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January 13, 2021 3:00 am
We hear about a tragic event and find ourselves wondering if somehow God can bring good from these circumstances today on Truth for Life. Alistair Begg teaches us about a blind man whose story challenges some of our common ideas about suffering.
Today's message is titled this dark world's light. Well, let's begin. In John chapter 20 and verse 30 and 31. I pointed here purposefully because this is where John tells us the purpose of his gospel, he explains here in verse 30 that not all the miraculous signs that Jesus did in the company of his disciples have been recorded in this gospel, but instead there's been a selection given, and the selection that has been used has been used in order that the things that have been written and may foster belief that people may believe that Jesus is the Christ the son of God, and then that by believing they may find life in his name.
Someone pointed this out to me some time ago suggesting that this may actually be a key for working our way through John's Gospel. I think it's quite a good idea. In other words, what you have and the signs is evidence. The evidence then providing the basis for believing in the believing, giving way to life in the name of Jesus evidence belief and spiritual life and become now so we get to the end of chapter 9 of John's Gospel to look at what this meant in the life of this man to whom we are introduced in verse one.
Notice first of all, the men's condition as he went along as Jesus went along, he saw a man blind from birth and in verse eight we are discovering that his profession or his circumstance had been that of a blind beggar. So we are no doubt that his condition was pitiful that it was in every instance hopeless that he was actually quite helpless in relationship to the circumstance of the face.
He was not as we will discover later in the story, devoid of personality was a colorful personality. He had a mind of his own.
He was quickwitted in his response to those who put pressure upon him, but his condition is such that without a miracle. He was destined to live his life in darkness.
Note his condition gives rise to a question. The question that is posed in verse two by the disciples. Those who are following Jesus ask a question that many of us perhaps regarded as almost inevitable rabbi. They said who send this man or his parents that he was born blind. Now the assumption made by the disciples that the sin and suffering of this man are intimately connected is of course generally true, isn't it sin and suffering are connected. Indeed, the Bible makes it clear in Genesis chapter 3 that it was the entry of sin into the world that changed everything in terms of the goodness of the world. The garden may God made the world and everything in it, and he pronounced that it was good. All of the thorns and the missiles and the bloodshed and the disagreement the disharmony in the murder and the mayhem and the weeds and the and the sin nannies and all of the earthquakes and everything else is generally linked to the fact of the fall of man. So the assumption on the part of the disciples is understandable and as I see it is generally true. However, for them to attempt to join the dogs between sin and the sufferings of a particular individual is to put themselves on shaky ground, and that is exactly what they discover in the answer that Jesus gives they have concluded that the man's blindness is the result either of his own sin. The Jews believe that you could send in the womb. They had a concept of prenatal sinfulness, or that it was directly related to what his parents had done. Jesus then answers their concern. Incidentally, the question of sin as it relates to suffering and suffering in general is a question that I think most of us face all the time but I do want to say this to you in passing, we need to be ready for the suffering question we need to be ready for the suffering question in a way that doesn't argue unconvincingly are unkindly or does not throw nurses at people as if somehow or another slabs of information will address the, the, the, the disruption in their hearts and minds, but people always ask the question, why don't because God is set eternity in their heart. He has made them as moral being and as a result of that the understand the why question is directly related to the awkwardness of their life this week. You will meet them again as you walk from a hospital ward as you sit for coffee somewhere people asking the question, why is he in that chair. If this God you say you know is alive and well, even those closest to Jesus have those kinds of questions and ultimately without some mathematical formulaic answer Christianity introduces is not to a guard on a deck chair but to have gone on across who understands rejection who understands pay who understands grief at its deepest level, that is an assigned verse three brings us to the answer that Jesus gives condition, gives rise to the question. The question gives rise to the answer.
Neither this man nor his parents and said Jesus. In other words you're asking the wrong question you're looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-and-effect years as Jesus. He wasn't blind because of his own sin or because of his parents in know this has happened.
He says sort of the work of God might be displayed in his life. In other words, his blindness was the key to his salvation. Indeed, we would say that what it not for his blindness, then the encounter would never have happened, and therefore we would have no record of the fight in the man came to see spiritually and what is true of this man is often true. When people tell you how they became Christians. Something happened either physically or emotionally turmoil and pain entered into your life and in that all of your foundations were rocked and unsettled and that which was a very unattractive encounter became the very means whereby you look for an answer beyond yourself you actually be here this morning and that's exactly where you are. I don't know because I don't know all the congregation may be that you have wandered in here all you've purposefully come here because of something that is happened to you in recent days and it is a happenstance over would you have no control. It is either ugly or unpalatable. It is certainly something that shows you that you have lost your bearings and you have no mechanism known means of restoration.
God understands all of God is not taken by surprise Edinburgh Monday night before the first Sunday night in the month when we had our guest service. We went out into the community and went up and down the tenement buildings, knocking the doors and offering to people at a gas service in invitation that usually said no that's fine thank you goodbye but every so often someone said, well, okay, what, why don't you just come in for a moment. The two men went into the house, spoke for about five minutes said what we need to keep going. We would pray with you if that's all right. The couple in their late 60s said that's okay. And then as they were ready to pray. The lady said.
We pray for those who have cancer, so the men prayed, and when the prayer was over. The lady stood up immediately and turned off the overhead light and turn on the table and the room immediately went into a much dimmer perspective and as the two gentlemen left the realize and the tears running down the woman's face that she was a quite fascinating lady. She was from a juvenile background. Everybody knew her she had a great sense of humor and end at her funeral service was attended by hundreds and hundreds of people from the city of Edinburgh. They wanted to know what happened to this lady that in the dying embers of our life as she face cancer.
She faced death assert with such triumph and her husband outlived her by a number of years you you I would see him every Sunday that I would go back to Edinburgh and he would be seated still up in the balcony. The only gap being gap left by his wife, but it was her cancer.
That was the mechanism that brought her to face the fact that she was blind and she needed Jesus God moves in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform. He plants his footsteps in the sea and he rides upon the storm now having answered in such a straightforward way he takes action in a way that is equally straightforward and having said that, he spat on the ground.
Jesus spits the creator spits, the creator who to and fashioned a man out of his own created dust takes again his own cost and spits in it. You see, what we have in these signs is not the circus coming to town. What we have in these signs are signings to the identity of Christ, who is this Jesus of Nazareth.
That's the question that you want to be asking if you don't believe who is this man in this story. Who is this person who spits on the ground and rubs mud on someone's eyelids. No one other than the creator of the universe is eat, we can set them aside is a nice man doing, kind things and speaking to children in a way that is endearing, as if somehow or another we can set them aside on that basis know because he won't allow us to he stands before us doing these dramatic things and making the unbelievable assertion is what John is doing in his gospel is simply working out his prologue.
Remember how he begins in the beginning was the word is the logos that is Jesus, the second person of the Trinity. In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God and he was with God in the beginning and through him all things were made without him nothing was made that has been made so for him and into John John to give his first miraculous sign and bring water to wine a and him was life and the life was the light of men for him to heal the nobleman's son for him to feed the 5000 for him to walk on the water for him to raise Lazarus in Chapter 11 for him to deal with this man. In chapter 9 the Jewish mind understood this Jew understood. This is an expression of divinity. That's why the Pharisees are so infuriated, because now they go to put these two pieces of the puzzle together. One undeniably, this must be God. But we don't like it was a Messiah. Therefore, we can get what we want without getting what we don't want everyone to be God that he asked to be our Messiah, but we don't want the Exodus for Moses. I want you to go to Pharaoh. Moses, through God, I don't think I'm the man for going to Pharaoh. I'm not a very eloquent person. Remember how God responds. Who major and is in that context that he says who is it that can make you speak or make you dumb. Who is it that can make you blind or make you see the answer is God.
The psalmist says it all the time God is the one who opens the blind eyes. God is the one to bring from darkness into light and the sign of the messianic age. As you find in Isaiah all the time and one of the great signs of the messianic age is the Messiah will step onto the stage of history and the lame walk and the deaf will hear, and the blind will see, John says here's my evidence. Here are my signs there here in order that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ the son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name evidence believe life. Some of us have set aside Christianity without ever having consider the evidence that is intellectually not so good at least examine the evidence and see whether he is not the person he claims to be no the final sentence in verse seven is as matter-of-fact as anything you could ever read is is one of the things it makes me realize the Gospels are just the Gospels, the you know if someone was inventing this I think it would have a lot more to know you think magic you know something like that. Then he got the magic mod which was kept in the old candy store that they had found underneath the old temple over by the fountain of zipper do life and that you know is that wall was is no select's guys, well, okay, what now won't go over the pool. How do I get there.how did somebody get you there.
Don't worry, go to the poor. Solomon wash so the man went and washed and came home. See why it's so the man went and washed and came home seeing yes is exactly right and put the cat among the pigeons for the neighborhood because the people began to say to one another.
Isn't this the man who used to sit and beg something Sylvia's mother said no he just looks like it needs a very similar look and says I am that I want to be who I am. I am the man.
How then we are eyes open. Well mod split wash so I went and washed, then I could see all yeah where is the man who is, it's also me about how you became a Christian. Somebody told me that Jesus blood was shed for my sins person bloodshed for your sins. What is that about Jesus died for my sins. The pastor told me that if I would metaphorically plunge myself into that fountain that Christ provided by his death that I would be cleansed and I would need to see so, come to me. Next thing you going to be telling me that some guy spat on the ground made mod. Somebody's eyes and the guy would walk around gourmet. I can see everything says what I'm going to tell you and fight, that's exactly what it says well we have to stop doing but not without acknowledging that some of your asking the right question in the right question is this what in the world is this have to do with anything.
And certainly what is a have to do with me. What possible relevance does it have as I get ready to go out of here and have my lunch. Really, the question is, so what isn't. So what is the right question. Let me give it to you straightforwardly as I can and I will pick it up from here. Next time the man's physical condition is a mirror image of the spiritual condition of you and of me. It's not a very nice thing to say and polite company. But it is what the Bible says, namely that we are blind beggars that we are spiritually blind, and that we are entirely unable to rectify our predicament were blind.
As a result of our partnership and solidarity with Adam and Eve in their sin and were blind comfortably because we neither understand the light nor do we recognize him nor are we prepared to come into the light because we like darkness rather than light. This is the verdict. John 319 light is come into the world. Men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil by nature were selfish, proud, envious, and we attempt to live with the cover-up choosing not to love the light and fight we hate the light is perfectly understandable if we expose ourselves to the light and all are dirty dark secrets will be revealed. No one likes that kind of process. So, although we throughout the smokescreen of our intellectual arguments.
I'm not denying that people have genuine and significant intellectual questions. Let's be honest about that but let's also be equally honest that most of our unbelief is not an intellectual issue is a moral issue.
Some moral issue.
We know ourselves to be stained and dirty, and therefore if someone asked us to come out into the light and show ourselves up for what we are. That is a process that we do not does not appeal to, as we would rather run again into the darkness. If you if you spill coffee on your trousers gentleman after you've only just pulled out of the driveway of your car you have to turn around go back in the house get another pair of trousers or you hold that where you're going is dark right when you going out to dinner your wife Sissy. I don't worry Victor that I don't think I think the rest is quite dark, so that's good because I want to conceal this going to the restaurant. Pleasing light is like for goodness sake, that is, that is embarrassed if I'd known how light it was. I would not have come in here like this is our nature loved darkness rather than light, because our deeds are evil. We are blind us.
We cannot make ourselves see Jesus comes to expose our blindness to touch our lives and to make us new when John Newton got it. He sat down and wrote in a Hampden amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me I once was lost but now I'm found I was blind but now I see Peter says to the scattered believers of his day. He says you were once not of people but now you are a people. Now we are a chosen generation, a holy nation of people belonging to God who has brought you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Well, you know where you are today and so do I wonder you prepared to face up to your blindness. You could just cry out to Jesus like another man who was blinded blind Bart Emmaus. He just shouted out even care what anybody here anybody hurt is called out in the street, son of David mercy on me, Jesus is what is it that you want me to do for you and Bart Emmaus said Jesus I want to see.
That's all you need to. He said to the man go wash. He went have you ever been washed in the cleansing pool provided by the atoning death of Jesus. If not, you remain in darkness going watch crying out to Jesus for mercy. The first step in confronting her spiritual blindness.
Today's message is titled this dark world like Truth for Life. Alister, today's study captures the singular focus of our mission here at Truth for Life. We teach the Bible so that men and women can come to know and love and trust the Lord Jesus Christ to save us from our sins and to lead us to eternal life teaching the Bible plants and waters. The seeds of saving faith, but only God can use the hearing of his word to open blind eyes and soften hardened hearts may be the topic of spiritual blindness has prompted you to think about people who have never heard God's word.
Or maybe you know people who have heard God's word and still remain unchanged. In either case, we think you'll find the book facing a task unfinished by Roger Carswell to be extremely helpful occurs will write each page in this book out of a burden to reach the lost with the good news of the gospel he wants to ignite in each of us that passion and he does this by crafting 52 devotions that are meant to be read once a week. Each week for an entire year. Each of these brief entries combines Scripture with him lyrics and prayers. The readings will inspire you to become more urgent in your prayers for the lost and it will inspire you to speak more boldly about the gospel with others. Request your copy of facing a task unfinished when you make a generous one-time gift today.
Simply The image of the mobile app or online at Truth for Life.or you can call 888-588-7884 Bob Lapine hoping you can join us again tomorrow as we continue the series called a light in the darkness will find out why the topic of spiritual blindness is so important for you and your church. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life learning is prolific