Today: Psalms 17:13-15; Matthew 20:20-34; Job 15, 16, 17, & 18
Matthew 20 – Jesus Heals Two Blind Men
I just love the stories of Jesus healing blind people. During Jesus’ time of ministry — those precious three years when humanity was graced by his tangible presence — he performed physical miracles that parallel the spiritual miracles performed by the Holy Spirit today. Then Jesus gave physical sight to blind people. Today the Holy Spirit gives us spiritual sight, eternal vision. Jesus’ physical miracles in the gospels show us what the Holy Spirit is accomplishing in the spirit world now. Of course, God does sometimes choose to heal people physically today. But that is not promised. The Holy Spirit always works in the spiritual realm today. That IS promised. And the Bible is a rich well of promises from which we may draw from and drink deeply.
It’s Phaz’s turn again!
Eliphaz: There you go farting out of your mouth again, Jobby! Now you’re just lyin’! I’ve been around and I can tell you a thing or two. Only wicked people suffer. You are fighting against God!
Job: You guys are no help at all, you’re nothing but hot air. I could spout on at you endlessly too if my life was as easy as yours. God is the one afflicting me although I am innocent. How I wish I had a friend who would plead with me to God for mercy! God will not honor your empty advice. Woe is me! I will always be remembered for my troubles.
Bildad: You’re awfully arrogant, Jobsy! Who are you to question us, mr. smart guy, when it’s so obvious how wicked you must be? Is God supposed to change all his rules just for you? I’ll say it again, God punishes the bad and blesses the good!
Keep in mind that Job’s friends are wrong. The author makes this clear. This must have been a common idea of the day, that those who suffered deserved it. They blamed the afflicted for their afflictions. Each of Job’s friends argue some variation of this. Job probably believed this himself until his experiences showed him otherwise. But the book’s author makes it clear that Job is blameless. His afflictions were not a punishment from God.
Many historians believe that the story of Job takes place between Genesis and Exodus (the first and second books in the Bible). God put forth this idea very early in the human timeline. He obviously thinks it’s an important point. Yet this idea that God punishes us directly for our specific sins has persisted throughout all of human history. Many people believe it today. I’ve even heard it preached from church pulpits.
But Job turns this idea upside down. God does let good people suffer. But why?? I think part of it is so that we don’t get too comfortable here, so that our focus will be on eternity rather than temporary things. This cursed world is not really our home.
When Peter rebuked Christ for saying that he would soon be killed, Jesus responded, “Satan, get behind me!” This thought that Jesus didn’t have to die, that we could get to God all by ourselves, that we humans could ever create our own utopia, it’s just a lie. We can’t do it.
We can and should work hard to make this world a better place. But we must also understand that this current world is under a very real curse. We will never be able to make it perfect. Only God can do that when he chooses.
How backwards we think of it. God doesn’t punish us for our mistakes. Our wrongdoings create their own punishment. Our own faults are bricks comprising the wall between us and God. We lay each brick ourselves as we construct our own personal Towers of Babel. But as we shove each brick into place, Jesus stands ready to tear them all down if we only ask him.