The following is a Journal entry I made about John 7-9 last year when I went through this passage:
I can’t get over how controversial Jesus was in these chapters of John. Jesus was outrageous in many respects and in many peoples eyes. It is no wonder the religious leaders wanted Jesus out of the picture (dead). It’s as if Jesus used all his knowledge of the culture, religion, and scripture to find all the Pharisees buttons and then he PUSHED THEM. Over and over He pushed the buttons. WHY?
I’ll interject here with a comment. Remember this was a journal entry. This whole journal was a prayer dialogue I had with God as I wrestled with the passage.
Why would Jesus do such a thing?
Over and over again through these chapters “belief” seems to be the highlighted subject. Jesus teaches, people don’t understand, and he says they would if they believed. Next Jesus teaches offensive things they get angry and he says, “if you were God’s children you wouldn’t be offended by me (my paraphrase).” This pattern seems to happen over and over. I’ll give one example: “Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God (John 8:46, 47).”
The strangeness continues into chapter 9. All this hostility started with Jesus healing a man on the Sabbath. Now after berating them for several chapters Jesus slips away right before they stone him and what does he do? He goes and heals another guy and John almost casually mentions “oh by the way it was the Sabbath (again my paraphrase of verse 14).” I think this story is a representation of what is going on in the rest of the chapters. Jesus amazingly heals a blind man. The religious leaders get angry because he did it not the Sabbath. There is all this controversy over this blind guy and he nails the subject perfectly when He answered, “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see (John 9:25).” He goes on to teach the Pharisees a lesson. He points out the inconsistency in their anger. Why would God listen to a “sinner” and help him heal someone? Jesus’ main purpose is clear when He says, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind (John 9:39).”
This is so interesting to me. Jesus says his purpose is to give sight to the blind and to blind those with sight. Very interesting. Again, I ask why? I don’t have a full answer yet.
Is it okay to wrestle with a passage of scripture? I certainly hope so because I do it all the time. When I am struggling with a passage I just keep asking God what to think. It is one of the most helpful devotional exercises I know of to talk to God about His word.
A few reflections from reading John 9 today
As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. (John 9:1-3, ESV)
I love this! This reminds me of what makes my God so beautiful and gracious. God doesn’t make decisions based upon my sin or lack of sin. Jesus makes decisions based upon His Father’s glory. This is true for believers and non-believers alike. The difference between someone who has placed their faith in Jesus and someone who hasn’t is the fact that God sees either the sinner or their savior. If you embrace Christ God sees you as a perfectly God glorifying person because he sees Jesus’ work NOT yours.
What a sweet truth this is! The hard things in life are not punishment of sin if you have faith in Christ. Instead hard things are part of God’s larger plan for His glory and our Good. PRAISE GOD!