Seeing the Truth
Today we have two biblical narratives of the importance of understanding God’s truth. In the Old Testament, the Prophet Samuel was grieving over King Saul’s failure to follow God’s ways. God had moved on:
The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul? I have rejected him from being king over Israel. Fill your horn with oil and set out; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.” (1 Samuel 16:1)
This was a dangerous mission. Bat God gave Samuel a plan to follow, and Samuel carefully observed it. Jesse paraded seven of his sons before Samuel. We remember that all seven sons were rejected by God. Jesse had to call one more son:
Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him, for we will not sit down until he comes here.” He sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome. The Lord said, “Rise and anoint him, for this is the one.” Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. (1 Samuel 16:11-13)
King David, the psalmist, wrote:
You desire truth in the inward being;
therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
God has different wisdom when he looks for the truth. In the New Testament, the Pharisees had another approach to reality.
As Jesus walked 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?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” ()
The disciples of Jesus expressed what common thinking of the time was – that people were sinners if they were blind, especially if they were born blind. Jesus told them that from God’s perspective, sin had little to do with it. Do we judge people by their sicknesses or their handicaps today?
The Pharisees were skeptical of Jesus because he did not fill all their qualifications for their truth. Today’s Gospel is a good example. When they heard that a man born blind was healed they did not want to believe it:
They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.” Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not observe the sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And they were divided. So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” He said, “He is a prophet.” ()
The Pharisees had to question the man’s parents before they could that the man was actually born blind. After doing so, they interrogated the man born blind one more time:
The second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.” He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” Then they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” The man answered, “Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?” And they drove him out. (John 9:24-34)
Again, the belief that blind people were born with sins raises its ugly head. The blind man did not fit the Pharisees’ definition of truth. Jesus, who healed the man on the Sabbath, was also outside their understanding of true Judaism. By driving the man out of the synagogue, they set up a confrontation with Jesus:
Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.” He said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped him. Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.” Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not blind, are we?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.” (John 9:35-41)
Spiritual blindness is a state of mind and an absence of the heart. The Pharisees saw only what they wanted to see and ruled out other possibilities, even when their five senses told them otherwise. How do we see the truth?
Believing all we see in the news media, obviously, does not make sense. Facts have demonstrated that this media is often lying. Why would they lie? Could it be that the news media has an agenda?
Churches have doctrines that are often not supported by the scriptures. Why are doctrines needed? Unfortunately, they were added to the scriptures for the same reason that the Pharisees added rules and traditions to God’s commandments. In this way, they could ignore parts of the commandments for which they either did not agree or were not capable of following.
We are reminded of the lawyer who challenged Jesus.
An expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.” (Luke 10:25-28)
The problem for the lawyer was that Jesus said: “Do this, and you will live.” The lawyer knew it would be hard to think that he had done this. He needed a loophole in the law. Thus he asked:
But wanting to vindicate himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29)
He wanted to narrow the interpretation of the word “neighbor.” Jesus then told the parable of the good Samaritan which made it clear that everyone is a neighbor. If we want to justify ourselves we will never be able to see the truth.
The Apostle Paul wrote:
Once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light— for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what such people do secretly; but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,
Rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.” (Ephesians 5:8-14)
We can only discern the truth in the light of Christ. There is no need to cover up our sins in his light. His blood covers our sins and sets us free from human rules and regulations. We no longer need to justify ourselves because the cross of Christ is our justification.
A revival of truth is now breaking forth:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and injustice of those who by their injustice suppress the truth. (Romans 1:18)
Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light. (Isaiah 5:20)
What will we choose, darkness or light?