Sunday, March 30, 2014


"Blind man on trial"
by William James Webb

TODAY'S SPECIAL: John 9:24-41

TO CHEW ON: "Jesus said to them, 'If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say "We see!" Therefore your sin remains.'" John 9:41

The interesting way this story ends, with some of the Pharisees checking on what Jesus thinks of them, shows that either they wanted to catch Jesus in another outrageous pronouncement—more incriminating evidence—or  they really were beginning to have doubts about their perception of what had just happened.

For the miracle of a blind man's sight restored on the Sabbath did not fit in their "it makes sense" category. And so they had reasoned it away and excommunicated the healed man. A footnote to this story in my Bible says,

"The perverse reasoning of the Pharisees placed them in a dilemma from which the only escape was to disprove the miracle that had been performed. They argued that no miracle could have occurred because it was the Sabbath, and God would never violate the law of rest by healing a person. However, the fact that a man born blind now had perfect sight refuted their theory. Thus, they must either deny the facts or confess the divine nature of Jesus. The logic of the healed man was simple and irrefutable (vs 30-33). Unable to deny the man's testimony, the religious authorities took the cowardly way out and excommunicated him" -Siegfried Schatzmann, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1460.

Much as we like to dump on the Pharisees, we act a lot like they do when we encounter spiritual things that don't jive with our reality.

Take, for example, the speaking in tongues controversy (Acts 2:1-4; 1 Corinthians 14). Because this phenomenon has ceased in many parts of the 21st century church, some theologians and Bible scholars have constructed an entire apologetic about why it was only for the early church. In some cases they go so far as to demonize those who practice it now.

It's in our nature to want to live consistent within what we believe is real and true. When something doesn't fit our paradigm, we feel uncomfortable until we've "proved" it wrong.

I ask myself, do I do that? Do I insist that every sign and wonder must have a material, rational explanation? Do I too reason away parts of God's revelation because I don't understand them or they haven't been my experience? Do I deceive myself by insisting I see, when I really don't, thus demonstrating my own spiritual blindness?

PRAYER: Dear God, I want Your word, not my experience or common wisdom to set the boundaries of my reality. Please give me faith that flexes and stretches to believe all that is in the Bible. Amen.

MORE: Another view

Lest I have opened a can of worms by mentioning tongues, above, let me leave you with another viewpoint. Here, from John Piper's 1990 message "Tongues of Fire and the Fullness of God" (text Acts 2:1-13) is Piper's description of what that phenomenon means for us today:

"That leaves just one last observation from the text. And it turns out to be a caution to us. In verse 12 the demonstration of God's power in the miracle of tongues causes amazement and perplexity among everyone. "And all were amazed and perplexed." But the perplexity gave way to two very different responses. Some seriously asked, "What does this mean?" Others (in verse 13) mocked and leaped to a naturalistic explanation: "They are filled with new wine."

This is the caution: whenever revival comes—whenever the Holy Spirit is poured out in extraordinary power—this division happens in the Christian community. Some genuinely inquire as to what this is, and test all things, and hold fast to what is good. Others stand outside and mock and write off the enthusiasm as merely human, "They are filled with new wine."

There are some signs today that we are in the first stages of a genuine, widespread awakening. Not the least of which is the undying desire and prayer in the hearts of so many of us at Bethlehem that God would rend the heavens and come down and revive his church and empower us for the final thrust of world evangelization. If this is true, what we need very much is discerning, expectant, open hearts that say, "What indeed is this?" and then listen for a biblical answer" (emphasis added).
 (By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.orgRead entire...)
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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