Last week we pondered the exchange between Jesus and the desperate mother wanting relief from an evil tormenting spirit for her daughter. Christ inevitably grants this “Dear woman” her request and the daughter is immediately freed. Do you ever wonder how the rest of their daily lives were lived after Jesus intervened miraculously? John writes in his Gospel: Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. (21:25) So what dramatic changes occurred for these people so personally transformed by the Divine? Did they ALL become disciples or did they eventually drift back into the daily grind of surviving during a hard chapter of human history and only reflect occasionally (if at all) for being gifted new life by the hand of the Anointed One of God?
Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie – the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.
The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”
But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ ”
So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?”
The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.
Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.”
The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well. So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. John 5:2-16
Hm? Who does this lame man bow to after his healing? It appears to me he seeks the approval of the Jewish leaders as opposed to an ongoing relationship with Christ. This guy has been an invalid for 38 YEARS and just because he gets a little heat from the leaders of religious law he is willing to throw Jesus under the bus! “Oh, I’m not supposed to be carrying my mat? It was Jesus who told me to!” Jesus knows this man’s heart and even warns him to stop sinning but IN THE FACE OF MIRACULOUS HEALING – JUST MOMENTS BEFORE – points Jesus out to the Jewish leaders as the one who initiated, with His healing command, the invalid’s supposed Sabbath indiscretion. And instead of CELEBRATING his healing, this cured man becomes a tool of persecution for Jesus.
No wonder Jesus got worked up from time to time!!
But then there was a young man…(one of my ALL TIME favorite passages!) who moved a little differently after being touched by the healing hand of Jesus:
As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.
His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” Some claimed that he was.
Others said, “No, he only looks like him.”
But he himself insisted, “I am the man.”
“How then were your eyes opened?” they asked.
He replied, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.”
“Where is this man?” they asked him.
“I don’t know,” he said.
They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath. Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see.”
Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.”
But others asked, “How can a sinner perform such signs?” So they were divided.
Then they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.”
The man replied, “He is a prophet.”
They still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man’s parents. “Is this your son?” they asked. “Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?”
“We know he is our son,” the parents answered, “and we know he was born blind. But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself.” His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who already had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. That was why his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”
A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God by telling the truth,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.”
He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”
Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”
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?”
Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.”
The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will. Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”
To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out.
Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
“Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.”
Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.”
Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. John 9:1-38
WOW! So much to contemplate here but before we continue, let me offer a warning to the Church – just because someone meets Christ differently than our theology may find conventional – it does not diminish their experience of grace. My perspective on these two incredible healings makes me wish Jesus had put “mud in the eye” of the first fickle guy and simply commanded sight for the faithful second! BUT I AM NOT JESUS – AND NEITHER ARE YOU! It isn’t our job to question the impartation of the Divine, instead we are to simply welcome and guide our brothers and sisters in the Way the, the Truth, and the Life via the inspired Word and the Holy Spirit! Squabbling about stuff like how someone was baptized, or takes communion, or dresses in church, or sings, or worships… … makes me wonder if we have been baptized by the Holy Spirit?
The simpler question for us today who have been recipients of GRACE and the renewed life of the Holy Spirit is; How have we moved since? Do we worship readily the One who saved us or do we apologize to this world which finds the teaching of Christ contrary to what they think is right? Are we willing to say, “Lord I believe!” in the face of the necessary change it insists upon in our lives, or at the first sign of conflict do we say, “Oh, it was Jesus who told me to do this – but don’t worry – I’ll never act that way again! What do YOU say I should do?”
In these two Biblical accounts we see one man who caves to the powers that be and another who has the courage to speak the truth about the Truth! One man who – after 38 years can finally walk – but refuses to stand his ground while another born blind is given TRUE sight and speaks in power to those more blinded than he had ever been!
The first man should give glory to God every time he stands up but instead apologizes to the people who never did anything for him – FOR 38 YEARS – for carrying his beggar’s mat!
The second young man could have said, “Oh, thanks! I was born blind so you could display your power? I WANT TO BE COMPENSATED FOR ALL THOSE YEARS!!” But he doesn’t, instead he focuses on the future with a real CLEAR VISION and proclaims it boldly at the risk of being an outcast!
Who are we?
How do we move after being touched by Jesus?
I am a sentimentalist but if I had been the first guy I wonder if I could have mustered up the courage to say, “Lord, if it is all the same to you, could I just leave this old, nasty, mangy, crusty mat here? If I keep it, it will only remind me of these long years of suffering and it will be easier for me to follow you if I discard something I no longer need!” Instead this lame man continues in spiritual repose more concerned about how he is judged by the world for how he carries something worthless.
Then there is the man born blind who couldn’t give a black rat’s rump about what anyone thought about his healing and the Source of it!
“…One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”
We need this kind of fire if we have had our eyes opened by Christ! If we see clearly the gift of grace and have felt the dross in our lives being consumed by the power of the Holy Spirit, this world HAS TO KNOW WE ARE TRANSFORMED!!
How are we doing with that???