People are funny. In fact, I’ve heard it say that “No one is funnier than people.” I believe it. The way people respond to situations that make them uncomfortable is what makes sociology so interesting. We’re a weird mixture of ego, emotion, ambition, and ambivalence to name a few of our dominant ingredients.
Its been a long time coming, but I want to take a crack at wrapping up this situation found in John 9. Here are some of the highlights leading up to what eventually leaves me shaking my head. Maybe it’ll do the same to you:
v. 1-2: Disciples see a blind man and question Jesus why he’s blind.
v. 3-5: Jesus schools the disciples.
v. 6-7: Jesus heals the blind man.
v. 8-9: The neighborhood marvels and wonders if the now ex-blind man is even the blind man.
v. 10-12: The ex-blind man tells his neighbors that “The man they call Jesus” healed him.
v. 13-15: The Pharisees are ticked off because Jesus healed on the Sabbath. How dare he.
v. 16-17: The Pharisees decide that Jesus isn’t from God, but ask the blind man his opinion.
v. 18-23: The Pharisees don’t like the ex-blind man’s opinion, so they ask his parents for more information.
v. 24-26: The Pharisees don’t like the parents’ input either and go back to the ex-blind man for more information.
v. 27-33: The ex-blind man schools the Pharisees and sarcastically invites them to become Jesus’ disciples.
v. 34: The Pharisees are utterly insulted by this and throw the ex-blind man out.
So, to put it succinctly: Jesus heals a blind man and the Pharisees throw him out. Wow.
Those who accept grace from God cheer on others to receive and revel in the same grace. Those who don’t…well….don’t.
I just want to be one who is found nudging others toward “The man they call Jesus”, not being so into myself or the way I think things should be that I miss opportunities to celebrate the goodness of God’s grace in ANYONE’S life, no matter who they are, where they’ve been, how they feel, or what they’ve done. The Pharisees couldn’t stand the fact that grace had come to a blind man who they probably thought was getting what he deserved. I mean, how dare Jesus interrupt the cycle of cosmic justice that they thought caused his blindness in the first place?
What is about the threat of equal opportunity forgiveness and grace that rattles some people? What is it that would cause someone to, like a child on Christmas morning, receive an extravagant gift and then do their dead-level best to keep it to themselves?
First, we like control. Jesus’ miracle in that blind man’s life shook the Pharisees’ sense of control and lordship over the sabbath rules and over people in general. We as humans like control and few things get us on edge quicker than when things feel out of our control.
Next, we like to decide who gets grace. We take a look at someone and often in a matter of milliseconds make a decision on if they’re going to get any grace from us; usually based on what we know of them and the decisions we think they’ve made that we don’t approve of.
Discomfort is–I’ve found–often God’s favorite teaching environment. Its when things are uncomfortable that we’re most likely to learn what God is teaching….if we’re willing. Otherwise, when faced with the opportunity to see God at work, we’ll stick to our pride and throw the blind bum out. Whenever you find yourself being stretched, think about the eventual result of that stretching. Though painful in this moment, you’ll be stronger in the next.