Summary: Standing for Jesus may extract a high price, and sometimes it is not from the world, but from those those within the church.

Opening the eyes of the blind. Though this 9th chapter of John is about Jesus giving sight to a man born blind, but there is so much more here. The physical eyes being opening is not nearly as significant as the spiritual eyes. The blind man’s spiritual eyes where being opened and he was seeing far more than the Pharisees. The Spiritual eyes of the Pharisees were blinded.

Today, we are looking at legalism and religious persecution. And the religious persecution comes from, of all places, the religious authorities themselves.

This is a long passage, today, but we strive to keep it all in context and we’ll attempt to see the bigger story that is happening here. I hope you all have taken the time to read ahead.

John 9:13–34

The heart that judges others too quickly or too stringent in this way is the heart of a Pharisee. It's almost always a heart that views God as a punisher instead of a redeemer. In his book called, "Messy Spirituality" Mike Yaconelli has a test for a heart of a pharisee. It involves a young idealistic college student named David that goes into the projects of N.Y.C. to share the gospel.

He had no idea how or where to start but he walked into one of the buildings where he heard a baby crying behind a door so he knocked on it…A woman with a cigarette in her mouth and baby in her arms opened the door a crack….with the chain still latched. She yelled, "What the Hell do you want?" David said, I'd like to talk with you about Jesus." She said, "Go away…and she slammed the door in his face. He went back outside and sat on the curb. In tears he wondered "what in the world can I do here to be of any help?"

Then he remembered this lady had a baby and she was smoking, so he went to a little convenient store and bought formula and some cigarettes and some diapers. He walked back into the building and knocked on her door again. She opened it again and said, "What are you doing back here?" And he showed her the formula, diapers and cigarettes. She let him in…All that afternoon he helped her with the baby and smoked cigarettes with her, even though he'd never smoked before. At the end of the day she said softly, "What did you want to tell me about Jesus?

And for the next few minutes he told her about the love of Christ. She said, "Please pray that my babies make it out of here' alive."

You know what the Pharisee test is….? There are those who will say: "Wow…what's he doing smoking cigarettes with her!" [1] We missed the big picture.

This is just what is happening in this story in John 9.

John 9:13 (NKJV) They brought him who formerly was blind to the Pharisees.

Why did they do this?

In a day when almost all events bore religious overtones, the extraordinary healing cried out for comment by the religious authorities. John pictures the healed man’s neighbors turning to their local religious leaders and asking them what they should make of the healing. [2]

This is contrast today when nothing has any spiritual overtones. And then John adds this little detail to the story:

John 9:14 (NKJV) Now it was a Sabbath when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes.

This little detail changed everything! This was not the first time Jesus healed on the sabbath. The Jews have all kind of rules to keep the sabbath. For example:

You cannot light a lamp or extinguish a lamb – that would be working.

You cannot not where sandals shod with nails. The weight of the nails constituted a burden.

Even today in Israel, in the Hotels, they have Shabbat elevators, On the sabbath these elevators run all day on automatic, going up and down stopping at every floor, because pushing a button is work.

Here Jesus broke at least three rules, (1) He spit and made clay, (2) He applied the clay to the eyes (3) He brought healing.

Healing was permitted only in cases of life and death and only to the extent that life is preserved till the sabbath is over. The man born blind was in no danger of dying until the sabbath was over, therefore Jesus should have not brought healing - completely ignoring the miracle of it all!

John 9:15–16 (NKJV) 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.

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