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Thursday, April 23, 2015

316: WAS BLIND, BUT NOW I SEE

"Just as a man does not really desire food until he is hungry,
so he does not desire the salvation of Christ until he knows why he needs Christ."
Ezra Taft Benson, 1987.
....
"Just as a man does not really desire to see until he knows he is blind,
so he does not desire to see the Lord until he knows it is possible to find Him."
Bare Record, 2015
 

Amazing Grace is a beautiful hymn about being redeemed regardless of sins committed. The lyrics penned by John Newton describe that the soul can be delivered from despair through the mercy of God. The history of this song and Newton's personal story of redemption is worth reading.

This hymn was sung by the early Saints. It was included in the collection of sacred hymns selected by Emma Smith for the original LDS Hymn Book. It was hymn number 118.  It is unfortunate that this hymn was later removed. It is no longer found in our current hymn book.  It seems like when Mormonism increased its emphasis on works instead of grace, other hymns were included like "Put your shoulder to the wheel".  :)

One of word in this song is "wretch".  I looked up the definition and a wretch is a banished person, or a stranger in exile. The word reflects the sorry state of someone no longer in the presence of God, who is "in misery, and sojourning in a foreign land. " Nephi uses this word to describe himself in the Book of Mormon. We read in 2 Nephi 4: 17 "Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities."
 
One of the best renditions of Amazing Grace is sung by the four tenors called, Il Divo. Below is a video created using footage from the DVD, The Eternal Christ which was filmed in the Holy Land. However, the closing shot is not from the Holy Land. The footage is of an ocean's wave. There is symbolism in how it is used.

The lyrics to this hymn contain the phrase "was blind and now I see". You will see in the video these words three times. The number three is important and symbolic. Each time you see the word "see" in the video, it is in relation to LIGHT and increases in intensity. (from an olive oil lamp, to the sun, to then translucency and emulating light over water.






Since Amazing Grace song is full of gratitude of one who used to blind but now can see, I wanted to share the following post written yesterday by one of my close friends who writes a personal blog. I do so with his permission.

"Sunday School this week was amazing. The lesson was taught on the experience of the healing of the blind man in John 9. But, seeing the entire story at once, suddenly something significant came to my mind that never before had been considered by me.

Story Summary: Christ spit in the dirt, made clay, wiped it on the blind mans eyes, and instructed him to wash in the spring named Siloam (translated meaning "Sent"). Those knowing the blind man asked him how it came to be that he could see. He told them.

Interestingly, they bring him to the Pharisees (the church institutional authorities at the time). And now the Pharisees question him asking him how he regained his sight. The man said again, Christ did it, and then testified of Christ possibly being a prophet. The Pharisees told him that Christ couldn't be a man of God since he healed on the sabbath. Christ didn't follow the protocols of their institution (craziness, right?).

The Pharisees now bring the blind man before the Jews. Remember the Jews are now the body of the church. They ask again, how are you now able to see? In frustration the blind man responds, "I have told you already, and ye did not hear; wherefore would ye hear it again? will ye also be his disciples?" In other words, "I told you already. Are you asking again for the purpose of being Christ's disciples?" The blind man is questioning the intentions of the crowd. He's questioning their hearts. An indirect customized test, but perfect for revealing their true desires.

The Jews revile the blind man saying, "You follow Christ, ...BUT WE FOLLOW MOSES!" And they eventually cast the blind man out, not only out of their presence, but out of their congregational fellowship (excommunicated). They would choose a Moses figure over the Savior Jesus Christ himself.

Then Christ comes to the blind man, seeing that he was cast out for His names sake, and Christ reveals himself to the blind man in his true identity as savior to the world. Is this the blind mans second comforter? His calling and election made sure? Yes sir!

Insight: Christ healed the blind man twice. The first was his physical blindness. And the second, when Christ revealed his true identity as the Savior, was his spiritual blindness. Between the restoration of the physical and the spiritual sight, the blind man was persecuted 3x for Christ's name sake, not having a perfect knowledge before hand. It wasn't until the blind man was completely cast out (excommunicated) for testifying of Christ that the scales of darkness of his spiritual eyes were removed. Christ came ...to him. Now, he was able to see with pure eyes, having known Christ.

Conclusion: This is not a story about "the blind man." The blind man's identity is irrelevant. Because the blind man is YOU! You, like the blind man in the story, have come through the veil "... having been blind from birth." Those who recognize this seek Christ to heal their blindness. But those who don't, think they can see just fine. "Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth."

Those who recognize they are blind are those who humble themselves before Christ and have faith in Him, and Christ's grace was sufficient to make weak things strong (Ether 12:27). However, those claiming that they know God, when they avoid studying, pondering, conversations, seeking to know God's mind and will in all things, ...these belong to the large and spacious building in Lehi's dream. And they depend on an institutional salvation, substituting the opportunity to partake of the fruit of the tree of life (Christ), casting out those who know Christ, ...hoping that obedience to their institutional laws will provide salvation. Which are you?"