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Lesson 8: The Good Shepherd *

Introduction: Have you ever been frustrated because you could clearly see something and others could not? John chapters 7-8 show us the frustration experienced by Jesus. Jesus faced, even from His own family, doubts about His divinity. Hostile spiritual leaders directly challenged Jesus' claim to be the Messiah. They all seemed to be unable to see the truth. We continue our study of John by picking up the story of a man who could not see anything other than the truth. Let's jump into our study of John!

  1. The Blind Man

    1. Read John 9:1-2. What is wrong with this question? (It assumes that someone sinned. The question is "who was it who sinned," rather than "did anyone sin?")

      1. Is it fair to assume that sin causes sickness?

      2. Review John 5:14. Recall our study of the fellow at the pool of Bethesda who was healed. Why did Jesus say to him "stop sinning" after healing him?

      3. If this fellow in John 9 was blind from birth, why would the disciples assume he could be responsible for sin? (The New Bible Commentary says that some rabbis taught it was possible to sin before birth.)

    2. Read John 9:3. What does Jesus say about sin causing sickness? (He clearly says that sickness is not necessarily created by specific sins. Of course, all physical problems (including the ultimate physical problem, death) are caused by the sins of Adam and Eve. See, Romans 5:12-14.)

      1. What explanation does Jesus give for this fellow being blind from birth? (He was blind from birth so that God's glory might be displayed.)

        1. Think about this a minute. Does this mean that terrible things can happen in your life just to teach others a spiritual lesson? Just to give God the opportunity to do some good work? (The Bible Exposition Commentary reminds us the original Greek had no punctuation. Therefore, this could be translated, "Neither has this man sinned nor his parents. But that the works of God should be made manifest in him, I must work the works of Him that sent Me, while it is day." While this comment may be correct, I believe that we need to accept that we are God's creation and we have no right to complain to Him about how we were created. See Romans 9:20-21. Can a car complain to General Motors that it lacks air conditioning? Our life is about God and not about us.)

      2. Jesus is about to heal this fellow. Does this show he is not a sinner? (John is teaching us about spiritual vision. The lesson seems to be that we cannot make judgments about the sins of another based on outward appearances.)

    3. Read John 9:4-5. What lesson do you find in this for your life?

      1. Are you "light" to others? Are you someone who helps those around you understand spiritual truths?

    4. Read John 9:6-7. Why did Jesus use mud and spit to heal? In Matthew 9:27-30 He just touched. In Mark 8:22-26 He used spit and touch. If you have a winning technique, why not go with it every time? (That is the point. There is no winning technique. It is the power of God that performs the healing, not a magic formula or winning technique.)

      1. If the technique is not important, if the technique obscures the spiritual lesson, then why did Jesus use any at all? (William Barclay's commentary on this text in John tells us that spit was commonly used to cure physical problems. By using the "medical" methods of the time, Barclay suggests that Jesus obtained the confidence of His patient. In this context consider Mark 6:13.)

      2. When was the blind man actually able to see? (It was not when the mud and spit were applied by Jesus. It was when he washed off the mud. He came home seeing. He did not go seeing.)

        1. Is this an important point? (Yes. The man exercised faith and obeyed. Only at that point was he healed.)

  2. The Debate

    1. Read John 9:8-10. Why didn't these people recognize the healed man? (Because his blindness was his defining characteristic for some who knew him. Without being blind, some of his neighbors did not recognize him.)

      1. What does that say about his neighbors? (They obviously did not know the blind man very well. They had a superficial knowledge of him based on what was wrong with him.)

        1. When you have a sick or disabled person in your church, is your focus on the disability or the sickness? Or, is your focus on who they are?

        2. How about church members in general? Do you tend to focus on what is wrong with them?

        3. Consider the parallels between the disciples initial reaction to this blind fellow and the way some of his neighbors viewed him.

    2. Read John 9:11-12. Notice when he was able to see. The neighbors had a new focus, what was it? (The miracle caused the neighbors' attention to move to Jesus.)

    3. Read John 9:13-16. On what were the Pharisees focused? (A great thing had been done in this man's life. His neighbors were now focused on who did it. The Pharisees were focused on whether the law had been broken. Only Jesus seems to be concerned about the man.)

      1. How are some of the Pharisees like some of the blind man's neighbors? (Some of the Pharisees immediately focused on what was wrong, not what was right with the miracle.)

    4. Read John 9:24-34. Let's concentrate on vv. 30-34. Who is blind? (John wants us to notice that the man who had been blind now clearly sees the situation. Whereas the "sighted" spiritual leaders are blind to the situation.)

      1. Consider the arguments made by both the blind man and the Pharisees. The blind man argues that the miracles show the divinity of Jesus. The Pharisees say whether Jesus sins and whether this blind man are a sinner are the most important factors upon which to base their decision. What do you think about the logic of each side?

        1. Read Revelation 13:11-14. Here John shows us that "miraculous signs" can deceive. Do the Pharisees have the right approach? They say, "Forget the signs, look at the underlying message."

          1. If you say, "yes," then what do you think John is trying to teach us by the story of the blind man?

    5. Read John 9:39-41. When I was a kid and danger approached, I just closed my eyes. Is this the lesson here? (John wants us to open our eyes to the character of Jesus. If we cannot see His character, and accept Him as Lord, then we cannot survive the judgment.)

  3. The Good Shepherd

    1. Read John 10:1-6. Based on this text and your imagination, list for me the dangers to the sheep? (Robbers, dangerous animals, wandering off and starving.)

      1. How long was the shepherd on call? What hours did the shepherd work? (The shepherd worked around the clock.)

      2. How dangerous was the shepherd's work?

    2. Read John 10:11-13. Why is it appropriate for Jesus to compare Himself to a good shepherd?

    3. Read John 10:4-5 & 14. What light does this shed on our previous discussion about trying to tell whether miracle workers are imposters or sent by God? (We recognize the voice of our master. If the world is your master, if television and the philosophy of the world is what you listen to, then what hope do you have of recognizing the voice of Jesus? On the other hand, if you take the time to study the Bible, if your goal is to walk with God, then you will recognize the voice of the Good Shepherd. Both Jesus and the end-time counterfeit perform miracles. The followers of Jesus will know His voice.)

    4. I have heard people say that they will be able to tell the difference between Jesus' Second Coming and the counterfeit described in Revelation 13 because Jesus' feet will not touch the ground when He comes again. Is that "rule," or anything like that a safe guide? (Picking one technical point is precisely the error demonstrated by the Pharisees. They said, "He broke the Sabbath, no need to look any further." Jesus teaches us that we will know His voice, we will know Him. That is a far cry from testing based on some obscure fact or theological conclusion.)

    5. Friend, Jesus invites you to open your eyes and learn of Him. Become His friend by studying the Bible and walking in His way. Learn God's view of things. Then when He comes you will know Him. Better, He will know you and take you to live with Him forever!

  4. Next Week: A Devoted Soul and an Impending Cross.
* Copr. 2004, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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