AND NOW I SEE
"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 the man?' they asked him. 'I don't know," he said." John 9:10-12 (NIV).
This sounds like a far-fetched story! "A man put mud on my eyes, told me to go and wash it off, and then I could see." That is not only unbelievable; it's also un-believable. Whoever heard of that! It could have been a fabricated story except for one thing -- the blind man was no longer blind and there was no explanation for the miracle.
The poor guy was in for a grilling and he didn't even know who the man was who had healed him except that His name was Jesus.
"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,' he 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 do such miraculous signs?' So they were divided." John 9:13-16 NIV.
At least there were some people who had the good sense to look at the evidence! The Pharisees were at it again -- Jesus was an evil-doer because He did not adhere to their Sabbath rules. But they missed the spirit of the Sabbath -- for them it was about not doing the wrong things.
It was not about doing the right things. This is exactly where Jesus and the religious Jews parted company. They were sticklers for keeping the rules. Jesus focussed on meeting people's needs. They accused Him of being a rule-breaker because He "worked" on the Sabbath according to their definition of "work". For Him is was the right thing to do to set a blind man free from his prison on the Sabbath.
How tragic that so much of the church's understanding of "righteousness" has become like the Pharisees' rule-keeping ritual! We have our evangelical Ten Commandments or the equivalent. We are righteous as long as we do certain things and avoid doing other things. Unfortunately we also tend to judge other believers according to our standards of right and wrong.
Interesting, isn't it, that Jesus had much more to say to people who failed to meet the needs of others than He did to the "sinners" He hobnobbed with to the disgust of the religious ones. He had no word of condemnation for the Samaritan woman at the well and the woman caught in adultery. Quite the opposite! He was gentle and merciful towards them, but He had a lot to say to the religious hypocrites who covered up their greedy and wicked hearts with religious performance.
"'The multitude of your sacrifices -- what are they to me?' says the Lord. 'I have had more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats...
"'When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if your offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.'" Isaiah 1:11; 15-17 (NIV).
Perhaps the church would once again make an impact on the world as it did in the first century if it set aside its religious performances and went back to the simplicity of Jesus' invitation, 'Follow me.'
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