Irrefutable Logic: John 9:1-41

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As we continue moving through John’s gospel, we come to a longer event that contains another significant healing. However, as I read this event, the healing is not the detail that stands out to me. Instead, I am amazed at the truth Jesus shares as this event opens, at something the formerly blind man says to the religious leaders, and at Jesus’ concluding statement.

With that said, let’s read this passage together. Our passage is found in John’s gospel, chapter 9, and we will be reading from the New Living Translation. Starting in verse 1, John tells us that:

As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?”

“It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him. We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work. But while I am here in the world, I am the light of the world.”

Pausing here, I want to draw out the truth that sometimes God lets bad things happen because He wants to work through His people in powerful ways. While it is not pleasant to think about, sometimes the bad in the world, whether it is a tragic event, a natural disaster, or something similar, opens the door for God’s people to show love, kindness, and help to those who would otherwise be closed to receiving help.

In the case of this miracle, the man who was born blind was not born blind because of the sins of anyone connected with him. Instead, it was so God could be glorified. Continuing in verse 6:

Then he [Jesus] spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and spread the mud over the blind man’s eyes. He told him, “Go wash yourself in the pool of Siloam” (Siloam means “sent”). So the man went and washed and came back seeing!

His neighbors and others who knew him as a blind beggar asked each other, “Isn’t this the man who used to sit and beg?” Some said he was, and others said, “No, he just looks like him!”

But the beggar kept saying, “Yes, I am the same one!”

10 They asked, “Who healed you? What happened?”

11 He told them, “The man they call Jesus made mud and spread it over my eyes and told me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash yourself.’ So I went and washed, and now I can see!”

12 “Where is he now?” they asked.

“I don’t know,” he replied.

13 Then they took the man who had been blind to the Pharisees, 14 because it was on the Sabbath that Jesus had made the mud and healed him. 15 The Pharisees asked the man all about it. So he told them, “He put the mud over my eyes, and when I washed it away, I could see!”

16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man Jesus is not from God, for he is working on the Sabbath.” Others said, “But how could an ordinary sinner do such miraculous signs?” So there was a deep division of opinion among them.

17 Then the Pharisees again questioned the man who had been blind and demanded, “What’s your opinion about this man who healed you?”

The man replied, “I think he must be a prophet.”

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! 29 We 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.

Pausing again, I love the emphasis this formerly blind man challenges the religious leaders with. It doesn’t take much to realize that the religious leaders had judged Jesus based on their own perspective and tradition and not on what He was actually doing. The religious leaders clearly disliked Jesus for helping people on the Sabbath, and for what appears to be this singular reason, they openly opposed and rejected Him.

However, there is no good response to the solid logic the formerly blind man challenges the religious leaders with. One of the most powerful statements about Jesus in the whole Bible is the key argument given at the end of this challenge. In verse 33, the formerly blind man challenges the religious leaders with the logic: “If this man [Jesus] were not from God, he couldn’t have done it.If Jesus was not from God, there would be no way He could have done the amazing miracles that He did. Not being able to counter this logic, the Pharisees and religious leaders resort to calling the formerly blind man a sinner and kicking him out of the synagogue.

But this man’s story isn’t finished yet. Continuing in verse 35, John tells us that:

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.

The last verse in our passage is powerful. Jesus tells the nearby Pharisees that they remain guilty because they claim they can see.

While this speaks in a subtle way against being arrogant, this is also a subtle hint for where our focus should be. If we were to take the topic of blindness and replace it with the topic of sin, Jesus’ statement would read something like, “If you realized you were sinners, you wouldn’t be guilty, but you remain guilty because you claim to be righteous.”

We could substitute many different topics into this framework, but at the heart of this message is the challenge and truth that realizing our weakness pushes us to need a Savior. When we believe we are good enough, smart enough, or skilled enough on our own, we reject God and the help He sent to us.

If we have any doubt or humility in our mind, and we should have at least some of each, we should acknowledge that we are all sinners, that we are all blind, but that with God’s help, and Jesus’ truth, we are saved. Only through Jesus can we do anything, and when we stand up to proclaim truth, we don’t focus on us, but on Jesus, the One who redeemed us!

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

As always, intentionally seek God first in your life and recognize and acknowledge that we need Jesus because we cannot be spiritually successful in life on our own. We need Jesus to redeem us and to wash us clean of sin.

Also, continue praying and studying the Bible for yourself to remind yourself who we are and who Jesus is. Through the pages of the Bible, discover just what God thinks of you and why Jesus came for you and me.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or turn away from where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Year in John – Episode 22: When Jesus heals a blind man one Sabbath, discover in the discussion/debate that happens a powerful truth about Jesus and how the religious leaders cannot answer the solid logic of the formerly blind man.

Join the discussion. Share your thoughts on this passage.

Changing Our Hearts: Luke 20:27-40

Focus Passage: Luke 20:27-40 (TNIV)

    27 Some of the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus with a question. 28 “Teacher,” they said, “Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. 29 Now there were seven brothers. The first one married a woman and died childless. 30 The second 31 and then the third married her, and in the same way the seven died, leaving no children. 32 Finally, the woman died too. 33 Now then, at the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?”

    34 Jesus replied, “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. 35 But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, 36 and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection. 37 But in the account of the burning bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ 38 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”

    39 Some of the teachers of the law responded, “Well said, teacher!” 40 And no one dared to ask him any more questions.

Read Luke 20:27-40 in context and/or in other translations on!

We have covered most parts of this passage in previous journal entries, but there is still one piece left: the crowd’s reaction – which has been recorded in both Luke and Matthew.

Matthew tells us broadly that, “When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching.(Matthew 22:33)

We see here Jesus taught things from a completely different perspective than the perspective the other religious teachers taught from – and this new perspective, including the truth it contained, was astonishing to those in the crowds.

But that is not the only reaction. Luke’s reaction verse brings a little more information about how those who brought Jesus the question responded to His answer. Luke says, “Some of the teachers of the law responded, “Well said, teacher!” And no one dared to ask him any more questions.(Luke 20:39-40)

Luke frames the leaders as caught off guard. About the only response they have is a perplexed compliment, as if to say, “We’d never looked at that passage that way before.” While Jesus taught, He seemed to always be trying to shift people’s perspective from an earthly one to a heavenly one.

  • Instead of looking at a situation from where we are on earth, look at it from heaven’s perspective.

  • Instead of looking at life in the immediate moment, whether that is the current hour, day, week, or year, look instead from the viewpoint of heaven – the viewpoint of eternity.

  • Instead of looking at the scriptures as a collection of verses that we can pick and choose from, look at all verses and passages as pieces of an eternal story of how God is moving and interested in this world.

Luke concludes this passage with the comment that from this point on, no one dared to ask Jesus any more questions. It would seem that at this point, after numerous challenges and questions, and Jesus always being a step ahead with a perfect response, that the religious leaders and teachers would have already picked up on the futility of trying to trap Him. But instead, it takes Jesus perspective shifting the entire foundation of the Sadducee school of thought to wake all the religious leaders up to the idea that He saw life, scripture, and truth from a completely different perspective.

At this point, they give up trying to trap Him and begin the early stages of thinking about killing Him. They realized that they would not be able to discredit Him, so the next best solution would be to get rid of Him by taking His life. However, the irony of that move is that Jesus actually came to give up His life.

In our own lives, are we too caught up in thinking at things from our human perspective?

What would happen if we saw life through God’s heavenly, eternity-filtered perspective?

Would that change our hearts to be more like His?

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus “Reflective Bible Study” package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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Caving In to the Crowd: Luke 23:13-25

Focus Passage: Luke 23:13-25 (NIrV)

13 Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers and the people. 14 He said to them, “You brought me this man. You said he was turning the people against the authorities. I have questioned him in front of you. I have found no basis for your charges against him. 15 Herod hasn’t either. So he sent Jesus back to us. As you can see, Jesus has done nothing that is worthy of death. 16-17 So I will just have him whipped and let him go.”

18 But the whole crowd shouted, “Kill this man! But let Barabbas go!” 19 Barabbas had been thrown into prison. He had taken part in a struggle in the city against the authorities. He had also committed murder.

20 Pilate wanted to let Jesus go. So he made an appeal to the crowd again. 21 But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”

22 Pilate spoke to them for the third time. “Why?” he asked. “What wrong has this man done? I have found no reason to have him put to death. So I will just have him whipped and let him go.”

23 But with loud shouts they kept calling for Jesus to be crucified. The people’s shouts won out. 24 So Pilate decided to give them what they wanted. 25 He set free the man they asked for. The man had been thrown in prison for murder and for fighting against the authorities. Pilate handed Jesus over to them so they could carry out their plans.

Read Luke 23:13-25 in context and/or in other translations on!

In Jesus’ trial before Pilate, each of the gospel writers focuses on the event in a slightly different way. In Luke’s gospel, we see Pilate trying to give a judgment that tries to balance his belief in Jesus’ innocence and the crowd’s demands for death.

Luke tells us that Pilate called everyone together and said to them, “You brought me this man. You said he was turning the people against the authorities. I have questioned him in front of you. I have found no basis for your charges against him. Herod hasn’t either. So he sent Jesus back to us. As you can see, Jesus has done nothing that is worthy of death. So I will just have him whipped and let him go.” (v. 14-17)

Luke tells us that Pilate kept trying to convince the crowd, but he was ultimately unsuccessful. “But with loud shouts they kept calling for Jesus to be crucified. The people’s shouts won out. So Pilate decided to give them what they wanted.” (v. 23-24)

Pilate really wanted to release Jesus, but keeping peace in the region, especially with this irrational and angry crowd, was more important than the life of an innocent Man. Pilate bends to the pressure of the people and gives them what they wanted.

I wonder if Pilate ever looked back on this decision with regret. We may never know, but in our own lives, each of us faces the pressure to do what we know isn’t right. Pilate clearly stated that Jesus was innocent of the charges, but even though Pilate tries to distance himself from the crowd’s demands by washing his hands (which Matthew includes in his event), Pilate cannot avoid responsibility for Jesus’ death.

The crowd’s demands won out because Pilate decided to give them what they wanted. In this action, Jesus’ death was not only at the hands of the Jewish leaders and the Jewish people, but also at the hands of the Roman leaders. When Pilate caved in, he symbolically brought Rome (representing all non-Jews) into the group of those responsible for Jesus’ death.

In Pilate’s decision during Jesus’ trial, we can learn a valuable lesson: The only way to truly live a life free from regrets is to always do what we know to be right in the time – regardless of the consequences. Pilate failed to do so in this trial, and this event likely clouded the remainder of his rule in Judea. We don’t have to make the same mistake he did. In our own lives, even when it is difficult, we should choose the option that we know in our hearts is right.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus “Reflective Bible Study” package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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Flashback Episode — Choosing the Cross: Mark 8:27-38

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As we continue moving through Mark’s gospel, we come to an event where Jesus asks the disciples a question, and then when Jesus hears the right answer, He tells the disciples to keep the real answer a secret. However, this is only the first sliver of this event, and what comes afterwards is both amazing and it clashes with what they believed about the Messiah.

With that said, let’s dive in to our passage for this episode. Our passage is found in Mark’s gospel, chapter 8, and we will read from the Good News Translation. Starting in verse 27, Mark tells us:

27 Then Jesus and his disciples went away to the villages near Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Tell me, who do people say I am?”

28 “Some say that you are John the Baptist,” they answered; “others say that you are Elijah, while others say that you are one of the prophets.”

29 “What about you?” he asked them. “Who do you say I am?”

Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.”

30 Then Jesus ordered them, “Do not tell anyone about me.”

Pausing briefly, this point in the passage is where most people might stop reading. And I can understand this because what Peter has just declared about Jesus is amazing, and what Jesus responded is also amazing.

Peter has just declared that Jesus is the Messiah that had been predicted throughout the whole Old Testament, and specifically the Messiah God promised to send humanity when Adam and Eve sinned and were banished from the garden.

Equally amazing is Jesus’ response. Jesus does not deny being given this title, but He challenges the disciples to stay quiet about it. While some might think the Messiah would want to stand up, shout, and be recognized for being this person, Jesus knows that there is too much baggage with this role at this point in history.

To illustrate this, we need go no further than the next few verses. Continuing reading in verse 31:

31 Then Jesus began to teach his disciples: “The Son of Man must suffer much and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the teachers of the Law. He will be put to death, but three days later he will rise to life.” 32 He made this very clear to them. So Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But Jesus turned around, looked at his disciples, and rebuked Peter. “Get away from me, Satan,” he said. “Your thoughts don’t come from God but from human nature!”

Pausing our reading again, in these verses, we discover Peter, who Jesus praised for his earlier response in at least one of the other gospel records, is now being called out as Satan. Looking back on this event from a world that can see Jesus’ journey to the cross, and His death leading towards His resurrection and return to heaven, it is easy to look down on Peter and judge him like it appears Jesus does here.

However, while Jesus clearly told the disciples that He is the Messiah, and He emphasizes the Messiah’s death at the hands of the religious leaders, I wonder if Peter ignored or simply didn’t hear Jesus predicting His resurrection. Pushing back against Jesus’ declarations and predictions about Himself, we have a whole religious culture built on centuries of seeing the Messiah lead a revolt against Rome, and clear predictions that when the Messiah comes, He will last forever. The Messiah dying is something that simply could not happen to the true Messiah in the minds of those in the first century.

Also included in the mix of beliefs is the belief that the Messiah is God’s Son. While this wasn’t a belief on the forefront of culture, it is one that formed the basis for at least one of Jesus’ debates with the religious leaders. With Jesus being God, and God being immortal, it would also logically be impossible for God to die.

Everything culture told the disciples about the Messiah was focused on overthrowing the Romans and on living forever, while everything Jesus told the disciples about the Messiah was focused on a crucifixion, death, and a resurrection. In the minds of more than just Peter, what Jesus was telling them clashed with culture, with logic, and with everything they had previously believed about the Messiah and His kingdom.

Peter simply has the guts to speak what many of the disciples are likely thinking. Peter tells Jesus to basically stop focusing on His death because God’s Messiah will live forever. This temptation echoes some of Satan’s temptations in the wilderness when Satan challenges Jesus with the promise that God would not harm Him if He jumped from the highest point in the temple, and when Satan offers Jesus a shortcut that avoids the cross.

It does not surprise me that Jesus calls out Peter for representing Satan in his rebuke.

However, it also appears that the disciples were uneasy about how openly Jesus spoke about going to the cross. The cross was both the most humiliating way to die and it was one of the most painful ways to die as well.

Because of this, Jesus finishes off this passage by calling everyone present together to tell them a message. Continuing in verse 34:

34 Then Jesus called the crowd and his disciples to him. “If any of you want to come with me,” he told them, “you must forget yourself, carry your cross, and follow me. 35 For if you want to save your own life, you will lose it; but if you lose your life for me and for the gospel, you will save it. 36 Do you gain anything if you win the whole world but lose your life? Of course not! 37 There is nothing you can give to regain your life. 38 If you are ashamed of me and of my teaching in this godless and wicked day, then the Son of Man will be ashamed of you when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

In this concluding challenge, Jesus directly calls attention onto the idea of the cross – the most uncomfortable part of Jesus’ whole message – and He challenges everyone present that to be His follower, they must give up their own lives and carry a cross along with Jesus.

This challenge Jesus gives is powerful: You can try to keep your life in this world and lose out on eternity, or you give your life in this world to Jesus in order to gain eternity.

The big truth in this conclusion aimed at all of Jesus’ followers is that we should never be ashamed of Jesus and what He taught. If you think our world and culture today are godless and wicked, know that Jesus’ calls out the first century culture for being this way as well. If we choose to reject Jesus because culture has a louder megaphone, then we will ultimately forfeit the rewards God has promised His people.

Satan wants the whole world to reject God, to reject Jesus, and to live in rebellion of everything God stands for. Know that choosing Jesus is easy to say, and difficult to do. However, laying self down at the foot of Jesus’ cross, and picking up our own crosses – which means dedicating our lives to spreading the gospel message regardless of what culture thinks of us – is how we lose this life but gain eternity. Jesus didn’t focus on building His kingdom through force, but Satan is more than willing to use any type of force necessary to stop us from choosing Jesus and spreading the great news of salvation!

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

As I always challenge you to do, seek God first and choose to give up a focus on self in your life in order to focus on giving Him glory. If the world is hostile towards us for choosing Jesus, know that you have made the right choice. Never be ashamed or shamed out of choosing Jesus, because Jesus is the only way to experience eternity! Everything else is a lie Satan uses to trick or confuse people.

Also, continue praying and studying the Bible for yourself. Culture speaks its messages loudly and frequently, and the best way to stay grounded in truth is to focus personally on studying God’s message through the Bible. What God has preserved for us in the Bible teaches us how to have hope, and how to live for God in sinful, godless, dark times. Studying the Bible for yourself is the only way to be certain what the Bible teaches because too many people today have twisted the Bible into teaching only half-truths.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or be shamed out of where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Flashback Episode: Year in Mark – Episode 22: When Jesus asks the disciples a direct question, discover how one disciple is praised for His response, before only a few verses later being called out for being Satan. Discover how Jesus challenged the cultural expectations in the first century and how we are called to live out our faith over 2,000 years later!

Join the discussion on the original episode's page: Click Here.