The closer we get to the cross,
the more significant the “signs” become.
The 6th miracle in John is the
healing of a man born blind.
But there is way more going on here.
There is a vital spiritual lesson for all of us.
One of the most interesting books I have read
in the last year, was Educated, by Tara Westover.
It is her memoir of growing up as the youngest of seven in a Mormon family. Her father was mentally ill and felt there was a conspiracy behind all institutions, so did not register his children’s births, get them vaccinated, or give them any kind of education. The children worked alongside him in a junkyard with dangerous machinery, and they were often badly burned, or suffered broken bones, and left untreated. The father himself was burned and disfigured badly. One of the older brothers was a masochist who tormented his girlfriends and sisters, including Tara.
You cannot help but think, “Where was the mother when all this was happening?”
Sometimes it is so painful to disconnect from your spouse, that a person chooses to believe a lie. Though there was a moment of light when the mother apologized to Tara for not protecting her, she then retreated to believing that her husband was a spiritual giant that the world simply didn’t understand. That lie kept five of the seven children in an imprisoned world even as adults. Only two broke free.
Tara dedicated the book to an older brother, the first sibling to escape. He was her inspiration for secretly teaching herself math and reading when she was sixteen. She passed the college entrance exam, got into Brigham Young, and went on to receive scholarships from Cambridge and Harvard. Though she tried to rescue her mother and younger siblings, she found she could not. They refused to see the truth.
It sounds crazy, and yet that is exactly what we see in John 9. The healed blind man tried to help the Pharisees recognize who Jesus was, but it was too painful for them to acknowledge the truth, so they refused to see.
Do we ever do the same?
I cannot help but recall how I was losing administrative assistants and always thought it was their fault. I truly did. I needed a friend to tell me it seemed to be a pattern in my life. Then I asked God to search me and He showed me my habit of manipulative side-ways comments. It was humbling to confess and repent — but oh, what joy and freedom followed — and how I am enjoying the healed relationships!
Lent is a time to allow Him to search us and then surrender to the light. No matter how painful it may be initially, it is FAR MORE destructive to refuse the light.
1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
2. Where in the past have you deceived yourself about sin and experienced pain?
3. Where in the past have you allowed God to search you, and He opened your eyes to sin, so you repented and then experienced freedom?
Monday: The god of This Age
4. For context, what amazing claim did Jesus make in John 8:58? What was He saying?
5. How did the Jews respond and why, do you think?
6. Tim Keller, in his apologetic’s videos, explains that people have strong reasons for not wanting to believe Jesus is God. What are some of them that you can think of?
7. Read 2 Corin. 4:4 and pray here for someone you love who has been blinded.
Tuesday: Who Sinned?
Since the default mode of the human heart is works righteousness, we often assume trouble means we sinned.
8. Read John 9:1-3 and state the disciples’ question and also, Jesus answer.
9. Give some scriptural examples of troubles coming to good men and women who are endeavoring to live for the Lord. Can you also see how their trouble came to glorify God?
10. How can the trouble you are facing right now possibly glorify God?
11. Read John 9:4-12.
A. Describe the discussion in verses 8-9.
B. Describe the simplicity and authenticity of the man’s answers.
In my life this month I have experienced intense spiritual warfare as I went to a grieving church to talk about overcoming the enemy. Problems have come up that I have no way of solving. My back is against the wall and that is good — for my only hope is Jesus. It helps me so much to read of the miracles and know that He can do it and that it doesn’t depend on my being sinless for Him to have mercy.
Wednesday: One Thing I Do Know
12. Read John 9:13-25 and describe the contrast between the way the once-blind man answered the Pharisees and the way his parents answered the Pharisees.
13. What do you think made the difference?
14. What answer does the once-blind man give in verse 25?
15. A testimony is powerful — name three very specific ways that Jesus has given you sight where you were once blind.
16. Read John 9:26-34.
A. What question does the once-blind man ask the Pharisees in verse 27 and how do they respond?
B. What good argument does the once-blind man make in verses 30-33?
C. How do they respond?
Thursday: Now That You Claim You Can See, Your Guilt Remains
When we are pre-disposed to a certain belief, we must ask God to give us objectivity, for we may be blind because of our predisposition. I just finished this book by Nabeel Quereshi, who is also the author of “Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus.” This book is his apologetics for why he became a Christian and left Islam, despite great personal cost.
He says that every single one of us is pre-disposed to filter truths through our own belief system — such as you see the Pharisees doing. It is why we absolutely must ask God to help us be objective, to search us, to open our eyes — for we cannot make ourselves see. Nabeel did that, and God rescued him from the lies of Islam.
I know this applies as well when we cannot seem to have victory over a besetting sin or are overcome with doubt and despair. There is a lie we are believing. We need to seek God for what it is.
This is a challenging but important passage, so take it prayerfully and slowly.
17. Read John 9:35-41
A. What clue can you find that the blind man became a believer?
B. What remark does Jesus make in 39 and how do the Pharisees respond in 40?
C. What do you think Jesus means by verse 41?
D. How would you summarize the “sign” of this miracle, that is, the spiritual meaning?
18. According to John 8:12, what is a good way to avoid blindness?
19. John Newton, the former slave trader who wrote Amazing Grace, was blind to the fact that slavery was wrong even after he became a believer. It took him decades to see the light. Each of us has areas of blindness. Humbly ask the Lord to open your eyes that you might see where you have been blind.
Friday: Keller Seminar or Other Reading
19. If you have added something for Lent, share what you have learned.
20. What is your take-a-way this week and why?