The earliest Christians followed a Jewish tradition of pausing to pray, preferably together, first thing in the morning, about mid morning, at noon, about mid afternoon, and in the evening. “Just a Note” posts are brief observations made from Scripture readings not related to a lectionary. If I have one to post, it normally appears about 9:00 in the morning, at “the hour of prayer.”
Miracles of healing are rare. They are inexplicable. In John chapter 9 there was a genuine miracle. The leaders of the Jews did not know how to explain it. In case there was some sort of fraud going on, in verses 18-23, the leaders investigated.
Was this man who had been blind really the person he said he was? His parents certified that he was. Was he really blind? Yes, he was blind since he was born. And he sees now? Yes, he seems to see.
The authorities wanted to know how this had happened. In verse 21 the man’s parents deny knowledge of how he was healed or how he could see now. John gives us the reason for their denial. Although it seems they do know how their son was now able to see, they were intimidated by the pressure from the Jewish leaders. The leaders had a policy of removing from the synagogue anybody who followed Jesus. Therefore, they chose to deny knowledge of what happened.
Why is removal from the synagogue so important? Sadly, in a modern Western culture we have largely forgotten the importance of excommunication. Being removed from communion, or, in the case of this family, removed from the synagogue, is a clear statement that you have no part in God’s promises. You do not have access to forgiveness. Grace is not available to you. This is a terribly serious matter. The family was told that if they acknowledged Jesus they were to be condemned eternally.
How seriously do Christians consider their testimony? Do we realize that a denial of the faith is effectively saying that we have no part in God’s kingdom? There are many social pressures which would urge people to deny one or more of the doctrines of Christianity. We are pushed to endorse the essential equality of different religions. We are urged to see Christianity as simply a lifestyle or cultural choice. We are told that the roles the Bible pictures for people are not actually important. It is difficult to decide how to live as a Christian in a culture that is increasingly hostile to the claims of the Scripture. Like the parents of the man in this Bible passage, we are tempted to avoid the question and to live a contradictory life. May the Lord have mercy on us all.
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