47. “I am the light of the world”
AS JESUS passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. His disciples asked, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered,
Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.
I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.
When he had thus spoken, he anointed the eyes of the blind man with clay, and said unto him,
Go, wash in the pool of Siloam.
He went, and washed, and came seeing.
¶The neighbors said, Is not this he that sat and begged? He answered, I am he.
Therefore, said they, how were thine eyes opened?
He said, A man called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash: and I went and washed, and I received sight.
It was the sabbath day when Jesus opened his eyes. Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man [Jesus] 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.
The Jews called the parents, and asked them, Is this your son, who ye say was born blind? how then doth he now see?
His parents answered, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind: but by what means he now seeth, we know not; he is of age; ask him.
His parents feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that Jesus was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.
Again the Jews called the man that was blind, and said unto him, Give God the praise: we know that this man [Jesus] is a sinner: we know not from whence he is.
The man answered, Why herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes. Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth. If this man were not of God, he could do nothing.
They answered, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out.
Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him,
Dost thou believe on the Son of God?
He answered, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? Jesus said,
Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee.
And he said, Lord, I believe.
For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.
Some of the Pharisees heard these words, and said, Are we blind also? Jesus answered,
If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.
¶This parable spake Jesus unto them,
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.
And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them,and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.
But they understood not. Then said Jesus,
Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them.
I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is a hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is a hireling, and careth not for the sheep.
I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.
And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.
¶At Jerusalem it was the feast of the dedication. It was winter. Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch.
Then came the Jews round about him, and said, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. Jesus answered,
I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me. But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.
I and my Father are one.
The Jews took up stones again to stone him, Jesus answered,
Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me?
The Jews answered, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. Jesus answered,
Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?
If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the Scripture cannot be broken; say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?
If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works; that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.
Therefore they sought again to take him: but he escaped out of their hand, and went away again beyond Jordan into the place where John at first baptized; and there he abode.
Scripture: John 9:1-41
Meditation 1 of 5:
What’s worse: physical blindness or moral and spiritual darkness? Sin clouds the mind in darkness and closes the heart to God’s love and truth. Only in the light of God’s truth can we see sin for what it really is, a rejection of God and opposition to his will. The Pharisees equated physical blindness and sickness with sin. While the scriptures indicate that sin can make the body and mind sick as well as the soul, not all sickness, however is the result of sin. Sickness befalls us for a variety of reasons. Paul the Apostle reminds us that “in everything God works for good with those who love him” (Romans 8:28) One of the most remarkable miracles of Jesus is the healing of the man who was blind from birth. Even the blind man, once cured, marveled and proclaimed that “never since the world began has it been heard that any one opened the eyes of a man born blind” (John 9:32). This miracle remarkably reveals the power and glory of God.
Why did Jesus use his own spittle in healing this man? Jesus wanted to identify with this man’s misery and to draw faith and confidence in him as well. He covers his eyes with clay and bids him to wash in the Pool of Siloam. This pool was one of the landmarks of Jerusalem. Hezekiah had a secret tunnel bored through 583 yards of solid rock in the hillside in order to bring water from the Gihon Spring, which was outside the city walls, into the city proper (2Chr.32:2-8,30; Isa.22:9-11; 2Kgs.20:20). At the Feast of Sukkoth (also known as the Festival of Tabernacles or Booths) water from this pool was brought by one of the priests to the temple with great trumpet blasts while the people recited the words of Isaiah 12:3: “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” It was poured together with wine beside the altar and ultimately flowed into the Kidron Valley. This was both a thanksgiving offering for the summer harvest and a petition that God would continue to provide water and growth for the newly planted seeds for the next harvest. It was during the Feast of Sukkoth that Jesus identified himself as the source of this life-giving water (John 7:37). Jesus gave not only physical sight to the blind man, but spiritual vision as well. That is why Jesus proclaimed himself the “light of the world” (John 9:4). This miracle at the Pool of Siloam points to the source of the miraculous life-giving water which Jesus offers throught the gift of the Holy Spirit (John 7:38). Do you thirst for this life-giving water?
The Pharisees were upset with Jesus on two counts. First, he healed the blind man on the Sabbath, which they considered a violation of the Sabbath rest. Second, how could a sinner and a sabbath-breaker do such a marvelous work of God! The cured man must not have really been blind at all! This blind man was well known to many people and his parents testified under oath that he had indeed been blind since birth. Their prejudice made them blind to God’s intention for the Sabbath and to Jesus’ claim to be the One sent from the Father in heaven to bring freedom and light to his people. They tried to intimidate both this cured man and his parents by threatening them with excommunication from the synagogue. This man was ostracized by the religious authorities because he gave witness to the Lord Jesus in his life. John Chrysostom, commenting on this passage, remarked: “The Jews (the Pharisees) cast him out of the Temple; the Lord of the Temple found him.” If our witness of Jesus and his redeeming power in our lives separates us from our fellow neighbors, it nonetheless draws us nearer to Jesus himself. Paul the Apostles warns us to avoid the darkness of sin that we might walk more clearly in the light of Christ (Ephes. 5:8-12). Do you allow any blindspots to blur your vision of what God is offering you and requiring of you?
Jesus is ever ready to heal us and to free us from the darkness of sin and deception. There is no sickness, whether physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual that the Lord Jesus does not identify with. Isaiah prophesied that the “Suffering Servant” would be bruised for our iniquities and by his stripes we would be healed (Isaiah 53:5). The Lord offers us freedom from spiritual blindness due to sin and he restores us to wholeness of body, mind, soul, and heart. Augustine of Hippo, in his commentary on this gospel passage, remarks: “If we reflect on the meaning of this miracle, we will see that the blind man is the human race …You already know, of course, who the “One Sent” is. Unless he had been sent, none of us would have been freed from sin.”
“Jesus, in your name the blind see, the lame walk, and the dead are raised to life. Come into our lives and heal the wounds of our broken hearts. Give us eyes of faith to see your glory and hearts of courage to bring you glory in all we say and do.”
Scripture: John 10:1-10
Meditation 2 of 5:
What can shepherding teach us about God and our relationship with him? At the end of each day the shepherd brought his sheep into shelter. They knew the voice of their shepherd and came at his beckoning. So familiar was the shepherd and his sheep, that each was called by a distinct name. In the winter the sheep were usually brought to a communal village shelter which was locked and kept secure by a guardian. In the summer months the sheep were usually kept out in the fields and then gathered into a fold at night which was guarded by a shepherd throughout the night. He was literally the door through which the sheep had to pass. The scriptures describe God as a shepherd who brings security and peace to his people. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and for evermore(Psalm 120:8).Even the leaders of God’s people are called shepherds: they shall lead them out and bring them in; that the congregation of the Lord may not be as sheep which have no shepherd (Numbers 27:17). Just as a shepherd kept watch over his sheep and protected them from danger, so Jesus stands watch over his people as the Shepherd and Guardian of our souls (1 Peter 2:25). Do you know the peace and security of a life fully submitted to God?
Augustine writes: “He has accomplished what he taught us: He has shown us what He commanded us to do. He laid down his own life for his sheep, that within our mystery he might change his body and blood into food, and nourish the sheep he had redeemed with the food of his own flesh. He has shown us the way we must follow, despite fear of death. He has laid down the pattern to which we must conform ourselves. The first duty laid on us is to use our worldly goods in mercy for the needs of his sheep, and then, if necessary, give even our lives for them. He that will not give of his substance for his sheep, how shall he lay down his life for them?” (Tr. 46 in John, 5th century). Do you look to Jesus the Good Shepherd, to receive the strength and courage you need to live and serve as his disciple?
“Lord, you always lead me in the way of peace and safety. May I never doubt your care nor stray from your ways. Keep me safe in the shelter of your presence.”
Scripture: John 10:11-21
Meditation 3 of 5:
Do you know the peace and security of the Good Shepherd who watches over his own? The Old Testament often speaks of God as shepherd of his people, Israel. The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want (Psalm 23:1). Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock! (Psalm 80:1) We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture (Psalm 100:3). The Messiah is also pictured as the shepherd of God’s people: He will feed his flock like a shepherd, he will gather the lambs in his arms (Isaiah 40:11). Jesus says he is the Good Shepherd who will risk his life to seek out and save the stray sheep (Matthew 18:12, Luke 15:4). He is the Shepherd and Guardian of our souls (1 Peter 2:25). Jesus made three promises to his followers. He promised them everlasting life. If they accept him and follow him, they will have the life of God in them. Jesus also promised them a life that would know no end. Death would not be the end but the beginning; they would know the glory of indestructible life. Jesus promised a life that was secure. Jesus said that nothing would snatch them out of his hand, not even sorrow and death, since he is everlasting life itself. Our lives are safe in his hands.
The words which Jesus spoke upset many of the Jewish leaders. How could he speak with the same authority which God spoke and claim to be equal with God? He must either be insane or divine. Unfortunately some thought he was mad even though he cured a man who was blind from birth. We are faced with the same choice. Either Jesus is who he claims to be — the Son of God and Savior of the world — or the world’s greatest deluder! We cannot be indifferent to his claim. For those who accept him as Lord and Savior he offers the peace and security of unending life and joy with God. Do you know the peace and security of a life fully submitted to Christ?
Cyril of Alexander, a 5th century church father comments on Jesus as our Good Shepherd: “He shows in what manner a shepherd may be proved good; and He teaches that he must be prepared to give up his life fighting in defense of his sheep, which was fulfilled in Christ. For man has departed from the love of God, and fallen into sin, and because of this was, I say, excluded from the divine abode of paradise, and when he was weakened by that disaster, he yielded to the devil tempting him to sin, and death following that sin he became the prey of fierce and ravenous wolves. But after Christ was announced as the True Shepherd of all men, He laid down his life for us (1 John 3:16), fighting for us against that pack of inhuman beasts. He bore the Cross for us, that by His own death he might destroy death. He was condemned for us, that He might deliver all of us from the sentence of punishment: the tyranny of sin being overthrown by our faith: fastening to the Cross the decree that stood against us, as it is written (Col. 2:14). Therefore as the father of sin had as it were shut up the sheep in hell, giving them to death to feed on, as it is written in the psalms (Ps. Xlviii.16), He died for us as truly Good, and truly our Shepherd, so that the dark shadow of death driven away He might join us to the company of the blessed in heaven; and in exchange for abodes that lie far in the depths of the pit, and in the hidden places of the sea, grant us mansions in His Father’s House above. Because of this he says to us in another place: Fear not, little flock, for it has pleased your Father to give you a kingdom (Luke 12:32). Do you listen attentively to the voice of the Good Shepherd and obey his word?
“Lord Jesus, you are the Good Shepherd who keeps watch over our lives. May I be ever attentive to your voice and submit fully to your wise rule for my life. Draw me near to you that I may always find peace and joy in your presence.”
Scripture: John 10:11-21
Meditation 4 of 5:
How secure is your faith and trust in God? Scripture describes God’s word as a “lamp for our feet and a light for our steps” (Psalm 119:105). The Jewish Feast of the Dedication is also called theFestival of Lights or Hanakkuh. This feast was held in late December, near the time we celebrate Christmas. This is the time of year when the day is shortest and the night longest. Jesus used this occasion to declare that he is the true light of the world (John 8:12). In his light we can see who God truly is and we can find the true path to heaven. Jesus also speaks of the tremendous trust he has in God his Father and the tremendous trust we ought to have in him, our Good Shepherd. The security Jesus offers is an abiding relationship with the living God, and membership with his flock, the people of God. Jesus also promises the security of peace and protection from evil and the greatest harm that could befall us — eternal destruction. The Lord does not spare us from all trouble. In this life we will experience pain, suffering, sickness, and death. But through these the Lord will lead us to ultimate victory and safety in his everlasting home. Even in the midst of our sufferings we can find a peace and security which no one can give except God alone. We can confidently follow the Lord wherever he leads, trusting that nothing can keep us from God if we trust in him. Have you placed your life securely in God where it belongs?
“Lord Jesus, you are the Good Shepherd. In you I place all my hope and I entrust myself to you completely. Increase my confidence in your saving grace and in your abiding presence.”
Gospel Reading: John 10:31-42
Meditation 5 of 5:
Why were the religious leaders so upset with Jesus that they wanted to kill him? They charged him with blasphemy because he claimed to be the Son of God and he made himself equal with God. The law of Moses laid down the death penalty for such a crime: “He who blasphemes the name of the LORD shall be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him” (Lev. 24:16). As they were picking up stones to hurl at Jesus, he met their attack with three arguments. The many good works that he did, such as healing the sick, raising the dead, and feeding the hungry — demonstrated that they obviously came from God.
Jesus defended his right to call himself the Son of God with a quote from Psalm 82:6 (“I say, “You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you”). If scripture can speak like that of humans, why should Jesus not speak of himself like that? Jesus then made two claims: He was consecrated by the Father to a special task and he was sent into the world to carry out his Father’s mission. The scriptural understanding of consecration is to make holy for God – to be given over as a free-will offering and sacrifice for God. Jesus made himself a sin-offering for us, to ransom us from condemnation and slavery to sin. He spoke of his Father consecrating him for this mission of salvation (John 10:36). Jesus challenged his opponents to accept his works if they could not accept his words. One can argue with words, but deeds are beyond argument.
Jesus is the perfect teacher in that he does not base his claims on what he says but on what he does. The word of God is life and power to those who believe. Jesus shows us the way to walk the path of truth and holiness. And he anoints us with his power to live the gospel with joy and to be his witnesses in the world. Are you a doer of God’s word, or a forgetful hearer only?
“Write upon my heart, O Lord, the lessons of your holy word, and grant that I may be a doer of your word, and not a forgetful hearer only.”