oblivious to a miracle | John 11.45-46
Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. John 11:45-46 | ESV
In the light of these arresting developments, many of the local Jerusalem crowd who had come with Mary and who from their front row seats had seen Jesus’ actions did just that: they came to a place of trust in him; while others of them ran off to the Strict Sect types who were calling the shots and told them what Jesus had done. MAV (Mike’s Amplified Version)
This week’s text takes us away from mourning sisters and weeping friends, away from their sudden shock and awe at seeing the dead man walk out of his tomb after four days, away from that resulting circle of jubilation to the halls of calculating power, politics, and religion. All they had to do was run one lap over the hill to Bethany to be in the presence of a miracle that could make the most skeptical of observers believers.
Lawrence Kushner shares:
Jewish tradition says that the splitting of the Red Sea was the greatest miracle ever performed. It was so extraordinary that on that day even a common servant beheld more than all the miracles beheld by Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel combined. And yet we have one midrash that mentions two Israelites, Reuven and Shimon, who had a different experience. Apparently the bottom of the sea, though safe to walk on, was not completely dry but a little muddy, like a beach at low tide. Reuven stepped into it and curled his lip. “What is this muck?” Shimon scowled, “There’s mud all over the place!” “This is just like the slime pits in Egypt!” replied Reuven. “What’s the difference?” complained Shimon. “Mud here, mud there; it’s all the same.”
And so it went for the two of them, grumbling all the way across the bottom of the sea. And because they never once looked up, they never understood why on the distant shore everyone else was singing songs of praise. For Reuven and Shimon the miracle never happened. Call it the difference between epistemology and piety. In epistemology if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear, it may or may not make a sound. In piety if a miracle happens and no one notices, it did not happen. Each miracle requires at least one person to experience the miracle, even if…only in retrospect.
At the tomb of Lazarus, those who looked up saw the Resurrection and the Life. Those who looked down and out only saw the mud of messy political upheavals and potential fallout from a Messianic wannabe getting significant air-time during the impending Passover season.
Amazing how the angle of our view can impact the ways in which we view the same event.
The question is: from what angle do we see?
How about you? With Reuven and Shimon, do you tend to look down and see and complain about all the muck, or are you joining the circle on the shore praising God for parted waters?
Abba, I confess. I see the muck and I spend more time cursing it than blessing you through beholding the wonders surrounding me every day. Lift my gaze to see higher realities of your wonders in the midst of the lower, lesser, messier realities I am currently slogging my way through. Lead me into the dance of praise and celebration happening on the shore. Through Christ.