John 9:35 Jesus heard that they had driven him out (the man born blind, but then healed), and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 He answered, “And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.” 38 He said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped him. 39 Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.” 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not blind, are we?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.
There is a lot packed into this passage, but what sticks out for me this morning is the contrast between the conduct of the Pharisees and Jesus. The Pharisees questioned the man born blind, but didn’t like his truthful answers so they drove him away. Jesus, on the other hands, sought him out, offered him grace and blessed him.
I come across people all the time who’ve been rejected by the church for any number of reasons. They didn’t do the right things, or say the right things, or believe in the right ways – so they were driven out. I suppose leaders of the religious establishment (of which I am a part) have always done this sort of thing. I’d like to think I’ve not done this myself, but there may be some who would challenge me on this. It’s something for me to think about for sure.
If there’s one thing we see clearly in the gospel accounts of Jesus’ life, it’s that Jesus went out of his way to pursue/include/embrace people whom the religious establishment considered unacceptable – the sick, the sinner, the foreigner, the person with the checkered past. And having been rejected by so many, such people tended to respond with surprise, then adoration and loyalty. The man born blind in our passage for today is a good example.
There are so many people in our midst who’ve been rejected over and over. It seems they have no home, no community, no place where they are loved unconditionally. The church was intended to be such a place, a place where people are treated as the children of God they are. I think that’s what it means for the church to be “a city on a hill”. We’re intended to be a place of hope and love for those who have neither. How are we doing with that? How am I doing with that? How are you doing with that?
Lord, give us grace to be a reflection of your love for others, especially the rejected ones. Amen.