Choosing Willful Blindness

Choosing Willful Blindness

Life & Light Community Church

Message from 5/6/2023

Life & Light Community Church began in the early months of 2020. What began as an opportunity for me, my wife and step-kids to continue to worship together, has now evolved into a ministry that has expanded to include close friends, family, and those who are simply hungry for the word of God. You can find us on Facebook, so please, feel free to reach out and join us.

“They reviled him and said, “You are His disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. “We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where He is from.” The man answered and said to them, “Well, here is an amazing thing, that you do not know where He is from, and yet He opened my eyes. “We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him. “Since the beginning of time it has never been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. “If this man were not from God, He could do nothing.” They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you teaching us?” So, they put him out.

Jesus heard that they had put him out, and finding him, He said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?” Jesus said to him, “You have both seen Him, and He is the one who is talking with you.” And he said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped Him. And Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.” Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things and said to Him, “We are not blind too, are we?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.”

                                                                                  John 9:28–41 (NASB95)

I would venture to say that we have all known someone, or at least met a person, who simply will not listen to other people. It doesn’t matter if it will save them from hardship, pain, or even save them money – they simply will not listen. This is especially true with toddlers and younger children – we like to say they have “selective hearing.” In other words, they can hear clearly, they just choose not to, and this leads to countless mishaps, hurts, and in some cases, tears.

In our passage today, we meet a group of adult men, leaders in fact, who are having issues with another of the five senses – seeing, eyesight, vision. These men are respected authorities of religious law in Israel. They are teachers of the Law of Moses and are expected to see the signs of the coming Messiah. Sadly, it is a miracle, the miracle of a man born blind given sight, performed on the Sabbath, that is causing these leaders to suffer from blurred vision. In fact, in Choosing Willful Blindness, they completely miss the true identity of the “man named Jesus.”

The Pharisees are willfully blind to the true identity of Jesus, claiming they are disciples of Moses. The formerly blind man is amazed at the rejection of Jesus, especially after he opened the eyes of a man born blind. The Pharisees now reject the man who as his eyes opened a second time, this time to the true identity of Jesus – he now believes and worship. However, because the Pharisees are Choosing Willful Blindness, they remain in sin.

Many people in the world will reject Yeshua because they do not know His true identity or want to hear the truth about Him. In Choosing Willful Blindness, people will reject our testimony, claiming to be better informed than someone who has no proof of what they believe; yet the Christ follower will have perfect vision while those who claim to be informed will remain in darkness.

In this message we seek to answer the question, “What are the dangers of Choosing Willful Blindness?”

In Choosing Willful Blindness people will face the danger of rejecting Jesus and remaining in sin.

1). The first danger of Choosing Willful Blindness people will face is missing the true identity of Yeshua.

Knowing the true identity of Yeshua allows a person to have their eyes opened and to gain the ability to hear the truth.

The questioning the formerly blind man faced was overwhelming, but this man has held his own, and in fact, fired back at the line of questioning. The man is not trained as these leaders are, so he should not be asked such questions! The Pharisees, for their part, do not appreciate the man’s irony, as it is apparent the man has seen through their effort to trip him up – so they respond harshly. John says plainly, they “reviled him.” The Greek word for “reviled” here means to abuse.

First, they verbally abuse him by pronouncing a curse on the man who has just been blessed by God with sight, by saying they did not know where “this man Jesus” comes from or under whose authority He gave the man sight. Who would want to be the disciple of someone whose origins were unknown and whose authority has been disavowed by those in a position to judge such a matter?! The Pharisees go on to argue that no one could doubt that God has spoken to Moses, he was, after all, the pre-eminent disciple of the Lord – to be his disciple is a claim worth making!

The formerly blind man has professed Yeshua as a prophet – the man knew the works of Yeshua were proof He came from God. So, the Pharisees use the phrase “this man” as a derogatory statement – it is as if Jesus were just another person without credentials. The miracle of giving sight to a man born blind must be recognized as an answer to prayer – thus, the man who received this answer to prayer must be no ordinary man! Putting two and two together, the man who first acknowledged Yeshua as a prophet, now says He must have come from God.

The formerly blind man has used their own argument against them, angering the Pharisees who now accuse the man of insubordination. The angry reply by the Pharisees shows they know they are losing this argument – so, in their final act of abuse, they put him out. In context, the Pharisees did not just push him out of the place where this interrogation took place, but they also expelled him from membership in the synagogue. This condemnation by the formerly blind man of the irrational rejection of Jesus is too much for the Pharisees, so they put him out of the synagogue.

We’ve all heard the saying, “The more things change, the more they stay the same,” and it can easily be said this is very true in our day and age. We have more resources and access to those resources; we have more evidence and access to that evidence; and we have more knowledge and access to that knowledge than, arguably, any time in history, and still people miss the true identity of Yeshua and remain willfully blind. How is it that so many can miss the truth about Christ? Of course, we all know very well the enemy does a wonderful job of telling lies and deceiving people – and this is the number one reason so many miss the identity of Yeshua, they still listen to and believe the lies and deception spread by Satan – the father of lies.

Because they listen to and believe the lies and deceptions, they refuse to hear the truth and reject the witness – you and me – of those who have experienced life in Christ. Thus, those who refuse to hear the truth but listen to and believe the lies and deception, make no effort, or at least very little effort, to understand Yeshua. Which leads us to the evidence that soon, we too, will be reviled. How will we be reviled? Those who believe the lies and deceptions of Satan, will begin to see us as the problem, that we stand in the way of real progress. They will speak evil of us and tell lies and deceive others about us. Many will make threats against us, up to and including bodily harm. They will resort to slander and name calling – all in an effort to silence us.

Those who are true Christ followers will begin to experience persecution from those who call themselves “Christians.” They will begin to reject anyone who speaks out against the accepted teachings of the church, something I am experiencing right now, as we attempt to correct years of false teaching in the church. They will put labels on those who follow the biblical Christ, labels such as “legalist,” or “Torah followers,” or “Judaizers.” They will call us un-Christian and un-Christlike, reviled to the point they will seek to remove any who hold a position in the church or even push them out of the church completely.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

How are you growing as a disciple of Yeshua? If you are not, why?

What has Yeshua “opened your eyes” to recently? (A new teaching, understanding of a difficult passage, an answer to prayer)

Where are you beginning to feel “reviled” or “persecuted,” in your walk with Christ?

In Choosing Willful Blindness people will face the danger of rejecting Jesus and remaining in sin.

2). The second danger of Choosing Willful Blindness people will face is remaining in darkness.

Yeshua is the Light of the world and the only One who can give perfect vision.

Yeshua finds the formerly blind man after the Pharisees have put him out and asks him a simple question, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” The theology of the Son of Man was already well developed in Judaism through both biblical and non-biblical text. To ask the man if he believed in the Son of Man as to ask if he believed in the Messiah. When the man expressed his desire to believe immediately – to believe is not an intellectual recognition but a wholehearted trust – Yeshua opened his eyes a second time to reveal that He, Yeshua, was the Son of Man.

The words “you have both seen” have a double impact here – the man could now physically see Yeshua, and he understood spiritually that Yeshua was the Messiah. The man acted in his belief and worshiped. Yeshua now reveals to the man His purpose for coming into the world – to judge the world. By judgment, Yeshua means His mission was to pronounce all people guilty before God. His purpose was to make people understand their lost condition, their spiritual blindness – to cause them to recognize they were condemned before God.

Thus, the presence and activity of Yeshua in the world constituted judgment as they compelled people to declare for or against Him. So, Yeshua “judges” or separates those who claim to have great spiritual knowledge, when they are, in fact, truly blind, from those who humbly seek to follow God and thus, find a Savior. They will have their eyes opened and see the Light of the world. Our friends the Pharisees expected to be exempt from judgment but the response they get from Yeshua is far from what they thought they would hear, it is, in fact, quite shocking.

The Pharisees expected to hear that their learning, their reputation, and their high standing would keep them from being counted among the blind, but what they are about to hear is unexpected, and in their minds, undeserved. The blindness of the Pharisees is an excuse – had they been truly blind they would have been excused, for they would have been acting in ignorance, not knowing what they were doing. But they knew the law of God; they knew about spiritual things; they claimed to see and yet, they did not recognize God’s Son.

Thus, the Pharisees are guilty and were judged to be condemned. They were more guilty than those who have no knowledge of God or His word. In contrast to the formerly blind man, the Pharisees had sight, but they had no light. They were spiritually blind, though they claimed to see. Those who admitted blindness could receive the light and see, but those who “saw” would remain in darkness. Even with all the resources we have at hand in today’s world, many people still remain in the darkness.

How are people kept in darkness today? We no longer call sin, sin – rather we place any number of labels on our wrongdoing. Our country has gone out of its way to normalize sin, generations have been taught that sin is okay. This is even true in the church where “everybody’s sin is worse than mine.” We are taught that we are a “good person” because man is the ultimate and highest being. We are told that all roads lead to God, and in the end, God will take everyone to heaven. Saddest of all is the belief that God simply does not exist.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

Though we have never seen Yeshua physically, we can, in a sense, see Him spiritually. How are you “seeing” Yeshua in this season of life?

How are you “declaring” to be for Yeshua as you live your life before others? If you are not, how can you change this?

What are you doing to be “kept from being counted among the blind?” If nothing, why?

In Choosing Willful Blindness people will face the danger of rejecting Jesus and remaining in sin.

The Pharisees are absolutely shocked that Yeshua would consider them among the blind. Yeshua countered that it can only be blindness that could explain their irrational rejection of Him and their stubborn behavior. Jesus had done the unprecedented, not the unpredicted. In their zeal to discredit Yeshua, the Pharisees we blind to the Scriptures that specifically described the Messiah bringing sight to the blind. Passage such as Isaiah 29:18, Isaiah 35:5 and Isaiah 42:7. “Those who do not see” are those who know their need for a Savior and have humbled themselves and came to Yeshua for salvation.

To those who have remained open and recognize their sin has blinded them from knowing the truth, Jesus gives spiritual understanding and insight. They will see! Those who say they “do see” are those who are self-righteous, thinking they have all the answers and have no need for a Savior. Sadly, many in the church have rejected Jesus and they have no clue this has happened. They have become blind because they have rejected the “Light of the world.”

In His first coming, Yeshua did not come to execute judgment. As the Light of the world, Yeshua sees and reveals the innermost thoughts and deepest motivations of all people – this is the lesson we must learn from the Pharisees. So, the verdict is this: all people are guilty before God. The evidence is found in the fact that many people continue to walk in darkness – they walk in sin – because of spiritual blindness. Spiritual darkness then describes the absolute worst form of judgment. However, Yeshua, the Light of the world, give people a glimmer of hope.

John 1:9 tells us that Yeshua is the true light that came into the world to enlighten all men – to give some light to all people, therefore we must all follow the Light that has been given to us – otherwise we have nothing left but our blind judgment and self-darkening opinions. We have been called to be light and salt to the world. The light we, as Christ followers have, is a reflection of the Light of Yeshua. I pray that as the spiritual darkness in our country continues to grow, your light will be a beacon of hope to the hopeless, a taste of the love of Christ to those deemed unlovable, and bring a sense of peace where there is chaos.

We do all things for the glory of God, through Christ our Lord.

Amen and amen. Next Week: John 10:1-10

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: