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Andrew Swanson at the Aberystwyth Conference 2003

Author
Category Articles
Date October 2, 2003

 

Text: John 9:1 "As Jesus passed byhe saw a man who was blind from birth."

This event occurred 2000years ago, Jesus saw this particular man. If we are in Christian service of onekind or another, whatever kind it is, there is one essential characteristic forvital involvement in gospel work, to see people in the same way as Jesus sawthem. The Lord was accompanied by his disciples, but they did not see thisblind man in the same way. All they could see was a theological problem, notthis man’s desperate plight. "Why is he blind?" They held the opinionthat suffering must be because of sin. Was it for his own sin or his parents’that he was born blind? The Lord said that there was a divine purpose in theblindness, that the work of God might be revealed in his life. He saw thisman’s plight, and the opportunity it brought to give glory to God and blessingto others, that God cares for suffering humanity, that God can undo what sinhas brought into the world. It was the opportunity to bring such a great lessonhome to his disciples. Service begins when we see people as Jesus sees them,and then ask how we can bring glory to God and our fellow men.

"I must the work the works of him that sent me while it is day."Modern versions say, "we must work" but whatever text is better makeslittle difference. Both are equally true: he must do the works of him that senthim and we must do the works of him that sent us. The Lord is still sayingthose words to us this evening. The night is coming when no man can work.

1. LEARN TO SEE AND THINK OF PEOPLE IN THE SAME WAY AS THE LORD JESUS.

When Jesus calls a believer to service it is an individual personal call. Thereare no two identical ways. But he says to all that the cost is self-denial, andcross-bearing, and following him. |

The first thing Jesus did was to survey this man. It was not a casual glance.He looked on his true condition and how he himself could minister to him. Thereare plenty of texts that tell us of how he responded to a sight of people, thathe was moved with compassion towards the multitudes. He was filled with energyin his work, yet his awesome activity did not replace his compassion. He sawthem as they were, as sheep without a shepherd. He saw a man who wasspiritually blind and in danger of dying in his sin, whom he alone could help.We are the things we need to see as we look out on the world around us.

How easy, comparatively, to see the material needs of people and be touched bythem. Any observing eye can look and be touched, but men’s deepest needs canonly be met by Christ. Are we seeing people so that we plead with God to askhim to show them what they really are? They are in constant danger of meetingGod in their sin, without hope. Until God burns that truth in your heart youwill not see people as they really are. If you wish to serve Christ in a worthyway plead to God to give you the mind and heart of his son – every day. Thereare times when my heart is moved with compassion, but times when it is not so.

2. LEARN TO SEE THE WORK JESUS’ HEAVENLY FATHER HAS GIVEN TO US.

Christ’s whole life must be given to the Father’s work. He once talked to thewoman in Samaria and he told them disciples later he was not hungry, for hisfood was to do the work of God. On this later occasion Jesus had said, earlierthat very day, "I am the light of the world," and now he can giveproof of it in the healing of the blind man. He can bring spiritual light intoa spiritually dark person. The tragedy is that everyone is born like this, butno one knows that it is so. The wonderful thing is that many of us here havebeen given sight . . . but not all. God knows. You are blind to spiritualrealities because you don’t know the Saviour, and that is the only way ofknowing him. The tragedy of the people of Jesus day was that many thought theyknew God, but they didn’t know him, and you are all just as spiritually blind..Do you know Christ? Is he real to you? The world did not know him – though hewas in the world, but those who were born of God received him and saw that hewas the Son of God sent to be the Saviour.

Any man or woman who is not trusting in Christ for salvation is utterlyhelpless and hopeless, and most of them have no idea of their desperate state.It does not matter about their morality or economic condition, or education, ifthey are not trusting in God they are lost. There is also an infallible remedyfor this hopeless state.

This man allowed the Lord to put clay on his eyes, and he did what Jesus toldhim to do. We need to put ourselves in this situation. Here was a man in a newworld seeing everything for the first time. This is a picture of God’s remedyfor sin. The watching world was amazed, but the man told them that he knew onething with certainty, that once he had been blind but now he saw. So we mustfollow his example. He has made us the light of the world. We must reflect hislight. We become like him, not in doing miracles, but in loving our neighboursand doing God’s will, giving someone our time and help, but tell them also thereal reasons we care. How long is it since you were overwhelmed by the word ofthis mighty Saviour. Few go into Christian service because they have not beenoverwhelmed by this glory of this good news.

3. LEARN TO DO THIS WORK WITH A HOLY URGENCY, AS JESUS DID.

He had a limited time from his Father – while "it was day". We mustalso see that our work for God is a battle against time. We don’t know thelength of the day; it is all the time we have got. Every day the Lord tookopportunity to do his Father’s work. There was never a day in which he wastedtime. Every moment of the day was precious to him because it belonged to thelimited time he had to do his work. He was flexible in changing his plans andbeginning to teach a crowd which had gathered. So too when he saw this bind manit was his opportunity to do God’s work. It would bring him into conflict withthe authorities. No matter, he had to do the Father’s work. He felt theseriousness of his own words, and so must we. We have no choice. He is speakingto us all; we must work the works while it is day. There is no option aboutChristian service, and one day we must give an account for our obligation.

The challenge to us all is how seriously will you take Jesus’ words and theurgency of this call. Let me encourage you to see the urgency and press uponyou the solemn words of Jesus. We have a few more opportunities before us. Iread 30 years ago the phrase, "One life we live, ’twill soon be past, andonly what’s done for Jesus will last." Any opportunity lost will be lostfor ever, and how many have we lost over the years? We must repent and pleadforgiveness. Let us wake up and cry to our Master, ‘What do you want me to do?’

1. To the newly converted remember these two things Jesus warned his disciplesthat the harvest is great and the labourers are few. In Turkey 70 millionpeople live, and just about 500 labour to reach those people. Its governmentsays it is prepared to pay to send 30,000 preachers of Islam to reach thenation. Pray that the Lord of the harvest will send forth labourers forth. Healso says to us of a woman who poured out precious fragrant oil, "She hasdone what she could." Have you? Have any of us?

2. To the married couples, have you ever thought of serving the Lord overseas?There is need for men with pastoral hearts to provide role models for preachersoverseas. Consider your opportunities and ask God What you can do for himtoday.

3. To the retired: there is still much to do for the Lord. You can work tillthe day you die. You can pray for God’s servants.

4. Finally, to every unbeliever here tonight, whatever your reason for cominghere. God has planned your being here. He has a purpose for your being here,and I know why I am here. I am an ambassador for Jesus Christ. You cannot seehim, but he is here tonight. Don’t let him pass by for he can do for you whathe did for that blind beggar 2,000 years ago. Come to me now, he says. Thenight comes when you cannot come. This could be your last opportunity. Walkwhile you have the light, lest darkness overtakes you.

 

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