Religion Blinds You. Relationship Heals You.
“They still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man’s parents.”
There is a story found in John 9, where Jesus gives sight to a man who had been blind since birth. I wrote a devotional about this event in February 2016, which has been viewed by tens of thousands of people. You can read it here–but wait, don’t read it yet! Today’s devotional isn’t about that healing, in itself, but what happened with the religious people afterwards. You’re gonna love this!
To set this up, I need to summarize the event of the healing. Jesus and His crew were strolling along and saw a man who was blind from birth. Jesus heals him–but not how you would think! He made the man do something which seems demeaning. You’ll have to read the story in John 9 to see what I’m referring to, however, HE GOT HIS SIGHT! A MIRACLE! He had never seen a thing in his life, and then Jesus showed up and gave Him a brand new vision–literally! That’s what He does! HE GIVES US OUR SIGHT–not just our physical sight, but also, our spiritual sight.
Back then, there was a group of people called the Pharisees. They were just like today’s religious Christians–no different. They picked apart everything that was good, they judged everyone harshly (believers and non-believers), and they were extremely self-righteous. They compared “how long” they’ve been religious to others, as well as what they “did” and “didn’t do,” in order to be acceptable to God. They were nasty, and couldn’t stand Jesus.
Once the Pharisees heard that this man had been healed by Jesus, they called him in for a meeting. They asked him, “What do you have to say about him (Jesus)?” (see John 9:17).
This guy had no clue who Jesus was, just yet. So he replies, “He is a prophet.” The religious people still didn’t believe that Jesus healed this man, even after he sat in front of their faces! Determined to get to the bottom of this, they called in his parents.
“Is this your son? Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?” (John 9:19). They were scared of the Pharisees, so they said, “Yes, that’s our son. He was definitely born blind, but he’s old enough to speak for himself, talk to him about this” (see John 9:20-23).
THEY STILL DIDN’T BELIEVE THAT JESUS JUST HEALED THIS MAN! EVEN AFTER HE AND HIS PARENTS TOLD THEM THE TRUTH! Why? Because of their religious pride! They were more blind than that man was, when he was feeling around in the dark!
How many people do you know like this? Something absolutely wonderful happens in the life of a lost soul, and the religious Christians pick it all apart! They totally snuff out the new sight of a baby Christian, or a Christian who has finally decided to allow Jesus to live through them! And even after they get “proof” of the change, they still judge others crudely!
THIS IS RAMPANT IN OUR CHURCHES AND IT MUST STOP!
…So, the Pharisees called the man in again, hoping he would change his story. Trying to force him into discrediting what Jesus had done, they said, “Give glory to God. We know this man is a sinner” (John 9:24).
The newly-sighted fellow replies, this is so good, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know, I was blind but now I see!” (John 9:25). HOW AWESOME IS THAT ANSWER?! C’MON SOMEBODY! “My proof of Christ is my changed life! I CAN SEE!” That’s what he said!
They didn’t like that answer. “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” (John 9:26). Oh my goodness, these people were more blind than a baby bat! I’ve dealt with this a lot in my ministry, but have you ever told your testimonial to a legalistic Christian, and they didn’t believe it? Instead, they judged you and your turn-around? Called you a phony?
THIS IS NOT A NEW THING! This started with the blind man over 2,000 years ago, so if this happens to you, you should feel honored!
Tired of their questions, the man says, “I already told you and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?” (John 9:27) HA! How great was that?! This is golden! He says, “Do you want to become his disciples too?” In essence, saying, “Do you want your blindness to go away, too?” After he asked them if they wanted to follow Jesus, here’s how the story ends:
Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.”
The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will (my note: this man was still going off of Old Testament Law, not Jesus’ New Covenant of grace–He hadn’t yet gone to the Cross). Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”
To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out (John 9:28-34).
Do you see that? Jesus had just made this man’s life better, and rather than celebrate that, they insulted him, belittled him, and then they kicked him out. They simply did not like the experience he had with Jesus. Why? Because it wasn’t religious enough. It wasn’t “just like” them. It didn’t match up with their style, or earn their approval.
What’s most sad is that this still happens today. In our churches, all across America and throughout the world–people are rejected. We gotta change that. The spiritual blindness these religious people had, really, just kept them from enjoying a wonderful miracle–the sight of a new believer in Christ. However, what I like best about this story is that once Jesus found out they treated him poorly and kicked him out, He hunted the formerly blind man down, and spoke to him. Here’s what happened:
Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
“Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.”
Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.”
Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. (John 9:35-38).
He believed, and he worshiped Him. That’s it. That’s my life. Friend, Jesus will never throw you out, ever. You are a part of His family for eternity once you place your faith in Him. He will remove your spiritual blindness, today, if you want Him to–but you gotta want it. Just ask Him to and He will! It’s a good life when you begin to see so clearly!
A prayer for you: God, today I want to thank you for opening up my eyes. I was blind as can be, and then Jesus brought a brand new vision into my life. THANK YOU! Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. For those who have been so beat down by graceless Christians, and their enthusiasm snatched away, open up their eyes again! Help them to refocus on Jesus! For me, once I began to do this, you gave me the confidence and spiritual tools needed to combat such harsh criticism, and in the right way. Although sometimes I fail–when I’m not obedient to the Holy Spirit–I’m 1,000 times better than I used to be when it comes to HOW to deal with those who find their identity judging others. Give these dear readers a brand new confidence IN Christ! Amen.
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