Saturday, August 13, 2016

13 August 2016
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 (NRSV)
“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.” John 15:7-9 (NRSV)
“I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do.” John 17:4 (NRSV)

            Good Saturday morning. We’ve come to the end of another week already! This week was a busy one for my wife and me; helping our grandson transfer to a new school and practice his driving (he passed his test yesterday). Hopefully now things will settle down some; I might even get these blogs out in the morning again.
            Anyway, today we come to the end of the salt and light passage and the primary reason we do what we do as believers-to give glory to our Father in heaven. Glorifying God, as I understand it, simply means revealing Him for who He is; revealing and acknowledging the essence of His nature. This is what Jesus did; everything up to this point and everything that follows has glorifying God as the primary goal.
            John 9:1-34 tells an amusing story that illustrates the glory of God on several levels. Jesus and His disciples are walking along on a Sabbath day when they encounter a blind man. The disciples believe his blindness is the result of some sin; Jesus tells them it is so God’s work may be revealed in him. He reminds the disciples He is the light of the world and God’s work must be done while it is still day. Jesus makes mud with His saliva and heals the blind man.

The man is brought before the Pharisees who question him and his family extensively. At one point they say “give glory to God”-a solemn declaration, something like ‘swear to God you are telling the truth’. The man proceeds to do precisely that-give glory to God, which the Pharisees refuse to accept, by recounting the story. The passage ends with the Pharisee’s’ outrage at being lectured by a “man born entirely in sins”.  
            Looking at the story in terms of God’s glory-His nature and character-the first thing we see is His total sovereignty. God alone is worthy of glory because God alone is sovereign. The man was born blind for reasons that, to that point, were known only to God. Difficult to accept for us, perhaps (the Pharisees had some trouble with it too) but true none the less. God’s glory begins with God’s sovereignty. Next we see Jesus, as the light of the world, working ‘the works of Him who sent me’. This is important. Jesus is not off on His own doing what He thinks God wants, or what God should want, or what He (Jesus) would want if He were God (ironic, since He is). He is doing the Father’s works-Father and Son, separate persons, in perfect unity. John develops this theme later on in His Gospel.
            This story is a word picture illustrating Jesus as light of the world. A man is born blind, living in total darkness, given sight by God to demonstrate His power; then and now. There is suffering involved, and there is healing. This is how we glorify God-doing His works as He reveals them to us. This was the purpose of Jesus’ miracles, and Peter’s and John’s and Paul’s and anyone else’s’ we read about. In a very real sense the power of a transformed life is, today, a greater miracle-a greater work, if you will. Our actions, our character-formed by Christ within us, demonstrating humility, meekness, mercy, purity of heart-glorify God at least three ways. One, by showing what He is like. Two, by showing what He means for us to be like. Three, by demonstrating His power to change lives, a miracle in itself.  Finally, as we have already seen, the blind man was not well-received. We’ve talked about that; we know its coming.
            This story in John is one of my favorites, told from the point of view if one who has spent a lifetime in close relationship with our Lord and who, as a result, has a pretty firm grasp of the true nature of things. Filled with humor and irony, it lends itself well to meditation. Insert yourself into the story; one time as a disciple; one time as the blind man; even one time as the Pharisee. It helps us understand the most important point of all-we glorify God because He alone is worthy to be glorified. And, as I have said before and probably will say again till you’re tire of reading it, we glorify God when we allow His nature to be formed in us.

May the Lord bless you and keep you this day and this weekend. Don’t forget to join your sisters and brothers in worship tomorrow, if you are able. JRG

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