Tuesday, January 5, 2010

So That the Blind Will See

Why did Jesus come? It's a question often asked at this Christmastide. (The celebration of Epiphany on January 6 is the twelfth and final day of Christmas on the traditional church calendar.) Among the myriad statements in the Gospels, particularly in John's, one answer directly from Jesus is this: "For judgment I have come into the world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind" (John 9:39).

At first glance this seems super harsh. And it is. Jesus said that he has come "for judgment" so that the spiritual elitists who think that by their own wisdom they have a corner on God will never really come to a full, savory knowledge of God. In this passage Jesus is directly rebuking the Pharisees who are far more children of Satan than of God (John 8:41-47). This is, after all, why they are "blind" to who Jesus really is in the first place; their god and father has blinded them (see 2 Corinthians 4:4).*

But the judgment of which Jesus speaks is in fact a miracle of compassion on a sinful world blinded by Satan. As his death was at hand, Jesus spoke again of the judgment he would bring. "Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself" (John 12:31-32). His royal judgment is in fact on Satan and his deceptive powers to which mankind has succumbed for eons. But no more! Jesus longs so fully for his people, sinful and wandering as they are, to see "the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God" and "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ" (2 Corinthians 4:4, 6). The very revelation of God which Jesus brings through his judgment is that of his mercy, compassion, and reconciling love. But the goal is not a flourish of emotion or a "divine romance." It is Jesus' passion to open our eyes to God's glory and magnitude and worth, so that we might find our greatest delight and wonder in who God is and gladly entrust our lives to him as our Good Shepherd. And if this is so, will he not gladly do so both for us and for others, for whom we pray and with whom we share the gospel? Lord, help my unbelief!

*I think it's highly ironic to read this in conjunction with John 9:1-2. "As he [Jesus] 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?'" The Pharisees too were blind from birth to the truth of God which they, as God's covenant people, had abundantly received ("those who see . . . "). This blindness comes from being one in nature with their own God-hating father, the devil (8:44). Both they and their parent had sinned, that they were born blind!

1 comment:

Ted M. Gossard said...

Amen. One important aspect of our fallenness of course, that we are blind, in darkness. That we need God's Light given to us in Jesus, and to live in and reflect/share that light with everyone. Glad the Lord opened my eyes years ago, even though my vision is not as good as I want it to be. Oh that God would open the eyes of those we know and love who are now blind!