John 9:18-25, NIV

18 The Jews still did not believe that he had been blind and
had received his sight until they sent for the man's parents.
19 "Is this your son?" they asked. "Is this the one you say
was born blind? How is it that now he can see?"
 
20 "We know he is our son," the parents answered, "and we
know he was born blind. 21 But how he can see now, or who
opened his eyes, we don't know. Ask him. He is of age; he will
speak for himself." 22 His parents said this because they were
afraid of the Jews, for already the Jews had decided that anyone
who acknowledged that Jesus was the Christ would be put
out of the synagogue. 23 That was why his parents said, "He is
of age; ask him."
 
24 A second time they summoned the man who had been blind.
"Give glory to God," they said. "We know this man is a sinner." 
25 He replied, "Whether he is a sinner or not, I don't know. One
thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!"

 

August 29, 2011
The man who had been born blind was telling them the story of how,
after talking to Jesus, he was suddenly able to see for the first time
in his life.  But they refused to take his word for it.  And ordered his
parents to come in for questioning. 

Not believing anything we don't want to believe--that might be human
nature.  We are all guilty of skepticism, many times over.  Anything
can happen in the world of children, but when we grow up, we know
better.  Or do we?

This past Saturday I went to see a delightful rendition of "Peter Pan." 
The child Wendy was fascinated by the bravery and independence
of Peter.  Peter was fascinated by all the stories Wendy knew.  In
no time at all, Wendy could fly across the stage with Peter and do
all sorts of wonderful and exciting things.  Peter informed Wendy that
a fairy dies whenever a child no longer believes in fairies.  However,
the audience believed and was able to restore life to a dying fairy. 
I was there and saw it happen.  Had anyone admitted to being
skeptical, that person would have been booed right out of the theater.

After Wendy became an adult, she lost her sense of wonder and didn't
believe in flying anymore.  Grownups know better, don't they!  Isn't it
interesting that in Luke 18:17 Jesus is quoted as saying, "Anyone who
will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." 
Maybe these old men, who felt so righteous as they stood in judgment
of anyone associated with Jesus, needed to rekindle the child that had
died within them.  It might do us good to hang out with the little ones 
and experience again the marvels of childhood.


                                                                              More journal entries


December 19, 1983
If this man had really been born blind, it was an extraordinary miracle. 
Even in our day, with all our advanced technology and medical
know-how, it would still appear to us as an extraordinary event.

The blind man seems to have been emboldened by the miracle Jesus
did for him.  The words he speaks to his critics and not the words we
expect to hear from a blind beggar.  But this courage did not spread to
his parents.  They feared being excommunicated, isolated, shunned by
their local community.  They were not prepared to survive that kind
of treatment. 

These Jewish leaders are forcing people to take a stand.  Are you for
Jesus and against us; or are you for us and against Jesus?

Was Jesus from God or was he a sinner, just a regular guy?  These
men will forever wrestle with that question.  The blind man had evidence
and knew Jesus was not a sinner, because once he was blind and now
he can see.  But the inquisitors  would not believe, preferring to think of
Jesus as an impostor.


December 20, 1983
They didn't want to believe yet persisted in their questioning.  Why? 
They were looking for the evidence that would discredit their opponent. 
They had to prove Jesus wrong.  They should have put their energy
into trying to open themselves to the truth. 

It's so easy to understand these men. Defenders of the faith,
champions of religious tradition and practice.  Here in America we
could have used these men back in the 50's when prayer was removed
from the public schools.  We were hoodwinked by an emotionally
disturbed and vindictive woman.  Now that we have 20 years to reflect
on that decision, the progress made since then does not seem beneficial. 
The same will probably be true for Sunday merchandizing.  All the stores
are open for business on Sunday now.  How long will it take for people
to acknowledge that we all need a Sabbath day of rest?

Open to God, openness to truth--What does that look like?  Openness
leaves room for all sorts of ideas to come in, so in fear we keep the door
closed.  These religious leaders closed the door on Jesus, locked it
and threw the keys away.  Their hearts were so hardened, they couldn't
believe in a God who might surprise them in unexpected ways.


December 21, 1983
Is this your son. . . ?
We know he belongs to us.  We know he was born blind.  But we don't
know anything beyond that!  Their knowledge didn't go far enough. 
They knew what everyone else knew, but when their answers required
faith and courage, their knowledge withered, just melted away.  They
knew what it was safe to know and would go no further.

They implied they had no idea how it happened that now he can see. 
There's fear and cowardice behind those words.  They had been told
many times by their son how it happened and it should have been
easy enough to track Jesus down.  When blind Bartimaeus was healed
the crowds knew Jesus by name.  Why didn't this crowd know who
Jesus was?

Fear and cowardice.  I know those words.  I'd like to invite a friend to go
with me to the Needlework Christmas Party tomorrow at church, but. . .
What am I afraid of?  A "no" to my invitation?  Or the responsibility of
a "yes"?  Instead of expecting too much of people am I expecting too
little?  Afraid of a challenge so I succumb to mediocrity?  Afraid of doing
the unpopular thing and not being appreciated or liked?   Appearing
stupid, strange?  Afraid of hearing myself talk for fear I may say
something stupid or I may stutter and make a fool of myself? 

Fear and cowardice.  Sometimes it's just a matter of survival.  It's smart
to live; foolish to die.    


December 26, 1983
We don't know, ask him. . .
This story is getting no where!
Fear.  That's something I know about.  It determines my behavior also. 
Fear of the consequences.  What will happen if I do or say this thing? 
Fear of consequences can be a deterrent against bad and foolish
behavior, and in that sense fear is good.  Fear can also be a deterrent
to honest communication when what I think and feel is not OK to the other. 

His parents were afraid of the consequences of being honest!


December 27, 1983
"Give glory to God."  Was that phrase the equivalent of swearing to tell
the truth?  A reminder to this man to tell the truth?  Yes, they were
correct, everyone should give glory to God, but they didn't know who
God was.  They claimed to know that Jesus was a sinner.  They could
never believe the Trinity!--three in one.  They couldn't even believe two
in one.  Belief begins with desire and their problem was they had
no desire to believe Jesus and God were one.


December 28, 1983
He is a sinner.  A sinner meant Jesus is a man like us.  The blind man
was no authority on the origins of Jesus.  But this much he did know,
he had been blind all his life until Jesus healed him.

It seems they meant Jesus was working against God and therefore was
a blaspheming heretic Then in verses 31-33 the formerly-blind man
informs the Jewish leaders that sinners are not enabled by God to do
good works such as making the blind to see.  As a rule he was right, but
there are always exceptions that can be pointed to.  And to the Jewish
leaders Jesus was one of these evil exceptions and that's what made
him all the more dangerous.  They thought Jesus was evil even though
he did good works.  It's hard for us to imagine that Jesus was held in
such contempt by some of his contemporaries.

In one Scripture Jesus himself said a good tree bears good fruit and an
evil tree bears evil fruit.  I keep coming back to this thought, just think
what God would do through us if we were so totally committed to him,
desiring only his will, loving only him. 

In my observations, good fruit doesn't necessarily follow being good. 
I bet the lives of our greatest media evangelists are not as good as the
lives of many of the people they are preaching to.  I'm being cynical
now which will lead me nowhere.  Think what great works they would
do if they surrendered themselves totally to God!  Yes, God does use
sinners to do good works, and when things go right these sinners have
less and less desire to sin.  Time with God changes our interests and
desires.  Glimpses of heaven keep our gaze off the things that distract.  
If God could just get his people to look at him instead of at their natural
circumstances.  My sin is not going to prevent God from working
through me.  But my sin will prevent God from working in me fully.

How can good works come from an evil life?--it's not likely but it can
and does happen.  How can sinners do good things?--it happens all
the time.  The people in our text were arguing about something that
wasn't the real issue and for which there can be no definitive answer. 
The issue was in recognizing God.  Who was blind?   The blind man
or the Jewish leaders?

Recognizing God was/is good; failing to recognize God was/is evil. 
John Wesley said read the Bible with the intent of encountering God. 
How do I encounter God in this passage?  With the blind man I can say,
"Jesus, thank you that I am not what I used to be.  Thanks for opening
my eyes to your presence, your love, forgiveness, mercy, gentleness,
loving-kindness and faithfulness."  Once I lived as though you were
not important.  You hardly existed for me at all.  Now you are real, vital
to my living.  You have set my face on a path toward Home, where my
heavenly Father waits eagerly for me.  Words cannot express my
gratitude, only a lifetime of commitment on my part will do.

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