Greetings, everyone! Welcome to Monday’s edition of EDiBS. It’s great to have you along on this first day of our study week together, and as we open up our Bibles today, I especially pray that your heart is open and ready for the Lord to do His gracious work in your life – the ongoing work of transformation that comes through the continual renewing of your mind. Today we begin our week together by talking more about the powerful life and ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s pray.
Heavenly Father, we thank you for this day and we thank you for this time to have you come to us in your Word. As we study, we ask that you would enlighten us with all spiritual wisdom and understanding, and that you would help us in every way to live in our Lord Jesus. We ask this in His precious name, amen.
As we get started today, we move into the next section of John 9 and continue with the account of the blind man who, as a result of Jesus’ miraculous deed, has gained his sight. Our focus: reaction from the neighbors.
(Jesus) spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man's eyes. 7"Go," he told him, "wash in the Pool of Siloam" (this word means Sent). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing. 8His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, "Isn't this the same man who used to sit and beg?" 9Some claimed that he was. Others said, "No, he only looks like him." But he himself insisted, "I am the man." 10"How then were your eyes opened?" they demanded. 11He 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." 12"Where is this man?" they asked him. "I don't know," he said.
When I lived in California, I didn’t know many of my neighbors. We were friendly with one another, but we didn’t socialize much. When I moved to Missouri, things were different. It wasn't just that I didn’t know my neighbors; it was also that I didn’t have many neighbors. Things were very spread out in the country, and it wasn't very easy to pop next door to borrow a cup of sugar. The interesting thing about the village I lived in, though, is that while I didn’t know a whole lot of folks or even know much about them, from the very beginning they all seemed to know about me. I was the guy from California. I was the one who mowed weird designs into my pasture with my lawnmower. I was the guy who sold my first place to the rock quarry people and moved up the road two miles. I was also the one who seemed to be home all of the time, and the rumors ran the gamut as to why that was. Some folks had heard that I was some kind of an entrepreneur. Other folks heard I was on disability. My favorite one, though, was that I was involved in something shady or illegal. That one stemmed from the previous owners of our farm, who had some run-ins with the law because of drug problems and money issues. Suffice it to say that my neighbors were never lacking for an opinion. Right or wrong, they always had something to talk about!
Verses 8-12, summary: In today’s reading on the continuing saga of the man born blind but healed by Jesus, we’re adding another layer to the story line. We don’t have any super substantive theology happening here, no new information that gives us any heretofore unseen nuances as to what’s going on…but what we do have is the neighbors; and any time you put your neighbors into the mix of something, you get interesting results!
The first thing that we see here is something we would expect, given the situation: folks who see this now-seeing man walking around are saying Wow! Isn’t that the guy? You know, the guy who couldn’t see? Isn’t he one of the beggars that used to hang out down in the marketplace and over by the temple courts? And naturally, there’s confusion here, because what they see is incongruous with the status quo. It’s like when you and I do a double take on something because it hits us in a funny way. The text here tells us that some people think that the man is actually the one who had been blind, while others say that it’s only someone who looks like him. At some point in the debate, the man himself comes and says in an emphatic way, I’m really the guy. I was blind, but now I can see!
What I love about this part of the account is that whether he realizes the importance of it at the moment or not, the issue of this man’s healing has put him in a position to share with the people around him what Jesus has done. When his neighbors demand to know how this whole thing happened, he simply rehearses for them the course of events that led him to his present state. And here’s another thing: notice that as he tells these folks how everything went down, it’s clear that at this point he doesn’t know Jesus from a hole in the wall. He doesn’t reference Jesus in a personal way at all, doesn’t say anything whatsoever that indicates any kind of a relationship. To this newly-seeing man, our Lord is for the time being simply “The man they call Jesus.” Isn’t that great?
The power in that statement is that it shows a complete absence of agenda on his part. He’s just stating the facts as he knows them to be true. In fact, he doesn’t even know where Jesus is, because while going and doing what Jesus had told him to do, our Lord has disappeared from the scene. Now, in the aftermath of it all, here is the picture being presented to us: the man sees, the people marvel, and the work of “the man they call Jesus” is being presented for all to ponder. What will come of it all? How will our Lord use this incident? How will this man and his neighbors be changed by what has taken place? Those are the topics that will occupy our time when we pick things up again next time, so do be sure to join in as we see our way through to the end of this remarkable event.
For now, as we wrap things up for the day, what strikes me about this passage is the opportunity it presents to you and me by way of example. The Lord Jesus Christ has done so much to change us. We were blind, and now by His grace we see! Undoubtedly, there must be people in our lives who wonder how it all went down. How is it that we are different now? What brought about the change? The beauty in considering questions like that is that we don’t have to conjure up anything to manufacture a response. Instead, like the man in our text, we can simply rehearse for them what the Man they call Jesus has done for us. We see – and the people will marvel – and the work of Jesus will be presented for them to ponder. There’s freedom in that, because the onus isn’t on you and me. God is the one who will bring the results from our faithful witness.
Have a super day everyone, thanks again for your time here at the beginning of the week, and I’ll see you again tomorrow. God’s peace, and take care!