Often when I am reading scripture I find that as time goes on my understanding of certain passages change. I preached on the ninth chapter of John (the whole chapter) on Sunday when Jesus heals the blind man. I looked back at different times over the last five years where I have taken notes on this passage and saw that my feelings about what is important in the text has changed. In one instance I wrote that the entire passage was about sin. In my preaching class, I preached about how it was mainly about sin. In another instance, I gave a youth message that focused on sight vs. blindness. And just last year I preached that the main focus was on Jesus leaving the man to witness. And Sunday I focused the sermon around Jesus calling us to witness AND about Jesus being ever present.
So why does what is important change? In this case, I think it is because I bring my experience and reason into the text. Where I am in my life and my life experiences influences what is important to the text for me at the time. I also learn as I go along and I am better able to understand the text. Can you think of how your understanding of a text has changed or taken on a different meaning over time?
John 9 is a text that is rich with information. It's about sin, sight vs. blindness, witnessing, Jesus being present, people not "seeing" Jesus, people seeing Jesus, and the works of God. The man is healed of his blindness and then must explain and defend what happened to the townspeople, his parents, and the pharisees. He must explain and defend who is responsible for his receiving sight. As he witnesses, his confidence for who Jesus is increases. He first refers to Jesus as a man, then a prophet, and then the Son of God. He needed to believe so Jesus took a step back and allowed him to defend Jesus and what had happened to him and because of this his confidence and his believe of who Jesus is grows. I love in verse 9:26 when he says "I have told you already and you would not listen, why do you want to hear it again?" His confidence grows as Jesus allows him to witness to the mighty act of God.
We can learn a lot from this story and from the blind man's witness. Think about this for today: Sometimes when we get sent somewhere by God we wait for God to do what God sent us there to do in the first place. We are called to witness the mighty acts of God and his Word whenever we have the chance, just like the formerly blind man.
Grace & Peace