Okay, my friends. Let’s get started. And to get started, I think I should explain to you how this all started.
Once upon a time…
On Monday. I was doing my Bible reading. I was in a medium place. Have you ever noticed that Christians spend a LOT of time talking about the mountain top and the valleys but very little time discussing the climb? I had just started the hike out of one heck of a valley and God had already communicated to me that He was very aware I needed special attention for a while. With that in mind, it is no surprise that He showed up and showed off in His Word for me that day.
It happened in a story I’ve heard a million times before.
It happened in a story I knew.
It happened in a story that I wasn’t expecting.
It happened in John Chapter 9.
I love Bible translations. I hope that is something that you have figured out from our time together. I think everyone should read multiple translations! I think everyone should have a favorite! I think everyone should steer clear of statements like: “It’s the only one I use.” It is WAY too easy to slip from that into “It’s the only one that’s right”. But I digress.
I do my daily reading in The Passion Translation. It is a newer translation but still a GREAT one!!! It falls on The Message end of the spectrum and I truly believe that John chapter 9 stood out to me because it was a new way of hearing that age-old story.
“Jesus Healed a Man Born Blind”
I read that section title and I was like, “Oh yeah…mud in your eyes. Praise God! What? Who healed you on the Sabbath? Angry Pharisees. Jesus puts the burn on them. HALLELUJAH!!!”
I wasn’t ready though. I wasn’t ready for the things that God opened my eyes to in this story in my season. A season I believe a lot of us share. A season of burn out and busy-ness and weepy drives. A season where we constantly hear 42 lies and a Truth about us in our own minds and we know the Truth is True…but the lies are loud. That’s the season I’m talking about.
“Afterward, as Jesus walked down the street, he noticed a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Teacher, whose sin caused this guy’s blindness, his own, or the sin of his parents?” Jesus answered, “Neither. It happened to him so that you could watch him experience God’s miracle.”
The first thing I want to say about this story is this: if they ever make a meme Bible (I’m not saying they should…but I’m not saying I wouldn’t buy it tomorrow), this story is going to be the Jesus version of “…hold my beer”. You know, the redneck saying to the other redneck, “Man, can’t nobody wrastle a gater wearing a tutu and ballet slippers.” Then Bubba turns to Hubba and says “…hold. My. Beer.”
But let’s just take in these three verses right now and notice a couple things. Like where Jesus “noticed a man blind from birth”. The original Greek word here is the word “horao” which means “to see”. Jesus’ friends all turn to Him and ask a weird question. I mean, why would their first reaction be to assume God is punishing this man by making him blind? But don’t we do it? When someone I love is struggling a lot, I sometimes wonder what they did to deserve this and more often I point out that they don’t deserve this which is basically saying the same statement. We may sometimes do it, but in the day of the New Testament, this was quite likely a way of thinking taught through the church. The people of the church were walking through the streets seeing people’s sins.
Then along comes Jesus. And He noticed a man.
Oooh!!!! If I’m being honest, I’ve started back through John 9 to make notes on what I want us to talk about and I’m already seeing new things I didn’t catch the first read-through! Like this! Jesus saw a man (who was blind from birth). The disciples saw a sinner that was blind. This man was quite literally in the darkest moment of his life when the disciples came across Him and all they saw was his darkness.
I wonder if you’ve experienced that my friend. Maybe not through sin, Jesus even goes so far to clarify that the man isn’t blind because of sin. However, have you been in the darkness of grief, depression, anxiety, divorce, a hostile work environment and been surrounded by people who only saw your darkness…they didn’t see you. I can promise you something, something I don’t always remember in my own darkness but it is just as true for both of us…Jesus. Sees. You. He knows your name. He sees you. And your darkness is just His canvas. He’s about to come in with a sunrise!!!
“““While I am with you, it is daytime and we must do the works of God who sent me while the light shines. For there is coming a dark night when no one will be able to work. As long as I am with you my life is the light that pierces the world’s darkness.””
I see this verse as a great promise for those of us in darkness…and a great commission to those of us who are children of light.
First, let’s talk about the commission. I’ve heard a lot of Christians say things like, “Jesus come back soon! This world is so bad off!” And I believe there is a kind emotion behind that, but if Jesus comes today He is going to make things worse for a LOT of people. I don’t need Him coming back yet…I’ve still got work to do. All Christians carry the light of Christ, so as long as we are here, there is light left for work. But as SOON as the rapture comes and the followers of Christ ascend…all the light is gone. When the light is gone, we can’t work anymore. You can’t work in the dark. I don’t know what you do, but I’m a barista, and if I tried to make lattes in the dark…I’m getting heccin burned! While there’s light, while it’s day time, we’re called to keep working for Christ.
But in these same words that issue such a challenge, there is a sweet, sweet promise to you in your darkness. Because you may be in darkness…but the light is still shining for now. And when darkness goes to battle with light…light always wins. Light lights up darkness and defeats it every time. I’m just talking about light right now…let’s talk about Jesus. When The Light that lit the sun and set the earth in motion around it steps up to the battle against the darkness of an already defeated adversary…ha, ha! Light. Wins. Every time!!!
One thing I had never noticed about this story is Jesus’ talk of light and darkness directly preceding Him giving sight to a blind man. Oh, I love it!!!
Let’s use our imaginations a little bit here. Not to add to Scripture…but to paint a picture. This man…I wonder how close he was to this conversation.
Was he close enough to hear. Seated on the ground on a side street, he sat here because it was the best angle to feel the sun on his skin. He leaned against a wall and heard a ruckus. There was a larger crowd coming his way. Maybe, hmm…13 people maybe. The men were laughing and talking and one man…His voice…it was different. I wonder if he felt Jesus see Him. I believe he did. They say the blind have heightened senses, and I believe that as he sat thinking about that one voice, his heart told him that Man was seeing him. Then the disciples gathered near to Jesus and whispered their question so the man couldn’t hear. But he heard them. Those heightened senses kept him from falling and breaking his arm…but they often broke his heart. “Jesus. What kind of sinning sinner sin did that guy commit?” “Or, is it that his parents were no good sinning sinners Jesus?” I bet the man’s guard went up. And I bet it was absolutely shattered when Jesus the Christ-Son began to speak. “Nobody sinned guys. This man was born blind so that you could see a miracle through him. He was born blind so that he would be one of the chosen ones to actually be a miracle.” “Me? A Miracle?” He missed the entire dialogue about light and dark because he was doubting that someone could be a miracle when they spent so much time in darkness. But then that sweet, sweet voice of Jesus drew him back in. “My friends, young man”, he took the blind man’s hand and raised him to his feet, “understand this: I am with you, and while I am, I am a light that pierces the world’s darkness.” 12 men didn’t know what he meant. But another man felt it in his bones that his darkness…was about to be pierced.
I’ll see you tomorrow.
Let it be.