|Series Theme: Jesus Christ, the Son of God|
|Meditation No. 4|
|Meditation Title: It Can't Be!|
Jn 9:25 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.”
Before we get down to looking at the verses about Jesus' divinity and their implications, we really do need to check out one more particular problem or way of thinking that some people fall into without realising it. It is put most simply as, “If I've never experienced it, it can't happen.” Put another way, it is refusal to believe out of ignorance: “I've never heard of this before, I've never seen it or experienced it, so it can't be.”
Now it only takes a little bit of thinking to realise that this is a very short-sighted way of viewing things. For instance, we switch on a light switch and suddenly the dark is dispelled. When out walking we check our compass against the map and orientate ourselves according to north. High jumpers know that their biggest obstacle is gravity. Now each of these experiences relies on something that can't be seen but which we accept quite happily. We accept what we cannot see because of the outworking that we can see. When it comes to history none of us disputes the Battle of Hastings in 1066 or the American Civil War or French Revolution – because we have documents that record them. Many of us will accept the idea of strange experiences brought on by psychedelic drugs without having taken them. We accept the word of others.
When it comes to spiritual matters we seem to require different standards. We can't ‘see' God because He is Spirit, but anyone wanting to follow what the Bible teaches about coming to Him, finds the outworking is real. Furthermore the documentation for the New Testament is far greater than any other ancient literature which scholars accept. Likewise may of us may be able to testify to genuine healings or other experiences that flow out of prayer or experiencing God.
During the so-called ‘Toronto Blessing' in the latter part of the twentieth century, a friend and I prayed over a young man in his early twenties for about half an hour. Throughout that time he vibrated and shook in a way that was impossible to manufacture. We just carried on praying and he carried on vibrating because we really didn't know what to do. What I didn't know was that this young man was seeing a specialist who had diagnosed serious stomach ulcers. He happened to have an appointment with the specialist a few days after we prayed for him (and we hadn't prayed for healing!!!) and the specialist couldn't believe what he found. Not only had the ulcers gone but there was also no sign of scarring. During that time, God turned up and did many miraculous things that were beyond us. Thousands around the globe could testify similarly.
So what is it in the sceptic that says, “I can't believe that”? Tell it to the young man who was healed and the many others who experienced the incredible power of God during that period of time at the end of last century. It is the same scepticism that the religious people of Jesus' day showed. In John chapter 9, we find the account of Jesus healing a man blind from birth. After Jesus had left, there arose a great dispute among the neighbours and others who had known this man, and eventually they took him to the Pharisees, a group of religious conservatives who were concerned to uphold the good name of religion. They felt particularly threatened by Jesus who showed up their spiritual lifelessness and so did all they could to demean him and challenge what he did. When the man who had been blind was brought before them, they berated him for what he said about Jesus. We know Jesus is a sinner, they said, tell us the truth. We know this is a scam (implied). It is then that we come to these beautifully simple words from the man: “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don't know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see.”
I love that! It's the same thing that upsets atheists and sceptics alike, when a Christian says, “Well, I'm sorry you may be cleverer than me, but all I know is that I tried everything else when my life was in a mess and nothing worked. I heard about God's love through Jesus and I asked him to come into my life, forgive me and set me free and guide me, and all I know is that my life has been transformed, and now it is wonderful.” Truly sickening – if you are a sceptic! You can deny it, challenge it, deride it, and make lots of other suggestions about it, but at the end of the day you have a person whose life has been transformed for good when nothing else would do it!
I know we've said it before in these introductions but it bears repeating. Very often unbelief isn't because of the lack of evidence; it is because of our misguided presuppositions, or our refusal to believe because it contradicts all we have held dear, or it challenges our pride that refuses any challengers, or maybe, it is even our insecurity that fears a ‘god' we have been frightened by in our childhood when others have badly misrepresented Him. For this whole variety of reasons, people are scared to consider the evidence or consider it through a defence grid that had decided beforehand what is true. In each of these ways we shy away from the truth.
Let me put a possibility before you. Suppose, and I only say suppose, suppose that there is a God who is all-powerful, all knowing, all-wise and totally loving and good. Suppose He came to earth in a limited human form in the land of Palestine two thousand years ago and taught people about God's love and demonstrated it by healing all who came to him. Suppose he was put to death for being so good, and suppose he came back from the dead. Suppose he offers a new life of goodness to all who will come to him, a life guided and directed by God, a life of receiving the love and goodness of God, a life that leads after death into an eternal life that is more wonderful than anything we can imagine. Suppose all these things are true (and the Bible says they are), wouldn't it be worth taking the time and making the effort, to check it out and see that they are true? That's what this series of studies or meditations is all about, so come with us in the days ahead as we read and think and reflect.