Week Four of 42 Days through Good News according to John


Spiritual Practice of the Week: Confession and Forgiveness
How do you feel when you’ve done something wrong? Chances are you might say, “guilty,” “heavy,” or “bad.” Jesus offers us freedom from the heaviness of our mistakes and bad behavior. Think of something that you’re sorry you did or said today and talk to Jesus about it. Apologize and ask Jesus for forgiveness. Ask if you should apologize to anyone else in person, and then do so if Jesus says yes. At the end of the week, think about what you liked and what you might not have liked about this particular spiritual practice. For families and groups, share your thoughts with each other.

Monday, March 16

John 9:18–41Spiritual Blindness 

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.”

24 So for the second time they called in the man who had been blind and told him, “God should get the glory for this, because we know this man Jesus is a sinner.”

25 “I don’t know whether he is a sinner,” the man replied. “But I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!”

26 “But what did he do?” they asked. “How did he heal you?”

27 “Look!” the man exclaimed. “I told you once. Didn’t you listen? Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?”

28 Then they cursed him and said, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses! 29We know God spoke to Moses, but we don’t even know where this man comes from.”

30 “Why, that’s very strange!” the man replied. “He healed my eyes, and yet you don’t know where he comes from? 31 We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but he is ready to hear those who worship him and do his will. 32 Ever since the world began, no one has been able to open the eyes of someone born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he couldn’t have done it.”

34 “You were born a total sinner!” they answered. “Are you trying to teach us?” And they threw him out of the synagogue.

35 When Jesus heard what had happened, he found the man and asked, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”

36 The man answered, “Who is he, sir? I want to believe in him.”

37 “You have seen him,” Jesus said, “and he is speaking to you!”

38 “Yes, Lord, I believe!” the man said. And he worshiped Jesus.

39 Then Jesus told him, “I entered this world to render judgment—to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind.”

40 Some Pharisees who were standing nearby heard him and asked, “Are you saying we’re blind?”

41 “If you were blind, you wouldn’t be guilty,” Jesus replied. “But you remain guilty because you claim you can see.”

Points of Interest

  • ‘they called in his parents’—they’re unwilling to take the man’s word for it; so they call in further witnesses. According to the law of Moses, testimony is considered valid if it comes from two to three sources (Deuteronomy 19:15). Since the parents corroborate the man, the religious leaders have to accept as a legal fact that the man had been blind.
  • ‘You were born a total sinner’—this goes back to the disciples’ initial theological question (9:2): for whose sins is be being divinely punished? The leaders decide that it must be for the man’s own actions. He’s such a terrible person that he was struck blind for his wickedness before he was ever born.
  •  ‘he found the man’—the synagogue is not only the center of worship, but the primary gathering place of the community. By throwing him out of the synagogue, the religious leaders are basically cutting the man off from society. Rough. He goes from being a blind beggar to being an outcast; it seems like normal life is really elusive to this man. Jesus doesn’t let him stay in isolation for long, though.
  •  ‘I entered this world to render judgment’—where judgment fits into Jesus’ mission is a bit difficult for me to nail down. Twice now, he has told us that he’s not interested in judging (3:17 and 8:15). Another time, he has claimed broad authority to judge (5:22). And here he says that judging is exactly what he came to do. So, in summary, Jesus is completely uninterested in judging except in that it’s the very thing most essential to his mission. Hmm. Hopefully this will become clearer as we go along. It is at least worth noting that whenever judgment comes up, it’s in reference, not to people who might conventionally be thought of as sinners, but to the religious leaders. That certainly gives me pause.
  • ‘because you claim you can see’—Jesus can heal blindness, but he can’t make someone open their eyes if they insist on keeping them shut.

Taking It Home

  • For you: Spend some time today reflecting on your journey with Jesus. The blind man started out knowing Jesus just as this mystical eye-doctor figure; a little farther down the road he came to know him as God. What were your first impressions of Jesus? When do you feel like you first knew him? What does your relationship with him look like now? Are you in desperate need of a miracle, like the blind man in the beginning? Do you feel like you’re still just trying to figure out who Jesus is? Would you say you’ve come to the place where you fully believe in Jesus and his promises? Or do you actually feel more like the Pharisees, wanting everything to make sense at a head-level and not engaging at a heart level? After remembering some key times in your life with Jesus, talk to Jesus about where you feel like you’re at now. Tell Jesus your feelings, questions or thoughts about him.
  • For your 6: Just as Jesus sought out the blind man to bring him out of isolation, ask Jesus to bring your 6 out of any isolation they may be experiencing.
  • For our church: While Jesus’ relationship to judgment may be a little hazy,  it’s safe to say that a.) the Pharisees are full of judgment and b.) we’d be best not to emulate them in that. Ask Jesus to protect our church from being judgmental. Ask Jesus to help us focus our attention on him, like the blind man did, and not to point fingers in a futile and uncalled for attempt to prove who is right and who is wrong.