Saturday 29 July 2017

Bible Book:

“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.” (v. 16)

John 9:13-23 Saturday 29 July 2017

Psalm: Psalm 44:1-8


The healing of a blind man (John9:1-12) might seem to us to be a purely good act, what's not tolike here? Unfortunately from the perspective of 1st-centuryJudaism there is quite a lot not to like. As with many otherevents, Jesus' actions here seem to divide opinion. The initialdifficulty is that Jesus healed the man on the Sabbath, the day ofrest, when no work should be done, and by the interpretation of thetime Jesus had broken the Sabbath law and worked. Even Jesus hadcommented that "we must work the works of him who sent me" (John9:4).

For the Jews, the law was God's greatest gift to them. So howcould Jesus claim to be from God, but not keep God's laws? He didnot conform to their expectations. So they set up an investigationor even a trial, interrogating the key witnesses. The blind man'sunderstanding of Jesus seems to have grown a bit, for now he is notjust a man called Jesus (verse 11) but a prophet (verse 17).

The danger or threat of the situation is more apparent in theparents' response. They do not want to get involved in the sign orits significance at all. They will acknowledge him as their son,but refuse to answer the difficult questions deflecting them backat their son. They are clearly worried about being "put out of thesynagogue" (v. 22), in other words being disowned by the community.A fate that it seems often befell Paul as he travelled around theMediterranean with the gospel. It is likely that this happened tomany early Christians - the blind man seems to represent them, forhe was later thrown out.

Of course, they were not thrown out because Jesus healed on theSabbath; but because many could not accept him as God's Son. To usethe terminology of John's Gospel, they would not see. It is sadthat Jesus was such a divisive figure for his own people.

To Ponder

  • In our day Jesus is still on trial; how can we explain ourfaith in terms that people can understand?
  • To what extent are we the parents and afraid of being rejectedby our communities and so we fail to speak out? How might weovercome this?
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