Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Jesus And The Outcast

"Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof
not by constraint, but willingly; 
not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock."

I Peter 5:2-3

Post #4 in the Legalism Series.

Divine inspiration can strike at any given any atmosphere.
It is something that cannot be forced.
It happens in God's timing and in His way.

We just enjoyed a nice, relaxing, much-needed, restful vacation in the mountains of northeastern Georgia.
What beauty and peace!
I cherished every moment...savored it for all it was worth.
We walked...a LOT, so the exercise was wonderful.
It is funny how much better I feel up there.
I can actually breathe..deep breaths...without the smothering humidity we have here at home.
I felt so good, I wanted to walk nearly everywhere we went!!
I kept thinking about how impossible that would have been for me, just a few months ago,
and each time I thought of it, deep gratitude to the dear Lord sprang from deep inside.

I am so thankful to still be here.
To walk, swallow, and breathe without as much pain and discomfort as before.
What an incredible gift...this blessing called life.

One day while we were there, a big storm came up, and the electricity went out in our hotel.
Kevin decided to take a nap, and Zach wanted to go swimming.
He and I went to see if the pool was crowded.
It wasn't, so I agreed to let him get in for a while.
He had a ball, as usual, and as he swam, I sat nearby and read my Bible.

You just never know what nugget of gold God will send down when you open His Word.
I opened my Bible to the book of St. John and began to long for God to speak to me...
to give me something special.

"Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled."
Matthew 5:6

God never disappoints a hungry, thirsty soul.
If we want to be filled, He is always faithful to fill us.
This was no exception.

I have read the 9th chapter of John I don't know how many times through the years,
and my focus has always been on the blind man Jesus spotted
and how the disciples asked Him that famous question,
"Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?"

Isn't it amazing how we always assume the worst of people?
How if we hear of someone who is having adversity or hard times,
we automatically start pointing fingers and wondering what they did to deserve it?

I love the answer Jesus gave them,
"Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: 
but that the works of God should be made manifest in him."

Every other time I have read this story, my focus has been on that question Jesus' disciples asked
and on the healing itself.

But, there is much, much more to this story than the miracle.
NOT that I would ever want to take your eyes off of what our dear Lord did for this pitiful man,
but I want to share with you what He shared with me the other day...
sitting there by that pool, listening to Zachary and the other little boys splashing, laughing, and playing.

This man's healing set off a huge, unexpected chain of events that changed his life forever.
The first ones to spot the change in his life were his neighbors and some who knew him while he was blind.
Naturally, you can imagine how astonished these people were.
This was unbelievable.
How could a man who had been blind since birth suddenly be able to clearly see?
They thought it was a case of mistaken identity and reasoned among themselves, 
until the man spoke up, removed all doubt, and confirmed, "I am he."

""How then were your eyes opened?" they asked."

"He answered and said, A man that is called Jesus made clay,
and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash:
and I went and washed, and I received sight."

After asking the man where Jesus was and finding out he didn't know,
guess who they brought him to?

You guessed it.

The masters of legalism.
That group called the Pharisees.
Just hearing that word kind of sends chills through me.

The religious elite were the biggest human enemies Jesus had.
The very ones who should have had enough foresight, discernment, and wisdom to see that the law and prophets were all fulfilled in the embodiment of this one, gentle Soul, 
were the very ones who tried their utmost to undermine, condemn, and destroy Him.
Their constant goal was to find some kind of fault with Jesus,
to figure out and finagle some kind of leverage they could use against Him,
to dig up some kind of dirt or find some kind of justification for getting Him out of their way.

Don't you know that Jesus always, always knew what He was doing?
Every move He made was part of God's Divine purpose and plan.
Every detail of His every action had profound significance.

Jesus knew full well when He spotted this blind man, then proceeded to heal him,
that it was the Sabbath day.
He had no problem with healing or doing any part of His Father's will on the Sabbath day.
He was, in His very person, ushering in a new dispensation of grace.
He came not to destroy the law, but to FULFILL IT, becoming our Sabbath/rest, in the process.
He was and still is, by the way, the Lord of the Sabbath.
He is Lord of lords and King of kings...every day of the week.

So, the first thing the Pharisees found to harp about is that Jesus had DONE something on the Sabbath.
Never mind the fact that it was something good
and this poor man could finally see after all of those years in darkness.
Never mind the magnitude of the miracle.
They saw this as yet another accusation they could bring against Jesus
and couldn't wait to add it to the heap they had already accumulated.
They interrogated the formerly-blind man, drilling him with questions, then not believing his answers,
they sent for his parents to verify that truly he had been born blind.

His parents were very careful in their answers.

They verified that he was their son,
and that yes, truly, he was born blind,
but they dared not say any more.
Because they were afraid.
There was a rule among the Jews
"that if any man did confess that He was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue."

Who wanted to lose their standing among the Jews?
Who wanted to be frowned upon by the Pharisees?
So, rather than take a chance, his parents told the hierarchy,
"by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not:
he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself."
They weren't touching this one with a ten-foot pole.
Instead, they decided to put the responsibility on their adult, formerly-blind son,
and let him do the answering.

So, the interrogation process resumed, and the poor man was again questioned...repeatedly...

until finally, he reached the end of his endurance and said,
"I have told you already, and ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again? 
will ye also be His disciples?"

Whew, was he brave!

He went on, standing in defense of Jesus and truth, even daring to say of Him,
"If this man were not of God, He could do nothing."

He dared to stand up to them, infuriating them in the process.
And, guess where it landed him?
Read these words.
"...they cast him out."

He bucked the legalistic.
And it cost him.
He found himself cast out of the synagogue.
On the outside.
Scorned and spurned by the religious elite.
As I read, God directed my eyes to the center reference margin of my Bible,
and do you know what I found?

"Cast out" literally means 

I sat there, and I cried.
I could not stop the flow of tears as I absorbed the whole scenario.

This man stood for Jesus, and because he did, he was not allowed to return to church!

Are you seeing what I am seeing??

The church...and Jesus.

Shouldn't they be one and the same?

We have all been taught that if you don't please the ministerial body,
if you don't come under bondage to their opinions,
if you don't succumb your every unique thought and leading of God in your life to their test of approval,
then you are just not pleasing God.

We have been taught to equate Bro. So-and-So's approval of us with God's approval of us.

We have come to worship a set of legalistic, made-by-man set of rules,
instead of worshiping God Himself.

Jesus had healed this man's eyes.

He had set him free from the darkness.
What an incredible gift He had bestowed!
And now this man told the truth about Jesus to the religious upper crust.
The truth hurts.
These Pharisees did not want to lose their "standing" among the people.
They wanted their praise, applause, and adoration.
They hated Jesus and all He stood for, because He threatened their self-appointed pedestal.
They feared His authority.
And anyone who dared take his side would pay a dear price,
including this man.

He did what was right, by defending Jesus Christ, his healer,

and he found himself standing ALONE.
On the outside.
Cast out.
No longer welcome in their midst.
Condemned and shunned.

But, the next thing that happened is the part that touched my heart the most.

This is the part that really made me cry.

"Jesus heard that they had cast him out..."

Oh, praise His wonderful name!

Jesus heard!
He found out about this man's shunning...
about his ex-communication...
about his rebuke and scorn and punishment.
All because he told the truth.
All because he defended Him.

So, what do you suppose Jesus did?
Did he start searching for the man, find him,
 then scold him profusely for allowing himself to be cast out of the temple?
Did He reprove him and command him to go back to church?
Did He defend and uphold the decision of the hierarchy to ex-communicate him?
Did He send him crawling back to beg their forgiveness, succumb to their abusive authority, 
and to acknowledge they were right?
Did He tell him he couldn't be His disciple if he didn't come in line with "the church"?

Oh, dear friend!

Jesus did NONE of these.
Jesus heard about this man's predicament,
He knew his heart,
He felt his pain and rejection and betrayal and bewilderment,
and He searched for him until He found him!

Isn't that precious?

Oh, I could never put into words how much this blessed my soul,
as I sat there and absorbed what God was saying to ME.
Concerning OUR situation.
Concerning the pain in THIS heart.

When Jesus found this reject, this outcast, this unaccepted deportee,

do you know what He said?
Listen to the first words out of His mouth.
There was no disdain, no disapproval, no chastening, no scolding, no rebuke.
Only love.
Only an opportunity to comfort.
Only this.
"Dost thou believe on the Son of God?"

This!  Oh, this!  This is what matters!!!

This is ALL that matters!
Whether or not we are pleasing the religious,
whether or not we are succumbing to the traditions of men,
whether or not we are adhering to the legalistic-minded,
matters as nothing to God.

In fact, if we are doing those things, there is a huge chance,

we are not pleasing God Himself.
Because, for the most part, He is not in that.

I am probably not coming close to adequately getting this point across.
It is so real to me, and I wish I could convey it strongly enough
that its truth would break the chains and liberate every shackled soul!

Jesus Himself was an outcast.

So, He knows how to comfort those of us who find ourselves in this place...
on the outside of "organized religion".

Worshiping and serving God has nothing to do with pleasing man.

It has to do with one-on-one relationship.
It has to do with an intimate walk with Him, in which there are no middle-men...
dictating, shaming, threatening, coercing by over-step of power,
and cramming their opinions down the throats of the innocent.

When Jesus asked the man whether he believed on the Son of God,

can you even imagine how he felt?
To hear a kind, gentle voice...speaking to him?
This poor, rejected, ex-communicated soul!
I can just see him there...walking slowly along...his head hung low...
tracks of tears on his cheeks...
hardly able to comprehend what just happened.
Trying to sort through it all,
reliving those moments there in the synagogue over and over and over again....
deep in his own painful thoughts.
All at once, He hears someone stepping up to him.
I can picture him raising his head, peering skeptically through his tears,
and finding himself gazing into the face of LOVE itself.
A shred of light begins to shine into his troubled heart...
oh, to think...that someone cared!
That someone actually heard of his plight,
took the time and energy to search until He found him,
then to speak no harsh words of rebuke!
Can you hear the brokenness....
the grasping-for-hope tone in his answer to Jesus?
The man "answered and said, Who is He, Lord, that I might believe on Him?"

And, can you imagine Jesus' tone...
as He watched hope turn to joy in this man's eyes,
as He began to comprehend what was truly happening?
I imagine it was hard for Jesus to contain His Own joy in being able to tell him,
"Thou hast both seen Him, and it is He that talketh with thee."

Oh, how wonderful!
It didn't matter who else approved of him.
It didn't matter who had cast him out.
It didn't matter who looked down on him.
Being restored to the synagogue meant nothing to him.
THIS was all he needed.
All he craved.
Everything he had longed for his whole life.

And the man answered, "Lord, I believe.  And he worshiped Him."

Thinking of that worship brings tears to my eyes!
Because I am that place....right where he stood.
And I know just how precious the love of God is.
How sweet His approval!
Regardless of anything else in the world.

He had to be ex-communicated from organized religion 
so he could come to know Jesus Christ.

To those of you who are in this isolated, lonely place, take heart!

You are never alone.
Man is not your judge.
Jesus knows your pain.
He feels your rejection.
He understands your plight...
because He was there.

Remember when the crowd was yelling, "Crucify Him!"?

Who do you think was not only participating in and encouraging, but actually initiating the yelling?

Mark 15:9-15 says,

"But Pilate answered them, saying, Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews?
For he knew that the chief priests had delivered Him for envy.

But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them.

And Pilate answered and said again unto them,
What will ye then that I shall do unto Him whom ye call the King of the Jews?

And they cried out again, Crucify Him.

Then Pilate said unto them, Why, what evil hath He done?
And they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify Him.

And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them,
and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged Him, to be crucified."

John 19:6 says,

"When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify Him, crucify Him.
Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify Him: for I find no fault in Him."

The chief priests, mind you.

They were responsible for our dear Savior's death.
That same spirit is alive and well today, unfortunately,
and it is landing many in a pit of spiritual despair and ruination.

Jesus never fit into their mold.

If we would follow Jesus, we won't fit into it either.
In fact, it is His voice that calls and leads us out and His power that delivers us from them.

I'll never forget the moment several years ago when I heard His voice...

calling me out...telling me,
"I want you to break out of these man-made molds."

I didn't understand His first.

Over the next few years, it became crystal clear to me.
Having broken out, by His amazing grace,
I can tell you that Jesus is truly a Friend that sticks closer than a brother.
I can tell you that He will hear of your plight, He will pursue you with all His might,
and He will comfort you "As one whom his mother comforteth".
(Isaiah 66:13)
I can tell you there are no orphans of God.

("Orphans of God" written By Joel Lindsey & Twila LaBar)
If video doesn't load, click here.
I can tell you that He will become even more dear to your heart
once you are standing here...on the outside of bondage.
I can tell you that my walk with Him has never been sweeter or more precious.

People can judge.
Let them condemn.
Sad to say, the very ones who profess love for you in the Body of Christ
are sometimes the very ones who will turn on you the fastest,
inflicting the most and the deepest wounds.
But, as the man in today's passage learned,
the minute he was tossed aside, cast out, and rejected by the "religious",
he was passionately pursued...and found....and Jesus Christ!
It was then...on the outside of legalism's bondage,
that he came to know Him...really know His Lord and personal Savior.

And that, my friend, is the sweetest and best thing that could ever happen to any of us.

(To read Post #1 in this series, entitled "The Binding Stronghold of Legalism", click here.
To read Post #2 in this series, entitled "The Greatest Post-Legalism Danger", click here.
To read Post #3 in this series,
entitled "The Second Greatest Post-Legalism Danger & How To Avoid It, click here. )


  1. Great post! So many of us are dealing with this right seems more and more people who follow the Bible are being cast out by the church. But you're right--we aren't alone! :)

    1. No, praise the Lord, we are never alone! I am going to attach that song by The Talley Trio called, "Orphans of God". Have you heard it? It has wonderfully comforting words. Your comments were very encouraging to me, and I can't thank you enough. Much love to you!

  2. Wow!! What a powerful post! I loved the indepth look at a familiar passage that is very relevant to our world today.

    I also loved hearing about your vacation, last fall we went to North GA and had a wonderful time.

    Thank you also for your sweet comment on my blog. I don't blog nearly as much as I used to and sometimes wonder why I keep on, I'm so sporadic!! Your comment makes it all worthwhile! Thank you for sharing and blessing me!!

    1. Thank you SO much for your sweet comments and visit here today! It means so much. :) I'm glad you were able to go to N. GA, too. Isn't it beautiful there? Oh, those mountains! I almost bought this sign that said, "The mountains are calling, and I must go." I love that! YES, please do keep writing and pressing forward on your blog. You never know who you are blessing with your words. I look forward to visiting with you again...both here and over at your place. Much love to you!

  3. In John 10, Jesus adds to this theme of his love for such outcasts, by contrasting himself as the good shepherd (and as the door) over against the thieves and robbers who abuse the sheep. As the shepherd/king Jesus calls his own sheep by name and "leads them out" (10:3). "When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice" (10:4). As the good Lord and shepherd, Jesus leads his disciples out, away from those places dominated by bad shepherds, or "wolves" (some in sheep's clothing); in his flock, all are sheep who follow the one true shepherd, and do not listen to "strangers" (10:5).

    1. Wow! I LOVED your thoughts and insight on this! I never thought of it this way. There are certainly many of those lamb-appearing shepherds out there, who are inwardly ravenous wolves, who prey on those who are doing their utmost to please God. This is how legalism operates, and it is so wonderful that we have a Shepherd Who will not allow us to stay in those places of bondage. Praise His name!! Thank you for stopping by and for sharing what the Lord laid on your heart. It was truly appreciated. :) God bless.

  4. Wow, thank you for this post!! I love this story, and I loved the insights you had to share on it -- this is my favorite kind of preaching! :)

    Praise God for rescuing us out of the bondage time and again...and for loving us and rewarding us --not for being perfect-- but just for being willing to hear His voice and love His name...

    God bless you and your family, Cheryl.

    1. Oh, Beth! Thank you ever so much for stopping by and for leaving such sweet encouragement behind. Yes, praise God for rescuing us! He is able to deliver us and KEEP us free from ever falling into bondage again. How grateful I am for His redeeming love and grace! So thankful for your visit. May God bless you, too. :)

  5. You painted this scene from the Bible in such vivid words that I saw it all anew. Yes, great courage from the healed blind man, and great compassion from our Lord. In light of the 4th of July, we must remember that it was for freedom that Jesus set us free. Not freedom to sin, for sin is the slavery, but free to worship and praise and follow Him. I'm often saying that it is people that all too often get in the way of Jesus. Our behavior can block a clear vision of Him.

    May He change us so that we are beautiful reflections of His love and grace.


    1. Oh, Sharon, thank you so much for your sweet words! They lifted my spirits so much! May the dear Lord bless you for being such a blessing. Much love to you. :)

  6. This I need to hear my sweet Sister.
    You have a lot to say, I agree.
    I am now following you.

    1. Thank you so much, dear, new friend! I am so happy to have you here and look forward to many future visits together. God bless you in a special way. :)

  7. I agree that the Pharisees were the biggest enemies Jesus had. It make you wonder how many of those we still have today. They chose to worship the church or portray themselves a certain way over worshiping Christ. Interesting concept.

    1. Yes, it surely does make us wonder...sad to say, I believe there are more of them around than there should be. Thank you ever so much for stopping nice to meet you! God bless you.

  8. Jesus' position (as an outsider who embraced those outside) always challenges our desire for acceptance, doesn't it? This opens a place for me to listen closely to my own heart and God's invitations. Thanks for linking with Unforced Rhythms :)

    1. YES, I love your thought on how Jesus being an outsider challenges our desire for acceptance! Wow, what a great angle of thought...I will have to chew on that for a while. :) Thanks so much for your visit and for sharing this edifying insight.

  9. Very powerful Cheryl. And so very real today as you say! We recently read "Stephen, A Soldier of the Cross" by Florence Kingsley and she retold this very story in one of the chapters, it brought it all back to life. I was in tears... When we get casted out from the Temple by the Pharisees, we become that Living Temple where Christ always reigns. I think that is the best place to be. Thank you for sharing this with us...

    1. Thank you so much, JES. That sounds like a wonderful book...I have never heard of that one. I LOVE what you said about when we are cast out, we BECOME that living temple where Christ always reigns! I just love that. What a wonderful, blessed thought and place to be! You are SO right. So thankful for your visit today, as always.

  10. Thanks the insights into the story of the blind man in John 9. I love the way Jesus draws the man closer to Himself, allowing the inevitable flow of events, until in the end the blind man realizes Jesus is the Son of God.

    1. YES, what a precious revelation when we come to that sweet realization in our own lives! So wonderful to really know Him and see Him for Who He is. How blessed we are! Thank you for your visit. :)