The Gospel of John, Jesus' sixth sign, part 3
Dec 13, 2019
After Jesus healed the blind man, we read in John 9:8, 9,
8 Therefore the neighbors, and those who previously saw him as a beggar, were saying, “Is not this the one who used to sit and beg?” 9 Others were saying, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am the one.”
As I have already noted, the blind man first represented the House of Israel in that Israel as a whole was blind during their wilderness journey under Moses. Secondly, the blind man represented Judah, which was one of the tribes of Israel, and in that sense represented the nation of Judea in Jesus’ day. Thirdly, the blind man represented the church in the Pentecostal Age, because blindness has again permeated the church.
Blind men normally beg. So does the church. In 1981 my personal wilderness journey started with a long-term vision to have a giving church, rather than a begging church. That got me into trouble with others who did not understand, and I had to leave the ministry for many years. During that time, I received much revelation as God opened my eyes to His word.
When God called me back into full-time ministry, I was determined more than ever to do so only if I never had to become a beggar. It was my only request in accepting His call, and He has honored that request now for decades. If I had need, He was the One who spoke to others, so that I would not have to do so. Not everyone may be called to do ministry in this way, but this is how I have been led. It allows me to focus on teaching, rather than spending time as a fundraiser.
The Remnant See
John 9:10, 11 says,
10 So they were saying to him, “How then were your eyes opened?” 11 He answered, “The man who is called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash’; so I went away and washed, and I received sight.”
Blind men cannot heal their own blindness. They are helpless until Jesus comes to do it for them. Many can see the blindness in others but do not recognize it in themselves. A few, however, sense that there is much more truth than what they already know. People have testified to me that after going to church for many years, they asked God, “Is this all there is? Is there nothing more?” In such hearts God has placed a hunger and an awareness that there must be a much bigger world out there than what they know.
Such awareness in itself does not heal anyone, but it is certainly evidence of the Holy Spirit’s work within their hearts. It is often the first step toward healing, for when Jesus starts heading their way, the Spirit begins to prepare the way before Him. As the Mediator of the New Covenant, Jesus came to fulfill God’s vow to save all mankind—a few at a time.
In the present age, He is calling a remnant to bless all families of the earth. The remnant is called by the sovereign will of God alone, says the apostle Paul. Hence, Jacob was called and Esau rejected even before these twins had been born—while they “had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls” (Romans 9:11).
Most have difficulty accepting this, because they think this means Esau will burn in hell forever just because God did not want to choose him. But they misunderstand the nature of the God of Love. Love does not use sovereignty as a tyrant but as a Father. Romans 5 defines and teaches the love of God FIRST, so that we would not misunderstand the sovereignty of God in chapter 9.
When God chose one man, Abraham, He did not cast out the rest of the world, nor did He hate the world. He chose Abraham to bless the rest of the world—those that had not been chosen (yet). So also is it with the entire remnant of grace. They are the first-fruits who are given the calling of Abraham to bless the world, so that, in the end, all men would be saved.
Calling out the remnant of grace involves healing their blindness and thus equipping them with the revelation of the word so that they may bless others. Paul discusses this in Romans 11:1-10. After telling us about the remnant of grace in the days of Elijah—just 7,000 men—Paul contrasts these few with Israel as a whole. Israel was blind, but the remnant had been healed of their blindness. Paul concludes in Romans 11:7,
7 What then? What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened [“blinded,” KJV].
He goes on to explain Israel’s blindness in Romans 11:8-10,
8 just as it is written, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes to see not and ears to hear not, down to this very day.” 9 And David says, “Let their table become a snare and a trap, and a stumbling block and a retribution to them. 10 Let their eyes be darkened to see not, and bend their backs forever” (diapantos, “continually”).
If Israel as a nation or as an ethnic group had been truly “chosen,” they would not have been blind. Paul tells us that the remnant of grace is who is really chosen, “and the rest were blinded.” Blindness, then, is not a characteristic of the chosen ones. In the sovereignty of God, the remnant of grace is chosen, while He blinds the rest of them. For what purpose? Just to be mean? Not at all. He gives His chosen ones the ministry of reconciliation so that they may be sons of Abraham and bless all families of the earth.
The idea that God chooses a few for salvation and discards the rest of humanity is a grave error characteristic of blindness. Such teaching completely misses the point of God’s sovereign act of choosing the few to bless the many. Such teachers do not really know the love of God. They do not know that sovereignty without love is tyranny. They do not know that God’s judgments bring correction and restoration, not loss or torture. But David knew, for Psalm 67:3, 4 says,
3 Let the peoples praise You, O God; let all the peoples praise You. 4 Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for You will judge the peoples with uprightness and guide the nations on the earth.
God’s judgments will bring glad songs of praise from “the nations on the earth.” This is because God “will judge the peoples with uprightness,” not as many in the church think. Though He condemns all sin, He judges in order to bring about repentance and restoration, for this is what it means to bless all nations. Acts 3:25, 26 says,
25 It is you who are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, “And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” 26 For you first, God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.”
To “bless” is not to make men wealthy but to bring repentance and turn the people from their wicked ways. This is the calling of the sons of Abraham. This is the calling of the chosen remnant, whom God has healed of blindness by imparting to them the light of truth. This is the significance of the blind man being healed in John 9.
John 9:12, 13 says,
12 They said to him, “Where is He?” He said, “I do not know.” 13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who was formerly blind.
When the blind lead the blind, they all fall into a pit (Luke 6:39). The blind people brought the healed man to the Pharisees, confident that they would do the right thing. But the Pharisees already hated Jesus and wanted to kill Him (John 7:1, 19). Such biased judges could not be expected to judge with uprightness—except for Nicodemus, who had already distinguished himself (John 7:50, 51).
John 9:14-16 then tells us that Jesus healed the blind man on a Sabbath.
14 Now it was a Sabbath on the day when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes. 15 Then the Pharisees also were asking him again how he received his sight. And he said to them, “He applied clay to my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” 16 Therefore some of the Pharisees were saying, “This man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.” But others were saying, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And there was a division among them.
As we have shown earlier, the structure of John’s gospel is built upon a chiasm, or Hebrew parallelism in the eight signs that Jesus performed to manifest His glory. Just as the fourth and fifth signs are parallel, so also are the third and the sixth signs. In the third sign, Jesus healed the invalid at the Pool of Bethesda on the Sabbath (John 5:10) and was criticized for this. So also in the sixth sign, Jesus healed the blind man and sent him to the Pool of Siloam on the Sabbath.
In both cases, Jesus was revealing the true purpose of the Sabbath, which was to heal, restore, and give rest to the people. But the Pharisees, who prided themselves on keeping the Sabbath, did not have a revelation of the Sabbath but used it to oppress the people and to put them in bondage. Being already angry with Jesus for healing on the Sabbath, there was no way that the Pharisees were going to judge Jesus’ actions with uprightness.
Nonetheless, there was controversy among them, for some asked, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” Apparently, Nicodemus was not the only one to question the bias of the Pharisees. The question centered around the manner in which the Sabbath is kept, but the underlying issue was whether or not Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah or was just another sinner pretending to be the Messiah.
This is part 3 of a series titled "Jesus' Sixth Sign" To view all parts, click the link below.