Any joy this man must have felt about his unexpected miracle was unfortunately short-lived. I can imagine him racing back to the place of his healing–not crawling, not healing, not haphazrdly limping. I imagine him running back to the place where he met Jesus.
Except now Jesus isn’t there. He finds himself surrounded by neighbors.
I feel like this man spends this part of the chapter with people acting like he’s not actually there. They all seem to talk around him. Maybe that was how they usually treated him–maybe his blindness made him less of a member of the community.
The neighbors had been unable to agree on whether or not he was actually the man born blind, so they hand deliver this man to the Pharisees. These religious leaders call for an account of what happened. When the man shares his story–his testimony–they focus on one thing.
The mud. The man who healed the blindness did it by making mud.
The Pharisees argue. They accuse. They fault-find.
The man stands by.
The Pharisees bring in the man’s parents.
I wonder if the man’s heart jumped a little bit–his parents were here. His parents who had raised him, who had lived with his blindness as long as he had! Finally! Someone who can validate his story. Someone who will be just as excited and joyful at his healing as he felt inside!
I wonder if his parents acknowledged his presence? They certainly did not acknowledge the miracle. Not wanting to lose their standing in the Jewish community, the man’s parents all but turn their backs to him–”You’ll have to ask him. He’s of age,” was what they would offer.
The Pharisees don’t want to be challenged, so they send him away with harsh words–you’re a sinner and you don’t count. Get out. Just like that, the man is excommunicated.
This man has been blind for as long as he has been alive and now, today, he has 20/20 vision! He must be ready to pop with excitement. Instead, he found himself in the midst of a trial about his character, his healing, his validity. The verdict? Guilty.
When you or I are miraculously changed, when amazing things happen in our lives, when we have an encounter with Jesus that leaves us full of wonder and joy…
There will be people like the neighbors who refuse to affirm and encourage.
There will be people like the Pharisees who argue, interrogate, accuse and exile.
There will be people like the parents who refuse to acknowledge the miracle.
Things will happen in your life that are grace-filled, miraculous and exciting. Overjoyed, you’ll turn to celebrate and you’ll run right into a Pharisee or loved one who wants to take it from you. They key is this: you can’t control the things that these people say to you or say about you. You can control your reaction.
At no point does this man waiver in his certainty about what happened to him. He has yet to see Jesus with his new eyes, but he knows what Jesus did. The man does not know what kind of a man Jesus is, but the man knows this: he was blind, now he’s not and Jesus was the one who made that happen.
You and I can hold on to what we know is true, too. You are a child of God, created in God’s image. The are the recipient of lavish, extravagant, eternal grace. You have a calling and a purpose. When people attack, interrogate and try to diminish you, remember those things and stand tall.
You might feel alone, but you’ll find that you’re not alone.
(Tomorrow Part 4: The Meeting)