Read John 9
As we move through chapter 9, I ask that we think about ourselves a little more that usual. We see Jesus doing mighty acts, often on the Sabbath. We see Scribes and Pharisees and very religious Jews not liking that this man is disrupting their well-established comfort zones. We see Jesus giving the Pharisees just what they deserve, and we usually like that part.
But, what about us? Are there insights into our nature and lifestyle that we should be considering? Let’s go back to John 4 and the woman at the well. She wants to do anything other than talk about the way she lives. She tries to avoid conversation with Jesus about how she is living by bringing up religious topics.
Where is the right place to worship? When the Christ comes, he will settle things. Her attitude changed when he told her that she was speaking to the Christ, but do we still have similar attitudes? Do we avoid life’s tough questions?
How many times do we invite someone to church instead of inviting them to know Jesus as Lord? The former is an easier task. The latter is a real conversation.
How many times do we pick out a few verses in the Bible to the exclusion of others? How many times do those few verses monopolize our response to God’s grace and mercy?
How many times do we point fingers instead of offering an outstretched hand? Our sins are forgiven but we have not been made the judge. Condemnation of others is not one of the perks of salvation.
In how many ways are we like the woman at the well? I hope that we are like here in one way. When Christ was revealed to her, her life changed in the moment.
How many of us are like the huge crowds in John 6, who upon being challenged with the bread of life thought the teaching too difficult and left?
When it’s a lunch in the middle of nowhere that’s one thing, but making Jesus your real sustenance is another. How many of us bug out when following the Lord gets tough?
Let’s frame this in the context of what we have received and know today. The statement that love fulfills the law may sound like an easy way out, but following rules about honoring your parents, resting one day a week, not profaning the name of God, and not stealing are pretty easy compared to loving your enemies or loving the least of these.
Do we bug out when following Jesus gets tough?
What about the woman caught in the act in chapter 8? There was no defense. By the law, she should have been stoned. Only by mercy did she escape condemnation.
We are this woman. We may not be doing the deed with our neighbor, but all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. We don’t have to be caught in the act. Nothing is hidden from God. Only his mercy and grace can rescue us from condemnation.
We sometimes think that if there isn’t a crowd dragging us into the courtyard to be stoned that we are doing fine. We are told to stop judging on appearances. God sees the heart.
How many ways are we like this woman?
We come to chapter 9, and there is so much in this chapter. I hope you read it and listened to the messages, but for the moment, consider the crowd that followed the blind man to the pool and saw him healed when he washed. Some doubted that it was the same man who had been begging on the side of the road all of these years.
How is that even possible?
Think to the story of the Good Samaritan. The priest and the Levite see the wounded man up ahead and walk by on the other side of the road. To them he was an inconvenience. He was less than human. They couldn’t be bothered with things that would take them away from their daily tasks.
Now think to the blind man who sat on the side of the road begging for years. How many times, hundreds of times, had people walked by him. He was always there. Perhaps sometimes he changed location based on seasonal events.
If people were headed to atone for their sins, they might be more apt to throw a couple coins his way. If you were a beggar, you wanted to be in that traffic pattern. Mostly, he was in the same place day after day and year after year.
How could people not recognize him?
If you looked at a beggar as you passed by, you might be compelled to mercy. You might give him something. If you wanted to keep your money in your pocket, you did not make eye contact with the beggar, even with a blind one.
How often is this us?
We want to help the poor and disadvantaged but don’t really want to get to know them. Here’s a hundred bucks to help those in need but I don’t want to get to know them.
You have heard me talking about breaking the vending machine a few times. Many think it’s all about those being helped. It’s not.
We are as apt to be transactional as those coming for help. We will give money or buy stuff, but we don’t’ always want to get to know the least of these my brothers and sisters.
In how many ways are we like the crowd of people who did not recognize the man who was blind and now could see? How many times do we not want to see the least of these?
Now we come to the blind man. Jesus put mud in his eyes. He washed them as instructed. He could see. He had never been able to see before but now he could see.
One of the things that he saw very soon after receiving his sight was that the religious leaders did not like the man who healed him. He knew his name was Jesus but he didn’t know much more than that.
He was brought before the Pharisees and questioned. He answered everything that he knew. He was dismissed and his parents were called in. They confirmed that he was their son and was born blind. As far as the healing stuff, you need to ask him. He is old enough to answer for himself.
So, the man who can now see is brought back before the Pharisees. They decide to help this man get closer to the right answer, that is, the answer they wanted to hear. You have seen enough courtroom dramas to know how lawyers like to frame their questions.
The man was not interested in playing games. He answered the Pharisees who had proclaimed Jesus to be a sinner by saying, I don’t know if he is a sinner or not. What I do know is that I was blind and now I see.
I was blind but now I see.
This is irrefutable testimony. It comes with no agenda. It does not take sides. It surely was not what the Pharisees wanted to hear.
They asked him the same questions they did before. Superimposing a little courtroom vernacular over the man’s response, we get: Asked and answered!
Then the man who can now see takes the offensive. No sinner could do what this man did.
Why do you want to know so much? Do you want to be his disciples too?
That sent the Pharisees through the roof. They had no appropriate response other than to call him a child of sin and kick him out of their courtroom.
This man had not only offered irrefutable testimony, but he had also out lawyered the lawyers.
Jesus met him later. He asked him if he wanted to believe in the Son of Man.
He replied: Just tell me who he is.
Jesus said: You are talking to him.
The man believed in Jesus and worshiped. He believed and worshiped.
You have to love this story I was once lost but now and found, was blind but now I see.
I have been asking you to look at yourselves from the perspective of many different people. Now I ask you to put yourselves in the place of the blind man healed by Jesus.
But, I was never blind.
But, his story is so unique.
But, we too have been healed by Jesus. By his wounds we are healed. We were lost in sin. We were dead. He has rescued us an delivered us. He brought us from death to life.
Remember the song Reckless Love. Remember the words, Oh the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God. It’s powerful. God loves with abandon. He pours out his love not only on those who deserve it but on those who don’t.
Shouldn’t our response be Reckless Worship. Shouldn’t we worship without regard to what the world thinks or who says you should do this or not that?
The man that Jesus healed knew that the religious leaders of the day would put anyone out of the synagogue if they spoke in favor of Jesus.
Worshiping him may have more dire consequences. He might have been able to see for less than a day before he was stoned to death.
But he didn’t care. He knew the one who gave him sight. He knew who held the words of life. He knew who his Lord was.
We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We often don’t want to know the least of these. Sometimes, we think the teachings of Jesus to be too hard.
Sometimes, we do a cost-benefit analysis on following Jesus and try to hedge our bets a little with the ways of the world.
This man said, I don’t care what the world thinks. I was once lost but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.
I will worship without reservation.
In the oath of officers of the United States of America, which includes not only the top officials but every commissioned officer, are these words: I take this oath freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion.
It’s an all-in sort of deal. I don’t hold back anything and I have no ulterior motives.
This is how we are called to worship. This is worshiping in Spirit and in Truth. This is worship with abandon.
Is this how we worship? Are we like the man who was blind but now can see?