Our Warning From the Pharisees’ Failure
The Lord Jesus said, “For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind” (John 9:39). “If you were blind, you should have no sin: but now you say, We see; therefore your sin remains” (John 9:41).
Whenever I used to read these two verses during my spiritual devotions, I would always feel confused, and would think: “The Lord Jesus said, ‘that they which see not might see,’ and He said that blind people are without sin, whereas those who can see are actually blind and that they are blind sinners. What do these words spoken by the Lord Jesus really mean? And what warning do they serve to we who believe in the Lord?” I pondered these questions for a long time, but I still couldn’t gain any clarity.
A random opportunity presented itself when I came across Brother Lin who worked and preached abroad all the year round and, through fellowshiping with him, the confusion I felt in my heart was at last dispelled.
Brother Lin gave fellowship, saying, “If we wish to understand the true meaning of these words spoken by the Lord Jesus, then we must start with the Lord Jesus’ healing of the blind man. It is recorded in the Gospel of John chapter 9 that, one day, the Lord Jesus was leading His disciples out from the temple when they came across a man who had been blind since birth. So as to manifest the action of God upon this blind man, the Lord Jesus healed his eyes and enabled him to recover his sight. Afterward, the blind man was taken to the Pharisees and he gave a truthful account to them about how the Lord Jesus had healed his eyes. The Pharisees, however, did not believe that the Lord Jesus could have healed the blind man, for they believed the Lord Jesus to be a sinner for not keeping the Sabbath, and that sinners could not possibly perform miracles. The Pharisees then summoned the blind man’s mother and father who verified that he had been blind since birth and that he had now been healed by the Lord Jesus. The Pharisees, however, still stubbornly clung to their own ideas and denied that the Lord Jesus was of God. And so, they asked the blind man once again, and he said to them, ‘Why herein is a marvelous thing, that you know not from where He is, and yet He has opened my eyes. Now we know that God hears not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and does His will, him He hears. Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind. If this man were not of God, He could do nothing’ (John 9:30–33). Even though the Pharisees had heard what the blind man said, they not only had no desire to seek the truth of the matter, but they also cast the blind man out of the temple. Once the Lord Jesus heard what had happened, He met the blind man again and asked him, ‘Do you believe on the Son of God?’ (John 9:35). And the blind man said, ‘Who is He, Lord, that I might believe on Him?’ (John 9:36). The Lord Jesus said to him, ‘You have both seen Him, and it is He that talks with you’ (John 9:37). Once the blind man had heard the Lord Jesus say this, he became convinced that the Lord Jesus was of God and that He was Christ, and he knelt to worship Him. This was the context for the Lord Jesus to say, ‘For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind’ (John 9:39), and He said to the Pharisees who stood nearby, ‘If you were blind, you should have no sin: but now you say, We see; therefore your sin remains’ (John 9:41).
“From the attitudes of the blind man and the Pharisees toward the Lord Jesus, we can see that when the Lord Jesus said, ‘that they which see not might see,’ He was referring to people like the blind man. Although their physical eyes are blind, yet their spirits are pure and honest, and they yearn for the light, and love the truth. They do not cling to their own notions and imaginings, they are able to seek with an open heart, and therefore they obtain the enlightenment and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Their spiritual eyes are opened by God, they recognize God’s voice from His words and work, and they keep pace with God’s footsteps. When the Lord Jesus said, ‘that they which see might be made blind’ and ‘but now you say, We see; therefore your sin remains,’ He was referring to people like the Pharisees. Though their eyes may not have been blind, yet their nature was arrogant and conceited, they clung to their own ideas, and they had not the slightest bit of a God-fearing heart. When the Lord Jesus came to perform new work, they clung stubbornly to their own notions and imaginings, and had no desire whatsoever to seek the truth or investigate the true way. Their spiritual eyes were therefore blind, and these are exactly the kind of people whom God detests, rejects and condemns.”
When I heard Brother Lin say this, everything suddenly became clear to me. So when the Lord Jesus said, “that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind,” He did not mean the physical kind of eyes, which we can see, but rather He was referring to whether or not our spiritual eyes have been opened, and whether or not we are able to recognize God’s voice and accept God’s new work. By healing the blind man’s eyes, the Lord Jesus was not only manifesting the action of God, but He was also exposing the difference between two types of people—those who sincerely seek the truth and those who are arrogant and conceited. Truly, the Lord is so wise and so omnipotent!
Then, Brother Lin continued, saying, “Yes, God is so wondrous, and His work reveals all the different types of people. Those who sincerely believe in God and who seek the truth with an open, God-fearing heart and who do not cling to their own notions and imaginings to arbitrarily judge the Lord Jesus’ words and work, only this kind of people is able to keep pace with God’s footsteps. For example, at first, the blind man only acknowledged that the Lord Jesus was a prophet and that He was of God. It was only afterward, through the words which the Lord Jesus spoke, that the blind man recognized that He was Christ. Then there was Peter. When Peter’s younger brother Andrew said he had seen the Messiah and that he wanted to take Peter to see the Lord Jesus, Peter longed to see Him and so they went together. Afterward, Peter began to follow the Lord Jesus, and from the Lord Jesus’ words and work, he recognized that Jesus was indeed Christ. Then there was the Samaritan woman and Nathanael. At first, they had no idea who the Lord Jesus was, but after conversing with Him, they also came to recognize that the Lord Jesus was the Messiah, and that He was Christ. We can see from these facts that when God appears and performs His work, all those who are able to relinquish their notions and imaginings and seek the truth with an open heart are the ones who have both heart and spirit. Through investigating God’s words and work, they are able to recognize the voice of God, welcome the manifestation of God and receive His salvation.
“On the other hand, those who refuse to seek or accept God’s new work, though they may be able to see with their physical eyes, their spiritual eyes are blind, and ultimately they will only be detested, rejected and eliminated by God for judging and pushing Him away. Take the Pharisees, for example, who had an arrogant nature. When the Lord Jesus appeared and performed His work, the Pharisees believed themselves to be well-versed in the Bible, that they had given things up for God and taken pains for Him, and that they were thus the ones who knew God best and who were after God’s heart. When they heard the Lord Jesus’ sermons with their own ears and saw the Lord Jesus perform many miracles with their own eyes, and they saw that the Lord Jesus possessed both power and authority, and that He was of God, they still did not seek or investigate His way. Instead, they continued to cling stubbornly to the letter of the Scripture, and they believed that however sublime or practical the Lord Jesus’ sermons might be, He could not possibly be Christ if He was not called ‘Messiah.’ They therefore rejected and condemned the Lord Jesus, so much so that they did everything they could to find fault with Him, they made up lies about Him, laid false charges against Him and blasphemed against Him. Finally, they colluded with the Roman authorities to crucify the Lord Jesus upon the cross. The actions and behavior of the Pharisees precisely fulfilled the Lord Jesus’ words when He said, ‘That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand’ (Mark 4:12).
“The Pharisees brought themselves to ruin by their own notions, imaginings, and their arrogant and conceited nature. Moreover, they not only resisted and condemned the Lord Jesus themselves, but they frantically obstructed the Jewish faithful from accepting the Lord Jesus’ work, and so many who were timid, fearful and weak-willed were deceived and coerced into not daring to investigate the true way. Instead, they went along with the Pharisees in their resistance to God and they crucified the Lord Jesus upon the cross, thus committing a heinous sin and provoking God’s disposition into wrath. In the end, they were punished by God, and the nation of Israel was subjugated for almost two thousand years. Just as the Lord Jesus said, ‘Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch’ (Matthew 15:14). Compared to the blind, although the Pharisees and those among the Jewish faithful who resisted the Lord Jesus could see with their eyes, yet their spiritual eyes were blind. They did not know the Lord Jesus incarnate, and this was much more pitiful, tragic and terrifying than being blind!
“By comparing a blind man who yearned to seek the truth and who was able to understand God’s voice with the Pharisees who thought themselves experts on the Bible and yet were arrogant and conceited and clung to their own ideas, it becomes easy for us to understand why the Lord Jesus said that those who think themselves able to see are yet blind and are sinners. We can see from this that all those who believe their own behavior to be in keeping with God’s will but who do not seek the truth, who believe themselves to be the ones who have the best understanding of the Bible and who know God the best but who do not seek God’s work, are the adherents of ignorance and arrogance. People like this stubbornly cling to their own notions and imaginings. If they do not reflect on themselves, seek the truth with an open heart, and take heed to the work of the Holy Spirit and the utterances of God, then they will forever be spiritually blind, they will never obtain the enlightenment and guidance of God or keep pace with God’s footsteps, and they will live eternally under the influence of Satan, bound and controlled by sin.”
As I listened to Brother Lin’s fellowship, I felt joy welling up in my heart. Finally, I understood the true meaning behind these words spoken by the Lord Jesus. Actually, the blindness to which the Lord Jesus refers is not physical blindness, but is rather a numbness and dullness of the spirit, it is arrogance and conceitedness, and He is referring to people who are unable to know God or accept His salvation through His words and work. The different behaviors displayed by the blind man and the Pharisees as recorded in the Bible led them to different ends, and in this the righteousness of God is revealed. Then, I thought of the prophecy made by the Lord Jesus that He would return in the last days, and I realized that the spiritual blindness of the Pharisees is also a warning to us!
Once I had told Brother Lin about these thoughts I had, he said with much emotion, “Yes, as we all know, we are now in the last days and the prophecies concerning the Lord’s return have basically all now been fulfilled. Many brothers and sisters who sincerely believe in the Lord feel a premonition that the Lord Jesus has returned already, but they don’t know where He may have appeared to perform His work. The Lord Jesus prophesied: ‘I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come’ (John 16:12–13). ‘He that rejects Me, and receives not My words, has one that judges him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day’ (John 12:48). ‘And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth’ (John 17:19).
“From the Lord’s words, we can see that when He returns in the last days, He has yet more words to say, He will perform the work of judging and purifying man, and He will save us from the bonds of sin. If we believe, as the Pharisees did, that we are well-versed in the Bible, if we cling to our own notions and imaginings and we delimit the Lord by saying that when He returns He should work in this way or He should work in that way, and we do not seek or investigate God’s utterances in the last days and we do not accept God’s work of judgment in the last days, then we will miss our chance to welcome the Lord, and we will lose God’s salvation in the last days. If we behave like the Jewish faithful did and, when we hear someone preaching the news of the Lord’s return, we want to seek and investigate it but allow ourselves to be governed by other people, and we blindly follow what other people say, if we do not seek God’s will and we cannot obtain the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, then in the end we also will be eliminated by God’s work in the last days. Therefore, only by seeking with a pure heart—as the disciples of the Lord Jesus and others who followed Him did—and by carefully listening to the voice of God within His words and work will we be able to welcome the Lord’s return, keep pace with the footsteps of the Lamb and receive God’s salvation of the last days.”
After listening to Brother Lin’s fellowship, I nodded and said, “Thank the Lord. After a fellowship like this, my heart is now so much more filled with light! It appears that, when it comes to welcoming the Lord’s return in the last days, we absolutely must not be arrogant and conceited as the Pharisees were, clinging to our own notions and imaginings and refusing to investigate or accept God’s work. Instead, we should seek the truth with an open heart and take heed to listen to God’s voice within His words and work. When God sees that we are harboring a positive attitude toward His work in the last days, He will surely lead us to recognize His words and work and guide us to keep pace with His footsteps!”
“Thank the Lord!”