Does anyone else out there appreciate irony? A fire station burns down. A pilot has a fear of heights. A post on Facebook complaining about how useless Facebook is. What are some of your favorite examples of irony?
I would encourage you to reread John 9 today. Repetitious reading of Scripture helps us understand how to comprehend, interpret and apply what we read. Each time I read a text, something new usually stands out to me, I hear a new way God is trying to speak to me through his Word, or I catch something that I did not see before.
Did you catch the irony in John 9 when you read it again? This account in the gospel of John starts off as a story about a man who was born blind, and then Jesus steps in and this man receives physical sight and then (as Joe pointed out beautifully in Monday’s devotional) he receives spiritual sight to see that Jesus is the Son of the living God, the Lamb who has come to take away the sins of the world.
The irony is that this man was not the blind one in the story; the Jews questioning him were. They were so afraid, so blinded by their fear of losing their popularity and authority to this itinerant preacher from Nazareth that they could not see him for who he was. The very man who they would later put to death had the power to save them from sin and death if they just had the sight to see him as the Messiah, the promised One of God. But they did not see him that way. God had not granted them sight to see Jesus as he truly was.
These Jews placed their confidence not in Jesus, but in the flesh, in their heritage as a son of Abraham and a disciple of Moses. They did not realize that Christ’s death was inaugurating a new covenant, where there would be no Jew or gentile, but instead there would be sons and daughters of God, and there would be those who were blind to the truth, or more aptly, “those who suppress the truth about God” (Romans 1:18).
We see in the story that it is Jesus who grants sight. If you have never put your trust and hope in Jesus Christ, I would ask you to read and consider the following text from Ephesians and pray to God that he would give you sight to see Jesus for who he truly is.
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
— Ephesians 2:1–10
We were dead, but God has made us alive in Christ. As the man in the story in John 9 so beautifully states: “Though I was blind, now I see.” The irony is that by the end of the story, the sight he is talking about is not physical, but rather spiritual. Here is one more clear articulation of the gospel that I love from the letter written by Paul to Titus.
For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
— Titus 3:3–7
Notice that this letter was written to one of Paul’s co-workers, someone who would be abundantly aware of this truth. So then why does Paul use a large portion of this short letter preaching the gospel? Because the irony is that, even as believers, we still need to hear the gospel preached and proclaimed daily. We are a forgetful people in need of constant reminding of what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. Not only does the gospel save, but it sustains, and it sanctifies, conforming us more into the image of the Son of God, for his glory and our good.