Last week, in The Shepherd and His Flock, Part 1, we saw that Jesus’ teaching on the Shepherd and His flock is preceded by a powerful miracle: The healing of the blind man. But the man, after his healing find himself excommunicated from the synagogue by the Pharisees!
Just who is the real blind man here?
Jesus, in His love, seeks after this excommunicated former blind man with an offer: “Do you believe in the Son of God?” (John 9:35)
Jesus is simply asking the man to believe in Him! And the blind man answered Him: “‘Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?’ And Jesus said to him, ‘You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you.'” (John 9:35b-37).
Let’s remember that this man lives in an era where religion is very much based on works. What Jesus is teaching here is preposterous! But the man sees the Truth that the learned teachers of the day do not see, and he reaches out and accepts what Jesus has to offer: “Then he said, ‘Lord, I believe!’ And he worshiped Him.” (John 9:38)
Is it possible that Jesus opened more than the man’s physical eyes? Is it possible He opened his spiritual eyes as well? Through this miracle, is He teaching that spiritual blindness is even worse than physical blindness?
It would seem so, for He immediately turns to the Pharisees and makes a very pointed statement: “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” (John 9:39 NIV)
The Pharisees understand, for they turn to Him, appalled: “What? Are we blind too?” (John 9:40B NIV)
Jesus responds: “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.” (John 9:41 NIV)
Whoa! Wait a minute here, Jesus! Isn’t this a bit harsh?
Not at all. Not knowing Truth is not an unpardonable sin. The sin comes when we come face to face with Truth, and we refuse to accept it!
It is true that many of our beautiful brothers and sisters in the world have never had the opportunity to know about Jesus, and they are, thus, living in sin. But it is a sin of ignorance, and God will do everything to open the doors of Truth to them. But what if, once Truth has been revealed, we refuse to accept it? Or worse, we accept it in word, but not in action? Then we are just as guilty as the Pharisees!
Friends, when we rigidly stick to what we have been taught as Truth, without allowing ourselves to even consider that what we’ve been taught may not be 100% Truth, then like the Pharisees of old, we claim we can see, but our guilt remains!
I know that some of you may be feeling a bit smug at the moment. After all, you have already accepted Truth. You are a follower of Christ, right? But remember, the Pharisees felt smug too! Some serious soul-searching is necessary here! Though we claim to understand that we are saved by faith, we must look to see that we are not clinging to something, afraid to let go, just in case it could possibly play a role in our Salvation!
Do we feel, for example, that we can’t be saved if we don’t go to church? If we do or don’t eat a certain type of food? If we do or don’t pray to saints or the Holy Virgin? If we do or don’t read from a certain version of the Bible? If we do or don’t worship on a specific day of the week? If we do or don’t pray the right prayers? Sing the right songs? Watch the right movies? Read the right books?
Please forgive me if I’m being harsh, but in my own self-examination, I am ashamed to admit that I often am just like the Pharisees of old! Truth of Salvation by Faith in Jesus Christ has been revealed to me, yet the fruit of my life continues to show that there is something I must “do” to be saved! But this is nothing but a lie! Truth says there is nothing I must “do” to be saved. In fact, there isn’t anything I can do to be saved! Jesus has already done it all! “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Eph 2:8-10 NKJV)
That is the gospel, friends! Plain and simple! And if we don’t accept it, we are as guilty as the Pharisees of old! If we aren’t willing to search our basis of Truth, then we, like the Pharisees, are too proud to search for Truth. Let’s instead, be like the blind man: Unashamed to admit our blindness, willing to let the Lord of the Universe open our blind eyes to Truth!
But wait. Does it all seem too simple? Too different from what you’ve been brought up believing?
The Pharisee’s had this problem too, and Jesus has the answer for all of us. The teaching of the shepherd and His flock was given to help open blind spiritual eyes, to bring those of us who cling to works into a complete understanding of the gospel message!
But is the image of a shepherd and his flock too foreign for us to understand? Join us next week, for The Shepherd and His Flock, Part 3: Understanding the Sheep Pen.
In His love,
Lyn Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two teens, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries.
(To access the entire “The Shepherd and His Flock” mini-series, please click here.)