The Lord is my shepherd . . . 3 He restores my soul. – Psalm 23 ESV.
Believing in miracles.
In the last verse of his Gospel John writes, “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” – John 20:31NIV. “These things,” in our verse above, refer to the works of Jesus, His life and His miracles. Incidentally, do you believe in miracles? John 9, the chapter before the account of The Good Shepherd (chapter 10) is about miracles. The religious Pharisees, have resisted believing that the blind man has been healed. Here’s what the Bible says, “They still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man’s parents.” – John 9:18 NIV. They need to be given the evidence before they believed. So, how important is it for us to believe in miracles? It is common sense that we accept miracles when we encounter them firsthand, because then, we have no chance to deny them. In the same way, the Pharisees believe in the miracle concerning the blind man receiving his sight, because that is what the facts say. The blind man of course also believes in the miracle because the miracle has happened to him. He is not just a witness. He is the beneficiary of the miracle, the subject and object so to speak.
The Shepherd – looking for His sheep.
Now if our focus was on the miracle only, we might miss the point. We would allow ourselves to be distracted from the main issue! When Jesus heard that the Pharisees had thrown the blind man out, he went out and looked for the blind man. Jesus found him. Jesus did not ask him about the miracle, instead Jesus asked, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” – John 9:35 NIV. Why? Is there a connection between Jesus being the Son of Man and that miracle? Do, you remember the story of Jack and the Beanstalk and the goose that laid the golden eggs. Jack knew better. Jack wanted the goose that laid the golden eggs rather than the golden eggs themselves. The logic is simple, if you have the goose you would have the golden eggs.
In the same way, we could be distracted by the miracles (the golden eggs as it were) and forget that it was Jesus that caused miracles to happen. To the question, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” this was the answer: 36 “Who is he, sir?” the (blind) man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.” 37 Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.”38 Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. – John 9:36-38 NIV. Receiving his sight meant so much to that blind man. Yes, the blind man worshiped him, worshipped Jesus. His focus was on Jesus, his healer not on his newly found sight, the miracle.
Now, let’s slow down a little to gather our thoughts together. John 9 is about miracles. John 10 is about Jesus – the Good Shepherd. That is the connection between John 9 and John 10. John clearly and rightly shifts our focus from the miracles Jesus did (in John 9) to where our focus should really be, on the Shepherd, on Jesus (John 10).
John the Baptist – looking for the Shepherd.
This was what Jesus said of John: “Let me tell you what’s going on here: No one in history surpasses John the Baptizer; but in the kingdom he prepared you for, the lowliest person is ahead of him.” – Matt 11:11 MSG.
Now, John the Baptist was very interested in the miracles of Jesus. Was it because John himself had never performed any miracles? – John 10:41. Not really, you see, when John was in prison he heard about the miracles of Jesus. He asked his followers to find out from Jesus, “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?” – Matt 11:3, Living Bible. You see, John saw the connection between miracles as evidence of Jesus being the Messiah.
4 Jesus replied, “go back and report to John what you hear and see 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 6 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” – Matt 11:4-6 NIV.
This was what the prophet Isaiah had prophesied, “Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped.” – Isaiah 35:5. In fact the entire prophecy of Isaiah was about the miracle of healing and restoration; as stated in the headline of that chapter “Joy of the Redeemed.” – NIV. The miracles were possible because of Jesus the Messiah. We need to establish our priorities on firm ground. Miracles are important because they point us to Jesus. The focus has to be on Jesus Christ the Son of God.
Miracles – the Christ connection.
Here’s an example we can learn from. Remember the woman caught in adultery who was brought before Jesus? This was the accusation, “Teacher (Jesus), this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. – John 8:4-6 NIV. We write with a pen, a pencil or a Chinese brush perhaps, but Jesus wrote with his finger. That was what his Father in heaven had done. Here was what Moses recorded “18 And he (God) gave to Moses, when he had finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai, the two tablets . . . written with the finger of God. – Ex. 31:18 ESV. Yes, God also wrote with his finger the seventh Commandment, 14 “You shall not commit adultery.” – Exodus 20:14. But the Ten Commandments are not a part of the Laws of Moses. And there was no mention of stoning to death for adultery anywhere in the Bible much less in the Ten Commandments. However there was mention of punishment of death for adultery in the Laws of Moses: ‘If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death’ – Lev 20:10 NIV. But there is no mention of the method, death by stoning. So the Jews who claimed that the woman caught in adultery has to be stoned according to the Laws of Moses, were completely wrong. They were blind-sided by their own prejudice.
Without going to town to argue whether the Ten Commandments were a part of the Law of Moses, let me just point out that the Bible had clearly made the distinction between the Ten Commandments and the Laws of Moses. Here was what Moses himself commanded the Levites carrying the ark of God to do, “Take this Book of the Law and put it by the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a witness against you.” – Deut 31:26 ESV. The Laws of Moses had to be separated from the Ten Commandments – the covenant of the Lord our God! The Ten Commandments were placed inside the ark of God and the Laws of Moses outside, by the side of the ark. Now, it was Moses who wrote The Lows of Moses as God had given him (Deut 31:24). But God with His finger wrote the Ten Commandments. There was a huge difference!
Too often we are like the Jews who asked Jesus to pass judgment on the woman caught in adultery. We tend to be self-righteous and judgmental. How did Jesus respond?
“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”- John 8 NIV.
What a great example!
Our trustworthy and dependable Shepherd.
If you were brought up with the King James Bible then you will be familiar with this verse from Hebrews.
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. – Heb 12:2 KJV.
Now to a more contemporary translation of that same verse:
Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. – Heb 12:2 The Message Bible.
So, don’t lose sight of that exhilarating finish in and with God. Don’t be distracted by miracles.
Keep your eyes on Jesus.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
forever. – Psalm 23:6 NIV.