Chapter # 4 Paragraph # 2 Study # 6
Thesis: No one ever has sight restored without being able afterwards to "see" the real issues of life.
Introduction: In our study last week I spent a large portion of our time explaining a sheet of paper that I had handed out that revealed the differences in Luke's record and the Old Testament sources of Jesus' reading in the synagogue in Nazareth. In that explanation, I made a rather significant "blunder" in that I overlooked one of the major alterations of the text. Anyone who has a KJV of the Bible could have seen my error immediately because the Authorized Version has more of the Isaiah 61:1 text than Luke recorded. Luke omitted the phrase "to bind up the brokenhearted". In the transmission of Luke's text, several scribes apparently considered their copy of the text to be in error because it omitted that phrase, so they altered the text when they made their copies by inserting Isaiah's words -- "to bind up the brokenhearted". But, they did not do Luke's readers any favors when they did that because their actions clouded Luke's major point -- established by his chiastic structure. I do not intend, this morning, to argue with those who refuse to look at the evidence in favor of a knee-jerk "King James only" position, but I do intend to look at what Luke really wrote and deal with the issues that his deliberate structure raises. The major issue in Luke's record of the ministry of Jesus is the issue of the "recovery of sight for the blind". John concurs in that he opens his Gospel with the declaration that the incarnation made it possible for men to "see His glory". The implications of this as the issue are far-reaching and we want to see if we can at least begin to "see" what those implications might be.
September 3, 2006
- I. The "Problem" of Blindness.
- A. At the "mechanical" level, the problem of blindness is a malfunction in the eyes, or in the linkage between the eyes and the part of the brain that deals with visual input.
- 1. There are multiple possibilities involved in the "mechanics".
- 2. There is one final "result": the person cannot "see".
- B. At the "capability" level, the problem of blindness is an inability to have access to certain facts which make understanding either more difficult or impossible.
- 1. At the "understanding" level, however, there are multiple "compensators" which make a high degree of capability possible if one is willing to be rigorous enough to apply them to the problem of not being able to see.
- a. However, no matter how highly developed a person may become in the use of "compensators", there are some things that the "blind" can never do...the eyes are not easily dismissed as an insignificant provision.
- b. And, no matter how well "compensators" can be developed, none of them is worth any thing if the blind person will not apply the necessary level of rigorous effort to actually develop them.
- 2. Sight is, therefore, a tremendous provision for "ease of understanding".
- a. This is the reason that "I see" means "I understand" probably as often as it means "my eyes behold" something.
- b. This may well be the reason that Luke determined to make the ministry of Jesus the outworking of God's provision for human understanding of what Life is all about.
- C. At the biblical level, blindness is presented as a cause of extreme danger.
- 1. One's temporal experience is presented as "pitiable" by the biblical authors.
- a. There is no significance to a promise of "sight" if "sight" is a minimal issue.
- b. Throughout the Bible, "blindness" is "seen" as a huge handicap [this is acknowledged even by the most productive of the blind as Fanny Crosby's "I shall see my Savior first of all"].
- c. The "classic" biblical example of "blindness" is the reduction of Samson's enormous strength to minimal concern by his enemies by blindness.
- 2. But Jesus elevated the problem of blindness to the position of primary concern when He attached one's eternal destiny to the issue of whether one could "see" (John 9:41).
- II. The Deliberate Removal of "Blindness" From the Material Realm.
- A. One of the issues in the understanding of the Word of God is a "blindness".
- 1. There are those who, recognizing that words often have significance far beyond the material world, have dismissed the material meaning of biblical words.
- a. This shows up predominantly in debates about eschatology -- "future events".
- b. This is a "blindness" -- words have their meaning set in concrete realities that are, then, used to move us into non-concrete realities, but not at the expense of the concrete.
- 2. There are those who, recognizing the error of "spiritualizing" the meaning of words, refuse to allow the material realm to move them to understanding.
- a. This shows up predominantly in the theology of justification before God.
- 1) Those who think that "water baptism" is an actual means of justification.
- 2) Those who think that the body and blood of Jesus is actually present in the elements of the Lord's Table.
- b. This is a "blindness" -- the material realm cannot be the actual realm of effectiveness.
- B. Jesus removed the most potent issues out of the material realm of blindness.
- 1. In our text, He deliberately moved Isaiah's prophecy about making the blind to see into the synagogue and its theological blindness.
- 2. In our text, He deliberately made blindness the cause of bondage and bruising.
- a. At the top of the inner chiasm is the "problem" of being a "prisoner of the spear".
- 1) This is, again, not a physical reality of bondage but it requires that reality to make it possible for us to "understand".
- 2) This is a major problem because it takes away one's freedom to act legitimately...one who is a prisoner is compelled to fulfill the agenda of the "master".
- 3) The problematic issue here is that there are many "masters" who are in rebellion against the Ultimate Master and all who are involved in rebellion suffer from it.
- b. At the bottom of the inner chiasm is the "problem" of being "bruised".
- 1) This is a major problem because it signals the imposition of a high level of pain.
- 2) Pain was designed by God to direct one's path, but it was never intended to be a "master" to direct one's path into ungodliness.
- 3) But, in bondage, bruising is designed to force compliance regardless of moral considerations.
- c. The implication is that both bondage and bruising are related to blindness.
- 1) If one can see clearly, one can escape bondage and bruising.
- 2) It is only when one is blind that he is taken captive and bruised.
- 3. In our text, He uses the physical realities of prisoners and beatings to highlight the "salvation" He came to provide.
- a. No one is a "prisoner of the spear" who is not first a "prisoner of fear".
- b. No one is "bruised" who is not first a "prisoner".
- c. Since "fear" is the issue, the issue is no longer the material situation.
- d. And since the material situation is not the issue, the spiritual situation is the issue.
- e. The salvation which Jesus came to provide begins in the heart and works its way out to the body...circumcision of the heart precedes resurrection of the body.
- C. Jesus deliberately made one's attitude toward Him the issue of "sight".
- 1. His claim was that the Spirit of God had identified Him as the Instrument of Salvation.
- a. He would be the One Who caused the blind to see.
- b. He would both do the work necessary for salvation and enable men to "see" that work in its truth so that they could be saved.
- 2. His claim was that He had been "annointed" to announce the Gospel as it related to His works.