Controversial Jesus #11 - Suffering

Walking thru the verses of chapter 9, Dr. Kurt Bjorklund continues this series looking at the book of John and addresses the idea of suffering in our lives and how God plays a part in what we experience.

Message Transcript

Well, good morning. It's good to be together here in Wexford, in the chapel, Butler County, the Strip District. You may be asking, "What does that video have to do with anything?" My question is this. Who's more clueless, the wife who didn't have the answer or the man who videotaped it and posted it and it went viral? That's a real question in a sense.

Now, we're looking at the gospel of John. We have been for several months and we've been in this series, we've called The Controversial Jesus, and today we come to John 9. One of the reasons we didn't have this scripture read in its entirety or read at all before this time is because I'm going to actually read most of the texts of John 9 this morning as we walk through it, and there's a question posed right at the beginning from some of the followers of Jesus, some of the people of Jesus' day.

The question was, who sinned? This man or his parents because there was a blind man and they said, "Who was it that sin that caused this issue?" In a way, it's one of these questions that you say, "You could look at it either way," and we'll come to that in just a moment as we dive into this. Just before we dive into this, I just want to mention that in the coming weeks, there'll be an opportunity here to hear some of our staff. We have a really talented staff here.

Brady Randall will be teaching next weekend at all of our services except in the chapel. Evan Brem will be teaching there. Then the week after, George Palombo will teach Saturday night. In the chapel, Josiah, the two morning services here in the worship center, and then at each of the venues, Joel Haldeman, Brady Randall. Then the following weekend, so three weekends out, Joel Haldeman will teach at all the services except in the chapel where Josiah will teach.

What's going on for me is I'm taking one of my sons on a college trip, and then my oldest son is getting married. My wife and I are moving our oldest son along with his fiance, my future daughter-in-law, who is a wonderful woman who grew up in this church. That's kind of fun for me to get a daughter-in-law. We're moving their stuff to Chicago, and then the wedding.

My son said to me just the other day, he said, "Dad, this is the last time that as I live in your house, because you're going to be not teaching the next couple of weekends, that I'll come and hear you teach in person while living in your house." I thought I have to have something in this message that uniquely for my son. Son, do not post videos of anything that is unflattering of your spouse. There it is.

Let's just take a moment and pray together. Father, we ask that as we're gathered this morning in different locations that make up Orchard Hill, that wherever we've come from, whatever we're facing, whatever is challenging, whatever is not challenging in our lives, that you would speak to us. Father, I pray that my words would reflect your word in content and in tone and in emphasis, and we pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.

Here is how John chapter 9 begins. It says this, verse 1, "As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind?' Jesus answered, 'Neither this man nor his parents, but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.'"

Now, when you hear that, in our day and age, it doesn't sound like that great of a dilemma, but in that day and age for the Jewish people, this was a significant question because they believe that generally for somebody to have any kind of deformity, that somebody sinned and it was their sin that caused it, and because of their sin, God chose to position things in their life in such a way that they were paying for either their sin or somebody else's sin.

Part of where this idea comes from is in the Book of Exodus in Chapter 34 verses 6 and 7. There's a section that talks about the father's sins being visited on the third and fourth generation. So in other words, in the Old Testament, they would read and they would say, "Well, part of what happens is when your mom or dad, they sin, then it's visited on the children, the grandchildren, even the great-grandchildren."

They would look and say, "Well, since this man was born blind, either he did something or somebody else did something, somebody in his past," and Jesus counters this, in a sense. In fact, in the Old Testament, there's a couple of verses that that hint that there's another way to see things than somebody's sin causing a defect. In Deuteronomy 24:16, Jeremiah 31:30, there is an evidence that says that we don't pay for our parents' sin, or kids don't pay for their parents' sin, or parents for their kids, but we're all responsible for our own.

Jesus here says very clearly what the Old Testament hints inside. He says, "Neither this man nor his parents." In other words, sometimes suffering just happens. It isn't tied to sin. We can have one of either two extremes on this and that is some of us can say, "Well, since Jesus says this, that no suffering is ever a result of our sin or anyone else's, it's always just a consequence of living in a fallen world," or we can go so far to the other side and therefore we would say that it's always a cause of suffering. Sin is always a cause and we need to be nuanced enough to say sometimes there is a cost, sometimes there isn't.

You might say, "Well, how does Exodus 34 fit with what Jesus says? If one text says the sins of the father are visited on the third and fourth generation and Jesus says it isn't this man sin?" What we need to come to understand is that, at least in part, I think what Exodus 34 is referring to, is it saying that sometimes children will participate in their parents' sin because parents will set a track and the kids will get on the same track and then they're responsible for what they choose, and then, in that sense, the sins are visited on future generations unless the child chooses to break that path.

Here's why this is important. If you're here and you've grown up in a home with some level of dysfunction, which is most of us, but if you had something that you said, "I don't want to see that in my home in my future, I don't want any part of that," here's what you need to see, is that Jesus, in saying neither, is giving hope to that situation because he's saying that you are not responsible for your parents and your parents are not responsible in that sense for you.

In other words, if you have something that you look back at and you say, "This wasn't great in my home of origin, my family of origin," what you can do is you can say, "I am not my parents and my parents are not me. I'll blaze my own course with God and in this world and be responsible for what I'm responsible for." Don't use your parents as an excuse or as a determiner for what your future will hold. Jesus is saying, "We live our own course."

Now, he does say this and he gives a cause. At the end of verse 3, he says, "The reason this man is suffering is so that the works of God can be displayed." This is really a striking statement because in our day, in our age, and we've said that the controversial Jesus was addressing issues that were controversial in his day where Jesus experienced opposition, but they're similar today.

In other words, many of us have the same challenges, and what many of us still think today, and that is if we suffer or if somebody suffers, they must have done something wrong. Therefore, they're suffering the consequences of what they've done. Certainly, there are some consequences, but here, Jesus makes the striking statement, verse 3, "But this happens so that the works of God might be displayed in him."

What Jesus does is he says, part of the reason that you or I suffer is so that his works can be displayed in us. See, what we tend to think is that if God's at work, if God's blessing, then everything will be received in our life in such a way that we never suffer something that's dramatic or hard, but are our lives will always go according to a plan. Therefore, if they're not going according to plan, either God has abandoned us or we've done something that's terribly wrong, but here we see the God was present even in this man's blindness

Then he says this, verse 4, "As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work, I am the light of the world." What he is doing here is he simply saying, "I want you, if you're my followers, to work to alleviate suffering, to know I'm the light of the world and that what I do, sometimes miraculously, is I reverse the natural broken order of this world so that you can see my works and what I'll ultimately do is restore everything that's broken," and so suffering, at least in part, as a reminder of those realities.

Now, if you're like me, what I would tend to say is, "Well, God, if you want to work in somebody else's suffering to reveal your work, that's okay, but please don't do it in mine," because we don't want to suffer, but what this is saying is that, sometimes, God's greatest work will be achieved precisely through suffering.

You might say, "Well, how is that possible?" Well, sometimes, it's God's work in us. Sometimes, it's God's work through us to others. See, there's whole movements of Christianity that have sprung up with this idea that if you suffer, it can't be from God, and the result of suffering is because you haven't been good enough, righteous enough, you haven't done enough good things, you haven't believed enough that God will do something different in your life.

Here, again, what we see is Jesus just countering this idea and saying, "This man is in suffering because he sinned. He's suffering so that my works can be revealed, so that you can see my glory." Now, in this instance, because Jesus is about to heal him, we know that what he's doing is he's saying, "I'm going to heal this man so that you can see my works." It would be nice if we could always see a direct line from suffering to how God's work is revealed. We don't always see that, but sometimes we do.

There's a lady whose name was Joni Eareckson Tada. She's one of those born, I think 70 years ago this year, and when she was 19 or 20 in 1969 she went cliff jumping, diving with some of her friends. She dove off a cliff and the water was shallower than she thought, and she broke her neck and ended up becoming a quadriplegic, paralyzed. She's had 50 years now to reflect on this, and in the course of her life, she has spoken literally to hundreds of thousands of people about God and how God was at work in her.

She said something as she reflected on this diving accident. She said, "Sometimes God allows what he hates to accomplish what he loves." Sometimes God allows what he hates to accomplish what he loves. What she was referring to was in her life, she said, a diving accident is something that God hates, but he allowed it in her life to accomplish something in her, and she went on to say, "I have become a person that I would not have become if I had had full use of my arms and legs because now I rely on God in a way I never would have if I had had the normal function of my body."

In other words, what she's doing is she's saying, even my suffering God is using for his works, and here's what this means. If you believe this, if you see this, if you can bring this into your way of thinking, and that is that what you might be suffering today, the hardest thing you might be going through, the very thing that you wish were not true in your life, that you would give anything to change, that God might be using that very thing to display his work in you and through you. What this, in many ways, starts to show is, do you really want to worship God, or do you just want God to give you what makes you comfortable, or do you want God to give you what's best?

After this, what we see is that God, through Jesus, does do a miraculous healing. Verse 6 says, "After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with saliva and put it on the man's eyes. 'Go,' he told him, wash and the Pool of Siloam.' This word means Sent, so the man went and washed and came home seeing." Much has been made of the spit in the mud and the Pool of Siloam, and certainly, you can find different ways to interpret this, but at a minimum, it seems to me that Jesus spitting and putting mud on the man's eyes was a way of almost saying, "I can use anything. I can do my work in ways that will transcend your ability to even understand."

Having him go and wash in the Pool of Siloam, here's a picture of the Pool of Siloam in Jerusalem, this is where many of the Jews would go and be baptized when they converted to Christianity, and so, in a sense, what he was doing was he was saying, "You've used this as an important place for a spiritual transition in your life as a community. Now, I'm going to show you that I can make whole through the washing in this pool."

Certainly, there might be something with this word sent here since it's noted right in the passage, but what's going on is by pointing to a historical place, Jesus is rooting this as not just a story, but as a historical event and saying, "I can use anything and I want you to know that when I do a physical healing, I'm pointing to something that's even greater." Some of us might see physical healing as God's greatest work, but really, his greatest work is not physical healing, but it's addressing our deepest spiritual need.

After he heals this man, now, we get verses 8 through 12 where what happens is some of the people ask and say, "Isn't this a man who used to beg?" Some claim that he was and others said that he wasn't, and there was this debate raging about who it is. This man said, "I don't know," but he said, "And now I can begin to see." Verse 13, "They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind."

Pharisees were typically people who were fastidious about keeping requirements of the law. "Now, the day on which Jesus had made the mud and open the man's eyes on the Sabbath. Therefore, the Pharisees also asked if he had received his sight. The man said, 'He put mud on my eyes and I washed, and now I see.' Some of the Pharisees said, 'This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.'"

Initially, the issue seemed to be who sinned, this man or his parents? That was the controversy, but now a second controversy emerges, maybe a deeper controversy around healing on the Sabbath. This has already happened once in the gospel of John where we've seen a Sabbath controversy, so to speak, but here what you have is you have the Pharisees saying, "If this man, if Jesus was really from God, he would not have healed this man's blindness on the Sabbath because we have rules about that, and we don't do work on the Sabbath and healing somebody would be work on the Sabbath, so this man can't possibly be from God."

Now, imagine this. Imagine that you were blind from birth, and all of a sudden, you see and there's people ticked off that you're seeing because it happened on the Sabbath. It's hard for us in our mindset to get our head around the Sabbath because, certainly, we don't have the rules about the rules like the Jewish people did, and what I mean by that is, is we would still say that the 10 Commandments are something that God gives us for today, but what happened in the Jewish communities of those days is they would make rules about how to keep the Sabbath.

They weren't just the rule that Jesus gave or that God gave through the 10 Commandments, but they were the rules that people made about the rule saying, if you keep all these rules, now you're really keeping the Sabbath. What happened was they had gotten such a box that they could not imagine that God could ever work outside of their pre-described way in which they thought God could work.

This is a danger sometimes even in a church like Orchard Hill where we emphasize teaching and doctrine and theology. In other words, saying we want to do our best at every turn to always teach and present the Bible on its terms in what the Bible says, and to make sure that our messages reflect the Bible and aren't just opinion. That's important to us, but sometimes, what we can do is we can say, "Because we think certain ways and we think that the way that we think is right, which everyone obviously thinks, therefore God can't show up in ways that don't fit our grid."

God, here, through Jesus, challenged the people and their perception of how God could work. The way that this works today, maybe isn't through Sabbath because probably few of us have Sabbath as one of our big issues, but probably, we have some views, we have some practices, we have some ways of seeing the world that we say, "If anyone really gets God, if anyone's really a Christian, then they believe this or they practice this, they do this, and anytime somebody comes outside of our grid, we immediately start to say, "Well, I'm not so sure." What happened here, at least, I believe the controversy was Jesus was choosing to heal this man, partly to say, "I can reverse the brokenness of the world," but partly to challenge the religious order that said, "We know exactly how God could work and God will always work in our pre-described way."

Now, how that works today is that, sometimes, what we'll do is we'll make our relationship with God into a transactional relationship. What I mean by that is what we'll do, and again, you don't have to be particularly religious to do this, you can do this without any church background at all. You can simply say, "Here's how I see God. Here's how I see God working. If I do these things, then God will do these things and I'll live a blessed life. I won't suffer. I won't have all of these hardships or something like that."

For many of us, it might just center around being a decent person and having some healthy views for the good of the world. In fact, what a lot of people do today, a lot of churches even do today is they teach something that isn't even distinctly Christian, and that is if you want to be a better person, just improve yourself, serve the community, live in community, do all those things, and the world will be a better place.

There is nothing distinctly Christian about that. It's not untrue. It even has some reality in the Bible, but the distinctly Christian message is not, do more, try harder, be better, but it's Jesus has done for you what you can't do. Do you see how Jesus, in this miracle, is taking that on? Because what the Pharisees thought is if we keep the Sabbath well enough, if we do the right things, then God will be pleased. We're more concerned with everyone doing things the way we think they ought to be done than we are with actually encountering God.

That's what was going on here, and Jesus is having none of it. What he's doing is he's saying, "You won't reduce me to a transaction. You won't reduce God to a transaction. It has to be a trust-based relationship," and this changes everything about how any of us will relate to God. The tendency is even if you know this, even if you believe what I just said is to slip back into transactional relationships with God because it's easier. It's easier to say, "Here's the standard, here's the way it works, and if I do the right things, then God will give me the right result than it is to deal with trust."

There was a little bit of research done by one of the TED ideas places. There's this app now where you can send money to friends very easily. You can Venmo your friend's money. What they did is it allows for transactions. Some of you have done this. Others of you may say, "What's an app?" The thing that that happened was they did some research and they found that when people would send money to their friends, that there were two ways that people would send money.

Some would send the exact amount. In other words, if you had gone out to dinner and you split the check and one person paid and you say, "I'll just Venmo you some money," and you hit the exact number. That's one kind of transaction. The other person just ballparked it. Sometimes, they were low. Sometimes, they were high. It would be, for example, I'm going to send you $20 for the meal, even though my portion would have been 21.37 or 19.64 or something like that.

Then what they did is they asked the question, which person would you rather be friends with, the person who sends the exact amount or the person who sends a ballpark amount, even if they underpay sometimes? Do you know what their research showed? Now, some of you are saying, "I know which one I'd rather be a friend with." What they found is that 81% of respondents would prefer the person who sent a ballpark amount than the exact amount. Here's the thesis that they had. They said the reason that they believed this was true is because if it were the exact amount, it felt too transactional, like a business relationship, not like a friendship. Like all of a sudden you're treating me and our events as a commodity, not as a friend relationship.

Do you see what the Pharisees do here, what we can do here, and that is we can treat God like he's a commodity, like we're kind of making the relationship into a transaction rather than coming to God with trust and friendship. What I believe Jesus is doing, is he saying, "If you want to relate to me, the way that you need to relate to me is not transactionally but through a trust relationship."

In fact, I would go so far as to say this is one of the reasons sometimes people drop out of church, drop out of faith, at least public faith is because, for them, Jesus has become all transactional and they hit a point where they say, this doesn't feel very good. It's not actually Jesus at that point that we're relating to, but it's a transactional version of Jesus that isn't the real Jesus.

Now, I'm not suggesting that Jesus doesn't have standards or that there aren't things that we should aspire to, but what I'm saying is that the essence of Christian faith is not do more, try harder, meet the expectations, have a good transaction with Jesus. It's I was blind and I was hopeless, but Jesus did for me what I could never do. When we lived there, what happens is it changes the whole way that we approach God in our lives.

What we see next is this, verse 17, "Then they turned again to the blind man, 'What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.' The man replied, 'He is a prophet.' They still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man's parents. "Is this your son?" they asked, 'Is this the one who was born blind? How is it that he can now see?''We know he's our son,' the parents answered, 'and we know that he was born blind, but how can he see now or who opened his eyes, we don't know. Ask Him. He's of age, he'll speak for himself.' His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders who already had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. That was why his parents said, 'He is of age. Ask Him.'"

Do you see what happens here? The parents go before the religious leaders and say, "We don't want to be put out of the synagogue," and here's one of the, the telltale signs of transactional faith and that is if you have a transactional faith, what will happen is as soon as somebody comes who sees things a little differently, you'll say, "I want them out of the mix," because it's threatening to you and your version of how I can live in a transactional place.

In fact, I would go so far as to say, if you don't feel like you can be friends with somebody who has different convictions than you, then the issue isn't that that your convictions are too strong. It's that they're too weak because what weak convictions say is I can't deal with anybody who sees things differently than me. I need to be separated from them. What strong convictions do is they say, "It's okay if you see the world differently, if you have different experiences, because I want to relate to you as a person."

What's at the base of this, at least in terms of religion, is when we have a transactional relationship with God where we say, "I want everyone to have the same transactional relationship because it makes me feel secure." That's what's happening here. Jesus is controversial precisely because he challenges this.

Verse 24, "A second time they summoned the man who was born blind. 'Give glory to God by telling the truth,' they said. 'We know this man, speaking of Jesus, is a sinner because the only way that he could do this is if he was willing to break the Sabbath,'" is what they're saying. Verse 27, "He answered, 'I have already told you, and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?' he asked."

What happens is they come to them and they say, "Listen, we think Jesus is a sinner," and he says, "Listen, here's all I know." Verse 25, he says, "I was blind, but now I see." Then they keep pressing him and he says, "Well, what's the issue? Do you want to be as disciples too? Do you want to follow him also?" This is a beautiful moment because now this man turns and basically instead of being fearful, he says, "Do you want to understand the beauty of who Jesus is and what he's done too, or do you want to be stuck in your transactional approach to religion and faith?"

Then we see this, verse 28, it says, "Then they hurled insults at him and said, 'You are this fellow's disciple. We are disciples of Moses. We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don't even know where he comes from." What happens, sometimes, is if you want to a follower of Jesus is there will be people who will hurl insults at your way of thinking, your way of doing things, your way of understanding God because they will say, "I want a God that I can tame and control."

Again, this doesn't have to just be in the church. This happens outside the church with just as much fervor where people will say, "I know how God is. I have a transactional relationship with God, and if you dare to step outside of that boundary, you will at times be mocked and insulted by people in our world." Now, this is never an excuse not to be winsome, not to approach people with a winsomeness, but it's also a reality that is sometimes, unfortunately true.

Verse 30, "The man answered, 'Now that is remarkable. You don't even know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will. Nobody's ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.'" Now, the man turns from there's this one thing I know and that is that Jesus opened my eyes. I was blind, but now I see, and now he begins to say, "This man can't be a sinner. This man has to be God," and he's moving through the stages, and now, he's talking to these people.

I love this, this verse that comes next, 34, "And they replied, 'You were steeped in sin at birth. How dare you lecture us?'" You see, you or your parents, somebody sinned. You're just to sinner. We're the righteous ones. We're the good ones. You're a bad one. How dare you tell us how things ought to be? Again, it says, "They threw him out."

What you're beginning to see here is that there's always a tension between two different approaches to God or to spiritual life. On one hand, there's the approach that says, "I was blind, but now I see. I brought nothing to this and I, and now that I see, I see the beauty of who God is." On the other hand, there's this, this kind of place that we can go to that we say, "How dare you try to tell me anything? I have it figured out I don't need anything.

What Jesus does is he ties this physical blindness to spiritual blindness, and he does this very overtly in the verses that follow. In fact, what happens is after they sent him out of the synagogue, Jesus finds him and so the person that was cast out, Jesus goes out and finds. He says to the man, verse 37, "You have now seen him. In fact, he is the one speaking to you," speaking of the Messiah, of God himself. Verse 38, "The man said, 'Lord, I believe,'" and then it says, "and he worshiped him."

Do you know that that worship is a response to seeing who God really is. In fact, if you're indifferent when it comes to worship, what that means, in some ways, is either you haven't really encountered or seen God in recent days in your own life, or that you have, in many ways, just come to a point where your own heart is so hard that you're not seeing spiritual reality anymore.

What we like to do is we like to say, "Well, the reason that I don't encounter God or worship anymore is because I don't like X, or I don't like Y, I don't care for," but worship is a, is a matter of a heart response to the goodness of Jesus Christ. If that's true, you can worship with music that's off tune. You can worship where there's no music. You can worship in heart in any place in any space that you exist because you're saying, "I was blind, but now I see," but part of the reason that sometimes we don't get there is because we say, "How dare you tell me anything that I don't want to hear."

Do you see the difference? What Jesus does right at the very end, verse 39, is he makes a very explicit statement about judgment and he says in essence that the blind will see, and those who have not seen or those who have seen will become blind in. What he's doing is he's painting this picture of a spiritual reality. He's using a physical story to say, "I want you to get it, that this is ultimately about whether or not you see beyond this world."

Now, certainly, there's an application in terms of ultimate salvation here. The coming to have spiritual sight refers to seeing your need for a savior, the fact that you don't earn your way that you were born and now you can see because of what Jesus has done, that Jesus is your substitute. I also believe through studying other passages of the Bible, I won't take the time to refer to them now, that it's possible, even if you've come to Jesus as your savior, that you can still be blinded spiritually because of your own pride in saying how dare you, to God or to anybody, tell me anything that I don't want to hear as opposed to coming with a humble attitude that says, "I was blind, but now I see. I understand what God is doing because it's been shown to me."

Don't miss this. This man was used to proclaim the word of God to those who wanted to have a transactional relationship with God. There's a testimony element, and sometimes, we use the word testimony in attrition circles to refer to your story where you just say, "This is what happened to me." Here's what was winsome about this man. It wasn't that he had everything right, or that he had all the answers, or that he was educated in the same way the Pharisees were. It was that he was able to say, "I was blind, but now I see. I've had this encounter. I've experienced the freedom that comes from Jesus of new life."

When that's true for you or me, and we give voice to that in the communities in which we live, what happens is it becomes winsome. When we talk about God in a transactional way, people say, "I don't want any part of that," but when you say, "I was blind, but now I see," it's only those who hold onto the transactional relationship who will hurl the insults and be turned off by it. Those who have been frustrated by trying to transactionally reach God will say, "I want what you have."

The way that the church impacts a community is when thousands of people, hundreds of people, whatever the church size is, begin to say, "I was blind, but now I see," and they give account of it when they're standing around with their friends, when they're having a drink with friends after dinner, when they have people in their homes and they say, this is how God has impacted my life. Don't miss that, that there's an opportunity here.

You don't have to have all the answers. You don't have to have everything figured out just to simply say, "I was blind. But now I see." What we want to do as a church community is continue to echo that message, not we have it all right. Come and join us in a transactional journey toward this God, but instead through a trust relationship with God. What was impossible for us is now celebrated because of what Jesus has done, and so we were shipped together with passion. We live together with joy. We share that message with anticipation with the community, not because we say, "We're the good people who have it figured out," but because we say, "We're the blind people who now see and you can see too."

Now, certainly, Jesus, in this story, chose this man and chose to unveil his eyes physically, literally, but the invitation is there to say, "Come to me and I will open your eyes." The challenge is, even if you've come, is to keep saying, "Which posture, which position will I take? I was blind, but now I see, or how dare you?" One will lead to spiritual blindness. One will lead to spiritual sight.

The hope is that, for me, for all of us who call this place our church home, that we would say, "I don't ever want to get to a point of my own pride and saying, 'How dare you,' but I want to say, 'Here's what I know. I didn't have the capacity or ability, but God gave it to me in Jesus to see some things, and now, now, I see what I could not see.'"

Maybe today, the veil has been pulled back, figuratively speaking, from your eyes. Maybe, for you, you've been approaching God transactionally for most of your life. Maybe it has involved church, maybe not involve church, or you think if I do certain things right, then I'll earn enough favor with God to have eternal life, to have whatever good things God gives, and maybe today is your day just to say, "God, I trust you. I trust what Jesus Christ did on the cross," because this story is a microcosm of that story. It's a story of people saying, "I'll do what I can," and Jesus saying, "No, no, I do what you can't do.

Maybe, for you, just today is the day to say, "God, I trust what Jesus did." If you believe that, maybe today is a day once again to say I don't just believe that transactionally, but I believe it in the core of my being, so it changes how I worship, how I celebrate, how I live, the purpose of my life because now I say, "I don't live to point people to a transaction. I live to encounter the goodness and the beauty of who God is and to share that with the people that God puts in my life."

Father, we pray today that you would help all of us who are here, who are part of Orchard Hill today, who will listen later in different media outlets that you would help us to see the places where we can fall back into transactional approaches to you and instead choose a trusting relationship with you because that's where freedom is. That's where joy is. That's where beauty is, and that's where reality is. We pray this in the strong and beautiful name of Jesus Christ. Amen. Thanks for being here. Have a great week.