sitting in a bunker, here behind my wall | John 9.17-23
So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.”
The Jewsdid 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 how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” (His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.) Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.” John 9.17-23 | ESV
So they approached the blind man again. “What do you have to say about him, since he’s the one who opened your eyes?” Without hesitation he blurted out, “He’s a prophet, of course!”
Now the local religious authorities pegged him as a “shill” – that he’d never really been blind and had his sight restored at all. It was all a hoax! – until they found out who the newly seeing man’s parents were and summoned them before their council meeting. Then they gave them the third degree: “So, this is your son, is it? The one you claim was born blind? If that’s so then how is it he sees perfectly well now?” The parents were petrified. With quavering voice they responded, “We know that this is our son and we know that he was born blind. But we have no idea how in the world he came to see, and we have no idea who in the world opened his eyes so he could. But look, he’s a grown man. He can speak for himself! Why drag us into this?” Yep, they were petrified of these Strict Sect types and the power they wielded. They knew they already had it in for Jesus and that anyone who was bold enough to speak his name and the word “Messiah” in the same breath would answer for it by being excommunicated. That’s why they passed the buck back to their son: “He’s a grown man. Ask him.” MAV (Mike’s Amplified Version)
Chapters 7-10 of John’s Gospel are filled with this dynamic.
Which is probably why I gravitate towards the two cool refreshing springs of grace in the midst of it: the forgiveness poured out on the woman caught in adultery at the beginning of chapter 8 and the healing of the man born blind at the beginning of chapter 9.
I so want to just dip my toes in these waters!
But there is a crucial lesson in the harsh environment surrounding these two signal demonstrations of God’s grace: our hearts are ever resistant.
We resist grace.
We deflect light.
We are threatened by wonder.
Because we ultimately have no control over any of it.
The other scene that flashes before my mind this week is Spielberg’s classic, E.T. Cute alien. Trails of Reeses Pieces. Heart light. Phone home. And sterile, harsh governmental authority that seizes said cute alien and treats what should be an astonishing wonder to be beheld as a potential threat to be confined and tested.
This is also what we do.
And who can blame us?
It’s an alien, after all!
Haven’t you seen all those other movies where we try to negotiate with aliens peacefully and they just end up frying everyone?
So easy, so justifiable and seemingly necessary to approach life from a primary defensive posture, securing our religious and irreligious bunkers, our cultural and moral fortifications, building up our intellectual defenses, maintaining a constant watch for invasion, for intruders as we raise threat levels and employ whatever measures are necessary for “the greater good.”
As I sit staring at this story, I find I can’t raise my voice loudly in protest and condemnation for I see too clearly my own blindness as I hear the intonations of James’ counsel to us all: “Let everyone be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.”
Perhaps it’s time to leave our culture war bunker, step outside into the light, and simply enjoy the sun.
How do you balance “defending the faith” with a love that “believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things”? How do these mix for you?
Light of the world, lead me out of dugouts, bunkers and bomb shelters where I would hunker down in defensive posture, awaiting the assault of the world and falsehood. Vividly remind me today that I am salt and light. Open me up to be both, with eyes remade for wonder. Through Christ.