What Should We Say About Jesus?

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John 9:13 – 23

13 Then they took the man who had been blind to the Pharisees, 14 because it was on the Sabbath that Jesus had made the mud and healed him. 15 The Pharisees asked the man all about it. So he told them, “He put the mud over my eyes, and when I washed it away, I could see!” 16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man Jesus is not from God, for he is working on the Sabbath.” Others said, “But how could an ordinary sinner do such miraculous signs?” So there was a deep division of opinion among them.

17 Then the Pharisees again questioned the man who had been blind and demanded, “What’s your opinion about this man who healed you?” The man replied, “I think he must be a prophet.” 18 The Jewish leaders still refused to believe the man had been blind and could now see, so they called in his parents. 19 They asked them, “Is this your son? Was he born blind? If so, how can he now see?”

20 His parents replied, “We know this is our son and that he was born blind,21 but we don’t know how he can see or who healed him. Ask him. He is old enough to speak for himself.” 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who had announced that anyone saying Jesus was the Messiah would be expelled from the synagogue.23 That’s why they said, “He is old enough. Ask him.”

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Imagine what it what it would have been like for this young man who had been blind from birth to suddenly be able to see again.  We do not know exactly how old he was, but according to verse 21, he was no longer a child.  In fact, the Greek here implies that he was a young man for he was “of age” or “mature” now.

What happened to this young man was stunning to say the least.  And it left the Pharisees in a huge quandary.  How could they explain what happened?  What were they to do?  What were they to say about this man, Jesus?  Some said that Jesus was not from God, for He broke the Sabbath law handed done by God prohibitting work on the Sabbath day.  Yet others were unsure that such a miracle could be done by anyone unless God were with him.

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For us who live two millennia later and in another culture, it is difficult to see why the Pharisees had such a difficult time with this miracle that Jesus did.  I think it would be good then for to consider the historical and religious background of the whole situation.  To start with, we need to look at the regulations regarding the Sabbath which God spoke to Moses upon Mount Sinai.

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”  Exodus 20:8-11

Most people are familiar with the “Ten Commandments” that God gave to Moses and the Israelite people.  Keeping the Sabbath holy for the Lord is Law #4.  The intent of this law was that God’s people (and all household members, servants and animals) would rest from their work (a practical issue) and set aside time to worship their Creator God (a theological issue).  All of this was good.

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But the Jewish people seemed to always get it backwards somehow.  In the Old Testament period, from the time of Moses until the time of the Exile hundreds of years later, the people couldn’t get the idea straight that God was their one and only God and King (theocratic monarchy).  And because of their polytheism (worshiping multiple gods), the LORD God sent them into Exile to disciple them for this sin.

Amazingly, when the Jews came back less than a century later, they were from that point on a completely monotheistic people.  The problem is they were so fanatical about their desire not to offend God, that they created hundreds of laws to regulate every day living and created ritualistic legalism, and forgot the importance of having a living and dynamic relationship with God.

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And so the control of the Pharisees became almost tyrannical in nature, even though they really believed they were helping the people to be in right relationship with God.  When Jesus healed on the Sabbath, they could not see the miracle (or the Man behind the miracle) because of their over inflated importance of keeping their “religious rituals” intact.

You know, there is an important application for us here for today.  When you get to the real root of the practices of the Pharisees, they believed that it was utterly important what you did in order to be acceptable in God’s sight.  And we have this tendency among people today.  It is still believed that “if I am a good person and do the right things, then I will be accepted by God and will enter Heaven.”

My friend, there is so much more to faith than rules and regulations.  Ultimately, all of us will also have to decide what we will do with Jesus and what we will say about Him.  Follow along in the next two Bible study articles on John 9 to see the progression of faith in this young man and learn from him.  My prayer is that you will see Jesus for who He really is.

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Jesus, The One Equal To God The Father

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John 5:16 – 30

16 So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. 17 In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” 18 For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

19 Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. 21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. 22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.

24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. 25 Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.

28 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29 and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.30 By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.

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In this passage, we see the open hostility of the Jewish leaders that broke out against Jesus.  It was bad enough in their opinion that Jesus had performed a miracle on the Sabbath, the holy day of rest for the Jewish people.  (See my last article on “Christian Compassion vs. Religious Criticism“.)  But now they hear Jesus utter words that show that He equated Himself with God the Father.

As I reflected on the blindness of the Jewish leaders, I realized that they did not have the benefit of living in the period of “post-resurrection”, nor the hundreds of years that the Church has had to understand the implications of Jesus Incarnation, His death, and His resurrection.  The Jewish people were all waiting for the Promised Messiah, the One whom God would anoint and bring salvation to His people.

I do wonder though, what exactly they expected to see when they would meet the Messiah.  Would He just suddenly appear, without having any background of a birthplace or a family such as Jesus had?  Was the Messiah going to just appear as some super human and lead the nation to victory against their enemies in this world?  We know that is partly what they thought.  What caught them off guard was that Jesus was rather ordinary, being born in Bethlehem and raised as a carpenter’s son in Nazareth.

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And then Jesus elevated Himself high above all other humans by making claims of being equal with God Himself.  In this passage we see a number of ways in which Jesus is equally compared to God the Father.  We see these similar things:

  • God is always at work in the world, and so is the Son (implying supernatural activities)
  • what the Father does, He shows to His Son, and the Son also does the same things
  • the Father and the Son can both raise the dead and give them new life
  • God gives the authority to judge all men into the hands of the Son
  • people will honour the Son just as much as they honour the Father
  • the Son is the source of Life just as the Father is also the source of Life for all people

That is quite a list of qualities that Jesus attributes to Himself.  No wonder that the Jewish leaders wanted to kill Him.  They were actually right to challenge Jesus, for no ordinary man could claim these things.  But Jesus was no ordinary man.  Twice Jesus refers to God as “the One who sent Me”.  As people who now live after the Resurrection, we know that Jesus’ claim to be God the Son was validated by Him rising from the dead.

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And it was the will of the Father that caused Jesus to leave Heaven and come down to earth.  He in fact was the awaited Messiah.  And the promise here is that for anyone who will accept Him as the One who is equal with God and who was sent by God the Father, that person is able to come to God by means of Jesus (like walking across a bridge) and will no longer be under the penalty and curse of death, but will receive the gift of eternal life with God forever.

It really is too bad that the Jewish leaders did not have all the information and insight that you and I have today.  So it is easy to criticise them as being so blind that they could not see Jesus for who He really is.  But I wonder if we would have done much better ourselves?  The key thing right now is for us to not miss the point, namely that Jesus really is the One who is equal to God the Father, the Author of Life, and the One who saves us from death and brings us into eternal life.