(12) Human and Religious Blindness, and
Reading: John 8:12-9:41
It is a
pity that these chapters are divided, because in chapter
nine Jesus is showing the truth of what He has been
saying in chapter eight in a very practical way.
perfectly clear that this incident is set in the
background of the earthly Israel, and this long section
of the record is intended to show that Israel after the
flesh is blind. If ever men demonstrated how blind they
were, these people did in all this argument! Jesus is
making them give themselves away. That is, He is just
compelling them to betray their own blindness. The fact
is that these people were just not seeing. They were
spiritually blind, as that man was naturally blind. So
that what we have here is set in Israel's blindness, all
with the object of showing this specific characteristic
of the new spiritual Israel which the Lord Jesus was
bringing into being.
retain that for a few minutes, as we are going away from
it for a little while - because there is one marvelous
truth which embraces all these things which we are
saying, and that is that no thought that God has ever
expressed dies. There is no lapse of any thought that God
has expressed. God expressed His thoughts in the very
conception and constitution of the Israel of old. They
were in all that was said about Israel and in all that
was revealed as to God's purpose in Israel. God expressed
His thoughts concerning Israel in a multitude of ways.
That Israel failed to answer to the thoughts of God. His
thoughts concerning Israel were never fully realized
because of their rebellion. So that Israel was passed by,
but God's thoughts were not put aside. All those same
thoughts are taken up in a new Israel.
Himself becomes the inclusive new Israel. You remember
that when He referred to Jacob, whose name was changed to
Israel, He said to Nathanael: "Ye shall
see the heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending
and descending upon the Son of man" (John 1:51).
So Jesus is the new Israel in person. All the
communications of God and Heaven to man are by way of
Jesus, the new Israel. All God's thoughts in the past
ages are taken up in the Lord Jesus in the first place.
All that was ever intended by God concerning Israel and
was lost by them is carried on in the Lord Jesus, and
then transferred by Him to His companions and the
companions of the heavenly calling - the new Israel,
which is spiritual.
opens up a very big realm for you. It would be impossible
to number all the characteristics of God's mind
concerning Israel, but let us just indicate what we mean.
know, God marked Israel off as a people distinct from all
other people in appearance. Some years ago, before he
went to the Lord, I knew a very distinguished Hebrew
Christian. He used to travel all over the world, and he
once said this to me: 'Wherever I go, in all parts of the
world, I always know when I meet a Jew. They may have
lived for generations in this country or in that, but
there is something about them that they never lose. I
always know they are Jews without being told.' God marked
them out as a people distinct from all other races.
how that is taken up in the Lord Jesus and in His true
companions. Whenever you meet a true Christian in this
world, you know it before he or she is introduced to you.
It is not the shape of his or her face, or, indeed, by
any outward form, but there is never any need for anyone
to bring them to you and say: 'This is a Christian.' You
come into their presence and there is something about
them that is different. Then when you begin to talk you
know that you have met one of your own race. Their
outward features may be those of the Chinese, Indian,
British, or anything else, but there are spiritual
features which mark them out as different from all
others: "They took knowledge of them,
that they had been with Jesus" (Acts 4:13).
a truth, but we must very sacredly safeguard that truth.
There are far too many who bear the name of Christ who
cannot be distinguished from the world.
our point is this: Whatever the expressed thought of God
was, in any one of a thousand ways, if Israel lost that
thought, it is taken up in Jesus Christ and is
transferred by Him to His companions. The companions of
Christ always take some of His character. That is why
someone started the name 'Christian': "The disciples
were called Christians first in Antioch" (Acts
11:26). Someone said: 'These are Christ ones.'
a very large truth within which we are speaking in these
chapters. Israel was called to be God's instrument of
light to the world. He raised them up to be for Him light
to all the nations. They were all intended to come to
know God through Israel, to see what He was like and to
come into a knowledge of Him. Israel was set in the
nations to be the light of the world. God intended to
reflect Himself on this earth through Israel. It was
intended that the light of God should fall upon Israel
like a mirror and then be reflected from them to shine
forth to all the nations. There were times when it was
like that to some extent - but what a tragedy Israel
became in that particular! The time came when God was
veiled by Israel rather than revealed. Israel became a
terrible contradiction of God. When you pick up these
Gospels and read all these arguments between Jesus and
the leaders of Israel, and all that is in them as to the
Jewish rulers, the way they behaved, the way they talked
and the spirit that they showed, you say: 'Well, if that
were God, I would want to have nothing to do with Him.'
That is a terrible misrepresentation of God! And because
of that God put Israel aside, but in this particular
respect He did not put His thought aside.
time, when Israel was about to be rejected, God's Son
came into the world, and He took up the thought of God
that was intended to be realized in Israel and He said,
right in the midst of this dark and blind people, "I
am the light of the world". 'Israel has
failed. I take the place of Israel, and in Me and through
Me shall all the world know what God is like.' "While
I am in the world I am the light of the world: he
that followeth me shall not walk in the darkness, but
shall have the light of life." God always
intended that the races of this world should have the
light of life, life-giving light, liberating light.
therefore the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free
indeed." How does the Son make us free? "Ye
shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you
free" ... "I am the light of the
world", and the effect of the light is to set
remember the commission given by the Lord to the Apostle
Paul at the time of his conversion? It is most
illuminating and instructive in the light of what we are
saying. The Lord said to Paul: "Unto whom I send
thee, to open their eyes, that they may turn from
darkness to light, and from the power of Satan
unto God" (Acts 26:17, 18). He was to
be sent to those who were prisoners of Satan and
therefore in the dark, to turn them from darkness to
light and from the power of Satan unto God. Every member
of the human race is by nature in the devil's prison.
remember that in Bunyan's Holy War there is set
forth the battle for man's Soul, and all the forces of
Apollyon are attacking to capture man's Soul, which is
represented as a city. Apollyon calls his leaders
together and says: 'If we are going to capture Mansoul we
must first of all capture the burgomaster. His name is
Mr. Understanding. We must capture him and put him in a
dark dungeon so that he does not see what is happening.'
There is a stroke of genius in that! The Word says: "Having
the understanding darkened" (Ephesians 4:18
A.V.) "The god of this world hath blinded the
minds of the unbelieving that the light of the gospel of
the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should not
dawn upon them" (II Corinthians 4:4). If light
comes from Jesus to any soul, that soul is liberated, and
the whole strategy of Apollyon is upset.
important it is to the god of this age to blind the minds
of men and to put Mr. Understanding in a dark dungeon,
thus making sure that he does not see what is going on!
is the state of every child of Adam after the flesh. The
Lord was saying to Israel: 'That is where you have got
to. You, who were intended to be the light of the world,
are now involved in the very darkness of the world. You
are a contradiction of God's thought and intention.'
quite clear and evident, is it not? However, it is the
negative side. We repeat: what Israel failed to realize
is taken up in the person of God's Son and is transferred
to the new, collective Israel, called in the Hebrew
Letter 'the companions of Christ'.
see what the companions of Christ are supposed to be
like? They are supposed to be the very vessels in which
this truth is fulfilled. They are supposed to be
the very temples of Christ, and in them He is the light: "Christ
in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27).
would lead us to a very large study. You know that the
New Testament has a very great deal to say about
spiritual understanding, and the tremendous importance of
spiritual knowledge. It puts a very high and great value
upon this faculty of spiritual sight. You will remember
that it says: "It is God that said, Light shall
shine out of darkness, who shined in
our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the
glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have
this treasure in earthen vessels, that the exceeding
greatness of the power may be of God, and not from
ourselves" (II Corinthians 4:6,7). Do you
notice what surrounds that marvelous statement? It is
connected with Moses going up into the mountain where God
was, receiving the law at the mouth of God, and then
coming down the mountain, not knowing that his face was
shining. It says: "Moses wist not that the skin
of his face shone" (Exodus 35:29), but the
people saw it and could not look. The light was too
strong and they could not look upon the face of Moses, so
Moses took a veil and put it over his face and hid
the glory of God behind the veil. 'Now', says the
Apostle, bringing this right up to date 'from that time
unto now there is a veil upon the heart of Israel.
They are incapable of looking upon the glory of
God... "But whensoever it shall turn to
the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the
Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord
is, there is liberty" (II Corinthians 3:16,17).'
When the Holy Spirit shines Christ in, there is
liberty. The life is liberated.
is wonderful just to see something of the Lord by the
have said is the statement of fact, and when the facts
have been stated we are only at the beginning of the
matter. You will never be liberated by a statement of
fact! We may state facts for years, but they will make no
difference. Something has got to happen. It has to begin
to happen if you are not already born again, but what has
to happen at the beginning of your Christian life is what
happened to this man who was born blind: you have to be
able to say exactly the same words that he used: "One
thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see."
'There are a lot of things that I do not know, but
one thing I do know.' That is the characteristic of the
beginning of a true companion of Jesus Christ.
is only the beginning of seeing. The Apostle Paul had
given a tremendous amount of teaching to the believers in
Ephesus. He said to them: "I shrank not
from declaring unto you the whole counsel of God" (Acts
20:27). He spent some years with them and just poured out
to them the light that he had. They were therefore
Christians who had a lot of instruction. After that Paul
went to prison and when there he wrote a letter to them,
in which he said: "Making mention of you in my
prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the
Father of glory, may give unto you a spirit of wisdom and
revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of
your heart enlightened" (Ephesians 1:16-18).
That was not for their salvation. They had been saved a
long time and had been taught very much. They had gone a
long way with the Lord - but Paul still prayed this
prayer. In effect he was saying: 'All that you have
received and all that I have given you is nothing to what
there is yet to see in the Lord Jesus. And for all that
you need to have your eyes opened. You need the spirit of
wisdom and revelation.' How important this is!
notice how Paul finished that Letter? "Our
wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the
principalities, against the powers, against the
world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual
hosts of wickedness" (Ephesians 6:12). What is
it that these are seeking to do? They are trying to rob
you of the light. Paul says there: "Put on the
whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against
the wiles of the devil" (Ephesians 6:11). The
WILES of the devil are, among other things, to
stop you getting more light, to rob you of the light that
you have, to bring in something that will blind your
eyes, and to get them off the Lord Jesus on to something
else, perhaps on to yourself, or on to some worldly
interest. As soon as that happens you will go into
bondage and will be helpless prisoners again. The evil
forces are "the world-rulers of THIS DARKNESS"
matter of spiritual enlightenment is a great battle.
Indeed, there is always a battle bound up with receiving
more true spiritual light.
leave it there for the present, though we have come only
to the threshold of a very great matter. We close by
repeating what we have already said: This great thought
of God is taken up in Christ and transferred to His
have said something about Christ's battle with His own
companions in the days of His flesh about this matter.
He had chosen twelve, the number of the tribes of Israel.
He had made them His companions, but, oh, what difficulty
He had in making them understand! He had sometimes to
say: 'Do you not yet understand?' and He had to put His
teaching into parables for little children, to try to get
through their dark minds some understanding of spiritual
truth. "The sower went forth to sow"
- you know the picture. But it is a picture for little
children, is it not? And He told them all the other
parables. When He had finished them all, He had to tell
the disciples that it was necessary to speak to them like
that because they had no understanding. All the way
through He was battling with their dark minds, and was
pointing on to a day when they would understand. However,
because He knew that day was coming, He did not give them
up. 'In that day ye shall ask Me no more questions... "When
he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he shall guide you
into all the truth" (John 16:13).'
often thought that the Lord Jesus must have been very
happy on the Day of Pentecost! Have you read Peter's
address to the multitude on that day? (Here is a nice
little bit of Bible study for you - make a list of all
the subjects included in that address.) It is packed full
of the Old Testament, and Peter is saying: 'Why, it is
all being fulfilled in Jesus Christ!' That is what Jesus
laboured for three and a half years to get them to
understand! And on the Day of Pentecost, when the Holy
Spirit had come, why, the Bible was wide open to them.
They saw it all and were set free by the truth and the
light. I think Jesus must have been saying: 'This is what
I lived and suffered for! These men are seeing at last.
They are My companions now.'
companions of Jesus are those who see as He sees. How
true that is of all companionship! There is really no
companionship between two people if they do not see
alike. You might want to keep together, but, oh! how
difficult it is when one does not see what you see. You
can go so far and no further. The Scriptures say: "Can
two walk together, except they be agreed?" (Amos
3:3). Real companionship rests upon mutual understanding,
and I think there are few things that Jesus wants and
longs for more than to have people who understand Him.
This is what God ever wanted, and this thought is taken
up in His Son and is passed on to the Son's companions.
John says: "If we walk in the light, as
he is in the light, we have fellowship one with
another" (I John 1:7). Fellowship with the Lord
and with one another - if we walk in the light. I dare to
say that you have received, at least in word, a good deal
of light. All I can say is: Walk in it, and you will be