The problem of spiritual blindness
Text: John 9 : 1 - 7
THE PROBLEM OF SPIRITUAL BLINDNESS
The Gospel of John recorded a number of occasions where The Jews clashed badly with Jesus. Despite many attempts to explain His doctrine, Jesus was rejected! The Jews refused to accept His explanations! We cannot help but wonder how spiritually blind and deaf the Jews must have been. A passage in Isaiah comes to mind.
“Hear, you deaf;
And look, you blind, that you may see.
Who is blind but My servant,
Or deaf as My messenger whom I send?
Who is blind as he who is perfect
And blind as the Lord’s servant?
Seeing many things, but you do not observe;
Opening the ears, but he does not hear.”
Isaiah preached this solemn and sad word to ancient Israel. God called Israel, “My servant’ because He had a plan for Israel to be His messenger to the world. God had given so much instruction to the nation, that it might be said indeed that they were “perfectly trained” to serve Him. Yet, the sad fact was that the nation appeared to be both deaf and blind! They were spiritually deaf and blind!
This passage well fits the spiritual state of Israel in the days of Jesus. The Jews appeared to have vast amount of knowledge of their religious laws or they couldn’t have debated with Jesus the way they did. They had zeal and fervour and applied them to battle Jesus! How spiritually blind they were!
AS IF TO ILLUSTRATE SPIRITUAL BLINDNESS
By now, we have a healthy regard for John’s skill as a writer! As if to illustrate the spiritual blindness of The Jews, John included the story of a blind man who was wondrously healed by Jesus. Surely nothing could illustrate spiritual blindness better than to compare it to a man born blind!
“Now as Jesus passed by, He saw
a man who was blind from birth.
And His disciples asked Him, saying,
‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his
parents, that he was born blind?’ “
The Disciples of Jesus erred in their attempt to employ deductive reasoning to explain the plight of the man born blind. Their deductive reasoning approach was too simplistic to begin with. They did not have all the facts, and so their deductive reasoning ended with a false conclusion. The Disciples actually were not very far different than the Jews in their application of deductive reasoning.
How did the Disciples reason? In essence their reasoning may be boiled down to the following:-
1. Since the man was born blind, there could only be two possible reasons:-
a) He must have sinned quite badly and was thus struck blind.
b) His parents must have sinned gravely thus their offspring was struck blind!
2. The Disciples presented this line of reasoning to Jesus and asked Him to comment on their reasoning! They assumed that they were right. What they did not know was who sinned. They assumed that every physical ailment of man was associated with sin! They erred grossly in their analysis and their conclusion!
AN ERROR DEALT WITH IN THE DAYS OF THE PROPHET EZEKIEL
This erroneous line of reasoning was dealt with by the prophet Ezekiel. There was a popular proverb that was in wide circulation.
“The Word of the Lord came to me again, saying,
‘What do you mean when you use this proverb
concerning the land of Israel, saying:
‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes,
and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’ “
The popular understanding was that when parent’s sin, the consequences of their sin was passed on to their children! The children can only blame their parents for their predicament. The Lord refuted this false theological line of reasoning.
The prophet Ezekiel was given a special message to Israel. He proclaimed,
“‘As I live,’ says the Lord God,
‘You shall no longer use this proverb in Israel.
Behold, all souls are Mine;
The soul of the father,
As well as the soul of the son is Mine.
The soul who sins shall die.’ “
Ezekiel was told to preach in painstaking detail to combat this false teaching! All souls belonged to God individually. All souls were responsible for themselves! The father’s sinfulness would result in his own death. His son would not be penalized for his father’s sinfulness (Ezekiel 18:5-18).
THE NEED TO DEVELOP A DIFFERENT MINDSET
One of the tasks of Jesus when He drew a group of people to be His Disciples was so to teach them how to think differently from the popular deductive approach! They needed to have a whole paradigm shift! Correct reasoning is “inductive”. It begins with an important Biblical orientation. The Disciples must have listened most carefully as Jesus unfolded His thoughts.