I bumped into John tonight. Writing up the Feast of the Tabernacles. I had to go and check what that was all about. And having got a grasp of the history and context I wandered back to John and three chapters.
Chapter 9 verses (slice and dice). An appetiser. Then my meander through chapters 7 and 8. Meat and three veg.
A meal and some table fellowship with my lord.
Apparently, the opportunity within that year’s Feast got the better of Jesus. He had sent the twelve and stayed behind. Things were heating up. Emotions running high. The establishment becoming bolder. Now a “hit” out on Jesus. They had had enough. Yet Jesus couldn’t stay away. He snuck up there. He couldn’t not. He started teaching. And then the poo poo’s hit the proverbial.
Different style of writing John has here. An absence of people power and parables. This stuff is temple bods and thrust and parry. The writing feels kind of grown up. The hierarchy doing what hierarchy does. Closing ranks and pulling rank. Jesus doing what Jesus does. Being the Messiah in human form. The style and narration is grown up. It feels good.
And then in chapter nine the blind man, some spit and some mud, a quick wash and dry, sight restored. Then more poo poos and fans.
What caught my attention was one phrase repeated (almost verbatim) by two different groups:
“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Verse two
“You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” Verse thirty-four
The first was the disciples. The second was the Pharisees.
And as I read these chapters what struck me in these two phrases was this: the Jewish traditions, prophets, prophecies, history, expectations, “old stuff” … It was so ingrained it was universal. Overcoming political views, cultural views, religious views. This poor blind man was blind only through sin. Might have been him and/or his parents … Sin was the reason.
Love was yet to be invented. Forgiveness only a concept. Tradition and teaching and law the “real” of that time.
Into which Jesus walked with confidence. Into which he talked with confidence. With authority. With love. With forgiveness. With full knowledge of the consequences. That turning tradition, teaching and law on its head had consequences. His authority mocked. His love seen as weakness. His forgiveness seen as a threat.
His own disciples saw sin. The Pharisees saw sin.
And the juice he squeezed with me flowed beautifully …
THAT was the raw material God works with. THAT was the stuff of His beautiful creation. THAT is good enough for Him. That is where he sees Love. That is where he finds faith. That was where he felt at home.
Then I look around. My world. My time. And I look at the raw material in me and around me in others. And no matter what book-keeping of love, sin, faith, belief, flesh, spirit … No matter how we view and tally up this “Kingdom Work” …
It is still the stuff of His beautiful creation. It is still good enough for God. It is still of Love. It is still of faith.
And – unless we know better than God – it has to be good enough for us. It has to be the environment and culture in which we feel comfortable. Where we need not be of this world – but need to be in this world. His world. His creation. His wonder.
If it is good enough for God, doesn’t that mean it is good enough for us? That we can have the confidence to feel at home here, that we can walk with confidence, that we can talk with confidence, with authority, with love, with forgiveness.
Each one of us a minister, a pastor, a plain clothes cleric, a disciple … Each one of us a walking temple … Each one of us a container of God … Each one of us with the fragrance of heaven. All connected. All one.
Or do we know better than God on this as well?