Red Village Church

I Was Blind, But Now I See – John 9: 1-41

It is my honor to bring the word to you this morning. I’ve been fighting a major cold all week, and so I apologize for any distraction that that causes us as we open God’s word together. When Aaron and I were discussing, when he asked me to preach this Sunday, what text we were going to pick, full disclosure, I’m not a huge fan of standalone sermons. In my mind, that’s like one step away from preaching topically, so I apologize for that.

He said, “Well, you could start our mini-series we’re doing in Revelation.” And then I thought, “Nah, maybe I’ll leave Revelation for the professionals.” So if you would open your Bible with me this morning to John chapter nine, I did try and be thoughtful about picking a passage that stands well on its own. And I’m excited to dig into it together.

John, Chapter 9 (ESV)

As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.

The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar were saying, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” Some said, “It is he.” Others said, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” 10 So they said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 11 He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed and received my sight.” 12 They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”

13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 14 Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15 So the Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, “He put mud on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” 16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them. 17 So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.”

18 The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight, until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight 19 and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” 20 His parents answered, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. 21 But how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” 22 (His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.) 23 Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”

24 So for the second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner.” 25 He answered, “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” 26 They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 27 He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” 28 And they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29 We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” 30 The man answered, “Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. 32 Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” 34 They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out.

35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” 38 He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. 39 Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.

(John 9:1-41, ESV)

Let’s pray together. Father, this morning, we are so thankful for Your text. Father, may the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in Your presence. Lord, may I present Your word thoughtfully and truthfully. And long after my words are forgotten, may Your word be remembered and only for Your glory. In Jesus’ name, amen.

A recent study by the Barna Group, which is a research organization that studies faith and culture in America, examined the extent to which Christians in the US display either the actions and attitudes of Jesus or those of the Pharisees. Jesus-like actions included listening to others’ life story and pointing them to Christ, choosing to spend time with non-Christians, witnessing to multiple people to follow Christ. Jesus-like attitudes included seeing God-given value in everyone and feeling compassion for those who do not know the gospel.

Pharisaical actions, including telling people that God’s rules are paramount in their lives, shunning sinners, preferring to serve themselves and those like themselves rather than those different from themselves and those outside the church. Attitudes like the Pharisees included refusing to take responsibility for those who keep doing wrong, feeling grateful to be a Christian while observing others’ failures, and self-righteous belief in one’s own holiness above others.

The survey found just 14% of Christians represented the attitudes and actions that they considered consistent with those of Christ. Barna Group President David Kinnaman comments, “It is a lot easier to point fingers at how culture is immoral than it is to confront Christians and ourselves in comfortable spiritual patterns.”

As we travel through John 9 this morning, we will contrast the development of Christ-likeness in one man while witnessing a group of Pharisees wandering farther and farther from Christ. It is important that we think about that contrast as we examine our own hearts this morning.

As I mentioned, because this is a standalone sermon, I’m going to spend a little bit of extra time going into the context of what we’re looking at this morning in John 9. The feast and festivals of ancient Israel were times when God’s people would commemorate redemptive acts of the Lord.

Six major assemblies are mentioned in Mosaic law: the three major festivals of Passover, Weeks or Pentecost, and Booths. These were pilgrimage celebrations when the entire nation gathered before the Lord. The others are the Feast of Firstfruits, the Feast of Trumpets, and the Day of Atonement.

These festivals were not only corporate times of celebration; they also expressed a theological message as they reminded the Israelites of the way the Lord provided for their past, their present, and their future. The importance for us is that the future blessing found its fullest redemptive reality in the messianic work of Jesus Christ.

The Apostle John, in chapters seven through 10, writes an in-depth accounting of what is called the later Judean period of Jesus’ ministry. At this time, Jesus and his followers, like the rest of Israel, have come to Jerusalem to celebrate the fall, or harvest, festivals. Like the rest, according to Leviticus 23, the first day of the seventh month was to be observed with the Feast of Trumpets. The Day of Atonement followed on the 10th day, and finally crescendoed into the Feast of Booths starting on the 15th day.

The celebration would last eight days with a sacred assembly on the first and last day. Over the festival, the nation would descend upon Jerusalem with every street, alley, and roof crowded with tents, or booths, to remember their journey from Egypt to Canaan. The people dressed in their Sabbath best.

There were two great ceremonies during the Feast of Booths.

Rabbinical literature tells us that each morning, the multitudes would gather at the temple. In their left hand, they would hold an ethrog, or it’s like a lumpy lemon-looking fruit, as a reminder of the land that God had brought them to. In their right hand, they held three sprigs, one branch each of a palm, a willow, and a myrtle called a lulav, emblematic of the three stages of Israel’s journey through the wilderness.

The priest would hold a golden pitcher over his head and would lead a processional from the temple to the pool of Siloam. The priest would dip his pitcher into the pool while the people shouted Isaiah 12:3-4, saying, “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation, and you will say in that day, give thanks to the Lord, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the peoples, proclaim that his name is exalted.”

Then the processional would head back, more than a half-mile journey, returning to the temple where the priest would circle the altar and pour the water out. Paint yourself a picture in your mind of the spectacle, the worship, the drama. It was on the final day of this ritual that John writes in chapter seven that Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture says, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” Can you imagine someone saying that?

The second great ceremony was the illumination of the temple.

Four giant torches hung on golden candelabras which sat, some sources say, 75 feet high and held some 65 liters of oil. Every evening, a priest, who most likely never skipped leg day, would carry the oil up a long 75-foot ladder and light the protruding wicks, commemorating the pillar of fire in the wilderness. The great flames would illuminate the entire temple courtyard, indeed, much of Jerusalem, from dusk until dawn. It would have been spectacular.

The priests and the Jewish men would gather and dance all night. This was the backdrop for Jesus’ words in John eight, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Can you imagine the outright offensive blasphemy? Unless, of course, it was true.

This is the reason that unpacking context is so important. The American church has loaded our heads with garbage that we are to be weak, passive, congenial, nuanced, subtle Christians following a nuanced and subtle Christ. How much subtlety and nuance are there in Christ’s statements here? This is his last time in Jerusalem before Passion Week. He is months from his crucifixion, and he has no time to waste, and neither do we. He does not mince words.

Wheaton College professor Gary Burge says, “Jesus comes in chapter nine in conflict with the true darkness, the darkness of the human heart. Jesus is the ultimate juxtaposition as the light in conflict with the darkness.”

The structure that we’re going to use in John chapter nine this morning breaks down into three parts that I’ll call a one, four, two structure. So first, we’re going to have a healing in verses one through seven. Second, we’re going to have a series of controversies: verses eight through twelve, the beggar and his neighbors; verses thirteen to seventeen, the beggar and the Pharisees, part one; verses eighteen to twenty-three, the Pharisees and his parents; verses twenty-four to thirty-four, the beggar and the Pharisees, part two. Third, the man born blind worshiping Jesus and the Pharisees condemned for their failure to do so: verses thirty-five to thirty-eight, Jesus and the beggar; and verses thirty-nine to forty-one, the condemnation of the Pharisees.

So let’s start and look at verses one through seven together. As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the pool of Siloam.” So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.

John starts by simply telling us that Jesus passed by and saw a man born blind, which tells us that the blindness of this beggar was probably obvious and fairly well-known.

Jesus takes the initiative and notices him. The man’s plight prompts a question from his disciples. It was widely held at the time that suffering or deformities were the result of generational sin. His disciples evidently accepted this, but were perplexed at the application. How could a man sin before his birth, or why would he be held accountable for the sins of his parents?

Jesus decisively rejects both alternatives. Burge comments, “Most English translations invite gross confusion with Jesus’ answer. At first glance, it appears God brought suffering to this man so that he might glorify himself in his healing. While a sound theology cannot doubt God’s sovereignty to do as he pleases, thoughtful Christians may see this as a cruel fate in which God inflicts pain on people simply to glorify himself.”

However, Burge says it reads, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but so that the work of God might be displayed in his life, we must do the work of him who sent me while it is still day.” Do you hear the difference? Burge is saying God had not made the man blind in order to show his glory. Rather, God had sent Jesus to do the works of healing in order to show his glory.

Walking up to the beggar, Jesus kneels and makes mud out of soil and spit and applies it to the man’s eyes. Kind of interesting, why mud? There’s probably a couple of reasons, but one stands out as more significant than the rest.

And John Piper unpacks this for us when he says, “First, Jesus made mud because it was against the law to do it on the Sabbath, and he meant to unleash controversy. The Pharisees had developed many applications of the prohibitions of work on the Sabbath, and one of them was the kneading of dough. And the word for mud or clay here is the same as the word for dough. Jesus had broken the law against kneading dough or clay or mud.”

“You see, Jesus knew exactly what he was doing, and he doesn’t miss an opportunity to set up controversy. Jesus instructs the man to go and wash in the pool of Siloam. Remember, this isn’t just any pool. This is the pool the Pharisees had just drawn the water from as part of the feast of the tabernacle. The name of the pool also bears symbolic importance for Jesus. Siloam means ‘sent,’ and more than 20 times in John, Jesus is described as the one who has been sent by God.”

“In other words, the blind man is being told to go wash in the place called ‘sent’ by the one who was sent by God. What Jesus is saying is that he’s the source of the healing, not the pool. None of this is by accident. Notice that Jesus did not immediately heal the man, but the healing required faith and action on the man’s part. He had to obey and follow Jesus’ words, and what a miracle. Can you imagine what it would be like to see for the first time?”

“The closest that I can come up with is the fact that I wear contacts.”

In fact, I wear a negative five in both eyes, and if you asked Dr. Shildroth over there, she would tell you that without them I am basically blind. If I was born in Jesus’ day, my career would have topped out at beggar. Instead, I became a salesman, which is kind of a fancy word for beggar. But that’s neither here nor there.

Once in a while, when my eyes are tired, or I want an excuse to not take out the trash till the morning, I will take out my contacts, and I’ll sit down and finish sipping a bourbon, or a Dr. Pepper. During that time, my wife may call to me. One of my kids that should be in bed may run up to me, or the dog may whine to go outside. I can’t see. I can see their general direction, and I can see like orbs floating in the distance, but I can’t see their faces. I can’t tell if my wife is smiling. I can normally tell by her tone of voice.

But I think to myself during those times, what a blessing it is to have sight. What a blessing to be able to go upstairs, put in my contacts, and come down and see my boys working, my little girls smiling, Janet giving our baby a bottle, or looking out the window at another cold, wintery, suburban Madison night. Why do we live here? Anyways, that’s how I got to be a salesman.

This man sees all of this and more for the first time, and he runs home to tell everyone about it. Jesus heals this man to show his glory. And he heals him using mud on the Sabbath to set up controversy.

And that’s what happens next. We are seven verses in, and now we see 33 verses of controversy. Let’s follow this healed beggar through his story of conversion.

The controversy begins in verse eight. The healed man goes home to tell his neighbors what had happened. Verse eight, the neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar were saying, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” Some said, “It is he.” Others said, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am that man.”

So they said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed and received my sight.”

They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”

Once he’s healed, this guy runs home exclaiming, “I can see! I can see!” And naturally, everyone starts asking questions. But notice that he apparently knows very little about Jesus and expects that his neighbors will likewise know little as well. So at this point, he simply calls him “the man.” And very reasonably, his neighbors, astounded by the healing and unable to explain it, take him to the Pharisees in the temple seeking an explanation.

So they go to the temple, think of it almost as a mini Sanhedrin, and the controversy starts to unfold. Verse 13 to 16: “They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. So the Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, ‘He put mud on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.’ Some of the Pharisees said, ‘This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.’ But others said, ‘How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?’ And there was a division among them.”

The Pharisees see the problem. They see the logical trap that Jesus has put them in, and there’s really not a good way out of it. “He can’t be from God because he’s broken the Sabbath, but then how did he just heal a man?” And it’s so interesting, look at verse 17: “Unable to explain, they turn and ask the man, ‘What do you say about him, for he has opened your eyes?’ And he said, ‘He is a prophet.'”

Remarkable that a group of Pharisees, the wisest, most religious, pompous men in Israel, would ask a beggar his opinion. Something has happened in this interchange. Something is happening in this beggar’s heart. He steps out on his next ledge of faith and answers in verse 17, “He is a prophet,” not just an ordinary man now, but one sent by God.

Seeing that this story does not fit in the Pharisees’ perfectly constructed holiness formula, they look for the easiest way out. This man must be lying. So they investigate, and they’re going to get him by talking to his parents. So they ask in verse 19, they ask of the parents, “Is he your son? Was he born blind? How does he see?” And the parents answer, “He is our son, he was born blind, and we don’t know how he was healed.” And then they totally throw their son under the bus. “Ask our son, he is of legal age.”

John says in verse 22 that the reason they said this was because they feared the Jews. Well, I don’t think they were nominated for any parent of the year awards that day. John is probably not trying to be hard on them, but using their cowardice to emphasize the faith of the healed son. The parents perhaps could be on their way; it takes some believers decades to realize that Jesus is worth everything. But to others, like the son, he knows it right away.

Looking at verses 24 to 34, we see the truth-revealing courage of the beggar, a mere beggar, standing up to the most religious and educated people of the land.

And we see the full-blown blasphemy of the Pharisees. Verse 24, “Give glory to God and join us,” saying, “This man is a sinner.” Essentially, join us or we will excommunicate you from the synagogue. This wasn’t just “join us or you will have to leave,” but “join us or you will be kicked out of the center of your culture. You will be kicked out of the only community you have ever known.”

Amazingly, this beggar responds to the threat with his most famous statement. Verse 25, “Whether he is a sinner, I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” If nothing else marks you this morning, I hope this does. He’s saying, “I don’t know much, but I have seen the truth and I can’t turn from it.”

Most of us are not scientists. A few of us are. Most of us are not theologians. And yet we have people coming against our faith with every possible argument, whether theological, historically, scientifically, philosophically, but even someone like Oxford math professor, Dr. John Lennox says, the most powerful argument is the personal testimony of a changed heart. You can all, we can all do that. Piper says that when a heart is changed, when someone sees the truth of Jesus for the first time and can’t turn from it, that is a miracle. What could be a more powerful testimony?

Now the Pharisees become hostile. Verse 26, they said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered them, “I have told you already and you would not listen.”

Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?

And they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses. But as for this man, we know not where he comes from.”

The controversy exposes another flaw in their hearts. No, they are not disciples of Moses. Jesus said in John 5:46, “If you believed Moses, you would believe me. For he wrote of me.”

Verses 30 to 33, the man responds, “Why, this is an amazing thing. You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners. But if anyone is a worshipper of God and does his will, God listens to him. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”

A greater miracle than physical sight has happened in this man’s heart, and the Pharisees can’t handle it. They respond with contempt in verse 34, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out.

Yes, he had become their teacher. What happened? We see through this controversy the beggar’s eyes aren’t finished being open. They become clearer and clearer and clearer. And little by little, the darkness of the Pharisees becomes darker and darker and darker.

I like how the New Living Translation puts Matthew 6:23, “But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness.”

And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is! Jesus shows the Pharisees darkness clear while leading this man to be bolder and bolder through his sight. And by the end of the interaction, you have a lifelong blind beggar with no education, reasoning circles around the most learned men of the day.

This beggar has been dragged from group to group, from family to neighbors to Pharisees, presented with all kinds of arguments and threats. And this simple man, with all boldness, says, “You guys have said a lot of things that I don’t understand. But I can see. I was blind, but now I can see. I can see. Do you get it?”

For us, we can say the same thing. “I have seen the truth of the glory of God and the sufficiency of His light, and I didn’t do anything to deserve it. I was going in whatever direction pleased me. And Christ, the Hound of Heaven, was on my trail. He grabbed me, brought me to Himself.” We can testify to that. Whether it’s in front of the UW faculty, the exact sciences board of directors, or US Congress, we can stand up and say, “I don’t know much, but I know I was blind, and I know I can see.”

Or more likely, it’s a neighbor, a co-worker, the guy we sit next to on a plane. “Hey, I was blind, but now I can see. I just needed you to know that.”

I remember listening to a lecture from a visiting professor when I was at Wheaton. For the life of me, I cannot remember his name or really even what he talked about.

But I remember the story he told that was the beginning of his road to conversion. He was a professor at, I think, the University of Chicago, maybe DePaul, Loyola, I don’t remember. He would ride the L into work every day from the north side, and he started noticing that there was a moody student who was often in his train car and would witness to people during his morning commute.

The professor decided that he would devise the most intimidating, cutting, antagonistic response that he could think of to be ready for this kid if he was ever approached. Sure enough, a few weeks later, the student came up to him and barely got a word out of his mouth before the professor launched into his tirade that took up almost the whole remainder of the trip.

When the train was slowing for his stop, the professor relented from his diatribe and refocused on the student who he could see had been holding back tears. As he moved to leave, the moody student looked at him, tears rolling down his cheek, and said, “I just wanted you to know that God knows you, and He loves you.” That was it. The professor was on his way. “I was blind, but now I see. I have seen the truth of the love of Jesus. I just want you to know that.”

The Pharisees didn’t know, and their darkness only becomes darker. Verses 35 to 38. The final interaction between Jesus and the beggar, the man’s excommunication from the synagogue, would have been fairly big news, and it would have spread.

When the man had been publicly persecuted for Jesus’ sake, it can be assumed that Jesus would not be indifferent. God is never indifferent to persecution in his name. God goes out to get his people and opens up his kingdom. Jesus seeks out the man. It’s no accident, by the way, that the next chapter of John is Jesus is the shepherd who gathers his sheep.

Starting in verse 35, Jesus heard that they had cast him out and, having found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” Significant language considering that he had never seen anything before recently.

He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshipped him. And that’s the last thing we see or hear of this man. Jesus does the works of God. Jesus is the glory of God. Jesus is to be worshipped. The man was blind. Then he called Jesus the man, then a prophet. Lastly, he falls down at Jesus’ feet and worships him as God. This is exactly why Jesus came into the world. He is seeking worshippers.

Healing a man born blind is an astounding miracle, but greater than that is one who can forgive sins and give you eternal salvation. But not everyone responds to Jesus with worship. In the last few verses, we see the inevitable consequence for those who turn from the truth.

Verse 39, Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see, and those who see will become blind.”

The light has had its effect on the man who is ready to receive it. The last two verses serve as a warning to those who close their eyes to it. Verses 40 and 41: Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?”

And Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin. But now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.” The coming of light shows who are spiritually blind and judges them. Judgment is not the purpose of light, but it is the inevitable consequence.

I love the way Dr. William Temple comments on the end of this chapter. He says, “It is a crushing, overwhelming retort. Can we escape its impact? Only in one of two ways. Either we must confess our blindness and seek the opening of our eyes, or we must accept the light and walk by it. What we may not do, yet all strive to do, is to keep our eyes half open and live by half the light.”

This kind of sight holds us to our sin, and our sin to us. But the only way of avoiding it is to look with eyes wide open upon ourselves and look at the world as the full light reveals it. But this is the surrender of faith, and pride resists it.

How can we apply this chapter this morning? We need to be like the blind beggar, that our light in our hearts may grow brighter, and less like the Pharisees, whose hearts grow dark. C.S. Lewis said that all, either willingly or unwillingly, do the will of God: some as sons and daughters, and others as tools or instruments.

It should make a great deal of difference to us which one we are. We are all blind beggars. We have nothing to bring to the table. There is not a speck of goodness inside of us that we could stand in front of a holy God. Nothing. Jesus came to earth to make the blind see and the dead live.

I firmly believe the only reason any of us are here this morning is because while we can run fast, God runs faster. We can run away from Him, and in His indescribable love and mercy, He chases us down, scoops us up, and brings us back to Himself. We need to come to God poor in spirit, with humility and emptiness, and receive from Him His fullness.

I love the way Dr. Jerry Root says this, that we are most like God in the world when we’re most unlike Him in relationship with Him. Jerry explains, “God alone is independent. So I go to Him unlike Him, dependent upon Him, that I might go into the world more like Him, independent of the world. If I catch myself in a moment of being unlovely, I go to God in my unloveliness unlike Him and receive out of the rich reservoir of His love for me so that I might insert myself into the world more like Him, more loving.”

If you catch yourself in a moment of impatience, don’t beat yourself up; don’t stew in it. In your impatience, go to Him and receive from Him His patience that you might reinsert yourself into the world more patient. That’s being poor in spirit.

Charles Spurgeon said, “It is not our littleness that hinders Christ, but our bigness.”

It is not our weakness that hinders Christ, but our strength. It is not our darkness that hinders Christ; it is our supposed light that pulls back his hand. Perhaps for some of us this morning, it’s not our insecurity that hinders Christ, but our earthly security. It’s not our unrighteousness that hinders Christ, but our self-righteousness. It’s not our ignorance, but our knowledge that can tempt us to lack action for the gospel.

Which leads me back to the Barna survey. It would be easy for us to read that and lift our heads to the heavens and say, “Thank you, God, that I am not like one of those Christians in the Barna survey.” You know, the ones with the Pharisaical attitudes. Slowly, we will crowd out the light of God with our own dark light of self-righteousness. And even though our eyes are wide open, we will see nothing but darkness.

Only when we empty our hearts can Christ enter and reign. Then as we see clearer and clearer, we can be bolder and bolder about the true light of Jesus Christ that captures our hearts and transforms our lives.

Alexander White, the great Scottish divine from a century ago, was one day in his study, and a friend came up to him to tell him about a preacher who had come to Edinburgh, who was criticizing all the rest of the ministers. And the friend said to Dr. White, “This minister has said that Dr. Hood Wilson was not a Christian.”

When White heard that, he leapt out of his chair and said, “The rascal, Dr. Hood, not a Christian?” Then the man said, “That is not all. For he also said that you are not converted either.” Then White sat back down in his chair, put his head in his hands, and was silent for a long time. Finally, he said, “Leave me, friend, for I must examine my heart.”

Brothers and sisters, this week examine your hearts. Take everything out except Jesus. Go to him in your darkness, receive from him his light, that with humility, but with all boldness, tell the world that you were blind, but now you see. Let’s pray.

This is a prayer from A.W. Tozer. “Father, we want to know thee, but our cowardly hearts fear to give up their toys. We cannot part with them without inward bleeding, and we do not try to hide from thee the terror of the parting. We come trembling, but we do come. Please root from our hearts all those things which we have cherished so long, and which have become a very part of our living self, so that thou mayest enter and dwell there without a rival. Then shalt thou make the place of thy feet glorious. Then shall our hearts have no need of the sun to shine in it, for thyself will be the light of it, and there shall be no night there. Amen.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *