Lesson 1: Week of April 29
Rev. Doreen Smalls
Week of April 29
Lesson Scripture: John 9:1-17
A medic who was rushing his wife to the hospital in their car as she was having a stroke was arrested by a police officer and charged with multiple offenses. With his emergency flashers on, the man “proceeded cautiously through a red light,” prompting the officer to follow him and try to pull him over. The husband continued on to the hospital, knowing how critical it was for his wife to receive immediate medical attention. Upon arriving at the emergency room, the man, who was carrying his wife, was blocked at the entrance by the officer who was trying to arrest him. Unaware that the driver had phoned ahead and that staff was awaiting the patient, the officer barged into the treatment area and had to be told to leave by hospital staff. The medic was charged with “assaulting a police officer, disorderly conduct, reckless endangerment, evading arrest, two red light violations, and registration violation.”
Just as the medic placed his wife’s needs first, so did Christ put the blind man’s needs before the Jewish rule regarding the Sabbath. How do we determine which priorities come first in life?
A proper diagnosis
In order to solve a problem you must first have a correct diagnosis. If you don’t have the proper diagnosis, there is a strong probability that you won’t be able to provide a solution. In this week’s lesson, the problem is obvious: the man is blind. But from the very beginning, the disciples misdiagnose his condition.
“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. ‘He was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him’” (John 9:2-3).
They quickly assumed this man or his parents were responsible for his blindness. They were looking for someone to blame. According to their logic, sin was the only plausible explanation for his condition.
However, Jesus turned the conversation away from their assumptions. It was not because of immoral behavior or sin that caused his condition. Instead, Jesus explained the real need was for God’s work to be shown. Because he was blind, God would “perform a miraculous work through him.” The most important priority was that God was at work and would provide divine healing.
What is it that we might readily label as a curse or a punishment in our world today that Jesus might offer as an opportunity for a blessing? What are the blind spots in your life that prevent you from recognizing Jesus?
Jesus places mud on the man’s eyes and then instructs him, “Go wash in the pool of Siloam” (John 9:7). The man did as Jesus directed and when he returned he was able to see. Rather than celebrating the man’s new sight his neighbors were skeptical. They wondered if indeed this was the same blind man. The blind man insisted that he was the same man who used to sit and beg. They further questioned him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” (John 9:10) He explained that Jesus spread mud on his eyes and told him to go wash and he received his sight.
He was then taken to the Pharisees and asked more questions about his sight. The Pharisees responded, “‘This man is not from God for he does not observe the Sabbath.’ But others said, ‘How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?’” (John 9:16) They were more concerned about breaking the religious law than rejoicing in the healing. The law prohibited works on the Sabbath and they determined this miracle was a task that violated Sabbath rules. And because Jesus committed this illegal act, he could not be from God.
The Pharisees and others were blinded to who was in front of them. They were unable to recognize Jesus in front of their eyes because they were focused on the law instead of the work of God.
“They again asked the formerly blind man, ‘What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.’ The man replied, ‘He is a prophet’” (John 9:17).
In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” (Mark 8:29). That is the pivotal question for us today. In a world that places many priorities above Jesus, “ Who do you say that Jesus is?”
How do we decide which priorities in life come first?
Rev. Doreen Smalls is an associate director at the Office of Connectional Ministries. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.