May 13th 2018: Ian Jones

Ian Jones-May18John 9

This chapter is a continuation of chapter 8. In the last verses of chapter 8 Jesus was about to be stoned. Here, in chapter 9, at the temple gates sat a blind man begging. As Jesus made His way out of the temple He saw this man. If we were escaping for our lives, would we have stopped to help this man?

Jesus ‘saw.’ It wasn’t just a casual glance but an intent look at this individual. However, the disciples saw him merely as an object of their curiosity. Back then, blindness was looked upon as a penalty of sin. They asked, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:1). It was a mystery to them. Was it this man’s fault or the fault of his parents?

Friends, how do we see people’s lives around us? Do we notice them or are we in such a hurry, we don’t notice? How easy is it to pass them by or judge them, lifting ourselves above them? Jesus noticed all those around Him who were suffering – so should we notice those who suffer and be concerned for others who suffer. We need to spend time with them.

Jesus answers the disciples’ question saying, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the work of God should be revealed in him.” (John 9:3). It was God’s will that this man be born blind and that when Jesus came by He would heal Him and God’s work would be revealed. We have all been created by God in a particular way for His glory and honour.

This is a very important passage. It takes up a whole chapter in John’s gospel. Now is the time for us to work for Christ, to serve Him. Now is the appointed time. Jesus is the light of the world. He saw the world in darkness; only He could bring light into people’s lives. The blind beggar had a miserable life – he could only do very little. But Jesus changed all that, He changed his life. Jesus came to give sight to the blind and heal the broken-hearted.

Why did the Lord heal the blind man in this way? It is very unusual. Very often Jesus just spoke the word or touched the person to heal them. But this time He spat on the ground and made mud out of His saliva and put it on the blind man’s eyelids. He then told the man to wash in the pool of Siloam (John (9:7). Christ did this for a reason. He did this to reveal spiritual truth. Why the mud? It could be to reveal that the healing came from Christ Himself. Mud – sin has blinded us from spiritual truth. The mud / mess had to be removed from the blind man’s face for him to see. It required obedience from the man to wash in the pool of Siloam.

Here we have a wonderful picture of salvation. Those who are spiritually blind do not see themselves as blind. We see this in the Pharisees’ reaction (John 9:40). That’s the problem with spiritual blindness, it is deceptive. The man is the ideal example of one born blind, not knowing Jesus. Having had mud applied to his eyes, he was told to wash. When he heard the word of God he could have argued and asked why he had to go to the pool and wash his face. He could have objected and gone home to wash. Yet he went in obedience.

If we’re to be cleansed from our sin, we must go to the Lord Jesus Christ, to the cross. The blood that was shed for us cleanses our sin.

John translates the pool of Siloam as meaning ‘sent.’ (John 9:7). He takes us back to the days of Jerusalem, to the days of Hezekiah when a tunnel was dug to bring fresh water into the city. This pool received water sent from the outside. Jesus is the one ‘sent’ from God, who is able to wash away our sin.

As the passage goes on, the man becomes closes to the Lord Jesus Christ until he enters full salvation, whereas the Pharisees become increasingly hardened to the Lord Jesus Christ. This happens today – people either draw nearer to the Word of the Lord Jesus Christ as it is spoken or become more hardened.

When the man returned home after washing in the pool of Siloam his neighbours questioned whether or not this was the same person. Some said no, it just looked like him. He made it clear it was him and tells them how he received his sight. He makes it very clear what has taken place. There’s a difference in his life. Jesus made a difference. Yet they find it difficult to understand, it is so unusual, something like this just didn’t happen.

The man was extremely joyful, yet the others cannot enter into it, it is beyond their understanding. When someone is converted there is a complete change of lifestyle – others cannot understand it. The neighbours take him to the Pharisees, the religious leaders. Then we have a kind of trial taking place. We would hope they would have an open mind, find and acknowledge the truth that has taken place. However, they don’t want to give glory to God.

The Pharisees are biased because of their unbelief. They forget the man and what’s been done because it was done on the Sabbath, claiming, “This man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.” (John 9:16). Others argued He must be from God because the blind man could now see. There was division among them. So they ask the man himself, who explains what Jesus has done. But they don’t want to listen to his testimony so they then ask his parents. They are afraid of the Pharisees, of being cast out of the synagogue, so they respond by saying ask their son because he is of age and can be questioned. As this discussion moves on it moves back to the man. The Pharisees try to put words in his mouth (v.24).

The man’s answer to the questioning is amazing. Right at the start, when his neighbours asked him how he received his sight, he said Jesus had done this. When the Pharisees asked him, he spoke of Jesus as – ‘a prophet.’ (v.17). His understanding of Jesus is increasing. When they say to him again, his answer is, “One thing I do know: that I was blind, now I see.” (John 9:25). They then get into an argument.

We see this man growing in boldness, arguing his case – Jesus is from God. It ends with him being thrown out of the temple, on his own. But he is not on his own for the Lord Jesus came and found him. Jesus asks, “Do you believe in the Son of God?” (John 9:35). He asks who He is. He now wants to believe in Him. Jesus replies, “You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking to you.” (John 9:37). His response, “Lord, I believe! And he worshipped Him.” (John 9:38). The man who was once blind now has full recognition of Jesus, his Lord. We see the process of him drawing closer and closer to the Lord Jesus Christ. We are all seeking to come closer and closer to the Lord Jesus Christ, to tell others about Him, to argue against others who want to put Him down. The Pharisees were on a road further and further away from the Lord.

What path are we on? If it is on the path of the man who received his sight, we will eventually spend all eternity with Christ. Might this passage challenge us and may we rejoice, saying, “One thing I do know: that I was blind, now I see.” (John 9:25).

 

9th April 2017: Gaius Douglas

Luke 19: 11-27

A survey carried out by the BBC and reported on this morning’s news has suggested ‘a quarter of people who describe themselves as Christians in Great Britain do not believe in the resurrection of Jesus.’ Furthermore, ‘exactly half of all people surveyed did not believe in the resurrection at all.’ This brings to mind Romans 10:9 

Romans 10-9 KJV

‘Occupy till I come.’ On the authority of the Word of God, if Christ is was not raised from the dead then there is no life. Some people can take a bit of the Bible and not accept it. You cannot do any work for the Lord Jesus Christ if you don’t believe in the Bible. You can’t be a Christian if you believe in only parts of the Bible. The Word of God is living. If you know Christ, you are indwelled by the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Jesus said to Philip, ‘Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seem me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?’ (John 14:9).

In the parable in these verses the nobleman, before travelling to a far country, ‘called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, ‘Occupy till I come.’ (Luke 19:13). The number 10 in the Bible speaks of God’s authority. ‘I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me.’ (Isaiah 45:5). This is the God we serve. Not even Satan in all his power can do anything to you without God allowing it.

“Occupy till I come.” (Luke 19:13) Are you occupied? Are you looking forward to the Lord Jesus Christ, to seeing Him, to His coming? In the very last prayer in the Bible we read, ‘Even so, come, Lord Jesus.’ (Revelation 22:20). When Paul introduces the remembrance of the Lord we again read, ‘For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till He come.’ (1 Corinthians 11:26). He is coming! Whether we are looking forward to it or not, He will come to receive us to Himself. He has redeemed us, not for this world, but for Him. Wonderful! We shall be like Him forever. Pray the reality of His coming will take us away from our circumstances. The cry of our heart should be, ‘Even so, come, Lord Jesus.’ (Revelation 22:20).

‘Occupy’ is not a passive word, it is active. We are doing something for Him. In this parable the nobleman chose ten servants. He gave them a £1 each and said, ‘Go and do something with it.’ Nine of them used their initiative, one of them did not. One of them thought, ‘There’s a risk. Let me weigh up the master’s character – he’s an austere man.’ Are you frightened of your Saviour? If so, you don’t know Him. The servant wrapped up the coin he had been given and put it away, making sure no-one touched it. In the past many kept the Bible under lock and key so the masses could not read it. So often we keep the Word of God under lock and key.

What has Christ done to your soul? He has saved it by grace – not because of anything you and I deserve – it’s for His glory. He saved us because He loves us, He bore our punishment and redeemed us. Now He wants us to do something for Him – to occupy till He comes.

The Lord gave the ten people in this parable something to do. He had redeemed them and brought them into newness of life. He gave them something and wanted them to do something for Him. Occupy. Do we take an interest in the Word of God? If Christ has done something in your heart you should be able to say, ‘I love the Lord Jesus.’ So many of us are like the last servant, we wrap up the Word of God and blend into this world. There was a time when Peter blended into the people, when he denied the Lord. So often we just want to blend into the world, we don’t want to be different. If you say, ‘I can’t testify for the Lord,’ you don’t know the Lord. The Spirit of the Lord is there to give you the words. If you love Him, don’t wrap Him up. The Spirit of God gives you the liberty to tell others about Jesus Christ.

The Lord says to this servant that he was one of his. He wasn’t lost. Which of the servants are you like? If you want to be like the first servant, pray. So many of us are like the last servant – we don’t want to stand out, we’re not occupied. The Lord used the servant’s own words to condemn that man. ‘And he saith unto him, “Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an autere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow: Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury?”’ (Luke 19: 22-23)  (ursury – interest).

When the Lord sends us into His vineyard, He sends us where He has already sown, ‘Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.’ (John 4:35). We are to reap. We just need to open our mouths and say, ‘Jesus loves you.’

Christ has gone out of His way for you. He gave His life for you. What are you going to give Him? What are you doing to tell others that Jesus saves? What are you doing to save them from hell? He says ‘Occupy till I come.’

The servant lost the joy of his salvation. When we miss opportunities we lose something of this joy. Psalm 51 was a psalm written by David after he had committed the sin of sending Uriah into battle, after sleeping with Uriah’s wife. The Lord was angry with David. David cried, ‘Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.’ (Psalm 51:12). This man had lost something of the joy of his salvation. We are told in Philippians 4:4, ‘Rejoice in the Lord always.’ If we’re not rejoicing in the Lord we will struggle to tell others about Jesus. We are not living in the blessings that He’s bestowed upon us. Jesus doesn’t want us to lose the joy of salvation. Hopefully, the last servant went away realising what he had done so he might enjoy the blessings and bounty of Christ. The Lord gave equally to all His servants. When we get to glory we will all be equal. Those who are barely saved are brought in. His grace has saved us and He will never take away that salvation. If the Lord gives us a testimony and we don’t use it He will take it away and give it to someone else, He takes away and gives to those who will make use of it, not someone who will hide it. The joy and testimony will diminish   – but Salvation remains.  The challenge is ‘What are we doing with the £1?’ What are we doing with what God has put in our hearts?