+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
Opening sentences – Brendan the Navigator (c. 486-575)
Teach me to live with eternity in mind. Tune my spirit to the music of heaven.
Feed me, and, somehow, make my obedience count for You.
John 9:13-41 ESV:
They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. So the Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, “He put mud on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them. 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 Jews did 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.”
So for the second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner.” He answered, “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” 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.
Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.
The Pharisees face a dilemma for Jesus’ sabbath breaking suggests he is not of God whereas his extraordinary power to heal suggests he is of God. Jesus’ disregard for their sabbath regulations is so blatant the opponents cannot accept the idea that God would honor such lawlessness. So to reconcile what has happened to their presuppositions, they assume that the man must not have been blind.
Not only do they reject the man’s evaluation of Jesus as a prophet, they don’t even accept his testimony about his own former condition!
The man’s parents are not allowed to give thanks to God for the great thing he has done for their son. They must have agonized over his blindness and the begging he was forced into. Now he has been miraculously healed, and they must put aside the overwhelming parental joy and knuckle under to the goons from the committee for the investigation of un-Jewish activity, as it were. Their fear stems from the threat that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Christ would be put out of the synagogue.
Jesus’ healing would have far-reaching implications concerning God’s gracious acceptance of sinful humanity. Not only was their son released from the bondage of his blindness and its related life of begging, but they and their son would see themselves in a new relation to God. Yet they had to stifle all of these feelings of joy and gratitude when they were called in by the authorities for questioning.
The man has told them the truth, but they don’t really want the truth, they want their own answer. They are demanding that he give glory to God by confessing his sin, but the man has given glory to God by bearing witness to Jesus. He points to the one certain fact of the case — he was blind and now he sees.
In asking if the authorities want to become disciples themselves, the man is doing the work of an evangelist – offering God’s grace to those most deeply opposed to Jesus and alienated from God. It is remarkable that those who know God and his ways so well would not be able to recognize one who is able to do what is unheard of — open the eyes of a man who had been blind from birth. Nevertheless, their response is to throw the man out of the synagogue.
Belief is not merely an intellectual assent to a proposition, but an attachment of trust to an individual as the one who comes from God. Such an expression of a “longing and inquiring soul” does not go unanswered. Jesus has cured him and found him, but he now reveals something of his identity to the man.
The man responds with faith which leads to worship. He has been progressing from knowledge of Jesus’ name, to confession of him as a prophet, to bearing witness that Jesus is one come from God and finally to accepting his claim to be the Son of Man. Even if he does not understand the full significance of his confession and homage to Jesus, he is accepting Jesus on Jesus’ own terms and thus placing himself in the position to receive further revelation and grow in his understanding of Jesus and his relationship with him.
+ Help me to realize my own utter poverty, blindness and need apart from Your Son, Jesus Christ;
+ Give me His eyes to see the desperate condition of all who live in darkness, apart from the Light of the world;
+ Fill me with Your Spirit that I might not reject the evidence of my own experience because of a faulty understanding of You and Your ways.
+ Clarify my thinking against the objective truth of Your Word as manifested in Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, and revealed in Scripture as guided and understood by the church.
Lord Jesus: Be my center of reference so that I may be stable, secure and bold no matter what hassles come to me due to my relationship with You – for, in You, I have experienced the goodness and mercy of God.
Christ, as a light… illumine and guide me. Christ, as a shield… overshadow me. Christ under me; Christ over me; Christ beside me on my left and my right.
This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful. Be in the heart of each to whom I speak; in the mouth of each who speaks unto me. This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful.
Christ as a light; Christ as a shield; Christ beside me on my left and my right.
May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.
+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
Peanut Gallery: A brief word of explanation – the general format for Morning Prayer is adapted from the Northumbrian Community‘s Daily Office, as found in Celtic Daily Prayer (see online resources here.) The Scripture readings are primarily from the Gospel of John, with the intent to complete the reading by Easter. Other Scriptures which illuminate the Gospel of John will be included along the way.
Reflections from various saints will be included as their memorial days occur during the calendar year.
Photo illustrations and music videos, available online, are included as they illustrate or illuminate the readings. I will try to give credit and link to sources as best I can.
Categories: Life in Christ