Saturday, July 14, 2007

From Darkness to Light or, The Power of Opposition

John Chapter 9 tells perhaps my favorite healing story.

Here, Jesus heals a man born blind... He spits on the gound, makes mud and applies it to the man's eyes. Then, he tells the man to go wash in the pool of Siloam.

From the moment his sight is restored, people begin to ask questions.
Are you the same man who was born blind?
Who healed you?
Where is the one who healed you?

And then, he experiences opposition. The Pharisees say, "Jesus is not from God. He works on the Sabbath."
They pepper him with questions.
Who do you say that he is?
Were you really born blind?

This poor man, who has just been given his sight is pretty clueless. "I think he's a prophet," he says of Jesus. (Note, I "think")

They call in his parents and grill them.

Then they call the healed man again. The harassment begins again.

This time though, the healed man moves forward in his understanding of Jesus. "I know this. I was blind and now I see."

They abuse him, cursing.

"He healed my eyes and you don't know anything about him! God doesn't listen to sinners, but he is ready to hear thouse who worship him and do his will. Never since the world began has anyone been able to open the eyes of someone born blind. If this man were not from God, he couldn't do it."

They throw the healed man out of the temple.

Later, Jesus comes to the man and introduces himself as the Son of Man. The promised one. the Messiah -- all these are shown in his words, "I have come to judge the world. I have come to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind."

The healed man falls down and worships him.

Here is what I notice...

In the face of opposition, the healed man's understanding of what has happened to him does not weaken. Instead, as he is abused and grilled and cursed, his understanding of Jesus grows. And, even when he doesn't understand completely, he professes what he DOES understand. In the process of opposition, he moves closer to God.

And, in the process, this same profession moves the Pharisees further away from God. His DIRECT experience with Jesus confuses and threatens them. They must discredit him, or discredit Jesus.

Then, hearing what has happened to the poor man, Jesus comes to reveal himself to the man. And the man worships.

My application?

I think that opposition helps to grow strong believers. It helps us crystalize our understanding of the Kingdom and the King. In the process, VERY OFTEN, those who opose us do not grow from our testimony. We should not expect them to.

In the end, Jesus often reveals himself to us. And we grow closer to him as our spiritual eyes are opened. And worship is the natural result of the entire process.

I'm now reading "Heavenly Man," a story of the persecuted Chinese Home Church movement. The pattern found in John 9 permeates the history of the house church. Through opposition, they grew in understanding, strength and worship. Jesus reveals himself in the process. In the end, they WORSHIP the one they have come to know.

Perhaps, as James says, we should embrace persecution. It made all the difference in the world for the man born blind. Instead of a prophet, he came to own his Savior. It grew the Chinese church by leaps and bounds.

What about us? Bette


Robin said...

Hi Bette... I'm always amazed at how miracles were staring the Phariseas in the face and how they just couldn't believe them! But how many miracles do we see daily and don't even notice them? I know I take so much for granted... maybe it's time I opened my blind eyes to the miracles around me! Thanks for the eye opener!

Bette Nordberg said...

Good comment Robin. Your thoughts make me wonder about that old passage that says, "the god of this world has blinded the eyes of unbelievers..." (I think it's in Corinthians) Anyway, even when I know that the enemy had an influence in it all, it still is startling to see played out in the passage. I think if I were doing it on stage, I would have to have the Pharisees played by characters who had blindfolds on -- with the blindfolds held in place by demonic beings. That symbolism might help us see it. And then I have to wonder how much of that blindness is because the Pharisees DIDN'T WANT TO SEE. Did they give the blindfolds to the enemy saying, "Here, would you put this on for me?"

I guess that's why we don't get to be the judge in the end, right? Bette