1. Thinking about Change

‘Purposing Change’ Meditations: 1. Thinking about Change

Mk 10:51 What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”

In a previous series we focused on prayer – watching and waiting. However (and this doesn’t annul that) for a while now I have the feeling that the Lord wants to bring change – today – through you and me. This is not so much the revival or renewal of the church, more a case of Him wanting to do stuff in and through His people. We are, after all, called to be lights to the world (Mt 5:14) and the salt of the earth (Mt 5:13). Perhaps there will be changes that He will bring in and through us as part of preparing the way or maybe even as we reach out He will use these things to start bringing renewal.

For some of us we’ve yearned for change – perhaps in us, in our loved ones, in….. whatever. So, can we focus on how Jesus might want to bring that change using us? Jesus challenged the blind man with what seems an obvious question but it’s saying, “How big is your faith in me? Can I change the impossible?” Well, can he?

We don’t like change (well most of us don’t!) and yet perhaps a further truth is that if we think about it, there really ARE things we’d like to see changed. We’d like to see changes in ourselves, or our loved ones saved, our prodigals return, our work place become godly, and so on. So why don’t we do things to change these? The answer may be that we have tried but nothing changed, we have spoken but our words have been rejected. So do we give up? May I very gently suggest, no.

What I sense should be the primary purpose of this particular series is that we slowly and surely look at this whole subject, perhaps see it as a project that with God’s help we can work on. We will think about the possibility of change coming, what it requires of us, how we can prepare the ground, how we can start making small steps of faith. Sometimes we want a magic wand being waved so it all happens immediately but that is not how Jesus went about training and preparing his disciples. It took time – three years of time, and then it needed the coming of the Day of Pentecost to energize them and get them out into the streets and in a state to cope with the coming opposition. No, it was a long-term project. Now I don’t want to put you off, but suppose it takes two years to bring about some of these changes. Yes, it may take a much shorter time – it could be tomorrow, next week, or next month, but if it takes two years, the important thing is that the changes HAVE COME.  

In the days ahead, I hope to think into these things but for the moment, to start us off, we must come back to this blind man before Jesus: “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”  It sounds almost a silly question but there are two realities to be observed here. The first reality is the one we’ve already been referring to, that of not liking change. I once knew a dear Christian lady (she has gone to be with the Lord now) but talking about her severe life-long disability and what would happen if Jesus healed her, she confessed it would be earth shattering. Her whole life had been lived around this disability and if it was no longer there, she would be free to live a completely different life – and that scared her. We will come back to this again at some point because it is so important, but do we want changes that might totally change our lives?

The other aspect is, and again we’ll look at it some more in the future, we may have grown so used to the current status quo that we cannot envisage it changing, and so there is a question of belief (or unbelief?) hanging over these thoughts. So I’ll state the battleground again, for that is what it is: we’d like to see changes in ourselves, or our unbelieving loved ones saved, our prodigals return, our workplace become godly, and so on; that’s it! So may we pray and think and listen in order to allow the changes that the Lord is saying he wishes to bring? Why did he come? “To proclaim good news to the poor…. freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Lk 4:18,19) Can we be freedom bringers? We’ll see.   

33. The Blind Man

People who met Jesus : 33 :  The Blind Man

Jn 9:1-3 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.

I have commented before that I felt the woman caught in adultery was one of my favourite stories, but now I have to add that this one comes joint first, and certainly first of all the healing accounts. There are so many aspects of this story that are worth noting.

It starts with a bunch of totally insensitive disciples. We’re like this sometimes! As they are walking along they come across this man who is blind who, they are told, has been like this from birth. Now they are just like Job’s comforters who worked on the basis that if you had anything wrong with you, you had obviously sinned. So the disciples, wanting to look like learners, ask of Jesus why this man would be like this. Was it because of his own sin or because of the sin of his parents? The former option is pretty stupid really, because he had been born like it, so how could his sin have caused it? Anyway, Jesus won’t have this.

It’s nothing to do with sin; it’s all about glorifying the Father.  What? Yes, stop your insensitive questions (what must the man have been feeling while they voiced their questions infront of him?); let’s just take the opportunity to heal him! There’s the challenge! Let’s stop criticising and blaming people; let’s just bring God’s love to them, bless them and save them!

Now the way of healing here is unique to the Gospel healing accounts: he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means Sent). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.” (v.6,7) So why did Jesus do this? Did he want to give the man some privacy in his healing and so did something that made him go elsewhere to receive the healing? Did he do it because he knew the man needed that extra faith-motivation? We don’t know – but the man was healed!

The incredible nature of what happened is revealed in what follows: “His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” Some claimed that he was. Others said, “No, he only looks like him.” But he himself insisted, “I am the man.” “How then were your eyes opened?” they demanded. 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.” “Where is this man?” they asked him. “I don’t know,” he said.” (v.8-12). They couldn’t believe what had happened. Obviously Jesus wasn’t performing great miracles at this stage of his ministry in Jerusalem, because the enquirers haven’t got a clue about him yet.

Now their response shows how unpleasant and short-sighted people can be: “They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath. 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.” 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.” (v.13-16) The neighbours take him to the guardians of the Law, the Pharisees. Why? Were they trying to stir things up? Instead of rejoicing over the wonder of what had happened they look to cause trouble. The Pharisees pick on the fact that it was the Sabbath and in their eyes healing was work. How petty! This story reveals the worst of people and the wonder of Jesus. But the best is yet to come”

Let’s jump a little bit: “A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.” He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” (v.24,25) That’s the bit that always makes me laugh. The Pharisees want to denounce Jesus and try to get the man to do it for them, but all he can do is declare his testimony which is as simple as you can get: One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”

You may think you don’t know what to say to people about the Christian life, but you have a testimony and no one can take that from you. For me it was, “Once I was lost, purposeless, lonely, and drifting into alcoholism, but then I met Jesus and he gave me purpose, security, healing, friends, a wonderful wife and a wonderful family.

You can criticise it but I know the truth of it – and so do millions and millions of other people who have met Jesus. Rather than be mean minded and criticise people who say they have found a new purpose in life that is filled with love, joy and peace, why not look for it yourself if you’ve never yet found it? God is in the business of transforming lives, not condemning them, and it’s there for whoever will come to Him, surrender to Him and put their life in His hands. Once I was blind, but now I can see! And you?