unflappable | John 9.1-2
As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” John 9:1-2 | ESV
And as Jesus made good his escape from those encircling fists clenching stones, he paused upon seeing a blind man among many begging along the road – it became clear that this man had never seen a thing his whole life. Realizing this, the disciples saw the opportunity to see Jesus solve an old theological puzzle, so they asked him, “Okay, Rabbi, whose sin is responsible for this man’s blindness? His own or his parents? Is this an inherited condition, or one he’s responsible for?” MAV
I am Saint Jude.
Yes I am.
That’s what the online test helping me answer the burning question “Which of Jesus’ disciples are you?” told me. I’m not sure what my favorite month, color, pet, or place I’d like to visit have to do with determining which disciple I am, but put all that and a bit more together and out pops your disciple identity. And in my case it was Saint Jude. Description:
“Unflappable and intelligent, you’re the kind of person who’s never fazed by emergencies and are always there when a friend needs your help. You’re fierce, kind, and cool as a cucumber – the kind of person that everyone aspires to be.”
I don’t know how well that fits me, but I see Jesus in it – particularly in this text, and especially the “unflappable” part.
I was struck by the first word in this new chapter: “And.”
It’s one of the disadvantages of our chapters and verses. Too easy to read Scripture in isolated segments and bits. But that “and” connects us with what just went before, and connects it in a very simple way like, “I got up and brushed my teeth and put on my shoes and…and…and…” So people took up stones with which to stone Jesus and Jesus slipped away and as he walked along he saw a blind beggar.
I’ve never been surrounded by an angry mob holding rocks in clenched fists to bring my life to a bloody end, so I can’t really say what I would do if I was able to run and evade them, but I imagine adrenalin would be pumping, heart pounding, and I wouldn’t stop until I was well away and found a good place to hide. Jesus hardly seems to be looking over his shoulder.
He’s just moves on.
And as he goes he sees the blind man that would be an object of pity to some, a theological puzzle to others, and ignored by the rest. But despite a hostile crowd in his immediate past and intense suffering in his all too near future, Jesus unflappably sees and seizes an opportunity to be light.
Brennan Manning in The Ragamuffin Gospel tells the story of a Buddhist monk fleeing from a fierce tiger. The monk reaches the edge of a cliff, the tiger close behind, and, spying a rope dangling over the edge of the cliff, sees he has no other choice but to grab it and to start down the face of the cliff to escape the tiger. Whew! Narrow escape! But now he is dangling five hundred feet above a quarry of jagged rocks. He looked up and saw the tiger poised atop the cliff, clawing at him – and right then two mice began nibbling at the rope. What to do? And the monk looked and saw a strawberry within arm’s reach, growing right out of the face of the cliff. He plucked it, ate it, exclaiming, “Yum! That’s the best strawberry I’ve ever tasted in my life!” If he had been preoccupied with the rock below (the future) or the tiger above (the past), he would have missed the strawberry God was giving him in the present moment.
To go through life in such a Jesus-unflappable way, to see the strawberry in the present moment, and to eat it…
What’s your strawberry today? Who’s the blind man for you to see and to pause over?
Lord, pour into me just wee bit of that unflappable spirit of yours, that in the midst of what pursues me and whatever fears await me, I can seize the strawberry you have for me in this moment, and be the light of peace in hard places. Through Christ.