John 9:10-17, NIV

10 "How then were your eyes opened?" they [his neighbors and
those who had formerly seen him begging] demanded. 11 He
replied, "The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it
on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went
and washed, and then I could see." 12 "Where is this man?"
they asked him. "I don't know," he said.

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 do such miraculous signs?" So they were divided.

17 Finally 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."

August 17, 2011
This man can not be from God since he does not observe the Sabbath.
That was the truth as they perceived it; however their assumptions about
"keeping the Sabbath" were wrong. The crux of the matter is, "What
does it mean to keep the Sabbath day holy?" What is the spirit of the law?
What was the intention of the law giver?

The Mosaic law was given to benefit our journey through life. We were
not created to keep the law but to love God and thereby learn to love our
neighbor as ourselves. The law was a guide to help us discover who
God is and what God's desire is for our daily lives. People are primary;
the law assists us. New Testament theology implies that God's laws
are not meant to bind us, but to free us to reflect the character of
our Creator.

When the law is viewed as supreme, people are compelled to obey it
as a slave bound to their master. Is there any parallel here between a
fundamentalist use of Scripture and the Pharisees' use of the law?
These Pharisees were going to use their holy scriptures as a weapon
to crucify Jesus! And it didn't stop there. Think how many more innocents
throughout the centuries have been persecuted because someone
used a verse from the Bible to destroy them!

So, Jesus did the works of God on the Sabbath day and for that he must
be stopped. How different is that from the situation in my local church.
A woman was assigned to be pastor of our congregation. Immediately
some people left the church because somewhere in the Bible
(I Corinthians 14:33-35) St. Paul advised women to be silent in church.

                                                                             More journal entries

November 22, 1983
You know how the argument goes. One has to be strict with laws or
"the dam breaks". Look what happened to the "blue laws" once certain
businesses were allowed to be open on Sundays. Then many others
asked to be exempted also and now Sunday at the mall looks like
any other day.

Hannah Whitall Smith in her book, The Christian's Secret of a Happy Life,
has some insightful things to say about our sacred laws. "There are two
kinds of Christian experience, one of which is an experience of bondage,
and the other an experience of liberty. In the first case the soul is
controlled by a stern sense of duty and obeys the law of God, either from
fear of punishment or from expectation of wages. In the other case the
controlling power is an inward life-principle that works out, by the first
of its own motions or instincts, the will of the Divine Life-giver, without
fear of punishment or hope of reward. In the first the Christian is a
servant and works for hire; in the second he is a son, and works for love."

November 26, 1983
Yesterday I finished The Christian's Secret . . . . Smith's words
about living in the world with your mind on God sound a lot like Thomas
Kelly's living on two levels. Is this healthy or is it escape? Is it a positive
way of coping? Loving God more than anything on earth--that's Biblical.
But relying on God more than on anybody on earth--I put a question
mark there. Like a true Quaker, Hannah Smith preaches submission,
yielding, pacifism. But that invites abuse. Why am I trying to find fault?
Maybe I don't want to believe it. Letting circumstances, bad days and
incidents steamroll me, that's not good either. Mounting above them
with the wings of surrender and trust could be a better option. Do
nothing (trust) and let God work. Believe God is working and wait. She
would say, don't entertain questions because they are the beginnings
of doubt. Doubt cripples the wings of trust. Doubt is discouragement,
the opposite of happiness.

I just want to know if it's healthy! Healthy according to whom? Someone
is always critical of anything and everything. Of course there are
criticisms and some persuasive arguments against her book. Kathleen,
you must decide for yourself. Has the past year been healthy for you?
I think it has been. I've been growing in trust and becoming less fearful.
I've surrendered my will to God and am waiting for him to go before
me; as he leads I endeavor to follow. I'm beginning to recognize
guidance and hear the Shepherd's voice. In quiet, idle moments my
mind turns instinctively to God as well as sometimes when
I'm actively engaged.

Many of the things in Smith's book are not new to me. Similiar thoughts
are found throughout  my journal. I have already begun the journey of
trust and surrender. (Bonhoeffer uses different words--faith and
obedience.) My life is happier now than a year ago. Our home is
happier. Any theory no matter how healthy can be misused and abused.
So trust the Quakers--Smith, Kelly, Steere, Foster. If I can't be deceived,
I can't believe. Where did I get that line; I use it a lot.

November 29, 1983
The man who was blind but could now see minimized the "work"
involved in making the clay, and the distance he went to wash it off.
But the Pharisees already knew the story. Had Jesus healed this
man on a week day, would there still have been controversy?

What did Jesus do? That depends who's asking the question. Jesus
never instructed this formerly-blind man on how to cope with the
carnage. With neighbors who didn't like his new eyes. And Pharisees
who didn't like him being healed on the Sabbath.

We have learned from reading John's gospel that people were baffled
because they did not know God, their hearts were not attuned to God's
heart. They loved themselves more than they loved God. Had they
known God, they would have received Jesus with joy and thanksgiving.

Was it healthy for Jesus to heal people? Healing corrected some of
the unfair misfortunes of life. Just a very small fraction of it. Which
wasn't fair to those not healed. His neighbors responded as though it
wasn't right for this man to be cured of his blindness. And at the age
of 40. It just wasn't normal!

November 30, 1983
John Wesley had four ways to test the validity of one's faith: Scripture;
tradition; reason; experience. Hannah Smith said basically the
same thing in different words: through the Scriptures; providential
circumstances; conviction of our higher judgment; inward impression
of the Holy Spirit on our minds.

The Pharisees kept it simple. This man couldn't be from God because
he didn't keep the Sabbath day holy. It was an easy answer for a
tricky question. They used common sense, reason, tradition and
circumstances as they saw it, to determined the validity of Jesus.

So we're down to the inner voice of one's own experiences, and
whether we know God with an open and loving heart. How can reason
and common sense handle the foolishness of the gospel that is
verified only in the heart?

Jesus, you healed, you worked at healing, on the Sabbath. Yet in my
heart I know you are right and the Pharisees wrong. I must act, not
on reason, tradition, or even Scripture, but on faith. I want to believe
you are sent from God; therefore I will believe and act accordingly.

December 3, 1983
On the other hand, how could a sinner do such wonderful signs as
this? They questioned their faith to the point that now they were
confused. Reason could not arrive at an answer. Neither could earthly
wisdom. It would have to be a matter of faith. Knowing the truth in one's
heart without outside proof, without logical clear cut evidence. Knowing
by intuition. Or else resigning oneself to not knowing, no action or
decision on the matter. Sit on the fence; unconvinced either way.
Some decided Jesus was definitely not of God, and that did require
action. They plotted against him because he was a menace to their
religion and society.

Questions that divide a person, a group, a church. Why is it so difficult
to arrive at a satisfactory resolution? Sometimes there seems to be no
right answer, only wrong hearts and attitudes. Then the only one happy
is the devil.

December 6, 1983
"Blind man, based on your experience, what do you think about this
man who healed you?" What did the Pharisees expect him to say? The
formerly blind man was between a rock and a hard place. How much
ugliness can this man take before he wishes Jesus would not have
noticed him sitting by the side of the road! How much is the miracle
worth to him? Why must life be this way? Always some people spoiling
things for others, oppressing, harassing, taking all the joy out of our living.
This man needed the freedom to be and live without interrogation. Trial
by fire, Peter called it, where gold is refined. Would this man cast his
lot with Jesus even though it meant controversy, or would he choose
peaceful obscurity and insignificance?

December 12, 1983
The Jewish leaders were asking all these questions but they didn't want
to believe the answers they were getting. They asked the blind man's
opinion but then didn't respect his answer. How typical--to shut out what
we don't agree with and hear only what we like. 

What did he have to say about Jesus? He must be a prophet. Was that
the best response this man could think of? Did he deliberately stop
short of Messiah? We'll never know what he really thought because of
all the animosity.

                <prev                                                                     next>