As he walked 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?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, saying to him, “Go, and wash in the pool of Siloam”. Then he went and washed and came back able to see.
The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” Some were saying, “It is he.” Others were saying, “No, but it is someone like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” But they kept asking him, “Then how were your eyes opened?”
He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ Then I went and washed and received my sight.” They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.” They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes.
Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.” Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not observe the Sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And they were divided. So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” He said, “He is a prophet.”
The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” His parents answered, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.” So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.” He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”
He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” Then they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” The man answered, “Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?” And they drove him out.
Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.” He said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped him.
Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.” Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not blind, are we?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.
I have always held sympathy for the Pharisee’s. They always seem to be on the short end of the stick. They try really hard to do the right thing and Jesus keeps on fighting their power. They are the Ancient Semitic version of the Bad News Bears.
I don’t think they are all wrong. Jesus did violate the Sabbath by laboring to healing our blind friend. Jesus may have not exercised the greatest restraint in confronting the temple authorities about the Sabbath law he broke. In the eyes of the Pharisee’s, Jesus is asserting authority without having earned it.
Here is this upstart fella from Nazareth, a Podunk guy from a Podunk town. He comes to the big city and starts telling the establishment how things ought to be run. In fact, as he asserts his opinion over authority he attracts disciples of his own.
I would be a little upset too, if the world to which I offered myself in service were not all that was promised. The countless years in the finest schools being finished to be part of societies upper crust. The Pharisee’s were the movers and shakers of their time.
The Pharisee’s got all the headlines, as the ancient world paparazzi would stake out the temple and their homes just to get us breaking news. The citizens of ancient Israel hung on the words and actions of the Pharisee’s. They were the gurus, yogis and proprietors of wisdom that delivered all that self-help goodness. If you were to climb a mountain seeking wisdom from above you may discover a Pharisee a top that peak above the clouds.
The Pharisee’s were what you dreamed of growing up to become. Being a Pharisee meant you were the peoples advocate to God. For a faithful religious devotee, can it get any better than that?
What do we dream for our children? What do we dream for ourselves? Do any of us dream of being a peacenik, carpenter just scrapping by? Do you still dream? Have we chosen the path through the eye of a needle or have we walked the rocky, thorn-laden path towards the open arms of Christ? Taking that path and delighting in our failing in the name of Christ.
“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him.” This man was born blind neither according to his sin nor the sin of his parents but so that God might be witnessed in his restoration. This is another way of saying it is not about us it is about God.
The Pharisee’s question Jesus’ actions and with or without justification fear rises in the heart of the Pharisee’s. They are concerned with maintaining the status quo. They need their order and structure to exist in a world of ever increasing chaos. If Jesus challenges there place, their power then what is going to happen to them? Things are going to change. If our leaders are forced to change then we will have to change. If we have to change then what are we going to do about the brass plaqued treasures we have stored in our churches?
The early church is in a familiar situation as we are today. The Romans occupy the Holy Lands. The Promised Land in now the rented land. Wickedness visits the chosen people. They await an opportunity to be relevant again. They hunger for that time in the good old days when thousands of folks filled the temple. They remember when they were the rule of the land and they fit in to a way of life that was good for them. There was plenty to eat and everyone pitched in.
Just as fear motivated the Pharisee’s questions, fear can motivate our questions. We can operate in a manner that is more about survival than answering God’s calling for us to prosper through transformation of our minds.
Are we asking the wrong questions? Are we climbing mountains to distract us from the duty of the mundane calling to be justice in the life we lead? Are we in shape to climb the mountain? Are we even called to climb the mountain? If we all climb the mountain, there will be no one left in the valley to offer refreshments.
Where is the Pharisee in us and what are they holding on to? I have no problem relating to and finding the Jesus in me. I could share with you 1,000 ways about the Jesus-like awesome I exhibit day in and day out. I don’t like to admit that there are a 1,000 ways I am a Pharisee as well.
I was watching this film last week called Enlighten Up! It is a film about a guy that is skeptical about yoga and what practitioners’ claim are its benefits. He agrees to practice yoga for a few months and allow a camera crew to follow him around. He goes to a few classes in New York City and is not amused with the perceived hoity toity nature of those involved in the New York City yoga scene.
Then he goes to India to study at the source for a few months. He discovers that yoga is more about being than about doing. He learns that yoga is not just something that one signs up for and attends a couple of times a week to get healthier. Yoga is a way in which one may enter in to a deep conversation with their self and awaken to the real self.
In one of the final scenes on the film the skeptical atheistic American is sitting at the feet of a very famous Guru as the Guru answers his questions.
The American says, “I’m afraid to ask you stupid questions.”
The Guru replies, “Answers are stupid. Questions are never stupid. You came to meet me. You could have come by cycle. You could have come by car. You could have come by train. You could have come by elephant. You could have come by foot. To reach here, there are so many directions. That depends on you, where you are presently. It’s not important what you are doing. It’s important why you are doing.”
The American asks, “What do you mean?”
The Guru answers, “You can prepare food for yourself to consume. You can prepare food for somebody you love. And you can prepare food for your Lord, your god. The action will be the same. Physically, but inside it will be different. Even if you are forced to do some cooking for somebody you don’t like you will do it. But you won’t enjoy it.”
The American questions, “The same can be said for yoga?”
The Guru returns, “Anything…anything under the sun. The same can be said about anything.”
The American replies, “But I’m a godless guy from New York City. It does not make sense to me about bhakti (devotion) or Krishna.”
The Guru says, “Don’t embrace them. I never said to embrace Krishna. No, never embrace. Never do it. If you don’t like, then don’t do it. Go on practicing what you are doing. If you want to believe in God, believe in God. If you don’t want to believe, don’t believe. And still you can be a religious person.”
The American asks, “Then what would make me religious or spiritual?”
The Guru answers, “Being yourself. Being your true self.”
Jesus restores the blind man to his true self. The Pharisees witness this and get nervous and question him three times. They bring in his parents too. The Pharisees press him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?”
It is not about the questions the Pharisee’s are asking it is about the questions the Pharisee’s are not asking. What condition are their hearts in? Where is fear taking them? Danger is near.
There is danger in hearing the Gospel. When we ask questions of God we hear the Gospel. When we hear the Gospel we are transformed from the inside out. We are born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in us. We are not born blind neither according to our sin nor the sin of our parents but so that God might be witnessed in our restoration! Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.”
It is good to ask questions of God only if we are prepared to seek answers. Asking questions of God draws us deeper in to relationship with our Divine Creator. This is the root of the child-like faith we are all called to. Parents, does a child not question to understand the world around them? Children ask questions until they understand what is going on and then ask some more questions, testing the parameters of their existence. It is good to ask questions. To question is to discover. To discover is to mature. To mature is completing ones faith. The completion of faith draws us nearer to God. Being nearer unto God is that sweet spot we are all chasing.