Sunday, November 4, 2018 - God Wants Glory In You
Pastor Roger Marcos
Nov. 4, 2018
Text: John 9
Where Is God When We Suffer?
These are all great questions, some of which we can answer, and some of which we cannot, but I think that the Bible can give us enough of an answer to satisfy us.
In John 9 we read the amazing account of Jesus, His disciples, a blind man, and the Pharisees that helps us to see how God views suffering - especially in contrast to how humankind views it.
I want us to begin today by considering that there are four perspectives of suffering in our text that well represent the basic views of suffering today:
THE FOUR PERSPECTIVES
1. DISCIPLES: “I SEE A PROBLEM AND I’LL RAISE IT”
The disciples in this story are an example of how many people view suffering today - in fact, their views exemplify what I have heard from many Christians.
A. The Disciples' View of the Blind Man: (Jn 9:1-2)
As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. "Teacher," his disciples asked him, "why was this man born blind? Was it a result of his own sins or those of his parents?" - John 9:1-2
"Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, 'Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?'"
The disciples' question comes from what they had learned from the Rabbis, i.e., that all disease and suffering is the direct result of sin. Such an idea misses the entire point of the book of Job. It is not "Why do people suffer?" but "Will you be true to God when you do not understand the reason for your suffering?"
The disciples wanted to know how this case fit into what they already believed. Sadly, they did not look upon the man as an object of mercy or a sufferer to be relieved, but as a kind of riddle to be solved.
Why did the disciples ask such a question? This teaching - that illness came as a direct result from sin - was propagated by the Jewish religious leaders of that day.
The problem was real, their question was sincere, but their thinking was incorrect. Can you see how this kind of thinking concerning suffering can keep someone from a relationship with God?
2. JESUS: “I SEE A NEED AND I’LL MEET IT”
A. The Lord's View of the Blind Man: (John 9:3-5)
Now I want to be real up front with you here - the answer Jesus gives doesn’t answer the question for every situation, but it does for some situations.
"It was not because of his sins or his parents' sins," Jesus answered. "He was born blind so the power of God could be seen in him.” - John 9:3
4-5 I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.'"
But when it does happen, God can use it to show his power.
Illustration: Years ago a baby was born, and the medical staff put the wrong drops in her eyes.
Unfortunately, it was an acid solution and she was never able to see.
If you pick up an old hymnal, you’ll find lots and lots of songs written by this blind woman of great faith named Fanny Crosby.
Blessed Assurance,” “To God Be the Glory,” and “Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross” to name a few.
- She entertained dignitaries and presidents; she participated in the funeral of President Ulysses Grant.
She said about her blindness, “It was the best thing that could have happened to me.”] I don’t think every blind person feels that way, but Fanny Crosby is a perfect example of how God can use suffering for God’s glory.
If you want to see God’s ultimate will when it comes to suffering, read the stories of Jesus in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
There’s an account in John’s Gospel where Jesus raises Lazarus, who’s been dead for four days. Some say as Jesus called out Lazarus’ name to come from the grave, if He hadn’t clarified his name every dead person would have come forth.
Jesus broke up every funeral he ever came upon.
- Jesus takes some saliva and mud and puts it on the blind man’s eyes.
- He then tells him to go grope his way to a specific pool of water.
- Often Jesus tests our faith.
There is no medicinal value in the mud or the water at the pool - but the man does it and comes back seeing.
The central character in John 9 appears to be the blind man, but in reality the central character is Jesus - This is critical to the point of the story.
The blind man is merely a beneficiary of the work and glory of Jesus, not the main event or character - The miracle takes place in verses 6-11:
Then he spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and smoothed the mud over the blind man's eyes. He told him, "Go and wash in the pool of Siloam" (Siloam means Sent). So the man went and washed, and came back seeing! His neighbors and others who knew him as a blind beggar asked each other, "Is this the same man-that beggar?" Some said he was, and others said, "No, but he surely looks like him!" And the beggar kept saying, "I am the same man!" They asked, "Who healed you? What happened?" He told them, "The man they call Jesus made mud and smoothed it over my eyes and told me, `Go to the pool of Siloam and wash off the mud.' I went and washed, and now I can see! -John 9:6-11
Now let’s think about this - this man is blind, not necessarily caused by God, but his blindness was going to be used in a way that would display the work of God.
This man has been blind all of his life, but Jesus comes into town on this particular day in history, not so this man could be healed of his blindness but so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.
As we’ll see in a few moments, the greatest thing that happened to him on this day was not physical healing, but spiritual deliverance.
- The question for us is this - are we allowing our suffering to lead us to glorify God or turn us away from God? Are we looking at this with the perspective of Christ, or the perspective of the disciples, or perhaps someone else?
Let’s consider another perspective.
3. PHARISEES: “I SEE A SIGN AND I’LL REJECT IT”
The Pharisees know this man was blind, and that he can now see, but they cannot wrap their minds around it - they have to come up with some reason to either reject the miracle, or find a reason why the miracle is invalid.
Since the miracle is plain for everyone to see, they begin to question Jesus’ right to perform miracles on the Sabbath.
Now as it happened, Jesus had healed the man on a Sabbath. The Pharisees asked the man all about it. So he told them, "He smoothed the mud over my eyes, and when it was washed away, I could see!" Some of the Pharisees said, "This man Jesus is not from God, for he is working on the Sabbath." Others said, "But how could an ordinary sinner do such miraculous signs?" So there was a deep division of opinion among them. - John 9:14-16
The religious leaders, who are very much into making religion just a strict adherence to rules, are concerned that there has been a violation of religious law.
- Rather than praising God for the miracle, they are trying to invalidate it by technicalities.
To heal someone on a Saturday, was considered work, so somehow, Jesus really needs to take away this guy’s healing and do it on another day for them to accept it.
This group said you couldn’t walk in sandals with nails in them on the Sabbath, because lifting the nails was work.
If your lamp ran out of oil, you couldn’t fill it or extinguish the flame to save the lamp.
You couldn’t set a broken limb; you could only receive medical attention to keep it from getting worse.
As a matter of fact, to show how steeped in rules they were, these religious leaders determined that if Jesus healed on the Sabbath then he couldn’t be God.
Because God doesn’t work on the day of rest.
Rules, rules, rules.Jesus came to challenge the religion of rules, and move us into relationship with him.
Rules aren’t much help when disaster strikes, but relationships - with others and with God - can literally help us through.
The Pharisees come to question the blind man, not once, but twice:
So for the second time they called in the man who had been blind and told him, "Give glory to God by telling the truth, because we know Jesus is a sinner." "I don't know whether he is a sinner," the man replied. "But I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!" - John 9:24-25
"But what did he do?" they asked. "How did he heal you?" "Look!" the man exclaimed. "I told you once. Didn't you listen? Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?" - John 9:26-27
Can you imagine the horror on their faces when he asks this question?
- They have no desire to get an honest response; their biases prevent them from fairly examining the evidence.
This formerly blind man says, “Look, I’m not the religious scholar, all I know is this I was blind and now I can see! Is that enough proof for you?”
Then they cursed him and said, "You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know God spoke to Moses, but as for this man, we don't know anything about him." "Why, that's very strange!" the man replied. "He healed my eyes, and yet you don't know anything about him! Well, God doesn't listen to sinners, but he is ready to hear those who worship him and do his will. Never since the world began has anyone been able to open the eyes of someone born blind. If this man were not from God, he couldn't do it." - John 9:28-33
So what do they do, they throw him out of their meeting - Interrogation over.
- Who is really blind in this story? What is it that you don’t want to give up, that blinds you to the truth about Jesus?
4. BLIND MAN: “I SEE AN OPPORTUNITY AND I’LL ACCEPT IT”
After the excitement has leveled a bit, he says, “At your checkup I want to be sure that you can really see. I would like to tell you about Jesus who is the light of the world.”]
What good is it for you to see physically, but to be blind to the spiritual reality of Jesus?
When Jesus hears what has happened to this man that has been healed, he seeks him out.
Jesus explains that he is God and the blind man accepts him by faith
When Jesus heard what had happened, he found the man and said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?" The man answered, "Who is he, sir, because I would like to." "You have seen him," Jesus said, "and he is speaking to you!" "Yes, Lord," the man said, "I believe!" And he worshiped Jesus. Then Jesus told him, "I have come to judge the world. I have come to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind." - John 9:35-39
The real issue here, the real glory that Jesus said would come to God, is not so much in the giving of physical sight, but spiritual sight.
The blind man says, “I see the opportunity you’re offering, Jesus, and I accept it.”
As we close this story, I have to ask you, where are you at today?
The real question knowing that troubles will eventually come is this do you wish to face them alone or with Jesus and other believers at your side?
Yes, the man born blind-BUT GOD GET GLORY IN HIS LIFE.