Step by step (John 9 continued)

I can’t imagine how wonderful it was for the man born blind to have Jesus give him his sight. What a difference it made in the man’s life. For one thing, he didn’t have to beg in poverty anymore. But the chapter isn’t about the blind man now being able to physically see. Oh, it starts there. But step by step the chapter leads into the spiritual seeing with eyes of faith. The chapter is about the man once blind first seeing with his eyes, then having clear insight about who Jesus was.

Of course this faith seeing was a step by step process also. To the neighbors, who only know him as “the beggar,” he stuck to his story that Jesus healed him by spreading mud on his eyes and telling him to wash. That was step one. Step two: the neighbors took him to the religious leaders who got upset because this good work broke their rules by occurring on the sabbath day of rest. The man once blind tells the same story again, and when asked who he thought this Jesus was, he stopped to consider and said…”a Prophet”. Little by little his eyes of faith were seeing more clearly. Step 3: The religious leaders still suspected that this was all a hoax, so they brought his parents in for questioning. His parents wouldn’t get involved in the argument because they are afraid of getting kicked out of the synagogue. The man’s parents let him down. How do you think that man felt?

And yet, in Step 4 when the leaders brought the man back in for questioning a second time, he still stuck to his story that Jesus had healed him. In fact, now the man was clear that Jesus must have come from God. The man even started lecturing the leaders. They kicked him out of their “church.”

Did you notice that Jesus was there at the beginning spreading mud and didn’t show up again until the end? Meanwhile part of the man’s understanding about who Jesus was came through the struggle and confrontation, the debate and questioning. It was in struggle that the man’s faith grew stronger and he gained more clarity about who Jesus was.

We don’t like struggle. We don’t like conflict. We don’t like being let down by family. We don’t like it when people in our own congregation argue over how to interpret scripture…whether it be over health care reform or human sexuality issues or the congregation’s finances. But sometimes struggle helps us ask good questions and helps us see more clearly who Jesus is in our life. Struggle can be lonely at times. Struggle can be painful. Even though the man endured a lot of questioning and family disappointment, his eyes of faith kept growing clearer in the midst of all that struggle. The struggle helped him take seriously the difference Jesus had made in his life. The struggle helped him verbalize his growing faith; he wasn’t going to let anyone talk him out of what he knew to be true. The greater the struggle, the more clearly he saw.

Have there been times when you have grown to know Christ better because of struggle?