Sunday Morning Bible Study
February 11, 1996
Jesus had been teaching in the temple since early morning.
When He finally said:
»John 8:58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.
The Jews knew that He was claiming to be the great I AM, Yahweh Himself.
And they decided to stone Jesus.
Instead, Jesus went right through the crowd and left the temple.
On the way out of the temple, Jesus saw a man who had been born blind.
To demonstrate what He meant by claiming to be the light of the world, Jesus came up to the man, spit on the ground, made clay with the spittle, and put the mud in the man's eyes.
Then Jesus told the man to walk across town to the pool of Siloam and wash. When the man washed his eyes, he was healed.
:8-12 Who healed you?
:9 others said, He is like him
The people are having a hard time believing what they are seeing.
They've known this man as a blind beggar, and now he comes walking by them, seeing everything!
:9 I am he
Literally, "I am". (ego eimi)
The man doesn't hide who he was.
He's saying this as he's seeing these friends and neighbors for the very first time.
:10 How were thine eyes opened?
These people are amazed at the changes that have taken place in this man's life.
For his entire life he has been blind. And now he's walking around seeing for the first time.
Let people see the changes Jesus has made in your life.
Jesus makes real changes.
The man isn't just wearing a button that says, "Ask me how to be saved".
The attraction to the people is the fact that a real change has occurred.
A holdup man was caught and sent to prison. While there, he came face to face with the claims of the Gospel and was born again by the Spirit of God. His life completely changed, he served the rest of his sentence in an exemplary manner and was released several years later. As he was leaving, the chaplain handed him a letter written by another prisoner. It said, "I came to this place despising both preachers and the Bible. When you told me you were saved, I said to myself, 'There's another one taking the Gospel road just to get an early parole'; but Roy, I've been observing you for a couple of years, and your testimony has rung true. I kept track of you when you were in the yard exercising or working in the shop or eating your meals. You never made a slip.
Now I'm a Christian, too, because I watched you! The Savior who saved you has saved me!" Others had tried to convince him through argumentation of the claims of the Lord, but Roy had exhibited a changed life before him -- that made the difference!
For some of us the changes haven't been so radical.
We might not have testimonies like some, who were street people, doing drugs, into crime, etc. when they met Jesus.
But we should still have changes just the same.
»Colossians 1:13 (NAS) For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son
This change in kingdoms means a real change in our lives.
For me, about the biggest change in my life when I asked Jesus into my heart in 8th grade, was that I stopped leaving the door of my bedroom open a crack.
I was no longer afraid of the dark.
It was so subtle, that it took me a while to realize that it had even happened.
Whether it's big or little, the changes are real.
And when other people begin to see the changes in your life, it makes them curious.
»Matthew 5:13 Ye are the salt of the earth ...
When people begin to see what Jesus has done for you, it will make them thirsty for some of the same in their lives.
That's why Jesus said:
»Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
People need to see the changes that Jesus has made in your life.
When God answers a prayer in your life, let people know!
They might think you're crazy, or they might start wondering what you have that they don't have!
:11 A man that is called Jesus ...
The man is simply going to tell them what happened to him.
Witnessing is telling what happened to you.
You don't have to have a degree in theology to tell people about Jesus.
In fact, a theology degree usually only makes it harder for people to understand you.
You only have to be a witness.
What's a witness?
Someone who was at the scene of the crime.
Were you present when you were born again?
Then you're a qualified witness.
Were you around when Jesus made a change in your life?
Then you're a qualified witness.
Were you there when God answered a special prayer?
Then you're a qualified witness.
Just make it simple and clear.
That's all a good witness has to do.
But sometimes we kind of make things a little too complicated, and use our "Christianese" words.
"All you have to do to be regenerated is to allow the Holy Ghost to sanctify you with the redeeming blood of the Second Person of the Trinity ..."
The great composer Igor Stravinsky wrote his Ebony Concerto for the Woody Herman Herd, one of the swingingest jazz bands ever. But rehearsals brought problems in communication between Stravinsky and the jazzmen. A frustrated Woody Herman finally called in his long- time arranger, Neal Hefti. "Maestro," Hefti said to Stravinsky, "tell me exactly what you want and I'll try to get it across to the boys."
"I want a sudden sforzanda followed by a subito decrescendo," Stravinsky repeated.
"Gotcha," Hefti said. With that he turned to the musicians and said, "Bend it, boys!"
What Neal Hefti did for those members of the Woody Herman band, we as Christians must do with unbelievers. We need to make sure they understand the gospel clearly before we can expect them to act on its message.
:12 He said, I know not
The man isn't trying to hide Jesus.
He just doesn't know where Jesus is.
After Jesus had put mud on his eyes, he went to the pool of Siloam, washed, and hasn't seen Jesus since his healing.
:13-34 Man on trial for being healed
:13 they brought to the Pharisees ...
The people want to find out more about what has happened.
So they go to the people who seem to be the most religious ones.
Certainly they ought to know what has happened.
:14 It was the sabbath day ...
If you haven't already guessed it, things are going to get a little interesting now.
The Pharisees were the strictest sect of the Jews.
They were the group that held the highest respect for God's Word.
And they did everything they could to make sure they obeyed God's laws.
In fact, just to be sure, they made up their own sets of laws, or traditions, that helped make things clearer.
For example, the law simply stated:
»Exodus 20:8-10 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: 10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
But the question begins to arise, what does it mean to not do any work?
So, the Pharisees developed a couple hundred laws of their own, just to clarify what it meant to not do work on the Sabbath.
These were their "traditions"
One of their traditions even stated:
``it is forbidden to put fasting spittle even on the eyelid on a sabbath day.''
:15 Then again the Pharisees also asked him how ...
So now that the Pharisees are brought into it, the questioning starts all over again.
:16 This man is not of God because he keepeth not the sabbath day
Some of the Pharisees now make their "ruling" on Jesus, based on the fact that He did not hold to their traditions and additions to the Law.
You have to hand it to the Pharisees, that they at least have a standard to make decisions by.
But the problem is that their standard has become corrupted.
Rather than holding strictly to the Word of God, they began to elevate their own teachings and traditions to the same level as God's Word.
Know the difference between traditions and God's Word.
This is one of the marks of Phariseeism - they start to hold their own ideas, interpretations, and traditions on the same level as God's Word.
»Mark 7:1-9 Then came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem. 2 And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen, hands, they found fault. 3 For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. 4 And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables. 5 Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands? 6 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. 7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. 8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. 9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.
Historically, this is one of the problems of the Catholic church.
They state that the traditions of the church have the same authority and weight as do the Scriptures.
And so when one off the wall practice creeps into the church, once it's a tradition, it's in for good.
But this problem is not limited to Catholics.
We like to be comfortable, we like to do the same things over and over and over again and never have to worry about doing something different and new.
In many churches, once they've been around a while, you'll hear people say, "But we've never done it THAT WAY before!" Or, "We've always done it that way!"
In 1903 the Russian czar noticed a sentry posted for no apparent reason on the Kremlin grounds.
'What are you guarding,' asked the czar. 'I don't know. The captain ordered me to this post,' the sentry replied.
The czar called the captain. His answer: 'Written regulations specify a guard was to be assigned to that area.' The czar ordered a search to find out why. The archives finally yielded the reason.
In 1776 Catherine the Great found had planted a rose bush there, and there found the first flower of spring. "Post a sentry here," she commanded, "so that no one tramples that flower under foot!"
One hundred years later, sentries were still guarding the now barren spot ...."
In some churches things like the order of worship, or the way communion is served have become so "sacred" that if someone tries to suggest some changes, WATCH OUT!
It's not that tradition is a bad thing by itself.
But when tradition becomes as important of an authority to us as God's Word, then we're in real trouble (Mark 7:9).
Don't allow tradition to be your standard of judgment.
Remember, the issue here is "Is Jesus from God or not?"
When our reasons for saying of someone, "He's not of God" are strictly based on our traditions, then we're in big, big trouble.
In Calvary Chapels -
Even in Calvaries, there can be a mindset of tradition.
Some people in Calvary Chapels begin to get the idea that unless a church sings the latest worship choruses, then they're a really dead church. WRONG!
:16 How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles?
Apparently some of the Pharisees were asking themselves how Jesus could be a sinner and do such great things.
:16 there was a division among them
It's interesting to note that apparently some of the Pharisees were kind of warming up to the idea of Jesus being the Messiah.
Not all Pharisees are bad guys.
We kind of paint the picture of them all wearing black hats, and all ganging up on Jesus.
In fact, some of the Pharisees will indeed believe in Jesus.
They'll be one of the groups in the early church (Acts 15:5).
:17 What sayest thou of him ...
Now they want to hear what this healed guy thinks of Jesus.
They want to hear what his perspective is.
:17 He is a prophet
The man simply doesn't know any better yet.
Certainly Jesus is much, much more than just a prophet.
But this man's just met Jesus, and hasn't gotten to know Him any better.
Be patient with new believers.
Just like kids, new believers can say the darndest things.
But just give them a chance to grow in grace and knowledge of Jesus.
:18 the Jews did not believe ... that he had been blind
There's always a skeptic in the crowd.
Here's a man that's been miraculously healed, standing before them, and they look for every excuse not to believe.
:18 they called the parents of him
And now we call to the witness stand the parents ...
Sounds kind of like a trial, doesn't it?
Will the bloody glove fit?
:20 We know that this is our son ...
Good answer mom and dad.
But don't stick your neck out too far.
:21 he is of age; ask him
Smooth pass off mom and dad!
:22 he should be put out of the synagogue
The Jews had two different forms of "excommunication".
The first form was called "Niddui", a separation from civil society for the space of four cubits, and which held but thirty day.
The second form was called "Cherem", and was a complete cutting off of the person from the whole body of the Jewish church and people, called sometimes the synagogue and congregation of Israel.
This was what was threatened by the Jews.
This was pretty serious stuff.
It was usually done with a ceremony where trumpets were blown to get people's attention, a candle was lit, and then the curse was read.
After the curse was read, the candle was blown out, signifying that the person was no longer worthy of heavenly light.
Here's excerpts of a sample curse:
``according to the mind of the Lord of lords, let such an one, the son of such an one, be in "Cherem", or anathematized ...let great and real stripes be upon him, and many and violent diseases; and let his house be an habitation of dragons; and let his star be dark in the clouds; and let him be for indignation, wrath, and anger; and let his carcass be for beasts and serpents; and let those that rise up against him, and his enemies, rejoice over him; and let his silver and his gold be given to others; and let all his children be exposed at the gate of his enemies"
And the threat did just what the Jews hoped it would, scaring people away from Jesus.
:22 These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews
To be fair, we must admit that in all likelihood these people have yet to meet Jesus.
All they know is that word has gotten around that it's kind of dangerous to get too close to Jesus.
And who wants to risk "cherem" for some guy they've never met?
What's keeping you from Jesus?
If I were to ask you what is keeping you from following Jesus, what would you respond?
Is it peer pressure?
Are you going to be excommunicated from your little group of friends?
Are you afraid that people are going to think you're weak?
Are people going to think you're no longer cool?
Are you afraid that people might think you've lost your intellectual reasoning abilities and put your brain on the shelf?
The issue of following Jesus is more serious than something that should be put off because of peer pressure.
At Chuck E. Cheese, when you come in with your kids now, everybody in the family gets their hand stamped with the same number.
The idea is that no child is allowed out the door without an adult with a matching stamp.
But what if you don't want to get your hand stamped with this ugly red ink?
What if it clashes with the colors of your evening outfit?
Worse yet, what if someone uses the stamp against you to identify you as the parent of that wild kid playing skeetball?
All these are silly questions, because the fact of the matter is, nothing is more important to you than the safety of your children, and nothing is more important to you than your child leaving with you, and not with a stranger.
The issue of following Jesus is even more important than the safety of your children.
It's more important than what your friends are going to think of you.
The issue of following Jesus is something that will determine your eternal destiny.
It will decide where you will spend ETERNITY.
If you're wrong on this one, once you cross through the veil of death, it will be too late to change your mind.
What's keeping you from Jesus?
Is there a reason why you couldn't decide today to give your life to Him?
Of the three main factions among the Jews, the Pharisees were probably the closest to the truth.
The Sadducees were so liberal in their theology that they didn't believe in miracles, in angels, or even the resurrection. They only believed that the first five books of the Old Testament were inspired. The chief priests were predominantly Sadducees.
The Zealots were secular, politically oriented group of revolutionaries. They were all wrapped up in liberating Israel from Rome, and didn't have much time for godly things. They gained a reputation of being a band of murderes, and were afterwards called Sicarii, from their use of the sica, i.e., the Roman dagger.
The Pharisees on the other hand were the ones who were so concerned about pleasing God. They were the ones who believed in the entire Old Testament, and believed in miracles, angels, and the resurrection.