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Mudpies and Miracles (John 9)
Message #14 of "John: A Story to Believe" by Pastor Jeff MacLurg, Our Savior's Baptist Church, Federal Way, Wash.; Sunday, June 12, 2011 (Notes are my own from the 9 and 10:45 am services. I pray they are helpful to you.)
--- A Question and a Cure (v. 1-12) ---
A. The Question: "Who sinned...?"
In that day, there was only two choices - if anything bad happened, it was because of sin - either that person or his ancestors.
But the Bible actually offers us four reasons why we might suffer.
1. SIN - if you choose a life of sin, you live in the pain of that sin. (You rob a bank, you get shot, you're to blame.)
2. SATAN - the enemy of Jesus, the enemy of everyone Jesus loves (which is you and me and *EVERYONE*). Satan will do everything he can to cause you pain, to show you his hatred, to try to get you to turn away from God. He's good at making you look elsewhere for a cause or person to blame.
3. SANCTIFICATION (Romans 8:28-29) - God allows things in our lives to mold, shape, break us - some of the pain we're going through is to separate out the good in our lives from the bad, or cause us to grow. (Heating a metal to separate out the impurities. Or pressure to create diamonds. Or to force the fluid in a butterfly's body.)
4. TO SHOW - to remind us that God is in control, to remind us that we need to remain dependent on God -- to show the world His glory -- to show us our weakness without God. Example of Job - Satan wanted to hurt Job. God allowed the pain in Job's life to show God's glory.
Is that "fair"?
This guy went through so much of his life just so that Jesus could show up and show His power. Can we say that God made him blind just so that He could later "fix" him? Like a firefighter who starts fires? That's not what's happening here. He didn't cause this man's blindness, but He allowed it.
* Sometimes Jesus steps back from "HOLDING TOGETHER" (Colossians 1:17)
I did not get a good "why" here. Even with the next point. Why is our son autistic? I don't know. (Even if we're only seeing part of God's plan, it's hard to think that Jesus "withheld His hand" from our son. It would be much easier to hear that our son was created differently for a purpose versus the idea that the way he is is the result of God stepping aside. That doesn't seem fair, doesn't seem right, doesn't seem entirely comforting. Of course, this is our limited understanding thinking "What did this baby ever do to deserve it?" This is a hard sermon to listen to and think about. I guess I want to understand even though that's not guaranteed (see next point).
* We only see part of GOD'S PLAN. (Exodus 4:11)
Reminder that God will take care of us. He's more interested in us accepting God's sovereignty than understanding His sovereignty. If through my suffering and they see my response and confidence in God, will they want to know more about the source of my confidence and come to know God themselves? Pastor says if this is true, then Christians will say "Bring it on." This is tough - I guess we can admit we don't know what will come of our child being autistic, but we can love him and have hope that God will use him in some special way in his life.
B. The Cure: How it happened
This wasn't a snap of the fingers, a bop on the head, it wasn't just a single uttered prayer. This was a process. Sometimes Jesus did just immediately cause things to happen, but sometimes, like this, there was time and effort required.
It took incredible HUMILITY.
The object of all us scrutiny, not as a person, but because of his disability because people wanted to make Jesus look bad, not because they had compassion.
* to acknowledge "I NEED HELP!"
That congressman - denied for days because he was embarrassed and hoped he could cover it up. Pride. Hard to acknowledge when we need help.
This beggar would have heard someone spit. He'd probably been spit at before as he begged. And then all of the sudden someone is touching his face, his eyes.
And then the realization that it was mud and that the mud was made with spit. And now he's been instructed to go to the pool which wasn't right around the corner. He must now navigate the town with this mud now dripping down his face and onto his clothes, probably with people laughing at the poor blind guy who someone has been mean to. Jesus never actually promises the man that he'll be able to see.
* to be seen "IN PROCESS"
It is difficult that we still wrestle with the sin, with the mud, long after we thought we'd been healed. We don't work on anger by no longer finding ourselves in situations where we get angry and have to deal with how we might respond. We don't deal with temptation by no longer finding ourselves in situations where we can be tempted.
* to BELIEVE AND OBEY JESUS
It takes deep humility not to have and know all the answers. "I don't know." is a phrase Christians should be comfortable saying. We don't know all the answers but we trust the One who does.
* to not have all ALL THE ANSWERS
Is there an area that in our life where we're resisting God that's preventing Him from working in our life at all? Sometimes we have to put up with a little mud to get a miracle. Is there pride standing in the way of God changing us?
--- Questions and Criticisms (v. 14-34) ---
They try to:
* discredit Jesus as a LAWBREAKER (v. 13-17)
More concerned about the rules than people. This was a man-made rule that kept people from God.
* discredit the blind man as a FRAUD (v. 18-23)
If we recognize the miracle, then we have to accept that Jesus is not an ordinary man.
* discredit the seeing man as a MISGUIDED FOOL (v. 24-33)
--- Retinal Reactions ---
1. BELIEVE and WORSHIP
It wasn't worship when he received the mud, when he washed, or when he appeared in front of the priests. It was when he believed.
2. BLINDNESS and ARROGANCE
Their pride prevented them from acknowledging what they could plainly see. What would Jesus say if He arrived in our church today? He might show some to be highly religious but still spiritually stumbling, refusing to open their eyes and believe and allow Him to change their lives.
--- A Final Question ---
Am I (are we) blind, too?