[Nov 09]--Light’s Invasion, Part Two

            I hate to say it, but sometimes I actually laugh at the Pharisees. I know we shouldn’t. The spiritual deception they participated in and perpetuated was no laughing matter. But sometimes they’re so over the top in the Gospels that they almost become caricatures of themselves.

            I mean, look at today’s reading. A man had been blind from birth. He'd never seen a sunrise, or a beautiful woman’s face, or a child’s smile. He'd been completely helpless, totally dependent on the charity of others, a constant object of pity at best. And then Jesus came along and healed him, and what’s their reaction? Praising God for the incredible miracle (or “sign”) that they were witnessing? Rejoicing with the man that he could live a productive life instead of being dependent like a little child? Of course not! The first words out of their mouth were “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath." Now, to be fair, not all the religious leaders were like this. John’s pretty clear that there was stark division as to how to react, and some of them were a lot more open to what God could do. The second group was certainly correct in its basic theology: A man who wasn’t right with God couldn’t accomplish things like this.

            They then turned to the former blind man and asked him who he thought Jesus was, indicating their complete frustration and confusion. If you notice throughout this passage, his opinion of Jesus improves: First he’s a “prophet,” then someone who could attract disciples, then a “godly” man. If you read ahead in the chapter, then you know that he eventually recognizes Jesus as the Messiah.

            Then they bring in his parents, and obviously his folks want nothing to do with all this. They give completely evasive responses, only answering the bare minimum. They acknowledged that their son had been born blind (this negating any theory that this was all an elaborate hoax), then turn it totally back on their son.

            In absolute frustration they returned to interrogating the man and ask him again how Jesus had healed him. Their term “Give glory to God,” was an official charge to tell the truth in a legal setting. Of course this Man was a sinner! He didn’t fit into our exact mold of how to follow the Law, so obviously he’s a con-man!

            But the proof against their assertion was standing right in front of them, and they couldn’t gainsay it. I love his response; in effect he said “I don’t know all the answers to your questions, and I don’t know all there is to know about this Man. But I do know that I woke up this morning without my eyesight, and he healed me.” This is a great example of witnessing, by the way. You might not be able to answer all the questions of the skeptics, but they can’t disprove your experience and the testimony of what he’s done for you.

            So the Pharisees had a choice. They could slightly adjust their tradition, or they could ignore all the evidence. Naturally they chose option “B.” They “threw him out,” which probably means that they excommunicated him. He'd no longer be welcome in their temple, and all good Jews were supposed to avoid him from now on.

            So how can we apply this? Does this mean that all truth is “up for grabs,” and that experience trumps what we know from Scripture? What if someone claims that their “experience” tells them something that’s contrary to God’s word? Um, no. We must interpret our experience by Scripture, not the other way around.

            But is it possible that God might be doing things outside of my narrow understanding? Of course it is. God’s word is always true and never changes, but my interpretation of it is always subject to scrutiny. When it comes to his truth, all of us are in the dark to some degree, and we need to constantly be in prayer that his light will invade us, too.

Father, your ways are so much higher than my ways, and your thoughts are so much higher than my thoughts. When you’re speaking to me, especially you’re telling me to change course, please give me listening ears.

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