February 25: The Fear
Leviticus 17:1–19:37; John 9:13–34; Song of Solomon 7:10–13
We often don’t realize that we’re guilty of fearing others. At the time, it can feel definite and look legitimate. Fearing others can also take the form of a meticulous house, staying late at the office, or passing anxious, sleepless nights. When we hold someone else’s opinions higher than God’s, we suddenly find our world shaky and imbalanced.
Jesus’ healing of the blind man reveals that the fear of people is not a modern concept. The Pharisees had a stranglehold on Jewish life: “for the Jews had already decided that if anyone should confess him to be Christ, he would be expelled from the synagogue” (John 9:22). The blind man’s parents were victims of their mission, but they were willing victims. Even within the ruling ranks, though, opinions were divided, but the fear of people still ruled (John 9:16). John reports elsewhere that “many of the rulers believed in him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess it.… For they loved the praise of men more than praise from God” (John 12:42–43).
The blind man is the antithesis of all this. Perhaps, marginalized at birth, the opinions of others didn’t hold as much weight for him. Under interrogation, he is bold, quick-witted, and over-the-top incredulous. He is enraged that the Pharisees do not accept the basic facts of the story: “I told you already and you did not listen! Why do you want to hear it again? You do not want to become his disciples also, do you?” (John 9:27). While he has yet to confess in Jesus, he knows what he has experienced—he was blind, and now he sees. And as far as he can tell, only one sent by God could perform such a miracle.
Fearing people involves holding their opinions higher than God’s. At its heart, though, it’s an inflated opinion of our own selves—self-protection or self-esteem. But the blind man was willing to proclaim the truth about the Son of Man who healed him—physically, and then spiritually. He was willing to give up everything.
How are you guided by the opinions of others? How can you make decisions that are aimed at bringing glory to God?
REBECCA VAN NOORD
- And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto Aaron, and to his sons, and to all the children of Israel, and say unto them, This is the thing which the Lord hath commanded, saying, Whosoever he be of the house of Israel that killeth a bullock, or lamb, or goat in the host, or that kileth it out of the host, And bringeth it not unto the door of the Tabernacle of the Congregation to offer an offering unto the Lord before the Tabernacle of the Lord, blood shall be imputed into that man: he hath shed blood, wherefore that man shal be cut off from among his people. Therefore the children of Israel shal bring their offerings, which they would offer abroad in the field, and present them unto the Lord at the door of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, and burn the fat for a sweet savor unto the Lord. Then the Priest shall sprinkle the blood upon the Altar of the Lord before the door of the Tabernacle of the Congregation by the Priest, and burn the fat for a sweet savor unto the Lord. And they shall no more offer their offerings unto devils, after whom they have gone a whoring: this shall be an ordinance forever unto them in their generations. Also thou shalt say unto them, Whosoever he be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers which sojourn among them, that offereth a burnt offering or sacrificie, And bringeth it not unto the door of the Tabernacle of the Congregation to offer it unto the Lord, even that man shall be cut off from among his people. Likewise whosoever he be of the house of Israel: or of the strangers that sojourn among them, that eateth any blood, I will even set my face against that person that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it unto you to offer upon the altar, to mae an atonement for your souls: for this blood shall make an atonement for the soul. Therefore I said unto the children of Israel, None of you shall eat blood: neither the stranger that sojourn among you, shall eat blood. Moreover whosoever he be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among them, which by hunting taketh any beast or fowl that may be eaten, he shall pour out the blood thereof, and cover it with dust: For the life of all flesh is his blood, it is joined with his life: therefore I said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall eat the blood of no flesh: for the life of all flesh is the blood thereof: whosoever eateth it, shall be cut off. And every person that eateth it which dieth alone, or that which is torn with beasts, whether it be one of the same country or a stranger, he shall both wash his clothes, and was himself in water, and be unclean unto the even: after he shall be clean. But if he wash them not, nor wash his flesh, then he shall bear iniquity. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, I am the Lord your God. After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do: and after the manner of the land of Canaan, whither I will bring you, shall ye not do, neither walk in their ordinances. But do after my judgments, and keep mine ordinances, to walk therein: I am the Lord your God. Ye shall keep therefore my statutes, and my judgments, which if a man do, he shall then live in them: I am the Lord. None shall come near to any of the kindred of his flesh to uncover her shame: I am the Lord. Thou shalt not uncover the shame of thy father, nor the shame of thy mother, for she is thy mother, thou shalt not discover her shame. The shame of thy father’s wife shall thou not discover: for it is thy father’s shame. Thou shalt not discover the shame of thy sister, the daughter of thy father, or the daughter of thy mother, whether she be born at home or born without: thou shalt not discover their shame. The shame of thy son’s daughter, or of thy daughter’s daughter, thou shalt not, I say, uncover their shame: for it is thy shame. The shame of thy father’s wife’s daughter begotten of thy father (for she is thy sister) thou shalt not, I say, discover her shame Thou shalt not uncover the shame of thy fathers sister: for she is thy father’s kinswoman. Thou shalt not discover the shame of thy mother’s sister: for she is thy mother’s kinswoman. Thou shalt not uncover the shame of thy father’s brother: that is, thou shalt not go in to his wife, for she is thine aunt. Thou shalt not discover the shame of thy daughter-in-law: for she is thy son’s wife: therefore shalt thou not uncover her shame. Thou shalt not discover the shame of thy brother’s wife: for it is thy brother’s shame. Thou shalt not discover the shame of the wife and of her daughter, neither shalt thou take her son’s daughter, nor her daughter’s daughter, to uncover her shame: for the are thy kinsfolks, and it were wickedness. Also thou shalt not take a wife with her sister, during her life to vex her, in uncovering her shame upon her. Thou shalt not also go unto a woman to uncover her shame, as long as she is put apart for her disease. Moreover, thou shalt not give thy self to thy neighbor’s wife by carnal copulation, to be defiled with her. Also thou shalt not give thy children to offer them unto Molech, neither shalt thou defile the Name of thy God: for I am the Lord. Thou shalt not lie with the male as one lieth with a woman: for it is abomination. Thou shalt not also lie with any beast to be defiled therewith, neither shall any woman stand before a beast, to lie down thereto: for it is abomination. Ye shall not defile yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the Nations are defiled which I will cast out before you: And the land is defiled: therefore I will visit the wickedness thereof upon it, and the land shall vomit out of her inhabitants. Ye shall keep therefore mine ordinances, and my judgments, and commit none of these abominations, as well he that is of the same country, as the stranger that sojourneth among you. (For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled: And shall not the land spew you out if ye defile it, as it spewed out the people that were before you?) For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, the person that do so, shall be cut off from among their people. Therefore shall ye keep mine ordinances, that ye do not any of the abominable customs, which have been done before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein: for I am the Lord your God. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto all the Congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy. Ye shall fear every man his mother and his father, and shall keep my Sabbath: for I am the Lord your God. Ye shall not turn unto idols, nor make you molten gods: I am the Lord your God. And when ye shall offer a peace offering unto the Lord, ye shall offer it freely. It shall be eaten the day ye offer it, or on the morrow: and that which remaineth until the third day, shall be burnt in the fire. For if it be eaten the third day, it shall be unclean, it shall not be accepte. Therefore he that eateth it, shall bear his iniquity, because he hath defiled the hallowed thing of the Lord, and that person shall be cut off from his people. When ye reap the harvest of your land, ye shall not reap every corner of your field, neither shalt thou gather the gelanings of thy harvest. Thou shalt not gather the grapes of thy vineyard clean, neither gather every grape of thy vineyard., but thou shalt leave them for the poor and for the stranger: I am the Lord your God. Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie to one another. Also ye shall not swear by my Name falsely, neither shalt thou defile the Name of thy God: I am the Lord. Thou shalt not do thy neighbor wrong, neither rob him. The workman’s hire shall not abide with thee until the morning. Thou shalt not curse the deaf, neither put a stumbling block before the blind, but shalt fear thy God: I am the Lord. Ye shall not do unjustly in judgment: Thou shalt not favor the person of the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty, but thou shalt judge thy neighbor justly. Thou shalt not walk about with tales among thy people: Thou shalt not stand against hte blood of thy neighbor: I am the Lord. Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart, but thou shalt plainly rebuke thy neighbor, and suffer him not to sin. Thou shalt not avenge, nor be mindful of wrong against the children of thy people, but shalt love thy neighbor: I am the Lord. Ye shall keep mine ordinances. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with others of diverse kinds. Thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed, neither shall a garment of divers things, as of linen and woolen come upon thee. Whosoever also lieth and meddleth with a woan that is a bondmaid, affianced to a husband, and not redeemed, nor freedom given her, she shall be scourged, but they shall not die, because she is not made free. And he shall bring for his trespass offeirng unto the Lord, at the door of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, a ram for a trespass offering. Then the Priest shall make an atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering before the Lord, concerning his sin which he hath done, and pardon shall be given him for his sin which he hath committed. Also when ye shall come into the land, and have planted every tree for meat, ye shall count the fruit thereof as uncircumcised: three years shall it be uncircumcised unto you: it shall not be eaten: But in the fourth year shall ye eat of the fruit of it, that it may ield to you the increase thereof: I am the Lord your God. Ye shall not eat the flesh with the blood: ye shall not use witchcraft, nor observe times. Ye shall not cut round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the tufts of thy beard. Ye shall not cut your flesh for the dead, nor make any print of a mark upon you: I am the Lord.Thou shalt not mae thy daughter common, to cause her to be a whore, lest the land also fall to whoredom, and the land be full of wickedness. Ye shall keep my Sabbaths, and reverence my Sanctuary: I am the Lord. Ye shall not regard them that work with spirits, neither Soothsayers: ye shall not seek to them to be defiled by them, I am the Lord your God. Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honor the person of the old man, and dread thy God: I am the Lord. And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, e shall not vex him. But the stranger that dwelleth with you, shal be as one of yourselves, and thou shalt love him as thyself: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. Ye shall not do unjustly in judgment, in line, in weight, or in measure. you shal lhave just balances, true weights, a true Ephah, and a true Hin, I am the Lrod your God, which have brought you out of the land of Egypt. Therefore shall ye observe all mine ordinances, and all my judgments, and do them: I am the Lord. Leviticus 17:1–19:37
- They brought to the Pharisees him that was once blind. And it was the Sabbath day, when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes. Then again the Pharisees also asked him, how he had receive sight. And he said unto them, He laid clay upon mien eyes, and I washed, and do see. Then said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the Sabbath day, Others said, how can a man that is a sinner, do such miracles? and there was a dissension among them. Then spake they unto the blind again, What sayest thou of him, because he hath opened thine eyes? And he said, He is a Prophet. Then the Jews did not believe him (that he had been blind, and receive his sight) until they had called the parents of him that had received sight. And they asked them, and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind: But by what means he now seeth, we know not: or who hath opened his eyes, can we not tell: he is old enough: ask him: he shall answer for himself. These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had ordained already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be excommunicated out of the Synagogue. Therefore said his parents, He is old enough: ask him. Then again tcalled they the man that had been born blind, and said unto him, Give glory unto God: we know that this man is a sinner. Then he answered, and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I cannot tell: one thing I know, that I was blind, and now I see. Then said they to him again, What did he to thee? how opened he thine eyes? He answered them, I have told you already, and ye have not heard it: wherefore would ye hear it again? will ye also be his disciples? Then reviled they him, and said, Be thou his disciples. We be Moses’ disciples. We know that god spake with Moses: but this man we know not from whence he is. The man answered, and said unto them, Doubtless, this is a marvelous thing, that ye know not whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes. now we know that god heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him heareth he. Since the world began, was it not heard, that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind. If this man were not of God, he could have done nothing. They answered, and said unto him, Thou art altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? so they cast him out. Jesus heard that they had cast him out: and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe in the Son of God? He answered, and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe in him? And Jesus said unto him, Both thou hast seen him, and he it is that talketh with thee. Then he said, lord, I believe, and worshipped him. And Jesus said, I am come unto judgment into this world, that they which see not, might see: and that they which see, might be made blind. And some of the Pharisees which were with him, heard these things, and said unto him, Are we blind also? Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should not have sin: but now ye say, We see: therefore your sin remaineth. John 9:13–34
- I am my well-beloved’s, and his desire is toward me. Come my well-beloved, let us go forth into the field: let us remain in the villages. Let us get up early to the vines, let us see if the vine flourish, whither it hath budded the small grape, or whither the pomegranates flourish: there will I give thee my love. The mandrakes have given a smell, and in our gates are all sweet things, new and old: my well-beloved, I have kept them for thee. Song of Solomon 7:10–13