Sermon:  Courage in Conversion

Summary:  When you put your faith in Christ, there will be antagonistic challenges, 
sometimes by people close to you.  We need to courageous in the face of opposition to 
our true faith in Christ as Lord and Messiah.

Know:  We need to stand openly, courageously and exclusively on our faith in Christ.

Feel:  Courage in being up front with our faith

Do:  Reflect on your attitudes toward other belief systems that contradict your faith, and 
your reaction to them.  Identify what your actions in the face of challenges demonstrate as 
to the nature of your faith.  Using the blind man as a model, name ways your own faith could 
improve in courage and commitment in the face of an antagonistic world.

Text:  John 9

Scripture Reading:  John 3:17-21

1.  Test conducted by a university of students from elementary to High School
	a.  3 lines different length drawn on board
	b.  Students to raise hand when teacher point to longest line
	c.  9 students secretly instructed to raise hand at second longest
	d.  Usually the one stooge, when realize he only one with hand up, put 
	     hand down.  Happened 75% of the time
2.  No one likes to be a misfit, no one likes to be out of step…
3.  This story about a man who was the only one with his hand up, so to speak

I.  (v.1-2) - A Question Concerning Sin
	A.  The disciples wanted to know who was responsible for the blindness
		1.  Believed that blindness was a result of sin
		2.  God would visit the iniquity of the fathers to the third and 
			      fourth generation - Dt 5:9
		3.  Couldn't have been the man, was born blind
	B.  Jesus' response (v.3-5)
		1.  It looks like God caused the blindness
		2.  Does God cause innocent suffering so he can display his work?
	C.  Issue of Punctuation:
		1.  Original manuscripts did not have punctuation
		2.  Punctuation added much later
		3.  Look at what happens when you take this into account:
			a. After, "nor his parents," could put a period
			b. "In order that" could modify the next sentence rather than 
			      the previous one.
			c. Therefore, it is:  "Neither this man sinned, nor his parents.  
			     But, in order that the works of God might be displayed in him, 
			     we must work the works of Him who sent me…"
	D.  Jesus rejects the notion that the sickness was a direct result of his or 
	      his father's sin
		1.  Sin does not always result in sickness
		2.  Many often prosper as a result of their sin (temporarily)
		3.  This stands in harmony with the book of Job and the Psalmist

II.  Jesus work:  To be the Light of the World
	A.  Setting:  Still during Feast of Tabernacles
		1.  Setting begins in chapter 7:1, concludes in 10:21
		2.  The issue in this section is the identity of Christ and acceptance 
		      of him and his claims
	B.  Significant ceremonies during tabernacles
		1.  Water ceremony in chapter seven
			a.  Background from Zech 14:8
				-  Speaks of God's coming to fight for his people 
				-  God would bring salvation…
				- "In that day living waters will flow from Jerusalem"
			b.  Priest bring pitcher of water to Siloam to the Temple
				- People follow with a fruit in one hand (remember 
				   fruit in land of promise)
				- Tree branches in the other - (remember their journey 
				   in wilderness)
			c.  Priest walks up to altar and pour water on it
			d.  Recite Is 12:3 - "Therefore you will joyously draw water 
			     from the springs of salvation."
		2.  There was also a Light Ceremony
			a.  Four stands with 4 giant bowls of oil with giant wicks
				- These 16 giant lamps were lit in the court of women 
				- Must have been brilliant against the limestone walls
				- Rabbis said it lit the entire city
			b.  While this is happening, men in the streets singing and 
			    celebrating carrying torches
				- So the entire city is lit up brightly
			c.  Background also from Zech 14:5-6 - "Then Yahweh, my 
			     God, will come, and all the holy ones with him… it will come 
			      about that at evening, there will be light"
			d.  Ceremonies evoked memories of the presence of God
				- God provide water in wilderness (water ceremony)
				- Pillar of fire over tabernacle at night (light ceremony)
		3.  Imagine the scene, the city is festive and light up at night
			a.  8:12 - Jesus says "I am the light of the world!"
			b.  Says it again in 9:5
	C.  Every institution and ritual points to Christ, he is the fulfillment
	D.  So, Jesus heals this man and begins to enlighten him (v.6-12)
		1.  For the first time the man can see
		2.  Blind from birth, no indication he had problems
			a.  Modern medicine has given people sight who have never 
			     seen before
			b.  Brain cannot interpret it, it is new, it is very difficult
			c.  No indication of this with the man
		3.  But there is more to his gaining if sight than merely seeing
		4.  He is just beginning to really see…

III.  Reaction of the Jews
	A.  (v.13-23) - An interrogation
		1.  Pharisees conclusion about the matter:  Divided
			a.  Some say Jesus is not from God.  Why?
				- Jesus healed on the Sabbath, broke the law
				- Therefore he could not be from God
			b.  Others saying, "How can a sinner perform such signs?"
		2.  v.17 - Man's unwavering conclusion:  He is a prophet
		3.  Jews could not accept this - Tactic…disprove the miracle
			a.  Was this man REALLY blind?
			b.  Found his parents, parents verified he was blind
			c.  Couldn't disprove the miracle
			d.  Asked parents, "How does your son now see?"
		4.  Parents were afraid
			a.  Anyone who declared him to be the Christ were put out 
			b.  So, they diverted the question back to the son
	B.  (v.24-29)  Second Interrogation
		1.  Ordered man to give glory to God (not Jesus).  Why?
			a.  They said Jesus was a sinner
			b.  Insinuate Jesus didn't do the sign, but God did
		2.  Man's response
			a.  I don't know whether he is a sinner
			b.  I DO know I was blind, and now I see
		3.  They asked him again & he irritated
			a.  In lawyer fashion, they trying to catch an inconsistency
			b.  Man irritated and sarcastic - You want to be disciples?  
		4.  Jews said they followers of Moses, but do not know where 
		     Jesus is from
	C.  (v.30-34) Man's courage
		1.  v.30 - Sarcasm - He healed me, yet not know where he is from?
		2.  v.31-32 - God not hear prayers of sinners, yet he hears Jesus!
		3.  v.33 - If this man were not from God, he could do nothing
		4.  v.34 - Man was put out
			a.  Jews insinuate the man was born in sins due to blindness
			b.  But Jesus reversed that!
	D.  (v.35-41) The Man's Faith
		1.  The man "sees" Jesus and worships him
		2.  v.41 - The Jews, do not see Jesus and are still in sin
		3.  In their rebellious religious pride, they still in sin

IV.  Lesson for Us:  Be Courageous in our Conversion
	A.  Early church used this as a model for conversion (along with 
	     Samaritan woman and the paralytic)
		1.  Water is associated with each of the stories
		2.  Candidates for baptism had to undergo 3 tests
		3.  On the "Great" test, the final one, John 9 was read
			a.  Stands as a reminder of the antagonism one will face
			b.  Demonstrates the simple courage of simple faith
			c.  Don't know much, but I know this is the Christ, the Son of 
	B.  Challenges to your faith not always come from outsiders
		1.  Contrast between Jews and Blind man:
			a.  Blind knows he needs doctor - Jews did not
			b.  Complete emptiness & filled - Jews stay empty
			c.  Gains sight - Blind
			d.  Ignorant, open and honest - Knowledge, but resistant & proud
			e.  No longer in sin - Still in sin
		2.  Resistance of the Jews came not from ignorance, but rebellion
		3.  Contrast between the Blind man and his parents:
			a.  Blind man courageous - Parents afraid
			b.  Open about his faith - Kept quiet 
			c.  Grew closer to Christ - Distant from Christ
		4.  Whether it was passive challenge of parents, or antagonism of 
		     the Jews, the blind man who can see is courageous 
			a.  He pulled no punches
			b.  He was blunt and honest
			c.  He was a worshipper of Christ
	C.  Antagonism still exists even today
		1.  A modern Jew
			a.  Person can have just about any belief and still be a Jew 
			      and claim citizenship in Israel
			b.  Can even be an atheist and be a Jew
			c.  Only one thing invalidates claim of Jewishness - Faith in 
			d.  Messianic Jews have been disowned by Jews
				- Like the Jews who put on the blind man, still 
				  happens to people today
		2.  John Shelby Spong, a retired Anglican Bishop from New Jersey
			a.  Highly educated, studied at Oxford, Harvard, and Yale
			b.  Calls for "new" reformation, his work gain media attention
			c.  Like Luther who nailed 95 theses on the door, he 
			     Highlights his beliefs in his 2002 book, A New Christianity 
			     for a New World: Why Traditional Faith Is Dying and How 
			     a New Faith Is Being Born - Denies virgin birth, Christ's divinity,
			     the incarnation, the cross, bodily resurrection, etc. 
			d.  Like the Pharisees, Spong is well educated
				- Like them, he believes he sees and we all are blind
				- Jesus says he is blind and his sin remains
			e.  There are those, like the Blind Man's parents, who will not 
			      say anything out of fear
				- But at least he teaches morality, ethics, equal rights
				- At least he is a good man
				- Spong is most clearly a heretic
				- He is a false teacher -- He is NOT a good man
				- Some people are unwilling to say so out of fear like 
				   the blind man's parents
		3. Those who stand courageously for their faith - Jacki
			a.  She not afraid to affirm that Buddism, Hinduism, Islam, 
			     Mormonism, JW's, Anglicans wrong, Jesus is ONLY way.
			b.  Offensive to some people?  Yes.  Turns people off?  Yes.  
				- This is why the Blind man was a model in early 
				- You will not be popular.  If they hated Christ, they 
				   will hate you when you follow his steps
			c.   Don't get me wrong, not an excuse to be mean to people
				- Let speech be seasoned with grace, Col 4:6
				- Conduct self with wisdom toward outsiders, Col 4:5
			d.  Do those seeking truth respond?  Yes.
				- Doesn't turn EVERYONE off
				- Jacki brought more people to Christ than just about 
				   everyone in that congregation
				- Those who are not seeking truth will be antagonistic
				- Will use education, reasoning, logic, etc. against you
	D.  All you need is the simple, courageous, uncompromising, real faith of 
	     the blind man that now sees

1.  Who will you be like?  
	a.  The Pharisees and Jews who rejected Jesus?
	b.  The parents who would not confess Jesus in public because of fear?
	c.  The blind man who gained deeper insight that everyone else due to his 
	      simple and trusting faith (invitation)
2.  Sometimes you will be the only one with your hand up
	a.  All eyes may be on you
	b.  Some will think you are a total idiot
	c.  Some will be antagonistic to you
	d.  Some will want to know more…
3.  Do not worry about turning people off
	a.  Scripture Reading - Jn 3:17-21 - Everyone who does evil hates the light
	b.  He who practices the truth comes to the light
	c.  Since the world is in darkness, there will always be a sense in which 
	     you are a misfit in this world
4.  If you haven't come to the light, today is the day