Greetings, everyone! Welcome to Thursday’s edition of EDiBS, and God’s grace, mercy, and peace to you in our Lord Jesus Christ. If you’ve been clicking in each day this this week, you know that we’ve been spending our time each day working our way through one of the better-known incidents in the life and ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ: that of the man who was blind but now can see. As we move back into the text today, let’s take a moment as we always do and go before the Lord to ask His blessing on our time.
Lord, thank you once again for this daily time to be together with you in your Word. Guide us by your Spirit and continue to teach us, that we may be conformed to the image of Jesus and strengthened in our faith. In Christ’s name we pray, amen!
As we get started today, the interrogation of the blind man’s parents, which we saw yesterday, shifts back now to the blind man himself, and the results are unfortunately predictable. Our focus: repeated story, repeated disbelief, growing hostility.
24A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. "Give glory to God," they said. "We know this man is a sinner." 25He replied, "Whether he is a sinner or not, I don't know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!" 26Then they asked him, "What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?" 27He answered, "I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?" 28Then they hurled insults at him and said, "You are this fellow's disciple! We are disciples of Moses! 29We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don't even know where he comes from."
When I was in high school, I hung around with two different crowds. One group was the speech and debate team, full of kids who dressed normally, got good grades, and generally kept out of trouble. The other? It was a decidedly different crowd. My other social group was what, over the years, has variously been called the dirtheads, the metalheads, the longhairs, or the stoners. These kids were a little bit on the fringe. Many of them did drugs. They listened to heavy metal music. And yes, some of them got into trouble quite a bit. One day, after someone’s locker was broken into and money was stolen, I was swept up in the dirthead dragnet, and I was accused of having taken part in the stealing. No matter what I said and no matter how many times I denied it, the school officials didn’t believe me. Even when the evidence pointed away from my having been involved, the principal kept coming back to me, saying “Come on, Paul! We know what happened. We know you were involved. Just tell us the truth.” Of course, I had been telling the truth all along – it’s just that their preconceived conclusions about what had happened didn’t match up with my storyline.
In today’s reading, as we continue to follow the exchange between the man once blind and those who are trying to come to terms with his new identity as a seeing person, what we have before us is a communicational impasse. Our formerly blind man has stated simply and plainly, multiple times now, how it is that he came to see. The folks in town are fascinated – but the Pharisees are furious. Remember, the Pharisees had already asked him once about this whole thing and didn’t like his answer — didn’t, in fact, believe him. Consequently, they got his parents, who confirmed the story but wouldn’t have anything to do with the situation because they were afraid.
Verse 24: As we move into verse 24, we see that the Pharisees now summon the newly seeing man a second time, and on this go-round they put him under oath: “Give glory to God,” they say. “We know this Jesus is a sinner” — which essentially is their way of saying, “Come on! We know what’s going on here. We know that you’re hiding what really happened. Just tell us the truth.” Of course, this man has been telling the truth all along, but here it is: their preconceived conclusions about what has occurred don’t match up with the man’s storyline, and that leaves them and their agenda in a bad way.
Remember that in the minds of the Pharisees, it is absolutely impossible for our formerly blind man to have regained his sight in a miraculous way for at least two reasons: 1) this supposed healing happened on the Sabbath, something against their interpretation of the Law and something that in their eyes God simply wouldn’t do, and 2) it was supposedly done at the hands of Jesus, who at this point is their sworn enemy and a threat to the religious stability of the whole community. They really do believe that Jesus is a sinner, really do believe that He’s bad news, and really do believe that He is the personification of blasphemy because of the things He has been teaching the people (not to mention because of the way He has been taking the Pharisees themselves to task). That being the case, their conclusion is that this man must be feeding them a line.
Verses 25-27: But as we move into the second half of this conflict, something goes wrong for our self-assured, authoritative religious leaders. What goes wrong is that after hitting the man with everything they’ve got, he’s not buckling. And not only is he not buckling, he’s beginning to push back. That’s what transpires in verses 25-27, and it’s as he begins to push back that we see the Pharisees begin to lose their grip. First off, no one in his right mind would dare cross these men or call them into question. They hold the very lives of the townspeople in their hands. They can lift them up high and mighty or crush them in an instant with their decrees. Where is this man’s boldness coming from that he would be so impertinent with them?
Verses 28-29: That boldness comes, it dawns on the Pharisees, from the fact that this man has put his belief in Jesus. Granted, it’s not a fully developed belief at this point, but it’s belief all the same. “You’re this fellow’s disciple,” they say – and under a barrage of insults they mock his stupidity and castigate him for his misplaced and unorthodox leanings. “We’re the true disciples,” these men say. “We follow Moses, to whom God spoke – which is a far cry from whomever it is that’s speaking to Jesus.” And with that, the writing is on the wall as far as things go for the man who was blind but now can see. He’s definitely on his way out – which we’ll see in detail when we come together next time.
Wrapping up for the day, don’t you find it interesting that these leaders are so entrenched in their unbelief that they refuse even to consider the firsthand witness of the man who has been healed? In fact, when they first began to question him it was they themselves who appealed to his own testimony, remember? “It was your eyes He opened – what do you say?” But now that he has said, they will not accept his words. They will not accept the clear evidence of the miracle either: this man couldn’t see for his whole life and now he can. No, they will not accept anything other than what they want to accept – even if they have to manufacture things to stay beholden to their position. And you know what? That’s pretty much standard operating procedure for everyone who insists on denying the Lord Jesus, even people who do so today. It’s not that the evidence isn’t there; it’s that they don’t want to deal with it. Why? Because in so many instances when people look fully upon the truth of the claims of Christ – including His claim upon and Lordship over their own lives — they realize that it changes everything… a very hard concept for people who love the darkness instead of the light. Be sure to join in tomorrow as we work our way toward the close of this incident, because there will be lots for us to take away and consider in light of our own lives as God’s people. Have a great day, everyone, and I look forward to seeing you soon!