Paul's Passing Thoughts

TANC 2019 Andy Young Session 3

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on August 27, 2019

Take your Bibles and turn to the gospel of John, chapter 9. I wanted to end my series with this account because it presents probably the most comprehensive examination of the thinking and operation of the leadership of institutional religion. I guess you could say I have saved the best for last. And I wanted to devote an entire session to the exegesis of this one passage simply because it is rather lengthy, but because it is so lengthy it bears taking the time to work through it just so we can fully get a grasp of the implications of all that is taking place in this passage.

This account takes up the entirety of chapter 9. We won’t take the time to examine the entire chapter. This is a story that most of you are probably already familiar with. This account seems to take place immediately after the events of chapter 8, so we have one of those unfortunate chapter divisions. In chapter 8 Jesus was in the temple and we have another rather lengthy passage where John describes in some detail this encounter Jesus had with the Jews.

Now, for the sake of clarity, whenever we see this term Jews there are a couple of things this could mean:

Jewish-born. Ethnic Jews
Most devoted to Jewish orthodoxy, traditions.
Religious leadership.
All of the above

So in chapter 8 Jesus had this encounter with “Jews”, and there is a lengthy exchange, and Jesus makes this well known statement, “Before Abraham was, I am.” And at this point the Jews just about went ape, because Jesus was either saying that He existed before Abraham, which is one way this is often interpreted. But Jesus used the expression “I am”, which is the same thing Jehovah said to Moses at the burning bush, so Jesus was actually saying that He is Jehovah.

So the Jews were getting ready to stone Jesus, and Jesus just simply turned around and casually walked through this crowd and left the temple. It says He “passed by”. So then chapter 9 picks up by saying “as He passed by”. So it seems as if this next event happens right after He goes out of the temple.

So very briefly here, Jesus and the disciples leave the temple, they see this blind man (and I use the term “man” here loosely, I will get back to that a little bit later). We are told this person was blind from birth. That is critical to keep in mind. Jesus makes some mud, rubs mud on this man’s eyes and tells him to go wash in the pool of Siloam. The text says the name means “Sent”. But when you examine the Hebrew word from which this name is derived it literally means “cast out”. Now “cast out” certainly conjures up a different meaning from simply “sent”. And this will have clear implications when we see what happens later. You often have to wonder if Jesus was really trying to send a message with these things.

It would be an interesting study to take an in-depth look at the historical significance of this pool, but we won’t get into that here. What I will say is that this pool served as a fresh-water source. It seems that it was located just outside the southern wall of the temple. And if you remember our Acts study from a few years ago, we learned that the southern part of the temple was the main entrance. (beggars) This pool would have most likely been a major public gathering place. And this where Jesus sends this man. Go wash your eyes out in this pool where everyone will see you.

So he does this, and being a very public place, everyone there now sees this blind man who now can see. And so everyone starts talking among themselves. “Isn’t that the blind man? How can he see?”. And so they ask him what happens, and he tells them the story about how Jesus put mud on his eyes and told him to wash in the pool here.

And now this is where I want to pick up the narrative. This is where it gets interesting, because now the Pharisees come into the picture. And as we go through this, I want you to notice just how the Pharisees operate. Let’s start at verse 15.

John 9:15-34

15Then again the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. He said unto them, “He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see.” 16Therefore said some of the Pharisees, “This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day.” Others said, “How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles?” And there was a division among them.

Now there are a couple of interesting things here. First of all, Jesus is considered a sinner because He didn’t keep the Sabbath. Now lets think about this. Let’s go back to the Ten Commandments for a second.

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
Exodus 20:8-10

According to Jewish orthodoxy, Jesus violated the Sabbath. Anyone who does even a cursory reading of the NT should be able to come to the conclusion that the Jewish system of orthodoxy was predicated on a justification where perfect law-keeping was the standard. Right? And The Jews had set up this entire system of traditions whereby if you kept this system, that was the equivalent of keeping the law. There was an entire section devoted specifically to regulations for the Sabbath. For example, you could only walk a certain number of miles from your house on the Sabbath. In the case with Jesus:

– He healed someone on the Sabbath
– He made mud

He made mud. This is with respect to the Sabbath regulation against making bricks. (Example of how clay bricks are made). So the fact that Jesus bent down on the ground and made mud, He violated the Sabbath. In the second case, He healed someone. To heal someone involves work, and you’re not supposed to do any work on the Sabbath.

Now here is where the Pharisees encounter their first dilemma. And it should be obvious. On the one hand they have labeled Jesus as a sinner because he violated the Sabbath, but on the other hand He performed a miracle, which they acknowledge. They cannot deny what just happened. But they don’t know how to reconcile this.

Now having said all this, we should immediately be able to see a problem with the modern protestant view on justification. It is no different that what 1st century Judaism taught; that righteousness is based on perfect law-keeping. Do you see the problem? And if you don’t, let me put up this slide to give you a clue. (RC Sproul Double imputation)

So what’s the problem? R.C. Sproul cannot reconcile his take on double-imputation with the glaring reality that Jesus didn’t keep the Sabbath perfectly! Look at this passage. It’s right there in black and white. You cannot get around it. What about other times when Jesus healed someone on the Sabbath. And we can go to other passages in the gospels and see other examples of where Jesus didn’t keep the Sabbath, like the time He and the disciples walked through a grain field and were plucking the grains off as the went and ate it.

“And it came to pass, that he went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn. And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful? And he said unto them, Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungred, he, and they that were with him? How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him? And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.” ~ Mark 2:23-28

“Well, Andy,” you say, “that’s not right. You can’t say Jesus broke the law. Jesus didn’t really break the ‘law.’ You’re talking about traditions of men. Jesus was under no obligation to keep traditions of men. That’s not the same as the law.” You’re right, it’s not the same thing. Neither is it the same thing to say Jesus keeps the law for us and that obedience is imputed to us. That’s not the same thing either. But here’s the point; it doesn’t matter.

Look, we can concede that remembering the Sabbath is part of the Law, do we agree with that? But here is the point, and the apostle Paul bent over backwards trying to make this point clear in both Romans and Galatians. The Law does not justify. Even if you keep the Sabbath, whether it’s the actual law itself or through some system of traditions, it doesn’t matter, the law doesn’t justify. What was the purpose of the law? In 2014 I made the case that it was for sanctification, and you can go back and review that. The law was also a will. The law was also a guardian that took OT saints into protective custody. But moreover, the law is the vehicle for showing love to God and others.

So how does keeping the Sabbath show love? Well, it’s obedience to God first. John 14:15, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” But what was the purpose of the Sabbath? To give man a day to rest. God knew that man needed a day off, so He gave us a day so that we could have leisure and not be burdened with the tasks of labor. So we could recover and have strength and energy to go back to work.

(story of the time I worked 2 weeks straight)

Man needs a day off. This is first and foremost loving ourselves, because we recognize our need to recuperate. Recognizing that need of ourselves motivates us to recognize that same need for others. We give our employees time off so they can have rest. We don’t plow our fields so that even our work animals can rest.

And speaking of animals.

“And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.” ~ Matthew 12:11-12

See, Jesus had the right understanding of the Sabbath. Let’s get rid of this notion that Jesus was righteous because He kept the law. The law has nothing to do with His righteousness, and it has nothing to do with our. We are righteous the same way that Jesus is; because we are God’s offspring. You see why a literal New Birth is so important?

So as we get back to our passage here, the Pharisees are having this dilemma, and there is clearly a division between them that they are trying to reconcile. So they go back to the blind man, well former blind man. And if you think about this, it’s actually kind of funny. Look at what they say.

17They say unto the blind man again, “What sayest thou of him, that he hath opened thine eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.” 18But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind, and received his sight, until they called the parents of him that had received his sight. 19And they asked them, saying, “Is this your son, who ye say was born blind? How then doth he now see?”

Now, notice how they are trying to turn this around on him? Do you really think the Pharisees are genuinely interested in this man’s assessment of Jesus? How is this question not a trap? How is this not the same as when a pastor or elder from your church invites you out for coffee on his Starbucks expense account? Trying to get you to talk about your “weaknesses”. So what sins have you been struggling with? We have documented case after case where this is a trap to put you under redemptive church discipline. And if you don’t believe me, I can show you the cases. This is well documented that these things happen. You open up to these guys and they will use that stuff against you.

The man tells the Pharisees that he thinks Jesus is a prophet. So now they think they have something on this guy, because if Jesus isn’t a prophet then this man has been lying all this time. So, not only are they trying to catch Jesus, but they are trying to catch this man as well and use him as leverage against Jesus. And there is a motivation behind this as we will see in just a bit. So they go to this man’s parents and say, is this your son? Is he really blind? How do we know he was really blind? How is it possible that he can now see? See they are starting with the assumption that Jesus was a fraud. This is what they want to establish. They want to create the reality that Jesus CAN’T be who He says He is, and to do that, they have to deny reality. They have to sell you on another version of reality.

Now look at this next part here: Verse 20

20His parents answered them and said, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind: 21but by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself.” (22These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue. 23Therefore said his parents, “He is of age; ask him.”)

See, so there is the motivation I mentioned earlier. They wanted to discredit Jesus by trying to marginalize any of His potential followers. So they could say, yeah all these people who follow this guy, they got thrown out of the synagogue. So if you don’t want thrown out too, then you better not say this Jesus is the Messiah. And this was a very serious threat to a Jew, because being part of the synagogue was synonymous with your salvation. You were no longer part of that local community. Chance were that you’d not be welcome in any other synagogue because word would get around. And if you weren’t part of that community, then you couldn’t partake of all the traditions that go along with being a practicing Jew, and if you couldn’t partake of those traditions then you could not practice those things that made you righteous, because according to the Jews, that’s how you kept the Law.

So what is that? That’s salvation by institution. Does any of this sound familiar?

This is also why I find that the name of the pool is ironic. Remember Siloam in the Hebrew literally means “cast out”? And now we are dealing with a situation where you have this man and his parents at risk of being “cast out” of the synagogue. You see why I say, Jesus knows what He’s doing here. Things like this just don’t happen by accident. This is more than just coincidence.

Now here is the other part of this. The parents want no part of this game. They can see what’s happening here. They know if they don’t give the right answer they risk excommunication. So they just defer back to the man. Which makes you kind of wonder, if this blind man is indeed a “man”, with the implication of him being a grown man, why are they going to this guy’s parents? I think there is a hint given in the text when the parents say, “he is of age”. Do you need to even state this if it’s apparent that this is a grown man we’re talking about? This is why I think this man is actually a young teenage boy.

This phrase “he is of age” is important here. Jewish boys come of age at 13. Not only are they considered adults in a social aspect, but from a law aspect it means that they are allowed to partake in all of the religious traditions and become accountable for them personally. So they have to answer for themselves now. It is possible the man is this passage is only about 13 or 14 or 15 years old. Old enough to be “of age” but he still looks young enough that others may not be sure exactly how old he is.

Now I ask you, what kind of parents are willing to throw their 14 year old son under the bus? What kind of parents are these? This is utterly reproachable! Can you imagine the abject fear these parents have of these religious leaders. They are so scared of being labels troublemakers, so scared of being lumped in with the Jesus crowd, so scared of putting their salvation at risk and getting thrown out of the synagogue, that they throw their own child under the bus!

24Then again called they the man that was blind, and said unto him, “Give God the praise: we know that this man is a sinner.” 25He answered and said, “Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.”

You say this man’s a sinner, well, I don’t know anything about that. All I know is used to be blind, he put some mud on my eyes, I washed it off, now I can see. Now look at the rest of this. Look how this “man”, interacts with these Pharisees. Keeping in mind that this is probably a 14 or 15 year old boy.

26Then said they to him again, “What did he to thee? How opened he thine eyes?” 27He answered them, “I have told you already, and ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again? Will ye also be his disciples?” 28Then they reviled him, and said, “Thou art his disciple; but we are Moses’ disciples. 29We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence he is.” 30The man answered and said unto them, “Why herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes. 31Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth. 32Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind. 33If this man were not of God, he could do nothing.”

Now weather or not this is a 14 year old boy or a grown man, this interaction is fantasic! This guy is a thinker. He is intelligent. He’s not attacking them. He’s attacking there aregument. Look at the reason he’s using with them. He is surgically discecting their conclusions by tearing apart their assumptions. First, he is incredulous that they don’t have an answer about Jesus’ origin. They are supposed to be THE theological experts. They are supposed to be so studied. He’s bringing up points THEY should already know. And he says, if that’s so then shouldn’t the conclusion be this? No one’s ever healed a person blind from birth before. Doesn’t that tell you that this Man is from God?

Nicodemus.

But see, they don’t want to acknowledge this. Why? Because it doesn’t fit their reality. Remember the philosophical progression of all tyrannies. And that is exactly what we are dealing with here with the Pharisees, a religious tyranny. They are the self-proclaimed arbiters of truth because only they have the ability to bring truth to the masses who are fundamentally unable to discern truth themselves. This is their reality. This is the reality they are trying to compel you to accept. And when you don’t, they threaten you with violence. Look how they become indignant. Verse 34

34They answered and said unto him, “Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us?”

You are the one born in sins. You are the totally depraved one. You are the one who doesn’t understand truth. How dare you stand there and presume to teach us?

Does any of this sound familiar?

“And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority?” ~ Matthew 21:23

How about when you engage with one of these guys on a Calvinist blog, or you get into a discussion on FB on a Calvinist’s post? What are you credentials? What seminary did you go to? Or like John Immel was asked that one time, have you been “peer reviewed”? How quick these guys are to demand your theological pedigree so they can compare it with their own. And if you don’t measure up to their standard they quickly dismiss you and your argument because you aren’t qualified to have an objective opinion on a matter.

Or when you have that private discussion with your pastor in his office about something he said from the pulpit last Sunday, and you disagree with his conclusions. Well you know the Bible warns against us having our private interpretations. Well, you aren’t submitting to my authority. You aren’t teachable. You think you know more than the pastor who went to seminary. Why are questioning proven doctrine? You’re just being puffed up with knowledge. You’re being arrogant. And then the next thing you know you find yourself under “church discipline”.

Or like John Immel showed us two years ago. You try to nail down John Piper on a specific point of Calvinism, and then he proceeds to engage in the Calvinist Happy Dance. He dances around from one authority to the other to avoid having to answer a direct question, and then in the end he tries to claim that he’s a Biblicist.

But here is the greatest of hypocrisy. You are the one born in sin; the totally depraved one so you can’t understand truth. What should be the obvious question? How are they not a victim of their own depravity? How do they get the epistemological pass on depravity?

What was the end result of this encounter? Did they listen to this man, this boy’s reasoning? Were they persuaded by his argument? Did they concede his argument and stop to consider it in the slightest? Did they stop to think just for a second that this guy might have a point?

And they cast him out [of the synagogue].

Why? Because they wanted their power. They wanted their control. You cannot allow, you cannot grant even for a fleeting second a free-thinking individual. You cannot concede the rational mind

But yet, these are the same people who one day will say this:

“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? . . .

And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” ~ Matthew 7:22-23

It’s the same old song and dance. This very thing happens in churches all over the world to this very day. Protestantism thinks that is gets a pass from error. No, they are peddling in the very same institutional tyranny that the Pharisees did. It is ironic because, pastors will stand up behind their pulpits and declare Pharisees public enemy number one. What do they call them? Legalists. You try to keep the law, you’re a legalist. You’re trying to be righteous. You’re righteousness is filthy rags. You need Jesus’ righteous. You need to live by faith alone.

Then you try to point out scripture to them and reason from the Bible, no look here, it says this. You’re just puffed up with knowledge. You’re not submitting. And before you know it, they are running their bastardized form of Matthew 18 on you. And the next thing you know, you’re out of that church, and you become persona non grata with every friend you thought you had at that church.

Folks, this is nothing new. The writer of Ecclesiastes was right, there is nothing new under the sun. So take heart. Don’t let this get you down. This is not a church issue. This is not really an argument about theology. This is a theological issue. These the the logical conclusions that result from this system of thought. So why should it surprise us when we see it repeat itself over and over? The vicious cycle will only end when you decide that you are no longer going to be their slave.

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