Sometimes good news is too good to believe. At least it seems
that way when Jesus strolls through John’s Gospel (John
5, healing one ill for thirty-eight years; John 11, the raising
of Lazarus). Here in chapter 9, the healing of the blind man is
not met with “hallelujahs” but questions and controversy. The
neighbors question if it is the same man. Even the parents are
hauled before the authorities to identify the formerly blind son.
The Pharisees can’t seem to agree on what happened and who is
responsible for taking forbidden action on the sabbath.
The authorities may know more theology than the man, but
the man speaks from experience—the experience of touch, sight,
and a changed life. Even in the face of expulsion from the synagogue
for testifying about Jesus, the man clings to his experience,
“One thing I know.” He believes this good news of Jesus.
This story contains more good news, for Jesus not only
heals but seeks. Jesus cares about blindness in his initial touch
of the man but Jesus also cares about those separated from the
community of faith: the least, the lost, and the outcasts. He
searches for the man “driven” out.
It has continued throughout church history. In our time,
people who have experienced Jesus’ love have been driven
from the church for skin color, marital status, or sexual orientation.
We celebrate that the church can be a place of healing
and forgiveness, but we confess that sometimes it also wounds.
Religious authorities, then and now, have been blind to the
wideness of God’s mercy. The good news is that Christ heals
and seeks us all. Thanks be to God.
Holy One, soften our hearts so that your love may flow through us in ever-widening circles. Open our eyes to see you in each person. Amen.
First Samuel 16 reminds us of the bold risk that Yahweh took in the anointing of this young and unheralded shepherd. If 1 Samuel 16 causes us to wonder about the adequacy of all human shepherds, Psalm 23 reassures us that one Shepherd never fails. The New Testament passages consider the tension between light and darkness as a metaphor for the conflict between good and evil. In Ephesians 5, the struggle has already been resolved but takes seriously the continuing problem of sin. By means of the love and presence of Jesus Christ, even the power of evil cannot withstand the light. Then John 9 emphasizes the power of Christ as a bringer of light in the story of the man born blind.
• Read 1 Samuel 16:1-13. How often do you allow external appearances to affect your decisions? In what ways are you learning to look on the heart?
• Read Psalm 23. When do you take time for yourself by slowing your pace, breathing deeply, and allowing God to restore your soul? How might this become a daily habit?
• Read Ephesians 5:8-14. How do you discover what pleases God? How does your living reflect your discovery?
• Read John 9:1-41. When have you experienced a “healing” that brought you back into community—either at home, work, or faith setting?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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