John 9:13-22

“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.” John 9:13-22

The Pharisees were divided. We can relate to that. We understand division. But do we understand how valuable it can potentially be? Only, I believe, if we take note of the obvious and then look for the issue behind the issue. The issues we are often blind to ourselves.

Some of the Pharisees were skeptical that Jesus was an instrument of God in making a blind man see. From their point of view, given that the miracle happened on the Sabbath day, Jesus could not possibly be God’s agent. They thought of God as perfect and the law as a perfect reflection of God. They were certain that Jesus could not be of God. Common sense would tell them that Jesus could only be an agent of the devil, the anti-god. Thus, they were blinded by their prior assumptions.

Other Pharisees were not so sure. They shared the same assumptions but were drawn to a different conclusion. They were…unsure. They were, after all, Pharisees. And as Pharisees, they were already considered heretics or at least “moderns” by the Sadducees, the most powerful branch of Judaism. Rather than limiting God’s revelation to strict observance of the Torah (as the Sadducees did,) the Pharisees also drew inspiration from the wisdom literature and the writings of the prophets. But they too couldn’t see clearly as they missed the Messiah standing in their midst.

In the absence of easy answers, the divided Pharisees sought more information. That was a wonderful step on their part. They talked again to the man and then to his parents. The only problem was that the man could only witness to his limited understanding and the parents were afraid to speak freely because of what that might cost them. Even fact checking can be wrong.

Meanwhile, Jesus is already off doing his Jesus thing and a man is still looking with wonder at the world that has suddenly opened up before him.

What can this story teach us in this divided age of ours? It can teach us the divisions can teach us something. There just might be a kernel of truth in another perspective that is only available to us if we quit protecting our prior assumptions and remain open to new information. It can teach us to look more closely at ourselves when our knee jerk reaction is to oppose another point of view. And it can teach us that sometimes we are dead wrong about things we are steadfastly convinced does not fit with our prior understanding of God.

This story can also teach us that when Jesus shows up, good things happen in real ways in the real lives of real people. We do well to listen to their witness.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, often we are blind to our own blindness. We don’t know what we don’t know and we forget that what we think we know just might be wrong. Open eyes and open ears bring new information to open minds that can then open hearts. Keep us open today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

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