John 10:11-13 :: “good”

11 “I am(A) the good shepherd.(B) The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.(C) 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away.(D) Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

Good.

It’s too bad that the word good has become a pasty word today.

How are you?

I’m good.

How was your meal?

Good.

Apply the word good to shepherd and you get both a term we–in the American church–have almost heard so often that we’ve lost the wonder of it. Add to that, the fact the we don’t live in an agrarian society…and no wonder I breeze right on by this without much thought.

But I’m stopping and considering tonight.

Just like in 10:10, contrast is helpful.

The hired hand: not the shepherd, doesn’t own the sheep, abandons the sheep when wolf comes, cares nothing for the sheep.

God: not only the shepherd–but the good shepherd. He owns the sheep. (Did I never notice that sentence before?) He lays his life down for the sheep. (The exact opposite of abandoning the sheep.)

One of the many ways that Christianity is so completely different that the world religions. Who else has a God who owns them, knows them by name, and lays His life down for them?

Oh, He is so good, friends!

John 10:7-10 :: “Pasture”

Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am(A) the gate(B) for the sheep. All who ever came before me(C) were thieves and robbers,(D) but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.[a] He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life,(E) and have it to the full.

Pasture.

I love it when there’s something that God’s wanting to get my attention about. I know it because I see the same theme/word pop up in various places. That’s what’s going on with the word pasture.

Happened again yesterday as I was reading Psalm 37 (my Psalm of the year–begin reading it the day I turn that birthday age and go back to it sporadically over the course of the year. With so many Psalms I figure I won’t outlast this annual adventure).

“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture” (Ps. 37:4)

What a picture of the rest and freedom that comes with being one of God’s sheep! From the John passage, I see that, by God’s grace, I didn’t listen to other “thieves” and “robbers” pretending to be worthy of be following. I waited to put my trust in the Good Shepherd. Because of that, I’ve been saved and have the freedom to come and go (a picture of not fearing and huddling in a corner somewhere, but rather confidently grazing because I know my Good Shepherd is nearby).

A new insight I received this time through was the context of “I have come that they might have life and have it to the full.” That’s John 10:10–pretty famous. However, how did I never realize it’s only one part of the verse? The truth of that phrase I’ve often quoted is even more powerful of a reality when we see the contrast:

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;

(semicolon which could also be a big “hold on for this–BUT“)

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

Oh, how God is the Good, Good Shepherd!

A good book, by the way, written from a real-life shepherd that gave me as a city girl better understanding into the whole sheep/shepherding thing is A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23.

 

John 10:1-6 :: “Voice”

“I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber.(A) The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep.(B) The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice.(C) He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.(D) When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.(E) But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” Jesus used this figure of speech,(F) but they did not understand what he was telling them.(G)

Voice.

It’s worth noting, I think, that “voice” is mentioned 3x here.

  • “the sheep listen to His voice”
  • “his sheep follow him because they know his voice”
  • “they run away from [a stranger] because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice”

He calls his sheep by name and they know his voice.

What a marked thing to note: He knows me –and my name amidst the masses of sheep! — and I know Him. I can recognize Him.

What a gift! Makes me want to be still and listen for His voice today amidst all the static.

John 9:35-41:: “Believe”

35 Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe(A) in the Son of Man?”(B)

36 “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.”(C)

37 Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.”(D)

38 Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.(E)

39 Jesus said, “For judgment(F) I have come into this world,(G) so that the blind will see(H) and those who see will become blind.”(I)

40 Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?”(J)

41 Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.

Believe.

Well, that was a long commercial break. I’m back. Glad to be back in John. It’s exactly where I want to be–and need to be–when I’m weary. Which is what’s behind the absence.

Fresh grace. So grateful.

Ok, I can’t get over this passage. Did you catch this? Fully aware of how the Jews treated the ex-blind man (hurled insults v. 28, threw him out of the synagogue v. 34) Jesus went to go find him.

The God of the Universe, with skin on, went after the man.

He went after him until He found the man.

How incredibly personal is Jesus? I’ve gotta just let that sink in.

I’m sure there were a million different things Jesus could have done with His day, but He chose to go find a man He’d healed, who’d be hurt and misunderstood.

Why?

His great love for him, for one. But there’s more, I think.

The miracle was huge. It stirred something in the man. (He responded by faith in going to the pool to wash.) But that miracle didn’t save him. Faith in who Jesus is is what saves.

And the man didn’t know Jesus. Yet.

So Jesus goes and pursues him. Again. (Seems that Jesus did that in the healing, too. Kind of a theme with God–the Great Pursuer.)

The miracle prepped the man’s heart to hear. (That’s the great purpose of biblical miracles–to pave the way for the Good News to be received.)

Jesus finds him and says, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” (A term the Jewish folks knew as a way to describe the Savior.)

“Who is he, sir? Tell me so that I may believe in him.”

“You have now seen in; in face, he is the one speaking with you.”

Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.

And the passage ends with a stark contrast: the ex-blind man truly sees. The sighted Pharisees are spiritually blind.

John 9:30-34 :: “Nobody has ever heard”

30 The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will.(A) 32 Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God,(B) he could do nothing.”

34 To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth;(C) how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out.

Nobody has ever heard.

Did you breeze past that the way I have a million times?

This guy, this blind man, sounds like the very first blind-now-seeing man. Ever. There had never been a healing regarding sight before.

I can’t even imagine that. My world, from my youngest-girl Sunday school recollections, are of amazing things Jesus did.

Like straightening out limbs. Or bringing light to eyes. Or calling life from death.

So, the fact that blindness had never been cured, well, maybe that explains a little bit why the Jews keep asking — and re-asking –what happened.

No one had ever heard of something like this.

Make me wonder if I would have believed that day. Or if I’d have joined with the crowd in saying, “Surely not. God doesn’t work like that.”

Makes me wonder what I discount today because I’ve never seen God do it.

And, I’m sure you’ve noticed this, but God tends to like to shake things up. Showing His power and beckoning praise when He does the unexpected.

That’s the kind of God I really want.

The kind who makes people say, “Nobody has ever heard of ________ before.”

John 9:24-29: “One Thing I Know”

24 A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God,[a](A) they said. “We know this man is a sinner.”(B)

25 He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”

26 Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”

27 He answered, “I have told you already(C) and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?”

28 Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses!(D) 29 We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.”(E)

One thing I know.

So, the man’s been questioned. Then, his parents. Now, they summon the man. Again.

I have to wonder if it was hard to find the man. With new sight, I can only imagine that I’d be off every day, taking in new sights and rarely returning to the same place. How’d they find him? Maybe news of a healing travels as people tend to talk about a man who can suddenly now see…

So, he’s questioned again.

And I love his response. (Seems more patient than I’d be, btw, if I kept getting asked the same question.)

“Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!

Let me count the many, many things I don’t know about God. But, like the man, I can say that one thing I do know is that my life has been changed forever.

That’s something to fix my eyes on today amidst all the unknowns, the prayers I’m not sure how He’ll choose to answer, etc.

He’s changed my life.

May that always be as fresh to me as it was to the man the moment his eyes were first opened.

I was blind but now I see! Thank You, Jesus!

John 9:18-23 :: “afraid v. acknowledge”

18 The Jews(A) still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man’s parents. 19 “Is this your son?” they asked. “Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?”

20 “We know he is our son,” the parents answered, “and we know he was born blind. 21 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.” 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews,(B) for already the Jews had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Christ[a] would be put out(C) of the synagogue.(D) 23 That was why his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”(E)

Afraid v. acknowledge.

So, I’m wondering how old the previously-blind man was. He’s called a “man” and referred to as “of age” so he’s not 14. That makes it interesting, all the more then, that the Jews sent for his parents. Because they didn’t get the answer they wanted from the man himself.

Huh, and I wonder how they found the parents. Was the community small enough that it was clear all familial ties? And, if he has parents, why aren’t they helping support him? Why was he begging in the first place?

But, just like the Pharisees, the parents are real people. Real, broken people, I need to remember.

People just like me. In need of Jesus.

Their response seems to reveal their decision of what directs action in their life in telling times like this: fear.

They were afraid. “His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews,(B) for already the Jews had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Christ[a] would be put out(C) of the synagogue.(D)

Afraid v. acknowledge Jesus.

I thought about that quite a bit yesterday. The same choice presents itself to me, in many ways, throughout a given week. Or a day.

Will I fear people (what they think, what they’ll do, etc.) or do I acknowledge Jesus and His sovereignty to take care of me in all situations?

John 9:13-17 :: “Sabbath”

13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. 14 Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath.(A) 15 Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight.(B) “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see.”

16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.”(C)

But others asked, “How can a sinner do such miraculous signs?”(D) So they were divided.(E)

17 Finally 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.”(F)

Sabbath.

Poor guy. What a day it’s been. I mean, he was just doing what he’d always done (probably, since blind from birth). Then, all the sudden, he hears a voice of a man and feels cold, slimy mud on his eyes. He’s told to go wash — and he does — and light bursts through.

And then get gets interrogated.

By his neighbors and people who’d seen him beg.

And now by the Pharisees.

I love his simple account of what happened, “…and then I washed and I could see.”

Did his voice waver with ever recount of his healing? Did tears spring up? Was he giddy?

And then the Pharisees counter, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath” (v. 16).

Really???

I have such a hard time not being completely outraged at these men. From my view, in 21st-century America as a woman with a copy of the entire Word of God, I can forget the simple fact that these Pharisees weren’t evil. Well, most of them. They really were men who wanted to please God and what they knew was to keep all the Laws they’d been given.

So, to their credit, they’re thinking, If God gave us the Law, He will always keep it. He wouldn’t go against the Law!

But, never in a million years, would they have thought that the One before them wasn’t nullifying the Law — He was fulfilling it.

After I get over being angry at them, I am reminded that I so often am in their ranks: God wouldn’t act like ______, would He? Surely, He’s not like that.

I like God in my neat and tidy box.

Granted, by His grace, the box isn’t as small as it used to be, nor tidy. But I’m still prone to not let God be God.

I’ve heard a pastor preach on this section by talking about the theme of blindness: the physically blind man gets healed and the spiritually blind Pharisees continue in their lack of sight.

Lord, I want to see You today. You. Not who I think You are, or who I think You should be.

Only You.

—–

A great article: Searching for the Sabbath, by my friend Katie Croft. It’s affected how the Bentley family rests on Sundays for the last 2 months. If you have a few minutes, I’d encourage you to read it and ask the Lord what a day of not-having-to-do looks like.

A favorite portion in which she quotes Mark Buchanan: “Cease from that which is necessary. This is Sabbath’s golden rule, one rule to which all other rules distill. Stop doing what you ought to do. There are six days to do what you ought. Six days to be caught in the web of economic and political and social necessity. And then, one day to take wing. Sabbath is that one day.”

 

John 9:8-12 :: “only looks like him”

His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?”(A) Some claimed that he was.

Others said, “No, he only looks like him.”

But he himself insisted, “I am the man.”

10 “How then were your eyes opened?” they demanded.

11 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.”(B)

12 “Where is this man?” they asked him.

“I don’t know,” he said.

Only looks like him.

Is it just me or is it strange that his neighbors and others were confused about who this man was? How could they not have known it was him?

Does that, perhaps, indicate that his countenance and appearance was so changed that he was almost unrecognizable?

Obviously, the eyes have a huge part of someone’s appearance and to be able to see — to track — and would have an unmistakable mark upon his look.

But I can’t help but think that, at the core of it all, was the fact that Jesus had brought wholeness into his broken life.

And a life touched by Jesus simply looks different. And the world notices.

John 9:6-7 :: “Saw”

Having said this, he spit(H) 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”(I) (this word means Sent). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.(J)

Saw.

I’m kind of laughing to myself as I consider the scene. Did Jesus give the man any idea that He was about to apply a spit mask-of-sorts to his eyes? Holy cow, what a crazy day for the guy.

We don’t see any indication that the man did anything to flag Jesus down and ask to be healed. Seems that, after slipping away and avoiding a stoning for saying He’s God, Jesus saw the man “as He went along.”

Jesus saw him. Jesus noticed. Even after years of the man being blind. And He initiated toward Him.

Jesus saw him even when he couldn’t see Jesus.

Wow, that comforts my heart. To be seen. Like water to dry earth.

I’m just trying to picture it. The guy — what’s his name? shall we call him Esau? — is sitting in the same stead he did daily, begging, as it was the only means of securing food. Maybe an old widow comes by daily for a short visit, having known him since he was a boy. She shares from her own small food supply for the day, and prays for him.

Maybe he’s prayed for sight. Maybe he’d prayed for years and had stopped when nothing changed.

But today, Jesus sees him and moves toward him. In a wordless dialogue or in conversation not captured by John, the two lives intersect.

Why mud? Why spitting in dirt and making a paste? Seems crude and unnecessary, right?

Maybe. But isn’t it reminiscent of creation? Of breathing life into dirt and creating Adam?

And, perhaps more importantly, it provides an opportunity for Esau to respond in faith. Jesus puts mud on his eyes and tells him to go to the Pool of Siloam and wash.

He could have said, “This is crazy! I’m not about to go wash in some body of water. First of all, I can’t even see to get to it. Secondly, this is crazy. Nothing will be different.” (Read this short story of another healing that has parallels to this one–especially about the command to go and wash and Naaman’s response.)

Or he could have gone and washed.

And come home seeing, like Esau did.

He left home blind that morning. But came home seeing.

Because Jesus saw him. Jesus initiated toward him. He responded in faith and was healed.

Here’s to moving forward in faith this Monday morning, even if what God asks us to do seems…strange, scary, unexpected, etc.

He’s so trustworthy and He sees us!