This post is going to be the hardest one. I think it’s not only going to be the hardest one concerning subject matter but also the hardest one to write honestly and still be grace-filled with my words. So far we’ve talked mainly about Jesus and the blind man. Today we have to talk about our secondary characters. Today we have to talk about the blind man’s community. Today we have to talk about the church.
Yuck, ew, no! EJECT!
Can’t. Gotta write some things. Are they going to be hard things? Yes. Are they going to stab at me as much or more? You betcha! But that’s where this honesty idea comes back to bite me in my own behind!
Let’s start by taking a second look at verse 8 that we talked about yesterday.
‘This caused quite a stir among the people of the neighborhood, for they noticed the blind beggar was now seeing! They began to say to one another, “Isn’t this the blind man who once sat and begged?” ‘
Here’s what stands out to me about this verse. Even after this man was seen by Jesus and his curse was taken away, those in his community were still seeing a problem and not a person. Ouch.
“They noticed the blind beggar…”. “Isn’t this the blind man…”? All they see is the issue! Our seeing friend even highlights it when the Bible says he insists, “I’m the man who was blind.” Notice how, to the man, he was the man first and blind second. But to everyone else, it was the other way around.
As recently as yesterday, I have struggled with seeing problems where people stand. Maybe it’s a person who has a problem, more often for me, it’s a person who is a problem but either way…the problem comes before the person. This is definitely something we need to keep in check in our own lives. The real problem in our story though is only beginning. The local church of the day is just easing us into the major issues. We stopped on verse 11 yesterday, let’s pick up there today and watch it spiral out of control.
‘He replied, “I met the man named Jesus! He rubbed clay on my eyes and said, ‘Go to the pool named Siloam and wash.’ So I went and while I was washing the clay from my eyes I began to see for the very first time ever! ” So the people of the neighborhood inquired, “Where is this man?” “I have no idea.” the man replied. So the people marched him over to the Pharisees to speak with them. They were concerned because the miracle Jesus performed by making clay with his saliva and anointing the man’s eyes happened on a Sabbath day, a day that no one was allowed to “work.” Then the Pharisees asked the man, “How did you have your sight restored?” He replied, “A man anointed my eyes with clay, then I washed, and now I can see for the first time in my life!” Then an argument broke out among the Pharisees over the healing of the blind man on the Sabbath. Some said, “This man who performed this healing is clearly not from God! He doesn’t even observe the Sabbath!” Others said, “If Jesus is just an ordinary sinner, how could he perform a miracle like that?”’
Let’s first of all acknowledge two very obvious things: the man is excited and the locals are scared. I feel like this man’s excitement is very obvious and expected, but how do I know the locals are scared? They give themselves away with the question “where is this man”. They’re talking to a man they themselves know has been blind his whole life. He has told them that a man put mud in his eyes and sent him away and when he came back he could see. Where is this man? How could he know…he’d never seen him before. He had walked a fair distance and returned to town with out the man he had never seen. How, in the world, could he know where the man is? An important note to those of us reading this story, if we find our common sense falling to the way side…we might be experiencing fear.
We come across another problem as we continue reading. As we go, we discover that the townspeople were “concerned” not over a blind man suddenly running through the streets with full sight but over the fact that someone healed him…on the wrong day. Now ain’t that just like a church child? Something inexplicably miraculous happens to a person and we find the one detail that can be disputed in any way and we set up camp there. We aren’t even supposed to notice it…and it’s all we see! And in making that one mistake, they make another. They turn what should be a praise…into a question.
I pray that I would’ve seen this man walking down the street with his sight and I would’ve exclaimed “YOU HAD YOUR SIGHT RESTORED!!!!!!” We would’ve hugged, and cried, and danced a bit. Instead, the people surrounding this man took the praise in his heart and questioned it. “How did you have your sight restored?” They did everything they could to bring his praises to a dead. End. Stop.
Now that I’ve said all this, let me take a time out. It is very, VERY easy for a Christian to go around hating on Christians. The fact of the matter is, there are a handful of Christians who ruin it for the rest of us. They say things that aren’t true because they believe things that aren’t accurate and they turn others away over characteristics that the God of the Bible has never had. And through all of that these Christians…are very human. It’s almost like they’re people. Talk about your double standard and stepping on toes…I’m just walking all over everyone in this post. But I think it is important to remember that the people who are so often perceived as a problem are in fact…you know…people. They have flaws. I have watched Father God teach me many things through mis steps and misquotes from other people, and I am grateful to learn from the mistakes of others, but I want to watch this experience and make sure it does not turn into judgment. Or a stumbling block.
Like say, getting mad at a man who met a miracle and experienced miraculous macular regeneration.
(The alliteration is strong with this one.)
As we have seen and will see, this particular miracle caused a LOT of people to doubt and even get mad at Jesus. The Bible tells us some decided that Jesus was a terrible man to work on the Sabbath. And in this act we see them reiterate an earlier problem.
When they looked at our blind man, the saw the problem not the person and now they are looking at the means and missing the miracle. God, PLEASE don’t let the same be said of me. But in the same breath, we owe another praise of support to our healed man. How, he asks. How could someone who is ordinary do what Jesus did for him?
This feels like a great stopping point for today’s episode. Why? Because we get to end today at what I’ve been claiming in my life for a while now. How could an ordinary man do what Jesus did? How could a dead God, keep me alive this long? How could I be this healed and free if Jesus the Christ were not a real person. No question mark. Full statement.
Let it be.