There are a lot of challenges that come with the whole COVID-19 pandemic. One of the brothers in our ʻohana group, which is our small groups that we have, works at one of the main local hospitals and is at the forefront of taking a lot of these COVID-19 patients. The area that he is working in is where they're bringing in those that are affected. So day in and day out, he is around this. There are those who may have lost loved ones to this pandemic. There are those whose source of income have been cut off because of this. You know, and definitely there's going to be long term economic impacts that will be changing things from here on out.
So how will all these things refine our faith? And I don't really know what it's like to be in your situation. But one thing I know for sure. If we hold on to our faith, and to God, one day, we will make it to heaven. And that is the hope that Peter puts out there in the passage. I have two goals as we go through the podcast series and the reason why I'm putting this together. One of them is to equip us with some tools for our own personal Bible study. And when you look at studying the Bible, right reading the Bible, there are a couple ways that we
can approach the Bible.
One of them is to do a character study, not the character studies that we do with teens. Those are probably I would categorize them more as topical studies where you study a specific topic like humility, or honesty, or something else, right? The character study that I am referring to, is when you look at a character in the Bible to learn what God is trying to communicate with us through that character.
You know, one of the things that inspires me about the Bible is that it's based on real people, real places, real events in history. That is how God chooses to communicate with us. He wants us to connect with him, through men and women just like us. James 5:17 writes about the prophet Elijah, who had done some incredible, phenomenal things in the Old Testament. And you know what it says? It says, Elijah was a man just like us. And that encourages me. That's a great thing about Peter too. He was a man, just like us. So I wanted us to be able to take a look at Peter and a few snapshots of his life and how those moments shaped him and refined his faith.
That is the second goal of the podcast series to be able to look at Peter and his journey and hope that his life will be able to encourage and inspire us so that our own faith can grow. So before we get to Peter, I wanted to kind of look at this topic, spiritual blindness. And as we kind of look at it, we'll see how that relates to Peter and his life, but Christianity is all about our relationship with God, which is tied into our faith.
Faith, as it says in Romans 10, is comes from hearing God's word. In Hebrews 11:1, it says that faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Faith, as it says in Romans 10, is comes from hearing God's word. In Hebrews 11:1, it says that faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. So, faith has to do with what we do not see. But you know, as I reflected on that what I realized was oftentimes what challenges our faith is actually not being able to see clearly the things that we do see. Jesus talks about this whole idea in John chapter nine, about spiritual blindness, when he heals a man born blind. Let's go there.
In verse one in John chapter nine. It says, "As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “'Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?'”
Let's take a pause there for a second and look at Jesus's disciples. What did they see? How did they see this whole situation? And one of the things that came to the forefront of their minds was this theological question and debate.
On one hand, you had Exodus 20, verse five, it says, "You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me." So this is like the Ten Commandments, right. So it was customary for the Jews when they see suffering to go, "That's punishment for sin." Right, and one of the questions that they were having is, Well, okay, this man was born blind. So was it his fault or is it his parents'? Right, so that's one side.
On the other side, you had Ezekiel 18. Ezekiel being one of those main prophets of God back in the Old Testament days, right? And in the Ezekiel 18, verse four, it says, "For everyone belongs to me, the parent as well as the child—both alike belong to me. The one who sins is the one who will die." And then in essence, Ezekiel is saying, You know what? The one who sins is the one who's responsible. Right. So, you kind of had this sort of debate going on about this theological question, but the assumption is, punishment comes from sin. And that's what the disciples were wrapped up with. What did they miss? Love, mercy, compassion.
But before we jump on the Jesus' disciples, right, can't we be like that? I mean, even looking at our current situation with the COVID-19, right? Sometimes it's easy for us just go Wow, man, it was, you know, because of the Chinese, if only their government had dealt with this sooner and not allow people to get out or, you know, face the fact that Yeah, there's a there's a new virus that's going on. And, you know, and then it's easy for us to look at, you know, a government. Right, the President, the governor, the mayor, and why didn't they do this? Why are they doing that? And, you know, look at all these different things.
And, you know, sometimes we can be wrapped up in that that we miss on, man, there's people who are hurting out there. Let's take a look at Jesus' response. In verse three. It says “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” And verse six says "After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing." What was Jesus' response? He showed compassion and healed the man. That is the display of God's work and God's heart.
Let's read on. In verse eight, it says, "His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” Some claimed that he was. Others said, “No, he only looks like him.” But he himself insisted, “I am the man.” “How then were your eyes opened?” they asked. He replied, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.” “Where is this man?” they asked him. “I don’t know,” he said.
So here we see another set of people surrounding this event. The blind man's neighbors, they obviously have been around him and had seen him. But what we see here is that they hadn't take the taken the time to really see him. And it is evident that they did not put one of God's greatest commands to practice which is "Love your neighbor as yourself." And I think God was very specific and using that term, "neighbor." What were their reasons? We don't really know. Right? Too busy, indifferent, maybe both?
And when we think about that, I think part of it is for us to look at how can we be like this blind man's neighbors? Are we too busy with life? Are we too busy with the things that are going on in our lives to really pay attention to what God wants us to pay attention to?
Let's keep going. In verse 13. They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath. Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see.” Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others asked, “How can a sinner perform such signs?” So they were divided. Then they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” The man replied, “He is a prophet.” They still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man’s parents.
So here we see another set of people surrounding this event, right, the Pharisees. They were the dominant sector of Judaism back in those days, and they were popular with the Jewish people. We're not going to go into the differences. of the different sects of Judaism. But, in essence, you know, the Pharisees had amongst their sects, some of the main religious leaders of Jesus's time.
So, what were the Pharisees stuck on? Well, Jesus healed on a Sabbath? And that was supposed to be their sacred day of rest, right? And so, according to them as they had sort of set their rules and traditions, one of the things obviously healing was a violation of what they had established as what's not allowed to be done on the Sabbath.
So they had a hard time really believing and seeing the miracle that just happened. And seeing who Jesus really was because of their religious pride what was in their hearts that made them hold on to that pride? Envy. They did not like the fact that Jesus was becoming more popular with the crowds than them. You know, right before Jesus was sent to the cross, even the Roman governor Pontius Pilate knew that they had handed Jesus over to him out of envy. And that's in Matthew 27:18. Let's keep going. In verse 19.
“Is this your son?” they asked. “Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?” “We know he is our son,” the parents answered, “and we know he was born blind. But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself.” His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who already had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. That was why his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”
Can you imagine if that was your son, who was born blind, but can now see? What happened here? You know, it was hard for his parents to acknowledge this incredible miracle to express their joy. Why? Because of fear.
They were afraid of being kicked out of the synagogue which would have affected their ability to worship God, their status in their Jewish society. And you know that fear kept them from seeing that miracle that had touched their son. Right? Pretty amazing when you think about that.
I believe that one of the things that God wants us to do through this is to look at the different people surrounding this event. And to ask ourselves, you know, are there things in my life that are keeping me from seeing God or seeing Jesus clearly, and seeing the things that God is trying to do in my life? And so hopefully, we can look at those different people and go, man, you know what? That convicts me I can relate to Jesus' disciples. Or I can relate to those neighbors who didn't really pay attention to him or maybe the Pharisees that there's envy, or maybe the parents who were afraid, right?
I think those are things that God wants us to step back and ask ourselves "Am I like any of those guys?"
You know, for the sake of time, I'm not gonna go through the whole passage, and there's obviously a lot more things that we can dive into through this whole event and the different passages and, you know, figure and try to see what God is trying to say to us.
But let's just jump to the end. And let's see what Jesus says as he wraps this event up in verse 35. In John 9.
"Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, (talking about the blind man) and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.” Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.” Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?” Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains."
Spiritual blindness. The ironic thing in all of this is that you had a man who was born blind, and he is the one who actually saw Jesus with clarity. And everybody else was sort of wrapped up in other things.
Among Jesus disciples, who are wrapped up with that theological question was Peter. And later on as we go through the different podcasts, we're gonna be able to see how this topic really relates to Peter and how he had to go through his own journey in his life to help him to be able to see Jesus with clarity and for him to grow in this faith. And I hope that as we look at his life, that we'll be inspired and grow in our faith and also in our walk with God.