Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Light and Sight


Last month I shared about a journal I made to record what I saw when I was studying John 9 about Jesus healing the blind man. I recently wrote an article for our church blog about my study for John 9 and I thought I would share it here as well.

Our church is journeying through the Gospel of John. When we study and read and hear messages in the context of the whole book we gain a much deeper understanding of the author’s intent. We get the whole story and we are able to better grasp how those who were there would have understood what was said and done. When we simply pull out certain passages or verses on their own we often miss out on a greater significance found in the context. One theme that has appeared as we have journeyed through the Gospel of John has been how John records Jesus’ use of the Messianic passages from the Old Testament to make clear that he is the Messiah. The Jews of the first century would have understood the significance of both Jesus’ words and his actions because of their lifelong hearing and understanding of the prophecies and signs pointing to the Messiah’s arrival. They were steeped in a longing and waiting and watching posture for the appearance of a Savior who would bring them freedom. A few weeks ago two members of our study team each spoke from John 9:1-41 (here and here) which gives the details of Jesus healing the blind man and the response of this event from the Pharisees, his parents and others. This chapter in the book of John is full of references to the Messianic prophecies. As I studied for Creative Team (this team studies the passages for the message and helps plan the service) for this chapter in John I got “rabbit-trailed” by the references to “light and sight” and I trailed them throughout the Bible, especially in relationship to Christ. In the Old Testament the giving of sight to the blind – both physical sight and spiritual sight – was a sign of the Messiah and the Messianic reign. Light in the Old Testament was often used as a metaphor for God’s salvation.

 Do you see what I see? 
We use many “light” and “sight” sayings in our day to reflect our grasp or understanding of something: I see, see the light, shed light on, bring to light just to name a few. At times we have light bulb moments or see things in a new light. Read the following passages and “see” if you can hear Jesus’ words and view His actions in a “new Light”. Hear them as the first century Jews would have. Look for the signs of the Messiah – the Christ, our Savior. (Note: this is not an exhaustive list)

 “Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD their God. He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them – he remains faithful forever. He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free, the LORD gives sight to the blind, the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down, the LORD loves the righteous. The LORD watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.” Psalm 146:5-9 

 “The LORD is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1 

 “You, LORD, are my lamp, the Lord turns my darkness into light.” 2 Samuel 22:29 

Of the coming Messiah Isaiah says, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light, on those living in the land of darkness a light has dawned.” Isaiah 9:2 

 “In that day the deaf will hear the words of the scroll, and out of gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see. Once more the humble will rejoice in the LORD; the needy will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.” Isaiah 29:18-19

A song of the joy of the redeemed when the LORD brings the reign of the Messiah: “Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, “be strong, do not fear, your God will come, he will come with vengeance, with divine retribution he will come to save you.” Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer and the mute tongue shout for joy.” Isaiah 35:3-6 

Of His servant, the Messiah: “This is what God the LORD says – the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out, who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it: “I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open the eyes that are blind, to free the captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness…I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth.” Isaiah 42:5-7, 16 

 “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” Isaiah 49:6 

And then Jesus is born. His parents take him to the temple to be dedicated to the LORD. In the temple was an elderly man named Simeon, to whom the Holy Spirit had revealed that he would not die before he had seen the Messiah. When Simeon saw the baby Jesus “he took him in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in the sight of all nations: a light of revelation for the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.” Luke 2:28-32 

Jesus, now an adult, stands in the temple and reads from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:17-21 (Jesus read from Isaiah 61)

John the Baptist sends his disciples to Jesus to ask, “Are you the one who is to come or should we expect someone else?” Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.” Luke 7:20-22 

Now we come to the Gospel of John. Read with the previous verses in mind: 
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind…The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.” John 1:1,4,9 

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 

In John 9 (you can read the full chapter here) Jesus heals a man born blind. The Pharisees question the man about Jesus. “They said, “We know this man is a sinner.” 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!”….”he opened my eyes.” John 9:24-25, 30. 

“Jesus said, “For judgement I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” John 9:39 

“Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” John 12:44-46 

For those of us who follow Christ on this side of His death and resurrection: 
  “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness”, made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:6 
 “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9

Did you see what I saw? After reading these passages did you feel the impact of what Jesus’ words and actions would have had on the first century Jews? Doesn’t it make you wonder why the Pharisees, the very ones educated in the Scripture, couldn’t see clearly that the Messiah was right there among them? Yet all of their education and tradition did not enable them to see that Jesus was the Messiah. Seeing Jesus for who he really was took faith. The blind man grasped that. After reading these passages, and then reading that the Pharisees still could not see the Messiah right there among them, it makes me wonder: What am I blind to? What things does God put right in front of us and yet we fail to see them clearly? I encourage you to dig into Scripture and get “rabbit-trailed” from time to time and see where it takes you.

I'm starting to fill in the journal pages with my study notes and will share over the next few weeks. Taking what I study in God's Word and making art journal pages is a way of reflecting on the Word and taking it deep into my heart and mind. I love how Bible study is  a creative spark for me and how it gives me emotional and spiritual energy. 

My Light and Sight journal

4 comments:

  1. I just love this peek at your journal and your beautiful lettering. Those little arrows have me intrigued for sure!

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    1. Thanks so much for visiting, Autumn!

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  2. Congratulations, , Mary. I just your beautiful faith art journaling pages in the new issue of Art Journaling. And they placed your article at the front of the magazine.
    Well done!

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