Friday, April 27, 2018

The Vision (4.27.18): The man born blind and divine patience in disciple-making

Image; Memorial to victims of Irish famine, Boston, Mass., April, 2018

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on John 9:8-25.
They say unto the blind man again, What sayest thou of him, that he hath opened thine eyes? He said, He is a prophet (John 9:17).
As we work through the miracle of Christ’s healing of the man born blind in John 9, I am struck by the description of the patient and progressive spiritual work that was done in this man’s life.
We meet him as a man born blind (v. 1). His physical state also reflected his spiritual state. Unregenerate men are spiritually blind from conception (original sin).
The man encounters Jesus on the sabbath, is touched, and directed by Christ to obedience (vv. 6-7). He then “came seeing” (v. 7b).
He had been physically transformed by Christ but not yet spiritually changed. When later asked where Jesus is, the man can only answer: “I know not” (v. 12). This reflects not only the fact that he does not know where Jesus is, but also that he does not know who Jesus is.
Under interrogation by the Pharisees, the erstwhile blind man is asked who he thinks Jesus is, and he replies, “He is a prophet” (v. 17). Notice the indefinite article. He does not hold that Jesus is the prophet like Moses (Deut 18:18), though he does believe him to be a great man of God, like Isaiah, Jeremiah, and John the Baptist. It is high praise but not enough.
When pressed further, the man acknowledges that though he does not understand everything about Jesus, he does know the good that has been done to him by Christ: “one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see” (v. 25).
Only later in this chapter do we hear the end of this process, when Jesus directly asks, “Dost thou believe on the Son of God?” (v. 35). And he replies: “Lord, I believe” (v. 38).
We see here the process of discipleship. Yes, justification happens in a moment, and a man moves from darkness to light, from death to life. But there is a trail or process leading up to that moment and a trail or process that leads from it.
This miracle is not merely about the physical healing of this man but, most importantly, his spiritual healing.
We are meant to marvel at Christ’s patience and also to consider where we are in that process.
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

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