When Jesus was teaching, He left the temple in Jerusalem because the Pharisees wanted to kill Him, He passed a man who had been blind from birth sitting on the road. The disciples inquired: “who sinned, him or his parents?” Jesus pointed them back to the fact that it was for the glory of God and gave them a quick lesson in diligence in work. He spat on the ground, made clay, placed in on the man’s eyes and told him to go wash in a certain pool. This was on a Sabbath day – which means no working, no sand castles, no clay, and NO spitting! (John 9)
Every time Jesus meets with someone in the book of John, it is to further some point of His character. Mark is filled with miracles, but the people almost always find Jesus, but in John Jesus almost always comes to them. To Nicodemus He revealed Himself as the Way, to the woman at the well He reveals Himself as the Truth, and to the official in Capernaum He reveals He is the Life. Between these He runs across two interesting people: the woman caught in adultery brought by the Pharisees to test Jesus, and this young man (probably in his late-teens), God sends back to test the Pharisees. Nothing is ever wasted.
After the man is healed he winds up before the Pharisees giving a defense about why he can see (How dare he, right?). In those times the outward actions of status and wealth were often seen in direct correlation with God’s favor. The reason the disciples had such a hard time dealing with the rich young man leaving was that he would have been seen as very blessed and favored by God. This boy was born blind and so it would be held that it was due to sin that he had been born in this.
The immediate reaction is to believe that the boy is lying, and he was never born blind because not even Moses could bring sight to someone who has never seen. They eventually bring in the kid’s parents who refuse to comment because they don’t want to be made a community disgrace by being excommunicated from worship. Eventually, this boy gives a very reasonable defense as to why Jesus must be from God, and they disgrace the boy and put him out of worship, out of synagogue on the grounds that he was teaching them and had to be born in entire sins.
My favorite is Jesus’ reaction at this point – “Jesus heard that they had put him out and found him…” (9:35). The boy didn’t know Jesus; he had never seen Him, he couldn’t have gone and found Jesus to follow Him or even ask why, but Jesus found him. There is way more that can be said about this event then what I have pointed out because it’s something of a mock courtroom scene about how the Pharisees would so rashly justify themselves when proof of Christ’s testimony was before them – but what I appreciated the most this morning was Jesus sought out the boy whom had been rejected by the world. Our life in Christ is not defined by any institution, and not even by ourselves, but rather by the God who left heaven to come to earth to gives us Life. This is the love that finds us when we are rejected, and accepts us when we feel unacceptable.
Often God comes to us in the places we feel most vulnerable: our flesh wants to point out that we should be ashamed, but I think it is to make us stronger. He does not bring us into temptation – but He brings us into contentment. The term Acceptance will mean something different to you than it does to me, and chances are the difficult points in your life have been to produce in you a greater understanding and deeper relationship with Him. This boy was a beggar, a social outcast, but was an offering to the Pharisees to come into a right relationship with the glory of God – but they wouldn’t see it. In turn, Jesus came to the boy and brought him into a relationship with Himself. When you don’t understand, wait on Him.
I think it’s easy to become locked into patterns of thought both toward ourselves, toward the world, and how we think the world sees us. The illusion is that the spectrum of decency operates between perfect and terrible, when there is really nothing so separate from the truth as believing we are good enough, and nothing more damaging than believing we are beyond worth. The older son was alienated by his pride that he was too good, and the younger by his pride that he was beyond lost; but both were most mistaken when they believed it was by their actions that they would keep their father’s love (Luke 15:11-32). Still a mercy that holds the door open long enough that even prodigals have time to come home.