Confronting the Survival Mentality: Are You Willing to Look Beyond Your Struggle to See the Needs of Others

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ, as written and recorded by the apostle John. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first fifteen verses of the ninth chapter. When you come to this particular portion of scripture you will find the apostle transitioning from Jesus leaving and departing from the temple where He has just engaged in an exchange with the Jews, the Pharisees, and evening those disciples who believed on Him. If you turn and direct your attention to the words which begin and open up the eighth chapter of the gospel which the apostle John wrote you will find that it opens up and begins with the apostle writing of a very specific woman who had been brought into the presence of Jesus while she was still present within the city of Jerusalem and in the Temple where He taught the people. As you read the words I NBC the opening portion of the eighth chapter you will find it beginning with Jesus still in Jerusalem after traveling from Galilee in the previous chapter in order to come down to the feast of tabernacles. Of course we know that the words which are found in the seventh chapter of this gospel are intrinsically linked and connected to those which are found in the fifth chapter—not only because Jesus initially would not walk in Jewry because they sought to kill Him, but also because when speaking to the Jews in the city He spoke unto them of wanting to kill Him the previous time He entered into the city. The eighth chapter of this gospel which the apostle John wrote builds upon the seventh chapter, for within it we find Jesus the Christ still present within the city of Jerusalem having not departed from the midst of it. What’s more, is that I’m the opening eleven verses of the eighth chapter we find Jesus entering into the Temple, and upon seeing Him present within the Temple, a number of people gathered together before Him. It would be while He was in the Temple that Jesus would teach those who came unto and gathered before Him, and it would be whole teaching all those who gathered together before Him that Jesus would come face to face with the sin, the iniquity, the immorality and the adultery of a woman who was caught in the very act. It’s worth nothing that this woman was in fact caught in the very act of adulterous, and according to the Law of Moses was guilty of death. The woman whom the scribes and Pharisees brought before and unto the presence of Jesus was not one who was innocent, but one who was in fact guilty. What I so love about this particular encounter and exchange which took place within the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ is that He neither debated the law with the scribes and Pharisees, nor did He accuse and condemn the woman who was caught in the act of adultery. Instead, Jesus found a middle ground between debate and judgment and chose to deliver this woman from the hands and stones her accusers, and evening from sin within her own life as He declared unto her that He didn’t condemn her, and instructed her to go her way and sin no more.

As you continue reading the eighth chapter of this New Testament gospel you will find that immediately after Jesus delivered this woman out of the hand of her accusers and those who would condemn her, He remained in the Temple and continued speaking with the people. It’s worth noting that even after Jesus had delivered this woman out of the hand of her accusers, and after she sent her on her way with no judgment or condemnation from Him, He remained in the temple where he would speak unto those who remained. What’s worth noting is that within the eighth chapter of the gospel which the apostle John wrote we find Jesus engaging three different and three distinct groups of people—the Pharisees, the Jews who rejected and did not receive Jesus the Christ, and those Jews which believed on Him. Immediately following the encounter with the woman who had been caught in the act of adultery Jesus remained in the Temple and declared loudly before all those who were present that He was the Light of the world, and that those who came unto Him would not walk in darkness but would have light. The entire remaining portion of the eighth chapter would be this exchange between Jesus and those who were present in the temple after this woman had been delivered out of the hand of her accusers. What’s interesting to note is that it is quite possible that those who sought to accuse this woman of her indiscretion and adultery each departed one by one from the presence of Jesus from the eldest to the youngest having been convicted in their own conscience. I wonder who was still present within the treasury of the temple at this particular time, for we know that Jesus spoke unto those which still remained and abused within the temple itself. What so intrigues and maxes me about what we find in the eighth chapter of this gospel is that by the time we come to the end of the chapter we find the Jews taking up stones with which to kill Jesus. Even in the eighth chapter we find the Jews again offended with Jesus and seeking to stone Him in order that they might completely remove and rid Him from the picture. The eighth chapter which began with the scribes and Pharisees wanting to stone a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery would come to a close with all those who remained within the temple wanting fo stone Jesus the Christ.

Pause for a moment and think about that reality—the reality that the eighth chapter of the gospel which the apostle John wrote began with the scribes and Pharisees calling for the stoning of a woman who was guilty having been caught and taken into my he very act of adultery, and ends with all those which were present on this day wanting to take up stones to throw at Jesus. How absolutely incredible it is to think about and consider the fact that not only was Jesus willing to deliver this woman from the hands of her accusers and from the stones which they would have happily thrown at her, but He was also willing to be opposed by those who remained within the temple having them wanting to take up stones and throw at Him. I cannot state within this passage of scripture whether or not the chapter ended with Jesus being willing to bear the opposition and offense of the Jews, and even being willing to take the stones that were originally intended for the woman. How absolutely and incredibly interesting and intriguing it is to think about and consider the fact that this chapter began and opened up with the scribes and Pharisees calling for the stoning of this woman who had been caught in the act of adultery, and it ended and concluded with those who remained and were present within the temple seeking to take up stones with which to cast at Jesus. In all reality, I cannot help but read the words which are found within this passage and come face to face with the fact that Jesus was willing to deliver one person from the stones of accusation, judgment and condemnation, and was willing to bear the offense of the Jews—and so much so that He was willing to have the Jews want to stone Him. I would dare say that what we find by the time we come to the end of this chapter is a wonderful and powerful picture of Jesus being willing to deliver us from the stones of judgment and condemnation and take those stones in our place. Of course we know and understand that those who sought to stone Jesus would and could not do so because He escaped out of their grasp and went His way. Please note that this is no way changes the narrative that Jesus was not only willing to deliver this woman from the stones of her accusers, but He was also willing to place Himself in the crosshairs of their hatred, their offense, and their rejection. We dare not, we cannot and must not miss this incredibly important reality, for to do so would be to miss out on something truly remarkable the Holy Spirit seems to highlight within this passage of scripture. A chapter and passage that begins and opens with religion seeking to cast stones at a woman who was caught in the act of adultery would end and conclude with those who remained in the Temple—both religion and unbelief—seeking to stone Jesus in order to kill Him. How absolutely incredible and intriguing it is to think about and consider this reality and how it plays out in what we find and read in the following chapter.

Before we get into that which is written and recorded within the ninth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John I feel it is absolutely necessary and imperative to consider how the eighth chapter of the gospel begins and opens up, and how it concludes. How the eighth chapter concludes is in all reality the backdrop and background which sets the stage for what we find in the ninth chapter, for it serves as that which leads up to what is found in the opening chapters of the gospel. Consider if you will what is written and recorded in the opening verses of the eighth chapter concerning the woman who was not only caught, but also taken in the act of adultery. Consider the words which are found in this particular chapter beginning with the first verse of the eighth chapter: “Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. And early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him: and He sat down, and taught them. And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto Him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set er in the midst, they say unto Him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the Law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting Him, that they might have to accuse Him” (John 8:1-6). With these words we find the eighth chapter beginning and opening up with a woman who was not only caught in the act of adultery, but a woman who was taken in the act of adultery and dragged into the courts of the Temple, as well as the presence of Jesus who was present within the Temple teaching all those who had gathered themselves unto Him. Within the opening verses of the eighth chapter we find the scribes and the Pharisees dragging this woman who had been caught in the very act of adultery into the presence of Jesus and declaring unto Him how in the Law of Moses such a woman ought to be stoned. By the time we come to end of the fifth verse of the eighth chapter we find the scribes and Pharisees not only seeking to tempt Jesus in order that they might accuse Him, but also calling for the stoning of this woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. It’s absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this, for when you come to the end and conclusion of the chapter you do not find the scribes and Pharisees seeking to take up stones with which to stone Jesus, but you find those who were present in the courts of the Temple seeking to take up stones with which to stone Jesus. Consider if you will the words which are written and recorded in the fifty-ninth and final verse of the eighth chapter, and consider it in light of how the chapter begins and opens up: “Then took up they stones to cast at Him; but Jesus hid Himself, and went out of the Temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by” (John 8:59). There is quite the transition which takes place in the fifth verse of the chapter and what takes places in the fifty-ninth and final verse of the chapter, for what began with the scribes and Pharisees calling for the stoning of this woman who was caught in the act of adultery would eventually transition and culminate in those who were present within the Temple seeking to take up stones in order that they might cast them at Jesus. How interesting and intriguing it is to think about and consider the fact that not only did Jesus deliver this woman from the stones of judgment and the stones of accusation which would have been hurled at her, but by the time we come to the end of the chapter we find Him being the fury and rage of those present within the Temple, as they sought to take up stones to cast at Him.

What I find to be so incredibly intriguing concerning how the eighth chapter concludes and how the ninth chapter begins is the fact the eighth chapter concludes with Jesus going through the midst of a great crowd of people who had taken up stones with which to stone Him. What makes this so intriguing is the fact that when the read the final verse of the eighth chapter you will find the words “and so passed by,” and when you read the first verse of the ninth chapter you will find the words “And as Jesus passed by.” Please don’t miss and please don’t lose sight of that which is written and recorded within the final verse of the eighth chapter and what is written in the first verse of the ninth chapter are intrinsically linked and connected, for at the conclusion of the eighth chapter we find Jesus passing by all those who took up stones with which to cast at Him, and at the beginning and opening of the ninth chapter we find the apostle John writing how as Jesus was passing by He saw a blind man. Oh, there is something absolutely wonderful and remarkable when you consider what is written and recorded within this passage of Scripture, for here we have those in the Temple taking up stones with which to cast at Jesus, and Jesus going through the midst of them, and so passed by, and how as Jesus was passing by those who sought to stone Him, He would take notice of a man who was born blind. Pause for a moment and consider that reality for it has the ability to radically transform and change your life and even how you view Jesus the Christ within your own life. Here we find the Jews and the Pharisees seeking to take up stones with which to cast at Jesus, and as Jesus is passing by having escaped the stones which they would have hurled at Him, Jesus takes the time to notice a man which was blind from birth. It is absolutely necessary and critical that we think about and consider this particular reality, for there is a tremendous amount of truth that is contained within it. Here we have Jesus the Christ who was just the rage and fury of the Jews and the Pharisees as they sought to take up stones with which to stone Him, and as He passed by He took time to notice a man who was born blind. How incredibly. Interesting and intriguing it is to think about and consider the fact that even as Jesus was passing by those who would have taken up stones with which to stone Him, He He took the time to look upon, notice and even see a man who was born blind. Even though Jesus had passed by those who sought to stone Him, He was still very much aware of the needs which were present before and around Him. This is actually quite unique and intriguing when you think about it, for we would think that as Jesus was passing by those who sought to stone Him He would not have had the time to notice the needs of those who were before and around Him. It would be very easy to think about and consider the fact that because Jesus was passing by those who would seek to stone Him, He would not have time to notice and even be aware of the needs which are before and around Him. The truth of the matter is that even though Jesus would pass by those who sought to take up stones to cast at Him, He was still very much aware of the needs which are before and around Him.

This reality of Jesus still being aware of the needs which were before and around Him—even though and even as He passed by those who sought to take up stones two throw at Him—is absolutely incredible and tremendous when you actually take the time to think about it. How many of us find ourselves in the midst of something so extreme within our lives, and something that has the ability to bring about destruction within our hearts and our lives, and we find ourselves absent the capacity to be aware of the needs which are before and around us? How many of us when we are going through something that is perhaps difficult to handle and difficult to bear are somehow removed and withdrawn from any sort of capacity to be aware of the needs which are present before and around us? How many times do our own situations and circumstances dictate and determine how we react and how we respond to those needs which are before and around us? How often do we find ourselves engaged in a struggle or conflict so intense and so severe, and in the middle of that conflict and struggle we have absolutely no capacity, no room and no space to be aware of the needs which are present before and all around us? If we are being absolutely honest with ourselves we must admit and acknowledge the fact that conflict and struggle has the ability to dramatically alter our perspective on the needs which are before and around us, and we have the uncanny ability to become increasingly selfish and focused on ourselves. What so amazes me about what we find and what we read within this passage of Scripture is that it would have been very easy for Jesus to be self-absorbed and self-serving in this moment, for after all—the Jews, and perhaps even the Pharisees sought to stone Him because of their offense at the words which He spoke. It would have been very easy for Jesus to have been concerned with seeking and serving His own needs—perhaps even the needs of His twelve disciples—and passed by this man who was blind from birth. It would have been very easy for Jesus to be so concerned and so consumed with Himself and with His own self-preservation that He had absolutely no room and capacity to be concerned with the needs of anyone else but Himself. Please don’t miss and lose sight of this incredibly intriguing reality, for more often than not we can become so self-absorbed and so self-seeking and so self-serving—particularly and especially when we find ourselves facing and experiencing something that is incredibly difficult to bear. What’s more, is that there might very well be times when we find ourselves in survival mode—just struggling to stay afloat and just fighting to survive—and in the midst of that survival mode and mindset we are completely removed and completely absent any capacity to be impacted by the needs of those which are before and around us. In our own sense of self-preservation and self-survival we find ourselves completely and utterly unable to be moved by any of the needs which are before and around us. In all reality, I am convinced that what I would like to call “survival mode” can at times be incredibly dangerous within and throughout our lives, for when we find ourselves in the very throws of survival mode, we have absolutely no capacity or bandwidth to be moved with compassion for the needs of those which are before and around us.

CONFRONTING THE SURVIVAL MODE MENTALITY! CONFRONTING THE SELF-SEEKING AND SELF-SERVING MENTALITY! CONFRONTING OUR NEED TO PRESERVE OUR OWN SELVES WHILE FAILING TO RECOGNIZE THE NEEDS WHICH ARE BEFORE AND AROUND US! What I so absolutely love about how the ninth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John begins and opens up is how it begins and opens up directly on the heels of Jesus passing by those who would have taken up stones to cast at Him. The eighth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John concludes with those which were present in the Temple taking up stones with which to throw and cast upon Jesus , and the ninth chapter begins and opens up with Jesus by those who would have thrown and cast stones at Him, and while passing by seeing, looking up and taking notice of a man who had been blind from birth. I absolutely love how even though Jesus was passing by those who would have thrown and those who would have cast stones at Him, He still bore within Himself the capacity to be stirred and moved with compassion toward one who was in need. It would have been very easy for Jesus to pass by, and to even pass this particular one who had been born blind, and to continue along His way, and perhaps this man who had been born blind would not have even noticed or known the difference. It would have been one thing if Jesus had deliberately chosen to pass by this man who had been born blind and to continue walking out of the Temple—perhaps even to return to Galilee where He had spent much of His time in ministry and life. The truth of the matter, however, is that Jesus didn’t pass by this man who was blind from birth, and He didn’t ignore the need which was before Him. Here He was having just removed Himself from the midst of those who sought to stone Him, and in the midst of removing Himself from those who sought to stone Him, He took the time to notice one who had been born blind. Here—on His way through the crowds of people within the Temple, and on His way by those who wished to stone Him—we find Jesus taking the time to notice one who had been born blind, and one who had spent their entire life in a place where they desperately needed healing. Oh how absolutely remarkable and truly wonderful it is to think about and consider the fact that even while and even as Jesus was passing by those who would take up stones with which to throw and cast at Him, He was still able to take notice of those who were in need—particularly and especially this man who had been blind from birth. Oh dear reader, please don’t ignore and please quickly dismiss this reality, for I know how difficult it is when you find yourself in the midst of a tremendous struggle and conflict to be so self-absorbed and so self-consumed with what you are going through that you have absolutely no capacity or ability to focus any attention on the needs which are before and around you.

As I sit here this morning and consider how the eighth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John concludes, and how the ninth chapter of the gospel opens up and begins, I can’t help but come face to face with the awesome and incredible reality that even though Jesus was passing by those who sought to stone Him, he was still able to not only notice those who were in need, but actually take the time to inject Himself into their lives. What we find within this passage is not only Jesus seeing, taking notice of and looking upon this man who had been born blind, but also taking the time to respond to the misguided understanding of His disciples. Even though Jesus was passing by those who sought to take up stones to cast at Him, he was still able to be aware of the needs which were before and around Him, and He was still able to take the time to invest in the life of those in need. I absolutely love how Jesus didn’t simply choose to pass by this man who had been born blind, but chose to respond to the misguided belief and assumption of His disciples, and even inject and insert Himself in the life of this single man who had been born blind. It is absolutely breathtaking to think about and consider the fact that not only did the apostle John write of how Jesus took notice of this man who had been blind from birth, but it also appears that the disciples themselves took notice of this man who had been born blind. We know from what we find and read in this passage that Jesus saw this man who had been blind from birth, but the simple fact that the disciples asked Jesus who had sinned—the man himself, or the parents of the man—that he had been blind from birth. It is clear from the response of the disciples that they took took notice of this man who had been blind from birth, as perhaps they took notice of Him as well, or Jesus took the time to draw their attention to he who was before them. Scripture is unclear as to whether or not the disciples took notice of this man who had been blind from birth, or if Jesus had deliberately and intentionally called their attention to this particular man. Regardless of whether or not Jesus called their attention to this man after seeing Him, or whether or not the disciples also saw and took notice of the blind man, we find their misguided assumption and belief concerning sin and even the judgment of God within the he lives of men. Pause for a moment and consider the fact that the disciples actually thought and believed that this man’s parents could have been guilty of sin, and that is why this man had been blind from birth. Oh how misguided the belief and understanding of the disciples truly was, as they did not understand that this man had not been blind from birth because of his sin, nor even because of the sin of his parents, but in order that the works of God might be manifested within his life. Oh, take notice and pay attention to the words which Jesus spoke unto the disciples, for in response to their misguided assumption and belief Jesus spoke and declared the following words to His disciples: “Neither hath 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: the night cometh when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (John 9:3-5). Here again we not only find Jesus speaking of working the works of His Father, but we also find Jesus speaking of Himself as the Light of the world. In response to the disciples’ misguided question and assumption, Jesus not only declared that this man had been born blind that the works of God might be made manifest within His life, but He also would go on to speak of the work which He must work in the earth, and how the night comes when no man can work.

It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand that which we find in the ninth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John, for what we find in the opening verse of this chapter comes directly on the heels of that which we find at the end and conclusion of the eighth chapter of the gospel. It’s absolutely astounding to think about and consider the fact that the eighth chapter concludes with those in the Temple taking up stones with which to cast at Jesus and Jesus going through the midst of them and so passing by, and the ninth chapter begins and opens up—not only with Jesus passing by, but while passing by, seeing, taking notice, and seeing a man who had been blind from birth. As you continue reading the words which are found in the opening verses of the ninth chapter you will not only find Jesus taking notice and looking upon this man who had been born blind, but we also find Jesus spitting on the ground, m asking clay of the spittle He had made, and anointing the eyes of the blind man with the clay he had just made. Immediately following His making of the clay and anointing the eyes of the blind man, Jesus said and declared unto Him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam.” What we find here within this passage is not only Jesus taking notice and looking upon this man who had been blind from birth, but we also find Jesus spitting on the ground, making clay from the spittle He had made, anointing this man’s eyes, and then instructing him to go and wash in the pool of Siloam. What you find and read within this particular set of verses is this man going his way, washing, and coming forth seeing. How absolutely astonishing and remarkable it is to think about and consider the fact that this man had originally been in the presence of Jesus, had his eyes anointed with spittle made from the ground, and after he had gone his way and washed in the pool of Siloam, he came forth seeing. It is truly remarkable to think about and consider the fact that this man who had been born blind found healing—even as Jesus was passing by those who sought to take up stones with which to stone Him. It is worth noting and considering the awesome and wonderful fact that this man had been born blind, and yet despite the fact that he had been born blind, his blindness was present within his life that the works of God might be made manifest within his life. Oh, please recognize and please understand this, for it brings us face to face with an absolutely incredible realization and truth concerning Jesus the Christ—namely, that there are times within our lives when we go through something, or even bear something incredibly difficult, and we do so in order that the works of God might be manifested within our lives. There are times within our lives when although we might be going through something incredibly difficult, and although we might carry a particular burden for an extended period of time—such a reality is manifested within our lives in order that the works of God might be manifested and made visible within our lives.

This man had been blind from birth, and this particular passage also suggests that not only had he been blind from birth, but he had also been relegated to begging alms from those who would pass by. It would be one thing to be blind from birth, but it would be something else altogether to be blind and also to find yourself begging for alms and begging of those who would pass by on a continual and regular basis. What we find within this passage is not only this man who had been blind from birth, but we also find this man who had spent his days begging alms and begging of and from those who would pass by on a daily and continual basis. On this particular day, however—despite the fact that Jesus was just the target of those who sought to take up stones to cast at Him—Jesus would take notice of Him, and would be willing to insert Himself into his life. What’s more, is that the words which Jesus spoke unto His disciples speaks to the reality that this man was born blind in order that the works of God might be made manifest within His life. This particular reality and concept concerning this man being blind from birth in order that the works of God might be made manifest within his life is actually quite intriguing and powerful when you take the time to think about it, for while it is true that this man was destined to experience the works of God being manifested within his life, he would have to wait for that particular and that specific time to take place and come. We do not know exactly how old this man was who had been blind from birth, but we do know that later on when his parents are asked about whether or not he had been born blind and was healed, they declared that he was of age and could speak of and for himself. We learn and discover from this passage that this man had been born blind from birth, and that his blindness was present within his life in order that the works of God might be manifested within his life. This is absolutely captivating when you think about it, for although this man was born blind that the works of God might be manifested within his life, he would have to wait until the specific and appointed time for those works to be manifested within his life. This brings me to a truly incredible thought concerning the works of God—namely, that even though we might be destined to experience the works of God within our lives, that doesn’t mean we will experience those works immediately and as soon as possible. Just because we have been destined to experience the works of God within our lives, that doesn’t mean that we will find ourselves experiencing those works in the time frame we would like. What’s more, is that even with this being said, this man had no idea that his blindness would lead to the works of God being manifested within his life. This man had spent his entire life being blind, and he had absolutely no clue or idea that how he had spent his entire life would lead up to a single moment when the very Word of God which became flesh would become manifested within His life. This man had been blind from birth and had absolutely no clue or no idea that there would come a day when his blindness would lead to an encounter with Jesus the Christ, and would even lead to sight being given.

SIGHT GIVEN VERSUS SIGHT RESTORED! It is quite remarkable to think about and consider the fact that this man did not have his sight restored, for having sight restored would mean that he would have had to have had sight to begin with. What we find within this passage of Scripture is not Jesus restoring the sight of this man who had been born blind, but rather Jesus giving this man sight for the very first time. Pause and consider what it must have been like for this man to have spent his entire life without sight, and now after one experience and encounter with Jesus the Christ he would receive sight for the very first time. Think about and consider the fact that this man would spend his entire life without sight and never saw a single thing, and yet after one single encounter with Jesus the Christ, and washing in the pool of Siloam he would find himself seeing for the first time. We dare not, we cannot and must not miss and lose sight of this awesome and incredible reality, for to do so would be to miss out and lose sight of that which is written in this particular passage—namely that this man had spent his entire life living without sight, and after one single encounter with Jesus he would find himself receiving sight for the first time. What’s more, is that there is a clear distinction between sight restored and sight received, and what we find in the account of this man is sight received as he had not seen anything a single day within and during this entire life. Oh that we would come face to face with the absolutely wonderful and incredible reality of what took place in this passage of Scripture, and how Jesus was not only willing to invest Himself into the life of one in need after passing by those who sought to take up stones to cast at Him, but He was also willing to work the works of God within this man’s life and to give him sight for the first time.

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