The majestic triune God reveals Himself in Christ the Son who said, “I am the Light.” Christ the Son, in whom the glory of the godhead dwells, pierces the darkness of wickedness; for “In him was life; and the life was the light of men;” however, “the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not? (John 1:4–5). Quoting Christ in Matthew 13:13: “they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand;” John Calvin wrote: “For since man lost the favor of God, his mind is so completely overwhelmed by the thralldom of ignorance, that any portion of light which remains in it is quenched and useless. This is daily proved by experience; for all who are not regenerated by the Spirit of God possess some reason, and this is an undeniable proof that man was made not only to breathe, but to have understanding.” When the Holy Spirit regenerates the soul for whom Christ died, He not only gives us the gift of faith whereby we accept Christ as our Savior and Lord, but He gives us an understanding of how and why we have received so great a salvation. Therefore, enabled by the Spirit, we study His Word and grow in our faith and understanding; from which we produce or bear the fruit of the Spirit in our daily lives.
Therefore we rejoice with much thanksgiving as we come to God with listening ears, who has “spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Heb. 1:2–3).
Jesus and his disciples passed by “a man which was blind from his birth.” The disciples asked their Master, “who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?” It is not an easy thing to understand both the nature of sin and sorrow that man possesses because of that nature. It is true that all tragedy comes about because of the sin of man and God’s judgment or curse upon this world of wickedness. However, why is it so easy for us to judge another in their quagmire, while we look at our sins with a wink and a smile? Calvin reminds us that “if we wish to be candid judges in this matter, let us learn to be quick in discerning our own evils rather than those of others.”
Christ reveals His glory in an act which was previously planned by the counsel of the Almighty God. Jesus answered His disciples, saying, “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents; but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” We need to understand the providential work of the Lord, that He is working ALL things together for our good and His glory. Not just this one work, but by His hand and purpose, the works of God are revealed; for this miracle and that which would follow, including His work on the cross, to show forth His glory and that of the godhead. Our prayers should include the desire that we be made instruments of His glory, as was the man born blind from birth.
Christ’s work was of the Father who sent Him, that work which no man on earth could do. As Christ is in the world, He alone is “the light of the world.” There is nothing unclear about the gospel of Jesus Christ to the open heart of the believer. Christ carefully reveals His glory before the world as in the healing of the blind man. He spits upon the ground to make clay to anoint his eyes. He sends the man to the pool of Siloam, commanding him to wash his eyes. He did so, and came back with eyes to see. The neighbours were astonished to see him, who once sat and begged, now walking without someone to guide him. The asked him, “How were thine eyes opened?” He told them about the man who anointed his eyes with clay, and told him to wash in the pool, “I went and washed, and I received my sight!” However, he could not tell them who this man was.
The man would come to know that it was Jesus who healed him. The Pharisees had cast him out for his testimony. But Christ would not. He revealed Himself to the man as the Messiah, the Son of God. And his response was, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped him. Then Christ revealed His glory in these words, “For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and they which see might be made blind” (John 9:39). We, therefore, preach Christ and not ourselves, “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:5–6).
We once belong to those who had eyes to see but were blind to see Christ; we had ears to hear but refused to hear His Word. The wonderful miracle of the blind man made to see draws us to Christ who made us see who could not see, to understand what our darkness could not comprehend. We also begin to understand the true love of God the Father and the comfort of the work of the Holy Spirit; so great is our salvation.
Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, sought out Jesus and asked Him: “Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.” Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Here begins the glorious revelation, a majestic miracle wrought by the hand of God for the salvation of His people: the sending of His Son to take our place before the judgment seat and ransom our souls. Those who believe they can rise above Christ are brought to their knees at His Word. Nicodemus asked, “How can a man be born when he is old?” Men rather have an answer that they themselves can carry out, rather than an answer which is totally dependent upon God. Therefore, we say, if we cannot work it out, then God cannot help.
Christ’s answer to Nicodemus sets the truth of redemptive grace solely upon God, saying, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” The new-birth of our very nature and soul, is dependent upon the work of the Holy Spirit. Water speaks of our need of cleansing. The Spirit is the Person who does the cleansing. It is the Holy Spirit who cleanses “us anew, and who, by spreading his energy over us, imparts to us the vigour of the heavenly life, though by nature we are utterly dry” (Calvin). The Spirit purifies us, applying to us the work of Christ’s sacrificial love in the shedding of His blood.
Christ speaks of that which is born of the flesh and that which is born of the Spirit. We acknowledge that we have been born of the flesh, having also received our soul at this birth. That being of the flesh we are afflicted with sin and condemned. Therefore, it should not be difficult for us, as born-again children of God, to know that we have received a new spiritual nature by the Spirit; for as the wind blows and we do know its origin, “so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Calvin wrote that “Such is the power and efficacy of the Holy Spirit in the renewed man.”
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