Our Lives Exist for the Glory of God (John 9:1-41)

March 31, 2014

Jesus sees the man blind from birth.  The disciples seem to casually comment on the man’s state in life.  Jesus responds that the man’s blindness from birth exists that God’s works might be revealed in him.  Jesus doesn’t pass by the man.  Jesus truly sees him; and, in fact, he has seen him from the time he was formed in his mother’s womb.  God has seen his blindness; it has occurred in God’s sovereignty.  His blindness did not occur due to evolution gone wrong or as punishment.  God has been seeing this man from before the foundation of the world.

Not just this man’s blindness but all creation exists, so that God’s glorious workings might be revealed and known to all beings.  Jesus sees you today.  He sees your state; he knows you and has known you from before you were created and formed in your mother’s womb.  Jesus isn’t passing by you either.  He has come to you to reveal God’s glory in your life.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,   not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8-10)

We are satisfied in Christ not when we get what we want or achieve our own glory.  We are satisfied in Christ when we seek his glory and pursue it by our works and devotion.  Jesus includes us in his works, “We must work the works of him who sent me,” Jesus says.  Our lives exists for God’s glory.  It is our good news that what gives God glory is for us to be fully alive.  So Jesus has come to give us abundant life.  He comes to us for this reason.

The early Church Father Irenaeus’ affirms this reality in his famous assertion, “The glory of God is man fully alive.”

Jesus comes to the blind man to make him more fully alive by giving him sight and salvation.  Jesus declares himself the light of the world while he is in the world.  His work in the world is to set others alight with himself, so that they might become the light of the world.  This begins by seeing Jesus before us.

Jesus, my God, my sweetest Love, 
Strike and inflame this heart of mine, 
Make it all fire for love of thee.

 Whereas the disciples might have been satisfied by Jesus shining a light on the blind man’s sin and passing by him, Jesus does not become satisfied with anyone’s life until it conforms to his own.  Jesus has come to overcome our sinfulness.  We all fall short of God’s glory, and Jesus brings God’s glory into our lives to raise us up with him.

Jesus mixes mud and his spit and places it on the man’s eyes.  Then he commands him to go wash in the pool of Siloam.  He does and is healed.  The blind man can see.  Does Jesus heal him by this process to test him, to give him something tangible to help his faith, to send him away to avoid a circus or some other reason? Is the washing in the pool analogous to our washing in baptismal waters in which we die to ourselves and are raised to new life?

We see the command and the obedience leading to the result.  It might be true that those things for which you are praying require some obedience on your part.  Listen to Jesus as you present your requests to him.  Is he commanding you to do something?  Our faith response to his commands acknowledges that God is working for our good and his commands lead us into his abundant life.

The blind man returns to his village and those who know him.  He can see, and they are amazed and in a quandary.  Jesus has slipped away, and all the man knows is his story about Jesus and his healing.

man born blind icon

Now we see the authorities of the time attempt to discredit the man, dismiss Jesus and maintain their control and positions.  Why is it that worldly authorities so often persecute, oppress, ridicule and reject Jesus Christ and Christianity?  Jesus Christ is the threat to every world system.  He is the threat to Communists, Islamists, Secularists, Dictators and to a government that seeks to grow its power and status.  He is the threat to religious authorities who have mired themselves in legalism and control.

The reason is the same one that causes you and I to attempt to dismiss Jesus’ commands, the authority of his body, the aim of his word in Scripture and the undeniable force of his unconditional love.  All of these threaten the authority of the self and our world, as we have defined it and found it comforting.

The question comes to us as it did to the blind man who can see, “What do you say about him?”  Is he Lord? Is he a prophet, a teacher? Today, for us the question is whether Jesus is alive and Lord.  How would our life answer this question?  How do our vocational actions, our family time and our alone time answer the question of who Jesus is?

Soren Kierkegaard, the Danish Christian theologian, wrote “The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world? …Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Yes it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament.”

If Jesus is our Lord, we must submit to him as disciples.  Jesus says of his disciples, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)

As his disciples, we must pursue sight.  We simply cannot entertain our own ideas, the devices and desires of our hearts, about how to live; these invariably serve ourselves.  We must live according to the mind of Christ.  He is the one who rules and reigns.  He comes to us to give sight, and often, we, like the Pharisees in the gospel don’t want to see or hear about the truth.

The author of Hebrews writes that “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.  And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:12-13)

Adam and Eve teach us that it is a terrifying event to face God in our nakedness of sin.  God calls to us, searches for us and comes to us.  We hide in any covering we can find to protect ourselves as we are.  Tragically, we end up hiding in our pain, shame, pride, delusions, brokenness and enslavement to sin.  Jesus comes to heal us and transform us from that darkness into his glorious light.

Roman Catholic priest and activist Dan Berrigan asserted, “You cannot set up a court in the kingdom of the blind and condemn those who see.”  That is what the Pharisees do for the blind man who now sees.  It is what we might also do to the presence of Jesus and the living and active word of God.  We condemn it before our busy, sinful, indulgent selves.  “I don’t have time.”  “I don’t understand.” “I’m fine.” “I just want to be inspired and encouraged—no need for a two-edged sword, just a brushing off will do me fine today.”  A bit of a pep-talk is what we want.  We want a preacher like a coach at halftime to give us some plays and motivation and send us back out.

What Jesus is showing us is that we are blind to him and his workings.  To Samuel, the great prophet, God says, “Do not look on his appearance…For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

The Pharisees make an accurate statement to the blind man when they tell him, “You were born in utter sin” (Jn 9:34)  The mistake they make is assuming that they are not also born in sin and slaves to sin.  The good news of Jesus is that he has come to free us from sin that we might see the glory of God.  We have been born in sin, but through Jesus we can be born from the Father in holiness.

The Pharisees assert, “We are disciples of Moses…As for this man, we do not know where he comes from.”  They reject Jesus supposedly because they do not know him well enough.  None of us knows Jesus well enough.  We might say something like the Pharisees, “I am comfortable with what I know.  I am not going further.”  Or, “As for knowing more Scripture, or experiencing the gifts of the Spirit, or telling people about my relationship with Jesus, or serving in the church or praying with others, well, I don’t know about that.”  In other words, we say to Jesus, “Bless me, but otherwise please don’t bother me.”

The blind man who can see has been blessed, and he has also been quite bothered.  His parents have been disturbed and threatened.  He has been harassed, insulted and thrown out of the religious community; he was “cast out.”

Jesus finds him.  He is on Jesus’ heart, and Jesus comes again to the blind man who can see and leads him to salvation.  How? The same way that we are saved or that others are saved.  “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” Jesus says.

The blind man who sees asks, “Who is he?”

Jesus responds by revealing himself as the One present and the One speaking.  He reveals himself as the Lord who has come for salvation.  He is present not to condemn but to save, not to enslave but free, not to take away life but to give abundant life.  He has come for your good! He is with you now speaking to you and seeing you in love and compassion.

What Jesus desires is for us to believe and proclaim, “Lord, I believe.”  And as the seeing man responds with worship of Jesus, Jesus desires our worship and obedience…this is the way to life for us and glory for God.  The true disciples of Jesus will ask the Lord repeatedly, “Tell me more and show me more, so that I may believe more.”

Today, admit to Jesus your blindness, so that he can give you sight.  Admit to Jesus your sinfulness, so he can give you forgiveness.  Admit to Jesus your pains and brokenness, so that he can heal you.  When we confess these things, Jesus will remove what hinders our relationship with him,

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:8-9)

Finally, admit to Jesus your desire for true life, so that he can give you abundant life.  This is why he has come and is present in the Holy Spirit today.

One Response to “Our Lives Exist for the Glory of God (John 9:1-41)”

  1. Jeanie Says:

    I read this tonight by “accident” and it is more convicting, challenging and beautiful than when you first wrote it. I sometimes run from His healing touch, but He calls me back. You are His servant. Grace and truth sparkles in your writing.

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