S (Scripture): John 9:13 They brought the man who used to be blind to the Pharisees. 9:14 (Now the day on which Jesus made the mud and caused him to see was a Sabbath.) 9:15 So the Pharisees asked him again how he had gained his sight. He replied, “He put mud on my eyes and I washed, and now I am able to see.”
9:28 The Jewish religious leaders heaped insults on him (the man born blind), saying, “You are his disciple! We are disciples of Moses! 9:29 We know that God has spoken to Moses! We do not know where this man comes from!” 9:30 The man replied, “This is a remarkable thing, that you don’t know where he comes from, and yet he caused me to see! 9:31 We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but if anyone is devout and does his will, God listens to him. 9:32 Never before has anyone heard of someone causing a man born blind to see. 9:33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” 9:34 They replied, “You were born completely in sinfulness, and yet you presume to teach us?” So they threw him out.
O (Observation): Phew! Lots going on here. Man born blind – Jesus heals him on the Sabbath – Jewish leaders try to trap Jesus again – Man born blind progresses in belief – Jewish leaders pull rank and dismiss the man born blind as a sinner, because he considers himself a disciple of Jesus.
Two things stand out to me.
1. Jesus heals on the Sabbath.
2. When push comes to shove, the Jewish religious leaders default to titles and tradition, not God.
Healing on the Sabbath was considered sinful. This was a work, and people were not to work on the Sabbath. (See the 10 Commandments.).
Once again, Jesus bumps up against the traditions. This puts him at odds with the religious leaders. This also means that he is coming back to the main point: Which is more important? Sabbath, or bringing someone back into the community where that person can worship God?
When challenging the man born blind, the religious leaders have the tables turned on them by this very man who has been healed. He seems to think that they want to follow Jesus, but they end up claiming to be disciples of Moses. Moreover, when they get frustrated with this man they just pull rank and fall back to their titles as positions of privilege. They then declare that this man just simply must be sinful, even though he’s been healed. Have the religious leaders stopped listening for God’s voice, and instead, clung to their human-made traditions to seek life in God?
A (Application): Are we still listening? Do we still listen for God’s voice? Do we still listen to seek what it is that God would have us do in this world?
I wonder if we are not like these Jewish religious leaders at times – leaning on tradition and titles and positions of power in the church and in the world.
Do business people and bankers and politicians and entrepreneurs and cooks and nurses and doctors and lawyers still listen for God’s voice? I hope they do. Yet, too often we rely on our hired religious leaders to speak about faith and do the “spiritual thing” for us.
Whether we are in a church building, at home, in the workplace, at school, listening for God’s voice is extremely important. When we fail to stop and listen, we fail to notice God breaking into the world. When we don’t notice God, we fall back on our own traditions and our own ways. These traditions and ways are not life-giving in and of themselves.
The Protestant Reformation is a testament to continually looking for God in the world. Martin Luther, and many others who helped paved the way for him to lead, challenged the traditions of the church, and God’s voice was heard and acted upon.
May we continually live in a state of “reformation.” A reformation not of our own doing, but of God’s doing. Let us hope that God can take us…broken, tattered and torn, heal us, and then set us free to do God’s will.
Where have you seen a need for reformation? At home? At school? At work?
Listen for God to call you forward. God heals. God saves. God empowers. Follow.
P (Prayer): Healing Lord, bring us to see you in our simple, normal, everyday lives, and bring us new life to share with others. Amen.