Cast out by the World; Never Cast Out by Christ

Jacob Tanner

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He was a new Christian. While he certainly did not understand all the theological or doctrinal truths that a more seasoned Christian would learn over time, he knew that Jesus had saved his soul and blessed him. A miracle of momentous proportions had occurred in his life. Though he was born blind, now he could see. Though he was lost, now he was found. For all of this, he had Jesus to thank. His main desire now was to know Christ and make him known to the world. But as he went forth to share the good news of what Jesus had done for him with others, something shocking happened: The people cast him out of their fellowship.

If this story sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the story of the man who had been born blind, whom Jesus healed in John chapter 9, who was later cast out of the synagogue for professing that Jesus had healed him. It is also familiar to us because, without fail, every Christian either has experienced a moment like this or, unfortunately, will. This is not mere pessimism, but the promise of our Lord himself: “You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. . . . Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake” (Matt 10:22, 24:9).

As a pastor, I can attest to this reality. We’re often surrounded by wolves in sheep’s clothing, just waiting to unzip their costume so they can step out and bare their fangs. We’re surrounded by a hostile culture that hates all that is holy, good, and true. Is it any surprise that our allegiance to Christ as Lord leads to the world’s hatred of us?

What is a Christian to do when these trials and hardships come? Note, it is not a question of what should be done if the Christian suffers rejection and persecution from the world, but what should be done when the Christian suffers rejection and persecution from the world. For both newer Christians and seasoned Christians alike, for those infants in the faith and those mature in the faith, this is an important question. Thankfully, the Word of God both instructs and encourages on this front in many places, and especially in John 9.

Making God’s grace known is worth the persecution.

When we first meet the man born blind, he is begging outside of the synagogue. He is not only blind, but destitute and dead in sin. But Jesus looks upon him and shows this poor man mercy and grace. He heals his eyes and saves his soul (Jn 9:1–7). This an amazing act of mercy and grace and the man cannot help but go and share the good news with others. We who have experienced the grace of God must do the same.

The now seeing man, however, is not met with the cheerful joy and acceptance he may have expected. Instead, the Pharisees don’t believe him, threaten his parents, tell him to deny Jesus, and, finally, cast him out of the synagogue for professing Jesus (Jn 9:8–34).

Despite their threatening him, the man could not help but give a verbal confession of the truth. In John 9:25, he confessed, “One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” What an incredible testimony! Then, in verses 30–33, the man explains how Jesus is the perfect, sinless, Heaven-sent, virgin-born, Son of the living God.

Verse 34 is the kicker, though. He’s been healed by Jesus, saved, and his life has changed. Things are really looking up. But his confession of Jesus leads directly to his being cast out of the synagogue.

Today, Christians must expect this, endure this, and speak the truth all the same. The Apostle Paul promised persecution for godliness in 2 Timothy 3:12 when he wrote, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” Frankly, the Christian who never experiences any sort of persecution from the world should be concerned, for godliness may be great gain with the Lord, but will inevitably lead to clashes within the culture.

We must find our comfort in Christ who sees and knows all.

One of the great encouragements afforded to the Christian is that Jesus sees, hears, and knows all. No sooner is the man cast out of the synagogue then Jesus makes his way to him to comfort him. “Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’” (Jn 9:35). We serve a Savior who does not delay in tenderly caring for his sheep. He is in no danger of missing any injustice done to us in our lives, nor is he capable of turning a blind eye to what occurs. He not only invites us to rest in him by casting our cares and burdens upon him (Matt 11:28–30, 1 Pet 5:7), but he immediately comes to our aid when we most need him. As the writer of Hebrews encourages in Hebrews 10:36–39:

For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.

Our comfort is in his hands, and so too is our vindication (Ps 94:1, Rom 12:19). Not only will he not leave nor forsake us (Heb 13:5), but he will not allow injustices and sins against us to go unpunished, for “no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Heb 4:13).

We must remember that though the world cast us out, we will never be cast out by Christ.

John 9:34 is juxtaposed against John 6:37. Of the Pharisees, we read, “And they cast him out.” But of Christ we read, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”

What Christ offers the sinner is an eternal communion. What the world offers is only temporal and fleeting. Should the world cast us out for our faith in Christ, we have lost nothing. Let the world do its worst. Gladly accept this world’s injustices, discriminations, persecutions, vitriol, and hatred, for then we know that we have been counted worthy to share in the sufferings and afflictions of Jesus (Acts 5:41, Col 1:24, 1 Pet 5:13). If we have Christ, we can have confidence and boldness in our declarations of truth.

Find both your comfort and courage in Christ. We do not need cowardly Christians today, afraid of the world’s rejection; we need courageous Christians who know their Savior and hope in his promises.

Furthermore, if we have Jesus, we can rest in his strong hands, knowing that he not only will never cast us out, but nothing can pluck us from his hands (Jn 10:28–30, Rom 8:31–39). We may be cast out by the world, but Christ will never cast out his own.

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Jacob Tanner

Pastor Christ Keystone Church

Jacob Tanner is pastor of Christ Keystone Church, a Reformed Baptist church plant in Central Pennsylvania. He lives with his wife and two sons and is the author of Union with Christ: The Joy of the Christian’s Assurance in the Doctrines of Grace.