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John 9 and Unbelief

April 4, 2018

“The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight, until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight,” (John 9:18, ESV).

In John 9, we have an opportunity to examine some of the ways that unbelief works. Christ heals a man born blind on the Sabbath day. When the man is brought to the Pharisees, they insist that Christ cannot be from God since He did such an act on the Sabbath. Unfortunately, this is the way unbelief all too often works. We tend to have an immediate reaction against anything we already believe, or that goes against our way. Here is an amazing miracle being accomplished that reveals Christ’s divinity. Yet, the Pharisees essentially respond, “Well it wasn’t done our way so it has to be wrong!” Sound familiar?

Next, we read that the Pharisees deny that the man had actually been born blind. We can be so committed to our views, that even the most blatant evidence is rejected simply because it goes against our unbelief. A miracle had been accomplished. What did the Pharisees do? They immediately tried to explain it in such a way as to deny it was a miracle. “We must do away with any evidence that disagrees with us and discount it outright!” Of course, this should not be surprising in light of Romans 1:21, “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him.” Paul explains here that the creation clearly reveals God to people, yet they suppress that truth in unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18). We must try do away with all conflicting evidence!

After the Pharisees ask the parents, in order to validate that he was born blind, they return to the man and say, “Give glory to God. We know this man is a sinner.” Now that they can no longer reject the evidence, they attack the character of the one with whom they disagree. “Even if we cannot deny the miracle, we will point out this man must be evil! Therefore, no one should regard this miracle or this man!” Of course, this is a fallacy. Just because someone is a sinner does not mean they are wrong. Sinners believe 2 + 2 = 4. This does not imply 2 and 2 must equal something else.

Next, the Pharisees ask the man a question to which they already know the answer. They ask again, “How did he open your eyes?” (vs. 26). He had already explained this to them (vs. 13-17). This shows a complete unwillingness to hear any answer that one does not want to hear in their rebellion. We can be given a very clear answer to our objections, but then move on as if no one ever answered us. What hardness of heart is revealed here!

We also find out in this passage that the Pharisees threatened to throw anyone out of the synagogue who believed in Christ (vs. 22). When the man insists on Christ’s miracle, they throw him out of the synagogue, excommunicating him (vs. 24). Here is a last tactic we will examine today. The synagogue was the centerpiece of Jewish social life. Jewish people went there every Saturday. To be excommunicated would be to cause you to lose your religious and social status in an attempt to limit your influence and punish you for daring to disagree. The point is, the Pharisees apply the tactic of, “Agree with us, or we will destroy your influence in our society, and attempt to destroy your life!” If we cannot reason with someone, we may try to simply destroy their lives in one way or another. Apparently this is thought to somehow justify our opinion.

We see in John 9 a shameful display of unbelief. Do we not act this way in our sin? As Christians, this type of behavior has no place among us. We are to treat those who disagree with us with kindness, love, and respect. Unfortunately, this is not they way we act in our unbelief. I wonder if you can see any of this taking place in our culture today?

May we remember that without the grace of God, this is how everyone of us acts. This should cause us to praise God that He would save sinners like us! We should also be begging God to cause us to not act in this way, and that He would help us to learn how to love those who disagree with us. May God grant us this grace today!

From → Theology

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