4th Sunday in Lent – 3/22/2020
Reading: John 9:1–41
The Works of God's Grace Displayed: Revealing the Glory of God
Understanding the Significance of John 9:1–41
The passage from John's Gospel, specifically John 9:1–41, encompasses profound theological truths that deserve deep meditation and study. It highlights the divine nature of Jesus, and His healing power, and sheds light on the concept of sin and its consequences. However, at the core of this text lies the revelation of God's glory through the works of Jesus Christ.
The Revelation of God's Glory: Challenging the Pharisees' Assumptions
When the Pharisees confronted the blind man who claimed that Jesus had healed him, they rebuked him and demanded that he give glory to God instead. These religious leaders perceived Jesus as an imposter and a sinner because He performed the miracle on the Sabbath. However, the man boldly asserted that his healing was the undeniable work of God through Jesus. He emphasized that without Jesus' divine origin, the miracle would not have been possible. The blind man's confession glorified God, even though the Pharisees were blinded by their self-righteousness and failed to recognize the truth.
Unveiling the Glory of God
The Pharisees, consumed by their self-concocted theology and false assumptions, could not perceive the evident truth before them. Their judgment of Jesus led them to excommunicate anyone who confessed Jesus as Christ. Despite their blindness, the healing miracle served as a powerful testament to God's works. The true identity of Jesus shone brightly, but the Pharisees remained immersed in the darkness of their misguided understanding.
The Ignorance of the Pharisees
In their ignorance, the Pharisees scorned the healed man, claiming that they were disciples of Moses while Jesus remained an unknown figure to them. In response, the healed man expressed astonishment at their ignorance, emphasizing the incredible nature of the healing he had experienced. The Pharisees' reaction was to cast him out of the synagogue.
Perceiving God's Works in Light of Blindness
Understanding the Purpose of Blindness
The situation raises an important question: What makes it so challenging to perceive the clear works of God? The answer lies in the revelation that both man's lifelong blindness and his subsequent healing were divine works intended to glorify God.
Recognizing God's Grace in Unexpected Ways
The disciples themselves initially struggled to comprehend the purpose behind the man's blindness. They attributed it to sin and sought to assign blame. However, Jesus clarified that neither the man nor his parents had sinned, but rather the man's blindness existed so that the works of God might be displayed in him. Although it may be difficult to understand how blindness can bring glory to God, it is through unexpected circumstances that God's grace can shine the brightest.
Jesus' Identification with Human Plight
Jesus' involvement in the healing process demonstrated His compassion and identification with the man's suffering. By using His saliva to create a mud pack applied to the man's eyes, Jesus showcased His willingness to enter into human suffering and bear its weight. This act revealed Jesus' incarnation, as He took upon Himself the plight of humanity to deliver them from sin and death.
The Sacrifice of Jesus and God's Grace
Jesus' healing instructions to wash off the mud in the Pool of Siloam held profound symbolism. The Pool of Siloam served as the place where the Levitical priests would pour water over sacrifices. Jesus, being the ultimate sacrifice, washed away the consequences of sin and unveiled the true vision of God's grace. Through faith, individuals can now witness the glorious grace of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
The Works of God's Grace in the Midst of Challenges
Perceiving God's Grace Amidst Trials
Just as the blind man's healing brought glory to God, our world faces various challenges and hardships, including the ongoing pandemic, economic uncertainty, and disruptions to our daily lives. It is essential to discern whether these difficulties serve as opportunities for the works of God's grace to manifest or as judgments upon the world's sins.
God's Discipline and Love
While God does discipline those who turn away from Him, the preferred biblical term is "discipline" rather than "punish." God's discipline serves to bring individuals back to repentance and faith, preventing them from experiencing His eternal wrath. The book of Hebrews reminds us of God's loving discipline, intended to shape and strengthen His children.
Understanding God's Purposes in Challenges
In the Old Testament, God's discipline was meant to magnify His law and bring His people back to Him. Similarly, the current challenges we face may serve the purpose of displaying God's works of grace. COVID-19 affects people regardless of their beliefs or backgrounds, emphasizing that it is not God's condemnation but an opportunity for His grace to shine.
The Works of God's Grace in Suffering
Amidst suffering, endurance is developed, character is formed, and hope is kindled. By rejoicing in our sufferings, we acknowledge that they produce growth and point us toward the eternal hope found in God's grace. The outpouring of God's love through the Holy Spirit strengthens our hearts and enables us to endure trials with steadfast faith.
Rejoicing in God's Grace
The passage from John's Gospel reveals the works of God's grace through the healing of the blind man. It demonstrates Jesus' identification with human suffering and unveils the ultimate sacrifice He made for humanity's redemption. Similarly, the challenges we face in our lives present opportunities for the works of God's grace to be displayed. By recognizing God's love and grace, we can rejoice in the midst of trials, knowing that they serve a greater purpose and lead us closer to Him. Let us embrace God's grace and be vessels through which His works are manifested to the world.