in unexpected places | John 9.28-34
And they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” The man answered, “Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out. John 9.28-34 | ESV
They became abusive, spitting out their response: “If we’re in anyone’s circle of followers, it’s Moses. Period. We know that Moses was fully online with God – Moses is a known quantity; he’s bona fide. This guy? Where is this guy from? Oh yeah, that’s right, we have no idea!” The blind man didn’t bat even one of his now seeing eyes: “Now isn’t this amazing – you have no clue as to where this guy comes from, and he opened my eyes. Listen. We know that God doesn’t make a habit of sharing the good stuff with rebels way out of bounds, right? No, he saves that for those who are reverently tracking with him, seeking to walk in harmony with His purpose and plan. Never, ever, has anyone heard of anyone opening the eyes of a man born blind. If this man wasn’t tracking with God he couldn’t do a thing [– let alone pull off a stunt like this!].”
This wasn’t the kind of hearing they were interested in. They’d had enough. Leaning forward they scowled, “You piece of trash – steeped in sin at birth –you dare stand there thinking you can lecture us about God and his ways?!”
And they threw him out. For good. He was de-synagogued. MAV (Mike’s Amplified Version)
Rabbi Lawrence Kushner observes:
“Holy gates are everywhere. People come who would sell us tickets to the holy places. Who perhaps once and perhaps still, but probably never, were themselves graced to witness or themselves to ascend higher. Culture and organized religion conspire to trick us into believing that entrances to holiness are only at predictable times and prearranged places. (Sometimes they are right.)”
And pre-approved voices.
Another natural human tendency: to restrict our listening bandwidth to a narrow range of previously approved voices.
There is wisdom here – it’s called discernment.
Not everyone has something to say that’s worth hearing.
There is also danger here.
Such a religious application of discernment can end up censoring the very voices through which truth is in actuality streaming to us live at this very moment.
If only we would or could listen.
It would seem that God delights in speaking to us through unauthorized, unexpected, nobody voices.
He summons a pagan soothsayer from a distant land to speak blessing over his holy people.
He speaks to that very pagan soothsayer through the mouth of his own donkey.
He falls upon a popular local boy named Saul, filling him with the Spirit, leading him to strip naked and lie prophesying before God all night, leading the locals to ask each other, quizzically, “Is Saul also among the prophets?”
He summons a southern fig tree keeper to announce his message in northern royal courts, a trembling young man named Jeremiah to proclaim his words in the midst of wizened old priests.
And, yes, he just might be speaking to us through this nobody, formerly-blind-beggar.
The love of God teaches us to look and listen for his voice on unauthorized, pirate stations, from unexpected quarters, from undesirable lips.
Because God’s definition of “pre-approved” and ours can often be eons apart.
So as the blind man who saw is de-synagogued and thrown out for daring to instruct the learned, God quietly urges us, “Hear, O Israel…”
Who or what was the most unusual or unexpected means of God communicating with you?
Abba, give me a heart that is always ready to hear your voice in unexpected places. Through Christ.