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John 9:26-34, NIV
" . . . . One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!" 26 Then they asked him, "What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?" 27 He answered, "I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?"
28 Then they hurled insults at him and said, "You are this fellow's disciple! We are disciples of Moses! 29 We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don't even know where he comes from."
30 The man answered, "Now that is remarkable! You don't know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will. 32 Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing."
34 To this they replied, "You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!" And they threw him out.
September 7, 2011I am really stuck. God help me. I've been on this page for over a week and still have nothing to say. The Pharisees go back over the same thing again and again. They are mired in distracting details. Of course the gospel writer wants us to know that they, like everyone else who doesn't believe, require this miracle. Figuratively speaking, they too have been blind from birth and need Jesus to spit into a handful of clay and rub it on their eyes. Then if they go where he sends them to wash it off, they will see who Jesus is and what this incident is all about.
Instead, they resist. Get angry. Call the blind man names and after insulting him, throw him out of the synagogue. They want answers, but won't believe the truth when confronted with it. They hear without listening and look without seeing. They know the holy Scriptures but don't discern the spirit and heart of God.
In contrast, the blind man knows one thing for sure - he was blind but now he can see. And with this knowledge he becomes confident and bold in defense of what he knows. The blind man gains sight as the story moves along while the Pharisee's slowly lose their ability to see straight. We watch as the blind man grows in stature, and the Pharisees lose theirs.
John crafts the narrative to show how ridiculous it is to refuse to believe that Jesus came from God, was sent by God. The proof is in the pudding, or in this case, in the gift of sight given to someone who was born blind. It was a pure act of re-creating the blind man's eyes; only God could do that.
More journal entries
December 29, 1983"We know God spoke to Moses, but as for the man they call Jesus, we don't even know where he came from." Again they know without knowing. How did they know God spoke to Moses? Moses lived so long ago. These religious leaders were believing a tradition, not something that was a reality in their own lives. They knew because their fathers and grandfathers taught them to believe it.
Jesus was a contemporary. Surely if they wanted to, they could have found out where he came from. How widespread were the stories of Jesus' birth while he was still alive? Were they genuinely concerned with Jesus' genealogy, or was that debate simply a way of holding Jesus at arm's length?
Knowledge of God could have become a reality in their present time, place, and experience. Instead it was tied to the past, to what generations before them had accepted as true. They couldn't risk exploring new possibilities or untried paths of access to God
No, No, No--their minds were closed. There would be no expenditure of energy to study the claims of Jesus.
December 31, 1983John 9:31-33 is folk wisdom. Asserting that Jesus must be from God or God wouldn't listen to him and heal through him. That God listens only to the obedient. Who are we to box God in like that!
9:34 How can you teach us! The Jewish leaders can't be taught anything by an inferior, so they angrily take the man who had been born blind and throw him out of the synagogue. They couldn't receive anything from Jesus either and their attitude toward him was similar. Typical negative reaction--reject whatever threatens you; don't allow it to exist. They call him an s.o.b. and argue back and forth till the ones with the power asserted themselves and ended the confrontation.
Calling him a sinner was a way of dismissing him. Much like we would say, "Shut up, you don't know what you are talking about."
The word "sinner" has been used several times in this chapter. First by the disciples who wanted to know who to blame for this man's blindness--was it his sin or his parent's sin? Later the Pharisees call Jesus a sinner and now they call the blind man a sinner.
Sin is central to this chapter. According to John's theology, sin is determined by how a person responds to Jesus as the son of God, and has little to do with keeping the law of Moses. The blind man believed in Jesus so he was OK. The Pharisees refused to believe so they did not know God. Neither did they understand Moses, hence they were blind men living in darkness.
September 8, 2011For us today, is there anything new in the Christian faith that we didn't learn from our parents and grandparents, or from previous generations? What new thing has God done for us? How likely are we to believe someone who claims to be sent by God?
I often sympathize with the Pharisees of Jesus' day. They grew up believing in the laws of Moses, the words of the Prophets and the promise of a future Messiah who would set up an earthly kingdom and deliver them from the domination of foreign nations. So when Jesus arrived on the scene, he didn't look or sound like the Messiah they were expecting. Jesus had no credentials, no letter of recommendation from God. How were they to know Jesus was not just another impostor? How many of us would jump on the bandwagon if we had been in their shoes? Sometimes I think when we look at these Pharisees we are looking at ourselves in the mirror!
How can there actually be anything new associated with God? God is older than the everlasting hills. God's grace, faithfulness, mercies--these are traits we read all through our Bible, so how can there be anything new to know about God!
I have heard our holy Scriptures described as "ancient words that are forever new." The old testament prophet, Jeremiah, explained that God's mercies are fresh every morning. Each generation, and every individual experiences them anew.
There's a reason why our new testament is called "new". God did do something never done before. In theology we know it as the incarnation. God coming to earth in the form of his son, whom we call Jesus. 2000 years later that's old news, but it's new to anyone who believes. Jesus, our Savior, is the bridge from earth to heaven. 1000 years ago, 2000 years ago; it's still the same message today whether a person believes it metaphorically or literally.
Note to my readers--Unfortunately, my previous journal entries on John's gospel stopped at the end of 1983 with this text. I don't know what effect that will have on this project. Time will tell.