June 16th, 2014 by Christopher Caudle
Last week, the man born blind grew in his understanding of Jesus, and marked a path from assessing Jesus as a man to finally worshipping him as Messiah. Father Carl asked us to consider where we are on this path, and to consider why we might be stuck anywhere short of worship. I hope you have taken some time to do that for yourself and have prayed that those you love will be freed to move closer to Jesus as well.
Imagine the connections this man-once-blind surely experienced as he was finally able to combine the voices of his neighbors with their faces and features. And on this miracle day, the day he could finally see what was going on, these neighbors and church members looked at him and threw him out of the synagogue. (Hospitality there!)
He saw his parents avert their eyes and “not see” what was happening, because they too were afraid of being put out of the synagogue. The man born blind was truly seeing more than he had ever imagined.
Then Jesus hears about this and comes to find him.
The chapter and verse divisions in our Bibles make it seem as though the story ends as the chapter does, but if we keep reading and keep seeing as this man hears Jesus’ words, we can see more clearly why the events of Good Friday are inevitable.
John chapter 10 is the familiar passage about the good shepherd. In it, Jesus describes what he will do for his sheep and draws a contrast to how others treat the sheep. The chapter says that Jesus used this figure of speech and that the Pharisees did not know how it applied, at least initially. Imagine the blind man, experiencing his first sermon in Imax sight and sound, hearing Jesus’ words and experiencing Jesus’ actions in contrast to the way he has just been treated by the Pharisees and his neighbors.
In fact, read John 10 and then go back to read John 9 and notice how many connections you see. Imagine John 10 as the documentary narration to the video of the man’s healing and the religious leader’s response. Jesus words are not abstractions, but expressions of his demonstrated commitments to his people. Our Thursday small group had a great time marking these connections in the scriptures and noticing their current connections as well.
To go even further, and to ramp up for Sunday’s readings, turn to the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel in chapter 34 and see how Jesus picks up the account of a longstanding problem that God has sworn to resolve. Note two things. Underlining or circling can help you absorb the impact of both litanies.
First, what does God say the supposed shepherds are doing? And note how the sheep inevitably begin to become like their shepherds.
Second, what does God say that he himself will do?
You can see why the Pharisees, once they understood the role they are playing in Jesus’ telling of Israel’s story were so ready to kill him for blasphemy and why they were committed to re-establishing their own control over the people. (And as a humbling bonus, keep in mind that Jesus will still be correcting bad practices of shepherding among his own disciples even at the Last Supper)
This weekend, we continue to watch Jesus, as he makes it clear that he is the fulfillment of God’s promise through Ezekiel and that he continues to seek out those who are lost. Ezekiel’s valley of dry bones and the grave of Jesus’ friend create a dark horizon as the specter of death itself frames Jesus’ words and deeds. Just watch what happens next.
grace and certain hope,