Gospel Doctrine, New Testament Lesson 16: “I Was Blind, Now I See”

My wife and I drove recently to Seattle to see my brother in law and his wife get sealed in the Seattle temple, we drove through central Oregon and Portland (saw the Columbia river, green fields, rolling hills, snowy mountains, the Pacific Ocean, rainy beautiful green forests and saw an amazing waterfall) my wife commented to me, “how can people see all of this and not believe in God?” We all have the risk of being blind to spiritual truths that are right in front of our eyes if we choose not to see them and not to believe them.

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John chapter 9 tells the story of the healing of the blind man, and gives examples of the terrible state of those who allow themselves to be spiritually blind and refuse to see the truth.

(John 9: 1-7)

“…who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:2)

A pre-mortal existence is implied in this question, how else could the man sin prior to his birth? This belief in the pre-mortal existence of the spirit was apparently a belief held by the Jews of this time.

“Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” (John 9:3)

This man’s blindness appeared to carry with it for him a special mission that the “the works of God should be made manifest in him.”

Q. Why did Jesus anoint the man’s eyes with clay?

Believe it or not there was a specific prohibition by the Jewish rulers against the application of saliva to the eyes on the Sabbath. This strange restriction came into being because of a common belief that saliva was a remedy for diseases of the eye.

**** It would seem that Jesus was deliberately violating the Pharisees rules of the Jewish Sabbath.

“…Jesus is putting the people in the position of choosing between him as one sent of God to do the work of the Father, as one who can open blind eyes, and the traditions of the elders about Sabbath observance. They must make their choice at the peril of their salvation…”

– Elder Bruce R. McConkie (Mortal Messiah, 3:201)

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John 9:18-23

So his neighbors see or hear about his miraculous healing and are amazed and not sure what to think, are we sure this is the man who was born blind? They ask him and he gives his testimony and tells what had happened and how he was healed by Jesus. This was the first time he shares his testimony

Their reaction is essentially to take him to the Pharisees to be judged. Wouldn’t you be happy for someone who was just miraculously healed?

He then bears his testimony to the Pharisees that he was healed and that Jesus is a prophet, he doesn’t appear to know more about Jesus than that but he defends what he knows is true.

His parent’s are brought before the Pharisees and questioned, they give a simple testimony – we know that this is our son and he was born blind, his parents were afraid to say any more. Why? The threat was excommunication for anyone who confessed Jesus was the Messiah. Does their testimony give enough witness/evidence to the Pharisees that the man is telling the truth about being healed of his physical blindness?

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Q. Why do you think this man might have been chosen to have this special mission of being healed and having the works of God made manifest in him?

Did his life as a blind man (already somewhat of an outcast in his society) prepare him for what would likely follow of a hard road of being cast out of Jewish society and testifying to those who might reject him?


Q. What can we learn from (his example and) the way this man handled all the things that happened to him AFTER he was healed?

He not only had faith to be healed, he had faith to bear testimony of what had happened to him after he was healed in spite of heavy opposition and threats. This says a lot about why he was chosen to be a witness of this miracle of the Savior, he stayed true to what happened to him and stood up for that truth. He had integrity.

“Jesus saw the need of an individual…[He] performed the service immediately with just the resources he had—spit and mud and a desire to help. He didn’t transport the man to an exotic medical facility, organize a cornea transplant team, or didn’t make it into a media event. Sometimes we think we can’t serve because we’re not rich enough, not educated enough, not old enough, or not young enough. Remember, if we have the desire to serve, then our bare hands, a little spit, and a little dirt are enough to make a miracle.

[He] didn’t just dump that service on the man and walk away. He gave that man a way to exercise faith and strengthen the faith he had by asking him to participate in his own healing. It was a simple thing—washing in the pool of Siloam. But what if the man had refused? Jesus took that risk and let the man participate in his own miracle.”

– Chieko N. Okazaki, “Spit and Mud and Kigatsuku

The Savior comes to visit him again after he is cast out of the synagogue (excommunicated), notably not until after the trial of his faith and testimony.

“Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.

And Jesus said, For judgment I am come 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 words, and said unto him, Are we blind also? Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.” (John 9:35-41)

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Q. What does the Savior mean when he says those who see not will see, and those who see will be made blind?

“[Jesus] came into the world to sit in judgement on all men, to divide them into two camps by their acceptance or rejection of his word. Those who are spiritually blind have their eyes opened through obedience to His gospel and shall see the things of the Spirit. Those who think they can see in the spiritual realm, but who do not accept Him and His gospel will remain in darkness and be made blind to the true spiritual realities.”

– Elder Bruce R. McConkie

Gospel Doctrine Lesson Outlines, New Testament

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This will be a work in progress as I put together lesson plans for this year’s gospel doctrine class, studying in the New Testament. I’ll post them as I complete them, wanted to have them all in one place rather than in multiple posts. I won’t have all of the lessons covered here but hopefully will get several posted in the coming months. Enjoy and if you have any questions or suggestions about these or anything related please comment!

Download My Lesson Outlines (.doc files)

Lesson 5: “Born Again”

Lesson 8: The Sermon on the Mount: “A More Excellent Way”

Lesson 10: “Take My Yoke upon You, and Learn of Me”

Lesson 12: “I am the Bread of Life”

Lesson 14: “Who Is My Neighbor?”

Lesson 16: “I Was Blind, Now I See”

Lesson 22: “Inherit the Kingdom Prepared For You”

Lesson 24: “This is Life Eternal”

Lesson 26: “To This End Was I Born”

Lesson 28: “We Are Witnesses”

Lesson 30: “God is No Respecter of Persons”

Lesson 32: “Live in the Spirit”

Lesson 34: “Keep the Ordinances As I Delivered Them”

Gospel Doctrine, New Testatment Lesson 5, “Born Again”

Download lesson 5 complete notes .doc file

John 4, Jesus speaks with a Samaritan woman

Q. Who were the Samaritans?

. . . When the Ten Tribes were transported to Assyria more than seven centuries before the Christian Era, Samaria was repeopled by heathen colonists from other Assyrian provinces. These pagan peoples, intermixing somewhat with scattered remnants of Israel, founded the race of despised and hated Samaritans of Jesus’ day. As a nation, they claimed Jacob as their father and maintained they were inheritors of the blessings of the chosen seed. Their religion, partially pagan in nature, accepted the Pentateuch, but rejected the prophets and the psalms. In the day of Jesus they were friendly to Herod and Rome, but bitter toward the Jews, a feeling fully reciprocated by their Jewish kindred.
–Bruce R. McConkie

– Jesus must have recognized that at least this woman was of the house of Israel, otherwise he would not likely have come to teach her. Although the gospel was eventually to be preached to all the world, his personal ministry was only to be to the literal house of Israel

(Read John 4:1-6)

JST says whatever their intentions were before, the Pharisees now sought to put him to death because people were following him and being converted. They were threatened by his power and influence, possibly sheds more light on Nicodemus

Bible map #11 of Samaria/ Judea / Galilee – “left Judæa, and departed again into Galilee. And he must needs go through Samaria.”

– Samaria is right between the two, would be going out of his way to avoid Samaria (as most Jews did) but Jesus deliberately went through Samaria, deliberately talked with a woman who was a Samaritan, going against the social

The savior knew her background and despite her situation, living with someone she wasn’t married to and he still went out of his way to teach the gospel to her, didn’t judge, this led to many other Samaritans having the gospel.

(read John 4:6-15)

Q. Why did he ask her for water?

V6 says it was the 6th hour. The Jewish day starts at 6am so the 6th hour would be sometime between 12 and 1pm, so its the middle of the day, he has been walking all day and it tired and probably really thirsty

What is the most valuable substance or commodity in the world? We might initially think that gold, oil, or diamonds have the greatest worth. But of all the minerals, metals, gems, and solvents found on and in the earth, the most valuable is water. Life springs from water. Life is sustained by water. Water is the medium required to perform the various functions associated with all known forms of life. …a person can survive for many days or even weeks without food, an individual will usually die in only three or four days without water. Most of the world’s great centers of population are situated near sources of fresh water. Simply stated, life could not exist without the availability of and access to adequate supplies of clean water. …Given the vital role of water in sustaining all forms of life, the Savior’s use of the term “living water” is supernally significant.”
–Elder Bednar

Q. Why didn’t the woman understand the Savior at first?

“…The whole episode compares secular things to spiritual. The woman was engrossed in the worldly things-the flesh, the natural water, the rope, the bucket. She could hardly grasp the idea of the ‘living water,’ and even when she began to believe, her response was that she would like some of that special kind of water so that she would never have to come again to the well to draw. She was still thinking in physical terms. It took some time before she could appreciate that the ‘living water’ Jesus could give would be like a flowing well ‘springing up unto everlasting life’.”
–Robert J. Matthews

Q. What is the living water that the Savior offers?

(Guidance, covenants, comfort, inspiration from scriptures, words of prophets – living = moving, active, eventually it will be eternal life if we stay on that path )

– I want to add emphasis that we don’t have to wait until the next life to receive that living water. In fact we should be seeking that every day.

John 7:37-39 (living water = The gift of the Holy Ghost)

1 Nephi 11:25 (fountain of living waters/tree of life, represents the love of God)

– A major point of this lesson, there’s a lot of them, but as I was studying I thought of this scripture in the D&C, in the middle of the prayer given at the Kirtland temple dedication, Joseph Smith starts to pray for the kings and rulers, the poor and needy and all people of the world and prays:

That their hearts may be softened when thy servants shall go out from thy house, O Jehovah, to bear testimony of thy name; that their prejudices may give way before the truth, and thy people may obtain favor in the sight of all…”
–D&C 109: 56

We must let go of prejudices, false ideas and whatever limiting beliefs we hold that prevent us from fully embracing the gospel and keeping God’s commandments. It is then that we can receive the promises such as these:

24 That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.
–D&C 50:24

67 And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things.
–D&C 88:6

I know that as we allow the Spirit to soften our hearts and accept the gospel more fully, with willingness to act on what we know is true, we will be blessed with the living water of the Spirit and we will feel God’s love more deeply and receive his help and guidance daily.

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