John 9:13-23: The cost of discipleship.
13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. 14 Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath. 15 Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see.”16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.”But others asked, “How can a sinner perform such signs?” So they were divided.17 Then they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.”The man replied, “He is a prophet.”18 They still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man’s parents. 19 “Is this your son?” they asked. “Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?”20 “We know he is our son,” the parents answered, “and we know he was born blind. 21 But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself.” 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders,who already had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. 23 That was why his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.” NIV
Religious people can become so concerned about the meticulous observance of their self – made rules that they don’t care about people. Instead of rejoicing over a remarkable healing of a man with congenital blindness, the Pharisees pursed their lips, shook their heads, and got very angry with Jesus for doing this miracle on the Sabbath. With Jesus, there was a pattern of such happenings (see e.g. Chapter 5).He would not allow His compassion to be tied up by their rules. Jesus knew that at the heart of the Sabbath there lies God’s heart for saving people. He was clear in His thinking that it was a day for doing good to others. But religion stinks!
The healed man’s parents make a fascinating case study. They were not as supportive of their son as you might expect them to be. To be excommunicated from the synagogue would mean not only loss of status within the Jewish community but loss of many other privileges. They were probably fearful for their livelihoods, and even their lives. There is a cost involved in discipleship. Jesus urged people to count that cost before embarking on a course to follow Him. This pair took out their ready reckoners and decided it just wasn’t worth it. They couldn’t afford it. They were hardly lovingly supportive of their son. They pushed him to the front where he could take the flak and not them. Christianity costs!
Revelation is often progressive. It takes time. By the end of the chapter, this wonderfully healed man will come to a fuller understanding of who Christ is (35-38). But even here he is on his way (17b). It’s a beginning. His spiritual eyes are gradually opened.Let’s be patient. Give people time. Above all, give God time. ”When surrounded by fear and anger, the only way through is to glimpse whatever we can see of Jesus, and to follow him out of the dark and into the light.” Tom Wright: ‘John for everyone’, p.139. Jesus enlightens!
PRAYER: Lord God, I pray that no threat or fear will ever make me disloyal to you.