Covering your eyes doesn’t make the truth go away.

Pastor Jeff Struecker

I want you to do something for me just right out of the gate at home or in this room. Why don’t you reach up and put your hands over your eyes like something terrible is about to happen, and you’re going to try to block it out? Go ahead and do this for me right now.

 

Does this remind you of childhood when mom or dad knew something bad was about to happen on TV, and then they reached up real quick and put their hands in front of your eyes because they didn’t want you to see something bad? They didn’t want you to have nightmares about something you were about to see on TV.

 

I used to do this when I was a teenager because I got into scary movies, so I used to come home from work late in the evening. I would turn all the lights off. I would put a scary movie on, and I would do my best to watch a scary movie all the way through for the first time by myself, and inevitably for a moment or two, I’d put my eyes up to try to make what’s scary on the movie go away.

 

And it dawned on me just because you put your hands over your eyes doesn’t mean what was about to happen didn’t happen.

 

I’m using this hands over your eyes kind of thing to remind us. You know, sometimes people carry that analogy even into adulthood because what they do is they put their hands over their eyes when something that they don’t want to face is about to come in front of them. I think I need to be reminded of this from time to time, just because you put your hands over your eyes. It doesn’t make the hard stuff and the truth go away.

 

We’re going to see a group of men who will cover their own eyes almost physically there spiritually going to cover their eyes up because it’s inconvenient to face the truth of what just happened in front of them.

 

We are studying through the gospel of John, and last week, we were introduced to a guy who was physically blind; we learned that this guy was born blind and Jesus’ disciples, probably the people in the community, definitely the religious leaders believed if you’re born blind, somebody did something wrong and blindness is the result of sin.

 

 

Jesus gives a profound answer. He said it wasn’t mama and daddy or the baby. He was born blind, so this moment happens in front of you, and then you would be able to see. Not just the blind man would be able to see, and you’d be able to see the power of God.

 

They asked whose fault was it that turned the man blind because, in Jesus’ day, they believed that if you were born physically blind, even God himself couldn’t heal you. So Jesus does a miracle and he heals a guy that was born physically blind.

 

Covering your eyes doesn’t make the truth go away.

 

Now, this guy stands in front of the religious leaders who are spiritually blind. They are struggling to explain away what just happened there, spiritually putting their hands over their eyes and trying to make the truth go away because they don’t want to reckon with the implications of a guy who was born blind has just been healed by this rabbi in our community.

 

I once was blind, but now I see!

Today, we’re going to end the last part of this story and we’re going to deal with spiritual blindness instead of physical blindness. We are going to tackle perhaps one of if not the greatest theological challenge in the entire bible because the bible just puts it in front of us in very matter-of-fact terms. Here’s what I want you to see. First. We’re going to start in the book of John, we’re going to be in John chapter 9 starting in verse 35.

 

I am shamelessly using one of the most famous worship or hymn lyrics of all times, the famous slave trader, born in British, England in the mid-1700.

 

John Newton who had this radical experience with Jesus and Jesus, not only changed his life, not only changed his soul but changed his life and this former slave trader became an outspoken abolitionist and spoke against the slave trade when his eyes were opened. He wrote the famous hymn, John Newton wrote the famous hymn, “Amazing Grace” and in that hymn, we’ve sung, I once was blind but now I see you.

 

You have a guy who was born blind, but now sees and now we deal with the guys in the community who were born with eyesight, but maybe they’ve never been able to see, maybe they can’t see anymore.

 

John Chapter 9, starting in verse 35 when Jesus heard that they had thrown the man out and he went and found him. Now, the man that we’re referring to is the man that was born blind, who just stood in front of the religious leaders and they got so angry with him, thrown out means they kicked him out of the church, literally excommunicated him out of the church. Just because he had the audacity to claim that this man from Galilee was a prophet. He claimed that Jesus must be a prophet because of what he just did when he opened my eyes.

 

Jesus deliberately goes to find this brother and ask him a question. He asked, “Do you believe? And the son of man, who is he, sir, that I might believe in him? He asked and Jesus answered, you have seen him? In fact, he is the one speaking with you, I believe Lord, he said, and then he worshiped Jesus.”

 

The conversation that we’re having right now really causes me to ask the question. And maybe when you read the book of john you’re asking the same question. When exactly did this man see who Jesus really was? Because the first conversation that he had, he was born blind, couldn’t see.

 

Jesus, does this miracle, sends him away and when he goes away to wash, his eyes are open and he gets in a conversation with these religious leaders who absolutely refused to believe that Jesus is a holy man.

 

There’s an argument between the man born blind and the religious leaders and they kicked him out of church and Jesus goes out of his way. By the way, the bible is using language here that says Jesus went out of his way and took deliberate time to go back and to find this guy. That almost never happens.

 

I kind of wonder, what is it about this guy that prompts Jesus to go back to him and to find him?  And I really think it’s because people in town are talking about the fact that he was willing to stand up to the religious leaders, probably, Jesus went to find him because he had the courage to confront the truth or that the truth and didn’t necessarily believe in those religious rules and all of those traditions, because he had just been changed so much by Jesus.

 

So Jesus goes out of his way to find him and when he shows up, he asks a very simple question and I said this when we first started studying through the book of John, this book in the bible is referred to by most as some of the easiest reading in the bible. And it’s true because Jesus asks him, just an easy-to-understand question.

 

Do you believe in the Son of Man? The guy’s answer is important, but Jesus’s response is profound, and basically, here’s what I want you to hear.

 

Church, John is no lightweight, he’s dealing with some incredibly big theological topics today and he’s just using some of the most natural, easy-to-read language.

 

Jesus says, hey, do you believe in the son of man? And the guy says, I don’t know where is he, who is he? So that I can believe in him.

 

Is this man able to see spiritually when Jesus shows up and asks him, do you believe? You can see, he’s still struggling to see who’s standing right in front of him until Jesus pulls back the blinders on his soul now and starts to introduce him at the soul level.

 

He has already healed the man physically, but now he’s about to open his eyes spiritually. The guy says I don’t know who the son of man is, show him to me so that I can believe in him. And Jesus answers, you’ve seen him, he’s standing in front of you right now and you’re going to keep seeing him and now you can see him both body and soul, you can see with your physical eyes, but now you get the chance to see him with your spiritual eyes as well.

 

When Jesus reveals himself to this guy, the guy is now confronted with a choice, a challenge that’s placed in front of him. The guy believes and the bible tells us that he worshiped and when the bible uses the “worshiped” word, it’s using the exact same word as this notorious town center. The woman at the well who is the most outcast, the most scandalous woman in town. And when she sees with her soul, who’s standing in front of her, when Jesus opens her eyes, she worships him.

 

 

John 9: 35-38 Jesus heard that they had thrown the man out, and when he found him, he asked, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” “Who is he, Sir, that I may believe in him?” he asked. Jesus answered, “You have seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.” “I believe, Lord!” he said, and he worshiped him.

 

 

This Samaritan woman worships him just like this guy worships Jesus when he finally can see with the soul, not with just the eyes who is standing in front of him. This choice that Jesus is putting in front of him is the same choice that every human being on the planet has to decide. It’s a choice of what do you believe about Jesus? Will you worship him not just as the son of man, not just as the son of God, but he makes it very clear in the bible as God the son. Will you fall down with spiritual eyes to see Jesus as God the son?

 

I just want to tell you what I think the bible is dealing with today is an issue of the first commandment. All of the other commandments fall into place Exodus 20:1. God says, hey, Israel, I delivered you out of Egypt and now I’m going to give you some rules. First rule Exodus 20:2, I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt. You will have no other gods in front of me. Don’t you dare worship anyone or anything else but me, you can’t get number one right, the rest of the nine is not going to happen for you.

 

If you can figure number one out, the other nine are possible. But until you get the number one right, the other nine are not going to work out for you. I have this pet peeve by the way when Christians used the word worship as kind of a synonym for singing songs in church on Sunday and that’s all the word means to them. You’ve really cheapened the word because what this guy does without singing songs is fall down on his knees in the presence of Jesus and believe he is the son of God and worships him meaning surrender his life to him. And that word worship is used in the old testament. It most often refers to the old testament. Saints of God fall down in front of him and surrender their life. Yes, it means singing songs on Sunday, but it means much, much more than that. It’s a life radically surrendered to the God who created you in the first place and Jesus is putting a choice in front of this guy. I’m standing in front of you and you have to decide do you believe that I am the promised one of God or not. The same choice all of us have to make.

 

I was running this week. I was up early this week to work out and I had a choice to make, I have a whole lot of stuff that I would have been falling behind on and I needed to catch up with a lot of work that needed to get done, but I also wanted to go do a long run. I tried to run long distances once or twice every week, once during the week and once on the weekends and so I really want to do this long run. But I also know that if I cut my run short, I can get to work an hour earlier and I can get an hour’s worth of work done and I’m just going to admit it to you. I cut the run short this week, not because of the temperatures, not because I’m being lazy, I cut the run short this week so that I could get to work and get an extra hour’s worth of work done and you know what? When I was driving to work, here’s what I was thinking, I had a choice to make. I can’t be at work and be running long distance at the same time. I’m not smart enough to figure that one out. But if I keep cheating, on my fitness for the sake of getting work done at some point, my fitness will get so out of shape that I’m no longer able to get work done. So in other words, choosing to cheat when you’re forced to make a choice, is the wrong choice and this week when I have the opportunity to run long distances or to get some work done, I know I got to get out and I got to run long distance or else I’m not going to be able to get the work done that I want to sometime in the future.

 

I think this choice that God is placing in front of this man, he places in front of every human being, do you believe that this really is the promised one of God who can open your eyes both physically and spiritually or not? And now that you’ve been forced to make that choice, now you have to reckon with God’s part in this equation.

 

Is spiritual blindness God’s fault?

 

You see, we have to really ask the question. Is spiritual blindness when somebody can’t see with their soul, is that their fault or is that God’s fault? And maybe you don’t think about it in these terms, but I do see what the Bible is going to do next.

 

These last three verses from the book of John chapter 9 really put the whole passage into perspective, in fact, the great preacher and pastor, the author of the book, desiring God, John Piper. He basically said these last three verses are the apex of the climax of the whole story in these last three verses.

 

The guy who was born blind and can’t see, can now see more clearly, but the people who were born with eyesight can now see less clearly because this is the theological challenge that Jesus is going to put in front of us that we have to wrestle with whose fault is it when people are really spiritually blind?

 

Jesus said to the guy, I have come into this world for judgment in order for those who do not see will see and those who do see will become blind. If you’re in the habit of circling or writing in your bible circle, the word becomes a very important word in this passage, and some of these Pharisees who were with him, heard these things and they asked him, “We aren’t blind too, are we?”

 

 

John 9: 39-41 Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment, in order that those who do not see will see and those who do see will become blind.” Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard these things and asked him, “We aren’t blind too, are we?” “If you were blind,” Jesus told them, “you wouldn’t have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.

 

In other words, they knew Jesus was directing these words at them. If you were blind, listen to Jesus’ reply. “If you were blind,” Jesus told them, “you wouldn’t have sin. But now that you say, ‘we see your sin remains.”

 

What Jesus is doing in these last couple of verses is dealing with the source of spiritual blindness. Physical blindness, lots of lots of reasons for that spiritual blindness. We have to ask the question is it God’s fault or is it my fault that I’m spiritually blind? Jesus says I came to judge the world and what I want you to wrestle with for just a second.

 

Can we just be honest with the bible for a moment, I want you to wrestle with the statement when Jesus says you’re spiritually blind, but I’ve come to judge you for your blindness because if you’re honest with the bible you would have to ask, wait for a second, how can God judge me for being blind and not being able to spiritually see? And Jesus is saying, look, you’re spiritually blind and I’ve come to judge you because you’re spiritually blind and it’s one thing to be born blind.

 

This guy who he just opened, his eyes are born blind now he’s talking to the religious leaders and he’s saying you guys weren’t born spiritually blind, you became spiritually blind.

 

In this story, Jesus is saying you chose not to see who I really am and what I came to do because it’s covering your eyes to the truth. If you were forced to see who I am and what I came to do to change the soul of mankind, you’re not going to be forced to deal with your religious rules and your traditions because you don’t want to give up those religious rules and those traditions, you cannot see who I really am.

 

I’ll give you an example of this, go back sometime and the next day or two and go read Matthew chapter 13 read the whole chapter, it’ll only take you three minutes, Jesus uses one parable after another in Matthew chapter 13 and he speaks in parables which by the way are kind of figurative language instead of very concrete stories and he’s using so many parables.

 

In Matthew chapter 13 his disciples start to get a little bit confused, I think they’re actually getting frustrated like Jesus. I don’t get it, why are you talking in parables when people are trying to understand who you are and what you came to teach and Jesus’ answer is profound. He said I’m speaking in parables Matthew 13 so that those that can’t see won’t see so that those who can’t hear won’t hear, he’s basically saying so that the spiritually blind will stay spiritually blind so that the spiritual death will remain spiritually dead. The disciples don’t get it.

 

So Matthew 13 ends with Jesus going back to his hometown and he preaches in his hometown in the synagogue. What Matthew 13 tells us is that when people saw this man in the synagogue they could not see the son of God, they definitely could not see God, the son, all they could see was the son of Joseph and Mary. They were spiritually blind and there was no way that they could understand, there was no way that they could recognize who this guy really is because all they could see is the kid that they remember growing up on the streets with.

 

The Bible tells us that at the end of Matthew 13, Jesus couldn’t do many miracles in their midst and most of them didn’t see, couldn’t believe who he really was because they were spiritually blind and it was going to challenge what they believed about the world, about religion, about themselves.

 

So now what I want to do is just deal with this very honest statement that Jesus makes, Jesus says, I came so that people that were blind basically would remain blind. In the passage of Matthew 13, he says I came to judge the world in that in order that those who do not see will see and those who do see will become blind.

 

And I want to ask, okay Jesus, are you saying that you showed up so that people would be left in their sin after they’ve heard your story and they would be guilty of that sin? Because the religious leaders asked him I think you’re talking about us, Jesus, are you telling us that we’re blind? His answer to them is if you could see your need to see, then you wouldn’t be blind, but because you can’t see your need to see, you’re blind and you’re hopelessly blind.

 

I said it this way last week, all of us are blind to our blindness until someone shows us our spiritual blindness.

 

Here’s what I think the bible is dealing with right now. It’s dealing with this theological challenge. I don’t think that there’s a conundrum or a conflict here, but it’s dealing with the theological challenge of God at work in a man or a woman’s soul and a man or a woman’s responsibility to respond to God at work in a man or a woman’s soul, not the man that was born blind the Pharisees.

 

So maybe you’ve heard it this way, The bible doctrine of election or the bible doctrine of predestination. There are many preachers and theologians out there, that really struggled with this one and I think they give some bad information to try to help bring into light these two challenges of God being absolutely sovereign in every aspect of our life, but we still have a responsibility to respond to him.

 

Where preachers and theologians go wrong is when they take these two topics, God being so powerful and in that he’s in control of every aspect of human life, to include your soul and man’s responsibility to respond to God’s call for salvation. When preachers use the word or when theologians introduced the word or in these two concepts, they are not treating the bible fairly. What you have in the bible is God totally in control of everything and man and woman responsible to respond.

 

And if you’re asking me, “Jeff, how exactly do those two things work together?”

 

I have no idea. In fact, I have studied it at the highest levels for more than 20 years. I have read the most brilliant minds in Christian history on this and have yet to find anybody who’s able to conclusively figure out how these two things are both true at the same time.

 

But many credible church leaders and theologians will tell you it’s absolutely clear from the bible, they’re both right there. I am going through this theological discussion with you because when you hear a pastor start to use the word or, instead of, and maybe they just don’t understand the bible, that’s dangerous.

 

What Jesus is saying today is, God is absolutely sovereign and he alone, I can show you that you’re blind and that you need his help to see. But when God shows you that, now you and I have a responsibility to respond, it’s and it’s both at the same time.