abraham?  ...  Who do you think you are?!" (8:53).  Don't you want to just scream at them, "Who do you think YOU are?!"  Jesus responds, "I tell you the truth, before Abraham was born I am!" (8:58).  Jesus is GOD!  He existed before Abraham and is greater than Abraham.  He is GOD in the flesh!

Like the man born blind in Chapter 9, we were all born spiritually blind. Jesus said, "No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again" (John 3:3).  Jesus healed the blind man and all the Pharisees could think of is that He did it on the Sabbath (revealing their misunderstanding of the Law). They didn't know who Jesus was because they weren't listening!  The man who had been healed was asked who healed him and he told them Jesus. The Pharisees said, "Give glory to God.  We know this man is a sinner!” (9:24). 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!"

Is that YOUR testimony?  "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.  I once was lost, but now I'm found, was blind, but now I see!"  If you have heard the testimony of God's Word and you believe in Jesus, then testify to the truth ... tell others who He IS - the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God, your Savior and Lord.  Praise Him for what He has done for you and give thanks to God for His amazing gift!

"Heavenly Father, to be your child through faith in Jesus required the sacrifice of Your own Son on the cross.  Without Your Spirit, I would be spiritually blind and dead in my sin.  May my life be a sacrifice of thanksgiving to You, my God, as I testify to the world that Jesus is Lord!  Thank You, Father, for opening my eyes so I can SEE!  I praise You, in Jesus' name, Amen"

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