” ‘I do believe, Lord.’ And the man worshipped Jesus.“
– John 9:38
My Dear Friends in Christ,
It’s a play in three acts:
3. Peace (ESP)
Act 1. ENCOUNTER
Picture it: Jerusalem 33 AD, on the outskirts, on a road leading into the city. A beggar born blind sits at the side of the road; blind from birth, all he can do is beg. Jesus is on the move with His disciples who are troubled by the seemingly random and unfair suffering of the man’s situation.
As Jesus is passing by, he notices the beggar at the side of the road. Unasked, Jesus heals the man’s earthly blindness, using the opportunity to suggest that God is present, God cares, and that God has a plan to bring good out of suffering. Jesus proclaims Himself the Light of the World, seeking to bring light into the darkness of the situation and of the world.
Act 2. SETBACK
Picture it: the same area on the outskirts of Jerusalem. Confusion reigns over the man’s identity.
The townsfolk are concerned, confused. The reality before them of this man being able to see is shocking. Jesus is identified only as “that man,” and is of unknown origin. Seeking answers, the townsfolk turn to the Pharisees, asking questions, speaking of miracles. They bring the man along as Exhibit A.
Picture it: Pharisee Headquarters, Jerusalem 33 AD. The Pharisees are confronted with a miraculous healing. Something out of the ordinary has happened and is not under their control. They don’t like it and seek to reduce it to “Fake News.”
The seeing man who had been blind is questioned and the Pharisees immediately seek to reduce the event to something they can understand. They overlook the ability to see with questions about policy and procedure, about the Sabbath and the rules. The Pharisees are divided over what all of this means. The man is not cowed by their challenges nor swayed by their attempts to dismiss it. The man is expelled from the headquarters as nothing but a charlatan.
Picture it: Pharisee Headquarters, Jerusalem 33 AD, a little while later. The Pharisees are divided over how the healing happened and what it means. God cannot work in ways outside of the law, yet this seems to be a work of God. The man’s parents have been subpoenaed and are being questioned.
The man’s parents are intimidated and petrified of what might happen. The Pharisees are very powerful and control the religious, social, and legal systems. Rather than say something that might self-incriminate, they plead the 5th and throw their son under the bus. “Ask him.”
Picture it: Pharisee Headquarters, Jerusalem 33 AD. The whole “parent fiasco” has backfired, bringing no solution or conclusion. The only thing left is to browbeat the man into submission and silence.
Unable to dispute the facts, The Pharisees begin attacking Jesus ad personam. Jesus is scorned as a sinner who doesn’t (can’t?!) follow the rules, rejected as a prophet or a possible messenger of the Almighty, Most High, Most Benevolent. Utter disdain is heaped on the man who would entertain such thoughts. Again, the man is undeterred and more than a little hot under the collar because they refuse to address anything that is important. He returns their attack using their own words and concepts against them, tying them to Jesus who is identified by the man as coming from God. The Pharisees, finding this deeply offensive, call security and the man is physically ejected from Headquarters.
Act 3. PEACE
Picture it: Jerusalem 33 AD, a busy city street, just outside of Pharisee Headquarters. The street is filled with busy people moving to and fro, eager merchants hawking wares, squeegee boys looking for the next chariot windshield to clean. The man has just been ejected from headquarters and is blinking at the bright daylight, after feeling trapped and questioned in the holding cell.
“Psst. Hey kid! Come over here. I wanna’ talk to you.” The man is summoned by Jesus who, again unasked, has sought the man out for a second encounter. Jesus is worried about the man, that the setback may have challenged him too much or pushed him over the edge. After all, it’s not every day that one gets thrown under the bus by one’s own parents.
“Do you believe in the Son of Man? The Messiah?! The One sent by God to save the world??!!” Jesus questions, seeing where the man is, hoping to help the man to a deeper faith. “Who is he?” asks the man who feels the tug of faith but is pretty shaken by all that’s happened since he met Jesus the first time. Jesus answers that not only is He Himself the Messiah but that in Jesus God is with the man, talking to the man, strengthening the man’s faith, giving eternal life to the man.
Right there in the street, among all the passersby, the man drops to his knees, landing in the muck and other assorted dirtiness in the street. The man worships Jesus. With this act, Jesus is identified and revealed as God!
The man gets far more than he bargained for, especially since he didn’t need to bargain, let alone haggle over the final outcome! He receives not only earthly sight, relief from his suffering, and a full life with options increased beyond begging. He receives the light of faith and the opportunity to share eternal life along with a lifetime membership in the FOJ club (that’s Friends of Jesus club).
“I am the Light of the world.” Jesus self-reveals as the One sent by God into the world to bring light into darkness. The man born blind is a metaphor for each of us, born into the blindness of original sin. Jesus seeks us out, seeks to heal us, to strengthen us. We will be challenged not only to recognize Him, but also to live out the faith He shares with us. We will be challenged even by those we love. People will not understand. We will not fully understand. We will have to keep coming back to Jesus for more clarity, better understanding, increased options and a fuller life.
This play in three acts (ESP) demonstrates what God wants to do with us in prayer. It is God who draws close, who seeks us out, offers us healing. We need to receive Christ and all that Christ offers of God’s grace and healing. It’s not a one-shot deal. We’ll still have questions and need to allow encounters with Jesus over and over and over and over and over again to deepen our faith and our understanding. We will need to pass through many challenges undeterred even as we are scared and shaken, even as we struggle. Remember ESP:
Encounter (with Jesus who seeks to heal us)
Setbacks (will happen, but Jesus is close, and seeking you out even as they do!)
Peace (comes as we allow Jesus to encounter us repeatedly as we worship)
To get to the revelation of Jesus Christ as God Present to us, the one speaking with us and to be able to worship, we will need to allow Jesus to take top billing and we need to make sure that we give Him the starring role, even in our lives. Even now.