Friday, November 16, 2012

John 9:13-16 Sabbath Observance

13 They brought him who formerly was blind to the Pharisees. 14 Now it was a Sabbath when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes. 15 Then the Pharisees also asked him again how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” 16 Therefore some of the Pharisees said, “This Man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.” Others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them.

Now this man whom Jesus healed of his blindness, a blindness from birth, was healed as Jesus said so "...that the works of God should be revealed in Him." John 9:3 Therefore all that follows after his healing is the result of men either believing or not believing that Jesus is from God. Therefore with the blind man having been miraculously healed by Jesus, so that none can deny what has happened to him, though some try to deny that he was even the one born blind (John 9:8-12), and so with his being healed and this creating quite a stir in his community, the previously blind man is now taken by them to the Pharisees so that they might examine him. And that is where we pick up the story.
Now it's interesting to see the division that immediately arises within the Pharisees ranks over the blind mans healing. For some will immediately dismiss the mighty work of God in the mans life simply because Jesus healed him on the Sabbath. And so because of their hardness of heart towards Jesus (and thus God) they do not understand the Sabbath's purpose; that it was given to give man rest from his labors; and not enslave him to the observance of it according to doctrines and commandments of men. Nor do they understand that God likewise does not cease to do good (i.e. "work") simply because it is the Sabbath (consider John 5:17). As Jesus said at the start of this chapter: 4 I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world." John 9:4-5Therefore Jesus in seeking to do the works of God, and be the light in the world to lost and perishing mankind, must also work on the Sabbath, just as His Father does. Yet that is what is so offensive to them, that Jesus would dare to work (i.e. heal) a blind man on the Sabbath, and thus violate their understanding and interpretations of it. And so they being blinded to grace and goodness of God and His witness to them, through Jesus' gracious work in healing the blind man, will only say of Jesus having done so: “This Man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.” vs. 16 Now the other faction within the Pharisees, though likewise not willing to justify Jesus because He healed the blind man on the Sabbath, can neither condemn Jesus as a sinner as their colleagues before them did, since they say, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And so there breaks out a division among them. Now we know how the rest of the story plays out as they will continue to strive with Jesus (and then the healed blind man) to try to dismiss God's work amongst them before they condemn them both as sinners. And so that is what legalism ultimately brings, not God's light nor God's life into men's lives, but instead condemns those who do obey it as sinners, and thus condemns those who should not be condemned. Now what would you say if someone did not preach or endorse your favorite ordinance in which there is Christian liberty, like with Bible translations, or with tithing, or even keeping the the Lord’s Day as one would observe it or not; would you dismiss everything about them and their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and their obedience and good works towards God simply because they don’t hold your point of view on some non-essential matters (Rom. 14). Would you say like the Pharisees "This Man is not from God, because He does not keep..."For in holding to their own ideals the Pharisees eyes were darkened and their hearts hardened to who Jesus really is, and the value He places on all people. How about you and I would we reject someones testimony because they "violated" some principal that we hold dear (not that Jesus commands) but we hold as incumbent on all believers. Again maybe it's a favorite Bible translation; or maybe it's a form of worship music; or again maybe it's the "Sabbath day"; not that there is a Sabbath for New Covenant believers to observe (other than the Sabbath rest that God commands that was foreshadowed in the Old Covenant and is now realized in the New that we all cease from our "works"; by which we try to make ourselves approved to God through them, and rather trust fully in Jesus Christ's finished work at Calvary for our souls redemption, and thus enter Christ's rest, see Heb 4). Or maybe it's some sort of ideal like pacifism, that has superseded (in your mind or heart) Jesus Christ's crucifixion for every persons redemption and reconciliation fully back to God simply by their faith in His Person crucified and risen from the dead. Whatever it is, it is wrong when one accepts or rejects another believer by their holding to, or not holding to, one's own ideals.

Again the Pharisees rejected the wonderful and merciful Work of God done through the Lord Jesus Christ simply because Jesus did it, rather intentionally I might add, on the Sabbath. Which they had made into a impossibly difficult and burdensome day to observe, with all of their self imposed ordinances that they heaped up on all those trying to observe it. Yet the Sabbath was to be a day to bring rest and refreshment to both man and beast (Deut 5:14), and what could be more in accord with that than to make a man completely whole on it, as Jesus Himself declared and did. And in so doing Jesus foreshadowed the regeneration of us all by His Spirit, when we as new creations in Christ having our souls reconciled back to God will also have our bodies made completely whole and into the heavenly Mans image when we are together with Him in heaven (1 Cor 15:48-49). Thus Jesus thoroughly kept the Sabbath (and honored God through it) by healing a blind man on it.
I hope then that wherever you are in your faith walk with Jesus Christ, whether strong in conscience or weak, that you will not allow your conscience or liberty to be a cause of enmity or disunity amongst brethren.

Scripture Quotations
The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982

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