Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Legalists Always Kill The Celebration

"So for the second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, "Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner." He answered, "Whether this man is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see." — John 9:24-25, ESV

The Pharisees could not get past this one thing: Jesus healed the man on the Sabbath by making mud and putting it on his eyes. Jesus doing "this kind of stuff" on the Sabbath always ticked them off. And honestly, I think that's why Jesus made mud. He didn't have to make mud. He could have just spoke and the man would have been healed. He didn't have to make mud and send him on a journey to go and wash his face. He could have just touched the man and left it alone. But he didn't. He ticked off the legalists of the day for a purpose. And what was that? To tick them off.

Through all the questioning of the man whose sight was restored by Jesus, the legalists couldn't celebrate with him because of the fact that something miraculous had happened outside of their prescribed and permitted activities. You see, Jesus didn't break any commandment of God regarding the Sabbath. Rather, he broke the added-on commandments created by the legalists, who elevated their own traditions and permissions to the same level as God-ordained commandments.

So they brought the man in a second time with an agenda. Jesus was getting too much credit for this. There was even division within the Pharisees who were there about what just happened (see John 9:16). And they start off sounding so pious and religious: "Give glory God." And before he could, they stated their opinion of Jesus: "We know that this man is a sinner." So in their minds, the way to give glory to God was to declare Jesus (who is God) to be a sinner because of the fact that Jesus performed the miraculous on the Sabbath, breaking their man-made and too highly elevated opinions. The man responds to their declaration, and it is beautiful. He simply says, "Whether this man is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see." It's almost as if he said, "I don't really give a rip whether this man is a sinner or not. All that I know is that I can see because I met this guy." LOVE IT!

What should have been a day of celebration was stripped away by a group of men who had already decided (see John 9:22) what to think about Jesus no matter what Jesus was going to do. This man couldn't celebrate in the miraculous because the religious leaders of that day wanted the miraculous to be undone. The miraculous superseded their personal preferences and traditions, proving that God didn't give a rip about their personal preferences or traditions either.

I want to celebrate when the miraculous happens. I want God to open my eyes to the countless ways that he is intervening in the lives of people so that I can celebrate with heaven rather than sit in joyless skepticism with the legalists of today who can't see the miraculous of God because they are so enslaved to their traditions. I want to celebrate with the liberated. I want to see Jesus do the incredible. I want to sit in quietness of soul, reading his word and listening to his Spirit to know him better, and then see him at work in the world doing what he does best: the miraculous. And I want a front-row seat to that every day.

I want to be part of the celebration, not the kind of Christian that others ask, "Who invited that guy?". As a recovering legalist, I want to see legalists of today freed from their bondage of religion and dance in the dance that Jesus has invited us to: a relationship with the God of the universe.

I want to celebrate.

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