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Sunday, May 24, 2015

No longer blind

Our story begins today with a man, blind since birth, happening across the path of Jesus one day.  I don't believe in "accidents" or "coincidences" because I think every moment in our lives is measured out and watched over by our Lord in heaven.  I don't think one thing escapes his attention, so to say this was a coincidental meeting, or happen-chance, is just not possible.  The disciples begin to wonder why this man was blind.  They engage in conversation about it, since much of the belief of the day was any type of infirmity of body was a result of either the sins of the parents, or that of the individual themselves. This begins the conversation about this man - who's at fault for his blindness?  Isn't that just like us - we are so near the one who can cure the actual blindness and all we can do is focus on the "reason" for the blindness!  We want to place blame; Jesus wants to bring light!

The man answered, “This is really strange! You don’t know where he comes from, but he healed my eyes. We all know that God does not listen to sinners, but he will listen to anyone who worships and obeys him. This is the first time we have ever heard of anyone healing the eyes of someone born blind. This man must be from God. If he were not from God, he could not do anything like this.” (John 9:30-33 ERV)

As you may be aware, the disciples engage in this back and forth discussion about "who" is to blame for the man's blindness - but Jesus is quick to tell them the man is here in their path right now so that God may be glorified by what is about to happen.  We often find ourselves focusing on the "blame game", often also called the "shame game" since we want to point the finger at someone and make them bear the "weight" or the "guilt" of the issue at hand.  I like what my pastor frequently says - whenever we take "guilt" for something and make it part of our identity (who we are), we are moving into the realm of shame - assuming the "label" or "identity" of the sin.  This seemed to be the major factor within their concern - as was often the case in the religious system of the Pharisees and religious teachers of the day - not that this man could actual be freed from his blindness and become a sighted member of his community!

Much to the man's delight, Jesus won't let the disciples and onlookers take satisfaction in this game of assigning blame - he turns them toward giving the one who sent him the glory for a great miracle on this man's behalf.  God doesn't do things halfway - he is all about completing what he starts.  The man is given a task - go and wash your eyes in the local pool.  In an unconventional method of healing, Jesus has made a "mud poultice" of sorts and wipes it over this man's blind eyes.  Now, he sends him to wash away the mud.  What I love most about the story is the man's return - having left without sight, he returns seeing.  Now, if I hadn't seen anything in my entire life, I am not sure I wouldn't get caught up in all the many splendid things to behold - like the trees, beautiful waters, colorful landscape, various people in my life, etc.  I think I might get a little distracted, but not this man - he returns to the one who healed him.

The conversation which ensues is one which always amazes me a little each time I read this account.  The observers of this miracle are more concerned with trying to figure out by "which power" Jesus performed this miracle of sight rather than celebrating the man's ability to see!  It just goes to prove that we can certainly get our focus on the wrong stuff in this life, can't we?  This man had never seen his mother's face, nor had he been able to work for himself, all because he was blind from birth.  Instead of reveling in his sight, they pick apart his healing!  Man, oh man!  Can we just stop for a moment to look inward a little on this one, my friends?  Do we ever find ourselves wrapped up in the "how could this happen" of the moment, picking apart the beauty of God's grace, more than reveling in the blessing of his grace?  If so, we are probably no better than these religious leaders and onlookers!  

God's grace isn't always the easiest thing to understand and I certainly don't plan to ever get to the place I fully comprehend how he works, but I know this - his grace has never failed me, nor has his work in my life ever left me disappointed.  Our challenge isn't in that we believe in the miracle, but that we come to the place of trusting the one behind the miracle!  They knew this was the beggar man, blind since birth, but this label no longer "fit" who he was as he stood before them now.  This is often the case with the labels we wear.  They no longer "fit" after God's grace has been in operation in our lives.  We can no longer wear that label - and some have a hard time laying it aside.  Not this guy! He is pretty blunt about it.  He doesn't need to know how or why God healed him - he just revels in his healing.  He doesn't need to understand why he was blind from birth; he just needs to move forward "in his sight".  

We don't need to understand how God delivers us from our past - we just need to walk in our present.  We don't need to identify with the past any longer - we just need to appreciate we are given a new "present" and "future" through God's grace!  Just sayin!