Faith Chapel

A Rather Messy Sabbath

Three Angels Broadcasting Network

Program transcript

Participants: Don Pate


Series Code: FC

Program Code: FC000023

00:29 Hello my friend, and welcome.
00:32 I'm Don Pate from 'Between The Lines',
00:34 and it's my privilege to spend time with you
00:37 just the next few minutes
00:38 as we go under the surface of the text
00:41 in the word for a few minutes with Jesus.
00:44 And I'm just looking forward to spending time with you
00:47 as we look at John Chapter 9 today.
00:50 I'd invite you to join me in prayer
00:52 as we ask the Holy Spirit to come in and speak to us,
00:56 to give us something that will be very precious
00:59 for your heart as we study John Chapter 9.
01:02 Let's pray.
01:03 Lord, thank you so much for the rich promise
01:07 that we have that Your word is living and vibrant
01:12 and that you will energize us through the ministry
01:16 of the Holy Spirit if we spent time in the word.
01:19 And so Lord, we commit ourselves just the next minutes
01:22 we commit ourselves to spending time with Jesus
01:24 in the word and we ask You to fulfill Your promise.
01:27 This is our prayer in the holy name of Christ, amen.
01:31 Sometimes when we read the gospel accounts,
01:36 we tend to move things into our own culture,
01:39 into our own understanding, and we have to do that.
01:42 It's like translation.
01:44 Granted you and I are going to be much, much more accurate
01:48 with the scripture if we are reading the Hebrew,
01:51 if we are reading the Greek.
01:53 Hebrew of the Old Testament, Greek of the New Testament.
01:55 You know, granted if you become
01:57 a scholar in the language as you probably
01:59 are going to be closer to the original intention,
02:02 but the truth is, you know,
02:04 not many people have that opportunity, or skill,
02:06 or gifting, or time to become students of the language
02:10 and so we have to trust translation.
02:14 We take the text and we translate it.
02:16 Now the problem of course with translation.
02:18 On the one hand it's a wonderful blessing.
02:20 Whenever you translate something, it's a blessing,
02:22 because if I didn't translate it, then you know,
02:24 this personal here could not understand it.
02:27 But as soon as I translate it
02:29 and I move it over into there verbiage,
02:33 their language somewhere in between, you know,
02:36 some things get little corrupted, they get little lost.
02:39 In English let me show you how this works.
02:42 In English, 'we take a walk',
02:45 well that doesn't really make sense when you think about it,
02:48 take a walk, a take, of course in Spanish its 'dar un paseo.'
02:55 'I give a walk' those of us who are English,
02:58 because we say, 'give him a walk',
03:00 how'd you give or what well, how do you take a walk?
03:05 Its idiomatic expression and translation of course
03:08 if I literally were to take Spanish and translate it
03:11 across I'd say well, I'm going to give a walk,
03:14 in English you wouldn't understand it.
03:15 We need to translate, so that we can understand,
03:18 but as soon as we translate then we'd loose something
03:21 and certainly that is even true of the cultural identity
03:26 of the Bible, of the stories of Jesus,
03:29 because we tend to move these stories into the 21st century.
03:33 We tend to put them into our culture, onto our streets.
03:37 We tend to put it into our racial expectations,
03:40 our sociological expectation.
03:42 And if I don't, I really don't understand the story,
03:45 it doesn't mean anything to me, it doesn't speak to me,
03:47 but as soon as I do, I'm corrupting the story.
03:49 I have a wonderful book at home.
03:50 It was a gift that was given to me by Jane Dillon Berger.
03:54 She is a notorious Art Historian,
03:57 a wonderful woman in Berkeley, California.
04:00 when I was doing my graduate studies
04:02 at the center for Jews studies in Berkeley.
04:04 And Dr. Jane Dillon Berger, Jane gave me
04:07 as an act of gratitude for something I done for her.
04:10 She gave me one of these large coffee table books,
04:13 you know, you sit them out and they got lots of pictures
04:16 big books and it was called the 'Bible and its Painters'.
04:20 And it's so much fun to flip through there,
04:22 because you find things happening in the painter's mind
04:27 as he was portraying the Biblical events.
04:30 You find Mary kneeling
04:33 and she looks like a little Italian princess.
04:37 Kneeling in an Italian palace manner house
04:41 because the Italian Renaissance paint her.
04:43 To him that was his reality.
04:45 And he put Mary into that scene.
04:47 One of my favorites is done
04:48 by one of the northern European painters
04:50 he was doing a Bethlehem manger scene.
04:54 And it's so cute, because as you look at it
04:56 and there are children skating on the pond outside the manger.
05:00 There are horse drown slays going by in the snow
05:03 in front of the manger, because obviously
05:06 this man had no sense of the real Bethlehem.
05:09 He had no sense awareness of the reality of the story.
05:13 He just had transplanted the nativity of Jesus,
05:16 the birth of Jesus into his own northern European village.
05:20 Translation is a blessing, it's also a curse.
05:23 And so I think it's wonderful for us
05:26 as we have an opportunity to go back
05:28 into the gospel stories to really see
05:30 if we can understand Jesus within His world.
05:34 Jesus with the mentality of the people
05:37 who were standing around Him that day,
05:41 because then the stories begin to sing in a way
05:44 that maybe you've never heard them before,
05:46 maybe suddenly a verse will jump out
05:48 and you'll say I've heard that verse for years,
05:50 but now I understand that's why Jesus said that,
05:53 or that's why Jesus asked it this way,
05:55 If I've been around I might have done at this way,
05:57 but in His world, He did it that way.
05:58 And when we look at John Chapter 9,
06:00 there are certain things that come out from
06:03 between the lines of the text that when you understand
06:07 what was going on in the world of Jesus,
06:09 suddenly this story will begin to sing to you
06:13 as you've never heard before.
06:14 I'd invite you to take a Bible and turn to John Chapter 9.
06:17 Jesus was in Jerusalem.
06:21 It was one of the pilgrimage festivals.
06:24 He came back to Jerusalem with many people
06:27 from around the Roman world
06:29 to join together for the pilgrimage festivals.
06:32 And as He was there He passes by verse one
06:36 "And saw a man blind from birth."
06:40 Now it's terribly important.
06:42 It isn't just a blind man.
06:45 It's a man who is blind from birth.
06:50 Now in just a couple of verses here
06:52 you know, you're going to have an issue raised,
06:55 you're not even going to get out of the next verse
06:57 before you see it.
06:58 There is going to be an issue raised,
06:59 and you gonna say, I don't understand this.
07:01 What kind of stupid question is that?
07:04 Verse two, "His disciple said Master, who did sin,
07:09 this man or his parents, to cause this
07:13 to be part of his life that he was born blind?"
07:17 Now if you're thinking you say, wait a minute,
07:18 I can understand you know, his parents
07:21 maybe they did something wrong.
07:22 In fact the Mishnah discusses that even evil thinking
07:28 on the part of a pregnant woman
07:31 could potentially create an issue of a birth deformity.
07:35 but I'm not kidding that's true.
07:38 And so you might say, well, I certainly understand
07:40 how the parents might be blamed for the birth deformity,
07:44 for the birth defect of a child born blind,
07:46 but you can't blame it on the child.
07:48 I mean what in the world could he have done.
07:50 We can't prove this.
07:52 There is no documentation that will allow you
07:55 to prove this back to the days of Jesus.
07:56 But you certainly can prove it into the Middle Ages,
07:59 the early Middle Ages.
08:01 Now whether it literally came from the Second Temple era,
08:05 the days of Jesus or not, I can't claim that.
08:08 All I know is upon the foundation
08:11 of Judaism of Jesus day, upon that foundation,
08:14 later on, you know, the generations it involved
08:18 or they came to an understanding
08:19 of this and this might surprise you.
08:24 According to traditional Judaism of the early Middle Ages,
08:28 one of the definition or explanations
08:32 for why there would be a birth deformity
08:35 is related to a superstition.
08:39 The superstition supposedly is that when a child
08:42 is in the womb, in uterus that at that point
08:46 the child knows everything there is to know
08:49 about God, Al torah.
08:52 And just upon the moment of birth
08:54 according to this legend superstition in early Judaism.
08:58 That upon the moment of birth an angel will come
09:02 and touch the lips of the child in the womb
09:06 to remove from that child the knowledge of torah,
09:10 all the knowledge of God. You'd say why?
09:13 I mean wouldn't it be great to be born
09:15 in knowing everything, and know about God.
09:16 No, it's a privilege to come,
09:19 to learn, to grow, to know of God.
09:22 And so the angel, so that the child would not be deprived
09:26 of the opportunity to grow to know God.
09:29 The angel will come according to the legend,
09:31 and would take from the lips the knowledge of Torah.
09:35 Now every once a while,
09:36 of course you have a child who's little ornery.
09:37 He doesn't want to surrender his knowledge of torah.
09:40 He doesn't want to give up what he knows about God
09:42 and he wrestles with the angel and it is in the wrestling
09:44 with the angel before birth that sometimes an ornery child
09:50 will be damaged birth deformity.
09:55 Now you may have never heard that before
09:56 I can't prove, I can't know, because we can't document that
10:00 this goes back all the way to John Chapter 9.
10:02 But it might not surprise me.
10:05 I might not be completely, you know,
10:08 caught by surprise then when I see this question
10:11 who did sin this man or his parents,
10:15 because apparently sometime in Judaism
10:18 they came to an expectation that even prenatally
10:22 a child could be responsible for his own snottily nature.
10:29 Now let's go back to the text.
10:32 Who did sin this man or his parents
10:36 that he was born blind.
10:39 Now you remember the context
10:40 if you go just in the chapters in front
10:43 and the chapters in back in the story,
10:44 you'll find the context.
10:45 This is one of several places where Jesus said
10:48 I am the light of the world.
10:49 Now notice that He says that in the verse 5.
10:54 He says this in the presence of a man
10:56 who has never seen the light of day.
11:00 You may not really be aware of something.
11:02 In the Roman world, the empire of the Jesus day,
11:07 the reality of Jesus day, there was one thing
11:10 that the Romans they oh, they just desired,
11:12 I mean this was the ultimate attainment, glory.
11:17 Now you probably know in the Greek world,
11:19 in the Hellenistic world, the world of Alexander,
11:21 the Great, and his children,
11:23 his heirs, his followers.
11:26 You probably know that in the Greek world
11:29 the ultimate attainment was wisdom.
11:34 The Old Testament into the New Testament
11:36 reveals to us over and over again,
11:38 that within the Hebrew mind the ultimate attainment
11:42 the thing to be desired was light.
11:49 Light is precious from the second verse
11:51 of the Bible onward, access to light.
11:55 And if you think about that think of all the passages
11:58 you know in the Bible about light.
12:01 There is something very powerful
12:03 in the sense of the mind of the Bible writer
12:06 about the concept of light.
12:09 And Jesus said, I am the light of the world
12:13 in the presence of a man who had never seen
12:16 one ounce if you can use
12:19 ounces of sunshine in his life.
12:23 I am the light of the world.
12:24 And when he had thus spoken, verse 6.
12:27 Here he goes, "When he had thus spoken,
12:30 he spat on the ground, and made clay."
12:34 It's curious.
12:36 What is Jesus doing spiting on the ground to heal a blind man?
12:39 I mean how many miracles did Jesus performed
12:43 where He didn't even have to be in the same town.
12:47 Jesus did not have to touch people to heal them.
12:53 Jesus himself didn't even have to be proactive to heal him.
12:56 We even have the story-- of course the woman
12:58 who reached out and touch the hem of His garment
12:59 and she stole the healing if you want to use that term.
13:04 Jesus has no need to spit on the ground
13:08 to heal this blind man.
13:11 So why is He doing it?
13:14 The Mishnah tells us certain things about
13:18 the world of Jesus did bring to clarity some of these
13:22 mysteries to us in the 21st century.
13:24 One of the tractates the little booklets within
13:28 the Mishnah is the Tractate Sabbath.
13:31 Now Shabbat as we will see in the story,
13:33 this is the Sabbath day event,
13:35 this is happening on the Sabbath day,
13:37 because it comes to clay in the verses later on.
13:41 Jesus is doing this on the Sabbath day.
13:45 The Tractate Shabbat lists the areas of probation
13:50 the 39 areas, categories of probation
13:52 for appropriate Sabbath activity according to the Jews
13:56 of Jesus day what they believed
13:58 the rules that they had defined.
14:01 Now you're not gonna find these all in the scripture.
14:03 In fact the truth is that the scripture itself
14:06 if you're taking the Bible alone the Bible
14:09 is really very skeletal, very minimal in the black and white
14:15 definitions of appropriate Sabbath activity.
14:18 It gives principals more than it gives real define
14:23 you do not do this, you do not do this,
14:25 you do not-- there are really aren't that many
14:27 within the scriptures itself.
14:29 In fact as you remember Jesus himself in the gospels
14:31 got in trouble with the authorities around Him,
14:35 because His understanding of appropriate
14:38 Sabbath day activity was not the same
14:41 as what their expectation was.
14:44 And so Jesus understanding the rules of the day
14:48 the Mishnah that the things that were they understood
14:51 traditions of the people of His day.
14:54 It's all it's defined in the Tractate Shabbat.
14:57 And there are categories the things you are not to do
14:59 according to the Mishnah.
15:01 Now you don't find these in the Bible.
15:02 According to the Mishnah they believed that it was
15:06 inappropriate to go swimming on the Sabbath day.
15:11 And this may surprise you why?
15:12 Because when you swim you break the agricultural probation.
15:17 You'll say excuse me agricultural probation,
15:20 agricultural probation you see when you go swimming
15:23 you get down in the water you come back up
15:24 your swimming suit is wet, you go walking across the path,
15:26 there maybe a blade of grass,
15:28 your swim suit will drip a drip of water,
15:30 a drop of water goes off of your swim suit
15:32 hits that blade of grass you have irrigated
15:34 that little grass on the Sabbath day.
15:36 You have been involved in agriculture.
15:40 Guess what my friend when you spit on the ground
15:42 you're doing same thing.
15:44 You accidentally may hit a seed when you spit on the ground,
15:48 you've broken the agricultural probation.
15:50 More than that one another area that was disallowed
15:53 for behavior activity on the Sabbath day
15:55 was the work of the potter.
15:58 Well, if Jesus is spitting on the ground reaching down
16:01 and making clay guess what?
16:02 He's doing what a potter does, he works in clay.
16:06 In two specific areas already Jesus has already
16:10 cross the grain of the expectation of the people
16:13 standing around Him by the very fact that
16:15 He spit on the ground and He did something like
16:17 what a potter does He actually, you know,
16:18 crosses the agricultural probation in this verse
16:21 more than that why was the man there.
16:26 A man born blind, well was he begging.
16:29 We see that in a number of gospel accounts
16:31 and on in the Book of Acts that people would be
16:33 somewhere near the temple are hoping for generosity.
16:36 May you earn merit in heaven by me, they would say,
16:41 that heaven is gonna pay attention and smile at you
16:44 if you're generous with me, because I'm the broken person.
16:46 Often we saw beggars near the temple in the scripture.
16:50 If this man on Sabbath was there for a reason
16:54 for an agenda of begging then he's intending
16:56 to be involved in money exchange and that's another
16:59 crossing of Sabbath probations.
17:02 And certainly we find that in the last chapters
17:04 of the Book of Nehemiah anyway.
17:07 So in several ways there are possibilities here
17:11 of the Sabbath being desecrated at least
17:16 in the eyes of the people standing around.
17:19 But that still didn't answer the question?
17:22 Why does Jesus spit on the ground to heal this man
17:24 when He didn't have to?
17:25 Did Jesus just do it to make trouble?
17:27 That Jesus just spit on the ground,
17:30 so that these people who were standing around
17:32 who had faulty expectation could be challenged
17:36 and confronted and he'd have to look them in the eye
17:39 and say okay you know, deal with it.
17:41 This is what you think, but I'm showing you
17:42 something else, deal with it.
17:44 Was Jesus just doing it to make trouble?
17:46 Was He doing as a teaching object?
17:47 No, let me share with you something,
17:49 they had very few Christians would know,
17:50 that is such a wonderful insight.
17:52 One other things that we find in Judaism
17:57 of the Second Temple era, the days of Jesus
17:59 is 100 years before Jesus was born
18:02 and there was a great deal of messianic ferment going on.
18:06 There was lot of messianic expectation.
18:09 People were going around saying the time is at hand.
18:13 When John the Baptist step forward to proclaim
18:15 the day of the Lord, he wasn't the only one
18:17 in town who was doing that.
18:19 There were many people throughout the region
18:21 who would lay getting the same claims
18:24 and the same expectation of messianic era and age.
18:27 Beyond that there were false messiahs running around.
18:30 We actually have the name of several
18:32 within the Book of Acts.
18:34 They say well you all remember there was Judas of Galilee
18:36 and there was Thudas in there.
18:38 You know, these were supposed messiahs.
18:40 There was a lot of messianic ferment
18:43 going on in the days of Jesus.
18:47 He was not the only available choice for the people.
18:53 Jesus did something that fulfilled
18:56 a messianic expectation of the age,
18:59 a 100 years before Jesus was born.
19:02 There was a fairly common a very well known
19:05 rabbinic prophecy, a prophecy of the Rabbis
19:09 the teachers that said when messiah comes
19:12 even His spit shall bring healing of the nations.
19:18 And it was also though Jesus looked and said
19:20 look I know that this is what your plan,
19:22 I know that this is what you expect,
19:24 if this is what you expect I'll give it to you,
19:27 you know I won't do it every time but just wants
19:30 to fulfill this prophecy, so that some of you may say
19:32 wow, you know maybe this is the one.
19:36 He spit on the ground to heal the nations.
19:39 But He did on the Sabbath which is curious,
19:42 because you know that man probably
19:45 if he'd been blind for birth, he was probably
19:46 gonna be blind the next day.
19:48 Jesus could have come back on the first day of the week
19:50 and cross this man's path spit on the ground
19:53 healed him and avoided an awful lot of trouble.
19:56 So there is more to it than just
19:58 the fulfillment of the prophecy.
20:02 Verse 6, "He spat on the ground and made clay of the spittle,
20:05 he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay."
20:08 Verse 7 "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam."
20:14 And the man went and by the fulfillment of doing
20:20 what Jesus asked of him
20:22 a great miracle was performed.
20:26 His faith again made him whole.
20:29 It wasn't the mud that made him whole.
20:32 It wasn't the spit that made him whole.
20:38 It was the man's faith that made him whole.
20:41 He acted upon the expressed desire of Jesus
20:48 and heaven responded and made him whole.
20:51 And he came seeing it says verse 7,
20:55 verse 8 and all the people around the neighbors therefore
20:59 they which before had seen him when he was blind,
21:04 they scratch their heads.
21:05 It says they sat and is this not the one
21:08 I mean wait a minute there is something wrong
21:12 going on here, is this real.
21:13 Have you been kidding us, have you been fooling us
21:15 ever since you were child you know you've been
21:18 making like you were blind and you're really not blind.
21:22 And we've been generous with you all this time
21:24 and it was a farce, it was a joke.
21:26 They were astounded, the people who normally
21:29 you know for years had been used to have been blind
21:32 were astounded at the fact that he was no longer blind.
21:37 And of course the rumor went right to the temple authorities
21:40 as we continue in the text, they got frustrated.
21:43 It says verse 16, some of the Pharisees
21:45 gathered together and they said this can't be a God.
21:48 Now He can't be a God why?
21:50 Because it doesn't fulfill what we think,
21:53 because God refused to stay in the little box
21:56 that we created for Him, therefore He can't be God.
21:58 That's a terribly important thing.
22:00 That to me is maybe in this story as important
22:03 as anything else for my life in the 21st century.
22:09 Is the question that comes back to me even
22:12 as a committed Christian, even as a pastor,
22:14 the question comes back to me?
22:16 Am I going to shape God to my expectation?
22:23 Make a graven image of my God, or will I allow Him to be God.
22:27 And He gets to operate and choose
22:29 as He defines not as I define for Him.
22:33 This is not of God, because it doesn't match our expectation.
22:38 This is not of God because He keep it not the Sabbath day,
22:43 not the way we expected can't be.
22:46 Can't be of God, because we have define.
22:49 We've put the parameters, the borders around
22:52 what we expect of God and Jesus you stepped outside the line
22:55 and therefore it can't be of God.
23:00 That is a very strong insight into the story my friend.
23:04 I think that every Christian should deal with that issue
23:07 to look up to heaven and honesty and said Lord
23:09 do I do that and I do I ever shape
23:12 and mold You to my comfort zone.
23:16 That's blasphemous, it's idolatrous.
23:21 And of course they called the man in for trial
23:23 as you continue on verse 22, verse 25, verse 28, verse 29
23:28 they called the man in and they say,
23:29 look how does this could done, were you really,
23:31 really, really, really blind, you know,
23:33 come on this-- just confess to us this is all a fake.
23:36 You weren't really blind, and you know,
23:38 we won't be that angry with you for lying to us.
23:41 Not as angry as we'll be if God acts in a way
23:44 that we don't want Him to.
23:48 And the man says, I was blind and of course
23:49 as you read in the stories you continue through the text.
23:52 It says well, who healed you,
23:53 and he says, how shall I know.
23:55 You know if I heard the voice again I might recognize Him,
23:58 because I couldn't see I was still blind
24:00 and I went to the pool then I could see,
24:02 I have no idea if I heard the voice again
24:04 I'd recognize the voice.
24:05 They called in his parents you remember
24:07 before the chapter ends.
24:08 And the parents were under threat of well,
24:12 there were actually three levels of rebuke within Judaism.
24:16 There was sort of a temporary slap on the wrist,
24:18 and then beyond that there was a period of reevaluation
24:23 and then beyond that there was what in Christianity
24:25 sometimes its called excommunication,
24:27 I mean just removal cut off from the society, from the house.
24:31 His parents were under risk here, because the authorities
24:35 are not happy with how things have involved,
24:37 how things have developed.
24:38 And so his parents, when his parents
24:40 were brought in they said is this your son?
24:41 Yes, he is our son. Was he born blind?
24:43 Yes, he was. Is he blind now?
24:45 He doesn't look like it, he looks like he have.
24:48 This man had never seen his mother's face.
24:53 The parents don't know how to deal with the healing.
24:57 He is adult you'll have to ask him,
24:59 we don't know whether this is of God or not,
25:01 we don't even understand this thing,
25:02 because this is all just breath taking to us.
25:05 Something marvelous has happened
25:07 but we can't explain it.
25:09 The man himself cannot explain the miracle.
25:12 The story continues. We don't know verse 29
25:18 whether this is from God or not, we just can't know
25:22 and finally the end of the story
25:24 as we come to the end of the chapter.
25:25 Jesus, he hears that voice and now he gets to see the face.
25:29 He hears the voice, he is never gonna forget that voice,
25:32 the man who said to him, go wash in the pool.
25:37 He hears the voice and the voice asks him.
25:42 Jesus asks him, verse 35
25:45 "Dost thou believe on the Son of God."
25:48 Do you really. Verse 36, "He answered and said"
25:53 I know who it is, that's basically what it says here
25:56 "Who is he Lord, that I might believe on him?"
25:58 If I knew who it was,
26:04 I would believe, but you're asking
26:07 something of me that I don't have the answer.
26:10 And Jesus verse 37 says, if we take it into
26:14 our common vernacular today, you don't look in at him.
26:20 "Jesus said thou hast both seen him,
26:22 and it is he that talketh with thee."
26:25 And the man's response verse 38, "Lord, I believe.
26:30 And he worshipped him."
26:34 It is a great story, it's a story that teaches me
26:38 that maybe I am blinded,
26:44 maybe I have such a degree
26:47 of set expectation and comfort zone with Jesus
26:50 that I need him to fit into,
26:52 you know, my little expectation.
26:55 And if Jesus ever takes me out of what I think
26:58 he should do then he becomes unacceptable to me.
27:01 Will I allow God to be God, or will I somehow try to
27:07 manipulate God to my comfort zone, that is what the story
27:13 says to me in the 21st century that am I willing for Him
27:18 to be the light and He becomes the light
27:22 that defines everything for me as to what is right
27:27 and what is wrong, what is truth, what is error.
27:31 How He feels about me.
27:34 How He feels about you.
27:37 What He sees is His dream and His destiny for you.
27:42 I'd urge you to spend time in John Chapter 9.
27:46 Go back under the surface of the story again
27:48 and put yourself into the sandals of the blind man
27:52 and say Jesus clarify my thinking, my vision.
27:57 Do it for me, please.


Revised 2014-12-17