Gospel of John OKC

Last Sunday we began our study of John 9. Last week we focused on the disciple’s question to Jesus about the cause of the man’s blindness. They asked, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus said it was neither his sin nor his parent’s sin that caused the man’s blindness. Jesus didn’t discuss the cause of the man’s blindness. If you will remember our time together last week then you will remember that we talked about how badly we want to know “why?” when tough times come our way. We read various Scriptures about why some things happened to some people in God’s Word, but I hope you walked away from our time fully convinced that oftentimes there isn’t an answer as to “why?”

Some would read Jesus’ response to the disciple’s question and say, “There you have it! You can trace the man’s blindness back to God since He was going to use it for His glory.” Do you remember what Jesus said to the disciples? You can find it in John 9:3. Read along with me.

3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. (John 9:3 NIV)

Please don’t conclude that God “caused” the man’s blindness. Folks, let’s be honest. Most times we can’t even find our keys much less the answers to life’s most perplexing questions. We can learn a great lesson from “the Teacher” in Ecclesiastes 11:5. Listen to this.

5 As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things. (Ecclesiastes 11:5 NIV)

Now, you have heard me say many, many times that God is Sovereign, He is in absolute control. God knows everything about your life and mine before it ever takes place and He can certainly over-rule and change circumstances and situations. With that said, in my life, when I have understood what God was doing in my life it has most often been as I have looked back over my life, and not in the moment. Oftentimes, in the moment, I haven’t had a clue what God was up to. Even though I haven’t known or been able to figure out what God was doing, I’ve learned to focus on the fact that God loves me, He truly loves me, and He is at work even when I don’t know what He is doing. F. F. Bruce wrote about God’s work in the blind man’s life by saying,

This does not mean that God deliberately caused the child to be born blind in order that, after many years, his glory should be displayed in the removal of the blindness; to think so would again be an aspersion on the character of God. It does mean that God overruled the disaster of the child’s blindness so that, when the child grew to manhood, he might, by recovering his sight, see the glory of God in the face of Christ, and others, seeing this work of God, he might turn to the true Light of the world. (Bruce, F.F. The Gospel of John. pg 209)

Jesus didn’t discuss the cause of the man’s blindness, but He made it clear that our God is a God of purpose who would use such a tragic situation as this man’s blindness to put His glory on full display. Blindness and purpose? We would never put those two words together. Blindness and pain definitely. Blindness and suffering fit together quite well. Blindness and disability go together in most of our minds. Blindness and injustice no doubt! I can see folks marching in the streets “No Sight! No Peace!” These are words we would link together, but never would we connect “purpose” with “blindness” because purpose carries with it the idea of design, intentionality, and achievement.

Students who go to class with purpose know the class is helping them prepare for something greater in life. Athletes are willing to show up for practice at all hours and in torturous weather because they know the practices have purpose, purpose that will help them reach their goal. Husbands and wives who marry with a greater purpose than simply to make one another “happy” are willing to endure the cold wintery seasons of their relationship when the giddiness and goosebumps of love are in short supply. And on and on the story goes. Purpose is a game changer. When you hear the word “purpose” you don’t think of randomness, coincidence, or chance.

In the society in which we live more and more people are becoming convinced that life has no purpose, no ultimate meaning, and we are seeing the effects of this growing mindset upon our culture in everyday life. Maybe some of you have been wondering if life has any meaning other than simply getting up and going to work to pay the bills. I’m so glad you are here because this morning we are going to take a look at the One life that was lived with greater purpose than any life that has ever been lived. Let’s read our Scripture for this morning found in John 9:1-5.

1 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (John 9:1-5 NIV)

Most Bible teachers believe that the man who had been blind from birth can be seen as representative of all of humanity. He is a visible reminder of the state of humanity apart from the transformative work of Jesus in our lives. Let me use the religious leaders we ran into while we were studying John 8 as an example. They didn’t seem incapacitated or lacking. They had physical sight and yet the Savior of the world stood before them, willing and able to open their spiritually blind eyes, and yet they reached down and picked up rocks because they wanted to kill Him. The religious leaders were intelligent, they had high I.Q’s no doubt, but their thinking was futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Romans 1:21). They were men of great accomplishment. They had graduated from the finest Ivy League rabbinical schools in Jerusalem. They enjoyed the upper echelon of social circles in Jerusalem who were more than impressed with their Cartier belts and signet rings, hand stitched Italian made priestly robes, and Dolce and Gabbana Nile crocodile leather sandals. They had all of the trappings of success, but they were blind, totally and completely blind to the one Treasure they most desperately needed. They not only possessed all of the signs of success, but they were fine, morally upstanding, citizens. They prided themselves on being more moral, more religious than the rest of society. They were more religious than anyone in Jerusalem and yet Jesus didn’t hesitate to tell them they didn’t even know God (John 8:55).

We may be separated from the religious leaders of Jesus’ day by 2000 years, but we continue to pursue meaning in the meaningless and count as meaningless the one thing Jesus attaches ultimate meaning to—salvation, having our spiritually blind eyes opened by the Light of the world. This may be God’s purpose for us, but the voices of society continue to rise in efforts to trivialize God’s truth and demand that there is no meaning or purpose to life.

Ravi Zacharias tells a story about an experience he had over twenty years ago. He was at the University of Cambridge in England where he was taking some classes. An invitation only meeting was to take place on the campus with Dr. Stephen Hawking who had just four years prior released his book, A Brief History of Time. The book is Dr. Hawking’s scientific and philosophical view of how the world came into being and why we are here. The book sold has over 10 million copies, it was on the London Sunday Times bestseller list for four years, and has been translated into more than forty languages. Dr. Hawking filled the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics at Cambridge for thirty years, a chair once held by Sir Isaac Newton.

For those who aren’t familiar with Dr. Hawking you should know that he suffers from a slow progressing form of Lou Gehrig’s disease. He is in a wheelchair unable to speak or move anything except one index finger. Computer scientists developed a computer for him so that by moving his index finger a series of words come up before him from which he can structure sentences, and then a synthesized voice reads the text he’s “written.” He is no doubt the most brilliant Theoretical Physicist since Albert Einstein.

As members of the media gathered with those who had been invited to hear Dr. Hawking speak about the subject, “Is Man Determined? Is There a Design to the Universe? the room was buzzing. Ravi Zacharias says that when Dr. Hawking finished speaking the room sat in absolute stunned silence with what seemed like a huge question mark hanging over the crowd. “Is that all? Is there not more?” seemed to be the question. What Dr. Hawking, the world’s most brilliant genius, had to say was this:

Yes we have been designed, but since we do not know what the design is, we may as well not be. My only fear for mankind is this, the terror that stalks my mind is that we have arrived on the scene because evolution. We are here because of naturalistic selection and natural selection assumes natural rejection which means we have arrived here because of our aggression. My hope is that we can somehow keep from eating one another up for another 100 years. At that point science will have devised a scheme to take all of us into the different planets of the Universe and no one atrocity would destroy all of us at the same time. (Razi Zacharias. Let My People Think. Created For Significance Part 1.)

That sounds rather hopeless doesn’t it? We are here because of natural selection, because of evolution, and our only hope is that we can keep from devouring one another until science is able to scatter us to the far reaches of the galaxy.

Stephen J. Gould was a professor of Zoology at Harvard University for more than thirty years. He wrote more than 30 books before he died in 2002 at the age of 60. In 1983 he was awarded fellowship of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. They recognized Dr. Gould for what they said were his “numerous contributions to both scientific progress and the public understanding of science.” We should probably listen to what Dr. Gould had to say about our purpose and the possibility of finding meaning in this life of our ours. He said,

We are here because one odd group of fishes had a peculiar fin anatomy that could transform into legs for terrestrial creatures; because the earth never froze entirely during an ice age; because a small and tenuous species, arising in Africa a quarter of a million years ago, has managed, so far, to survive by hook and by crook. We may yearn for a ‘higher’ answer — but none exists. This explanation, though superficially troubling, if not terrifying, is ultimately liberating and exhilarating. We cannot read the meaning of life passively in the facts of nature. We must construct these answers ourselves — from our own wisdom and ethical sense. There is no other way. (Stephen J. Gould)

We are here by chance, sheer luck, and any meaning that you or I find in this life will have to be created and determined by our own efforts. If that’s the best that such brilliant minds can come up with then folks we are out of luck if we look to people to define our purpose and outline for us a meaningful existence while we live.

There is another way. We don’t have to look to people and we don’t have to look deep inside ourselves to find meaning and purpose. We must look to God to find purpose and meaning in this life. In the time we have left I want to use Jesus’ life as an example for us.

Not What I Will, But What You Will

First of all, Jesus came to do His Father’s will. As we read the Gospels we run into this over and over again. Jesus let everyone know that His concern was not to do what He wished or wanted. His passion and the driving force of everything He did was to do His Father’s will. Let me share a couple of examples with you. In John 6:38 we read,

38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. (John 6:38 NIV)

The greatest example for me is found in the Garden of Gethsemane. As Jesus faced His greatest challenge, the cross before Him, He prayed in the Garden. He spoke to His disciples and said,

34 “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.” 35 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36 “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:34-36 NIV)

If Jesus lived with this kind of purpose, if seeking to do His Father’s will was of ultimate meaning, then shouldn’t we who seek to follow Him desire the very thing He most desired? What is it that is keeping you from seeking to live out God’s will for your life above all else?

Show Them The Father

Secondly, Jesus’ desire was to show the world the heart of the Father. Jesus wanted those around Him to come to know God—His power, majesty, and holiness as well as His tenderness, forgiveness, and compassion. Everything Jesus did and said was intended to reveal the Father to those Jesus spent time with in everyday life. Jesus told stories like the parable of the Prodigal Son, the Lost Coin, and the Good Samaritan that illustrated truths about God. He taught those He would come across while walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, while sitting on the steps of the temple, and while eating at the houses of friends that revealed the heart of God. He interacted with people like the woman caught in adultery, Zacchaeus the chief tax collector in Jericho, and Nicodemus the Pharisee in such a way that He would be a bridge and not a barrier to God. Jesus came to reveal the Father’s heart to the world and He was very much aware of that each day. Jesus said, “The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me.” (John 12:45 NIV)

As Jesus was preparing to go to the cross He gathered with His disciples and shared with them some of the most powerful lessons of His ministry. As Jesus was speaking,

8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” 9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? (John 14:8-9 NIV)

“Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” That was not only Jesus’ aim, but He fulfilled His desire to make the Father known. If our heart’s desire is to allow the Father to shine through us each and every day in everything we do, with every person we encount—will that not infuse incredible meaning to our everyday lives?

A Life Poured Out in Service to Others

There is one more thing about Jesus’ life that I want to point out to you which speaks so clearly about the purpose and meaning which defined Him. Jesus poured His life out in service to others. Over and over again Jesus told His followers that He had come to seek and to save the lost. He said that He didn’t come for the healthy, but for the sick. After Jesus washed the feet of His disciples He told them they were to wash one another’s feet. Jesus never deviated from a life of selfless service to others. It marked Him all the way to the cross.

Once again, if we are going to call ourselves His followers then don’t you think the same selfless service should mark our daily lives? In a world that is consumed with getting ahead and looking out for #1, I’m convinced that one of the greatest witnesses you and I can have for the difference Jesus makes in our lives is to go out of our way to serve those around us.

All of this really makes no sense to those who do not know Jesus as Lord and Savior of their life. Before we come to know Jesus we are convinced that to find meaning and purpose in life we’ve got to find “what” will make us happy, we’ve got to find the one who will “fulfill” us, but efforts, endeavors, and people are not designed to give us meaning and purpose that lasts only a relationship with Jesus can do that my friend. I want to encourage you this morning to give up your search for significance and meaning and surrender your heart to Jesus.

Mike Hays

Britton Christian Church

922 NW 91st

OKC, OK. 73114

April 26, 2015

mike@brittonchurch.com

acharias says that when Dr. Hawking finished speaking the room sat in absolute stunned silence with what seemed like a huge question mark hanging over the crowd. “Is that all? Is there not more?” seemed to be the question. What Dr. Hawking, the world’s most brilliant genius, had to say was this:
Yes we have been designed, but since we do not know what the design is, we may as well not be. My only fear for mankind is this, the terror that stalks my mind is that we have arrived on the scene because evolution. We are here because of naturalistic selection and natural selection assumes natural rejection which means we have arrived here because of our aggression. My hope is that we can somehow keep from eating one another up for another 100 years. At that point science will have devised a scheme to take all of us into the different planets of the Universe and no one atrocity would destroy all of us at o go to the cross He gathered with His disciples and shared with them some of the most powerful lessons of His ministry. As Jesus was speaking,

sumed with getting ahead and looking out for #1, I’m convinced that one of the greatest witnesses you and I can have for the difference Jesus makes in our lives is to go out of our way to serve those around us.

All of this really makes no sense to those who do not know Jesus as Lord and Savior of their life. Before we come to know Jesus we are convinced that to find meaning and purpose in life we’ve got to find “what” will make us happy, we’ve got to find the one who will “fulfill” us, but efforts, endeavors, and people are not designed to give us meaning and purpose that lasts only a relationship with Jesus can do that my friend. I want to encourage you this morning to give up your search for significance and meaning and surrender your heart to Jesus.

 

“If God Is a God of Purpose Then…”
John 9:1-5
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