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.

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.

The Path to Life and Freedom: John 8:31-59

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As we continue in John’s gospel, and in the debate that Jesus was having with the Jews, we discover some amazing truths within Jesus’ response, we discover a powerful challenge Jesus shares about an important subject, and we also find one of my favorite Bible passages. Since this is a longer passage, let’s dive right in.

Our passage for this episode is found in John’s gospel, chapter 8, and we will read it from the New International Version of the Bible. Starting in verse 31, John writes:

31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Pausing briefly, I want to point out one of my favorite verses, and this is the message Jesus shares as our passage opens. If we were to ask the question about what makes us true disciples of Jesus, Jesus’ first words in this passage gives us the answer. Jesus tells us, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” This is one of my favorite Bible passages, because it clarifies the path to the truth, and the benefit we get from knowing the truth. The way to the truth is becoming a disciple of Jesus, and the way to become a disciple of Jesus is holding onto Jesus’ teaching. When we apply Jesus’ teachings into our lives, we walk the path of a disciple, and on the path of being a disciple, we discover the truth and are ultimately set free.

However, the Jews present took offense to the idea of being set free. Continuing reading in verse 33:

33 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”

34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word. 38 I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father.”

39 “Abraham is our father,” they answered.

“If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do what Abraham did. 40 As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. 41 You are doing the works of your own father.”

“We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.”

42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. 43 Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! 46 Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47 Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”

48 The Jews answered him, “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?”

49 “I am not possessed by a demon,” said Jesus, “but I honor my Father and you dishonor me. 50 I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. 51 Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.”

52 At this they exclaimed, “Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that whoever obeys your word will never taste death. 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?”

54 Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. 55 Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and obey his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”

57 “You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!”

58 “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” 59 At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.

In this passage, we have a lot we could unpack, and simply not enough time to do so with the format of these shorter episodes.

However, one truth that I want to draw out of this passage is very significant. This truth is that the idea of dying and death in this passage use two different Greek words, and while these words are similar, the way Jesus uses these two words in this passage help to frame a huge truth that is easily missed, or perhaps intentionally ignored.

In this passage, specifically in verse 51, Jesus shares the promise that “whoever obeys my word will never see death.” This promise is repeated with a likely mocking tone of voice by the Jews responding to Jesus in verse 52.

However, it is interesting to note that in this entire passage, these are the only times this Greek word for death is used. Instead, when describing how the prophets and significant people from the past died, a different Greek word was used.

This is a very significant detail, because when we look at how Jesus frames these two words for death in the four gospels, we quickly discover that Jesus used one of these words to describe an eternal death, and the other to describe a death that will be cut short with a resurrection. This truth is made a little more complicated, because the Greek term used for sentencing someone to death, is the one that describes an eternal death, which makes historical sense, because the Greek’s dualistic beliefs stood entirely opposed to the concept of resurrection as something that their gods would do, or that would even be desirable to experience.

To arrive at this conclusion, I looked at all the places in the gospels where Jesus used these two Greek words, and not simply at all the places they appear. Looking at all the places they appear in the gospels prompts us to conclude that these might be very interchangeable terms.

However, when we look at Jesus’ own words, Jesus uses the term “death”, specifically the one we see only mentioned a couple times in this passage, to describe a death that lasts forever, and when He describes the types of death that people were sentenced to. When being sentenced to die, I know of no court that would include the context of a future resurrection. Being sentenced to death is being sentenced to having one’s life removed with no expectation of it returning.

The other Greek word for dying has a future resurrection implied. This is easily seen when Jesus is talking with Martha about Lazarus dying, which is an event we will look at in a future episode. Both Martha and Jesus frame this type of death as one that looks forward to a resurrection. Jesus just helps Martha discover that resurrection can happen sooner than Jesus’ return.

As we are running out of time, let me draw this powerful truth out into the open: Jesus promises us that everyone who obeys His Words will never see eternal death. This is powerful for us to remember, because it makes the truth about believing Jesus relevant. A truth we reject is one that we don’t apply into our lives, while a truth we believe is one that we will obey. By not obeying Jesus’ truth, we reject Him, and we step off of the path of discipleship.

When we reject Jesus’ teachings, we lose out on not just discovering God’s truth and the freedom that comes with it, as we looked at in the beginning of this passage, but we also lose out on the promise of never tasting eternal death as well.

Instead of falling into Satan’s trap, let’s hold onto Jesus’ teaching, apply it into our own lives, and let the Holy Spirit lead us into God’s truth, specifically the truth that brings us resurrection and eternal life.

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, intentionally seek God first and choose today to apply Jesus’ truth and teachings into your life. Choose to obey, not simply because Jesus has challenged us to, but because obeying leads us to discovering God’s truth and obedience is the best way to make your belief known. A hidden, secret faith does not have value if it stays hidden.

Also, continue praying and studying the Bible for yourself to learn and discover God’s truth for your life. We can look to the Bible, specifically to the four gospels, to discover Jesus’ teachings, and by following Jesus’ teachings, we step onto the path of discipleship. Never let anyone get in the way of you following Jesus and applying His truths into your life.

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 abandon where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Year in John – Episode 21: While debating with religious leaders about truth, freedom, and life, discover a powerful truth Jesus shares about how to become a disciple, and how being a disciple leads us to having not only freedom from sin, but a future eternal life as well.

Join the discussion. Share your thoughts on this passage.

Flashback Episode — Loved, Healed, and Forgiven: Mark 8:22-26

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While moving through Mark’s gospel and comparing what Mark included in his gospel versus what the other gospel writers include, not much of Mark’s gospel is truly unique. However, the miracle that we will be focusing on for this episode is one of the few events that made it only into Mark’s gospel. I wonder if this is because this event was kept relatively secret, or if something within the event prompted the other gospel writers to exclude this event from their own respective gospels.

Whatever the reason for only Mark including this miracle, I am glad that he did. Of all the miracles Jesus did, this one may be the most fascinating one in my mind. So without any further delay, let’s read it.

Our miracle and passage are found in Mark’s gospel, chapter 8, and we will be reading from the New International Version. Starting in verse 22, Mark tells us that:

22 They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. 23 He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”

24 He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”

25 Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 26 Jesus sent him home, saying, “Don’t even go into the village.”

This miracle is fascinating in my mind. This is the only miracle that I can recall where it takes Jesus a second try to get it right. While other miracles are attributed to faith, and at least one of the gospel writers suggested that the lack of faith in a situation could cause a miracle to not happen, this is the only miracle where the man is healed, but only after a second attempt by Jesus.

However, was this really a second attempt, or was there something happening behind the scenes that made the second try of this miracle distinctly different?

Looking at the details in this miracle, one set of details is easily overlooked. These details form the foundation for this situation. First, the man is brought to Jesus when Jesus has entered Bethsaida. Jesus then leads the man outside of Bethsaida. Finally, Jesus tells the man to go home and to not return through Bethsaida. Putting together these details points us to the high likelihood that the blind man was not from Bethsaida. It is possible this man lived close by, but it is also possible that those in this village searched out someone they knew Jesus could help, and then convinced this man to come to Jesus.

Another detail worth paying attention to is that this blind man was brought to Jesus. This detail is important because it shows more initiative coming from this group of people than from the blind man himself. Related to this detail is the detail that the group of people were the ones begging Jesus for the miracle, not the blind man.

With all these details put together, we can conclude that this group of people were more interested in seeing a miracle than on giving God the glory, or even on helping this man who was blind. Instead of seeing an opportunity for God to help someone in their presence, this group wanted to see Jesus perform for them. Oddly enough, knowing that faith is needed for a miracle to take place, I believe that if Jesus had attempted the miracle in the presence of this group of people, not only would Jesus have let the spotlight shine on Him, but also this miracle likely would have worked the first time. This would have been because those bringing this man to Jesus had the faith necessary to see him be healed.

However, Jesus wanted to heal more than this man’s eyes and He wanted to help this man without stealing the focus off of God. Jesus wasn’t interested in getting an audience or on gaining popularity. Instead, Jesus wanted to help people on an individual level as much as possible.

Up to Jesus asking the blind man a direct question after they are away from those who brought him to Jesus, we do not see or hear anything specific about this blind man. From the details leading up to this miracle, we don’t get the picture this man had faith or hope that he would ever be able to see. We are left to wonder if this man was born blind, or if he was blinded because of something that had happened earlier in his life.

However, when Jesus asks the man if he can see anything while they are alone, we start to get answers for some of our questions. This man responds to Jesus’ first attempt by telling Jesus that he can see people, but they look like trees walking around. If this man had never seen anything, I don’t believe he would know what a tree looked like. Instead, this detail makes me think something happened earlier in this man’s life that caused him to lose his eyesight.

This then leads us to another interesting conclusion. In this culture, people believed that sickness and disability happened because God was punishing people directly, or perhaps indirectly in the case of parents sinning and children being punished. If this man had eyesight then lost it, it is quite likely that he believed God was punishing him for something in his life that had happened.

If you believe God is punishing you, you don’t believe God would want to heal you. In the case of this man, I bet he was doubtful, skeptical, and probably reluctant to even be brought to Jesus. It is likely that this man told those people when they found him that God wouldn’t be interested in healing him because God was too busy punishing him instead.

This makes Jesus’ first attempt a successful attempt at healing this man. However, with the first attempt, while Jesus only partially heals this man’s eyes, Jesus healed this man’s hope, and I believe this man went away believing He had been forgiven. With a restored hope, this man had enough faith necessary for Jesus’ second attempt to fully heal his eyesight.

In our own lives, when bad things happen, it might be easy to let doubt tell us that God is mad at us and that He is causing the challenges we are facing. However, if we believe God is mad at us, then there is no reason to have any hope that our lives could be better. If God is truly mad at us, there is no hope, and if God was very mad at us, we wouldn’t be alive. If God had rejected humanity, Jesus wouldn’t have come to this planet.

However, Jesus did come. Jesus did heal someone who likely believed God was directly punishing him. Jesus gave His life as a substitute for our lives, and through Jesus’ death and resurrection, we have the promise of a new life with God.

Jesus came to show us what God is really like. Jesus came to show us God’s love for us. And Jesus came to demonstrate for us that even if we are in open rebellion towards God, He still loves us and He wants to forgive us when we repent and return to Him.

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, intentionally seek God first in your life and choose to have faith and hope that God loves you and that He wants the best for you. When bad things happen, choose to see these things as a wakeup call from a God who loves each of us and not as a divine punishment from a cruel spiritual dictator. God loves us and He wants the best for our lives.

Also, continue praying and studying the Bible for yourself to learn and grow closer to God each and every day. Through prayer and Bible study, we can open our hearts to God and let Him into our lives. When God is in our lives, we will know how much He loves us and we will be fully equipped to show His love to a world that needs to see God’s love more than ever!

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 abandon where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Flashback Episode: Year in Mark – Episode 21: In a miracle that only Mark included, discover some things we can learn from a miracle that didn’t work entirely the first time around. Or maybe it did and what Jesus healed first is something a little less visible on the surface.

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