John 9: a story of redemption and encounter, Part 2

Read John 9 here.

Read part 1 here.

The picture and story that the Holy Spirit showed me was this.

I saw a materially poor couple who had loved God and sought to obey him from the time of their singleness, to their whirlwind love story, engagement and marriage. Yet they were barren and had no children. With the intercession of Hannah (1 Samuel 1) and the faith of Zacharias and Elizabeth (Luke 1:6), they asked the Lord for a child with whom to share their love. Finally, God had answered them and they had a son who I’m going to call Peter.

Peter was blind at birth and yet despite all this, for decades, his parents held on to their faith and love for God. I saw them singing to their son as he lay in his cot. I saw them singing Moses’ song (Exodus 15). I saw Peter sitting on the knee of his father listening to the story of God’s people, of the exodus, of the glory of David and Solomon, the exile to Babylon and the rebuilding of the temple. I heard his father and mother teach him about the prophets and the prophecies of a coming Messiah. “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.” (Zechariah 9:9) I perceived that they never gave up hope in those early years as they recounted Isaiah 35:5, “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, And the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then the lame shall leap like a deer, And the tongue of the dumb sing. For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert. The parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water…”

But hope deferred brings resignation to the heart and as the years turned to decades and the stories became legends and Peter grew into a man, his parents grew old and it became harder and harder for them to support him on their meagre income.

Then one day Peter decided that it would be best if he went to begging for his parents were now too old to support him. And so he began to sit at the side of the road near Jerusalem and tap his stick on the side of his begging bowl and wait and wait. But deep down in his heart he never forgot those stories and songs, he never forgot the faith of his parents. And at night he would dream and his dreams were full of the words of Isaiah.

So returning to John 9, the Pharisees call Peter back after hearing the testimony of his parents. They ask him again to deny that it was Jesus who healed him. “Give God the glory! We know that this Man is a sinner.” Peter replies, “Whether He is a sinner or not I do not know. One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.” Peter begins to understand that these Pharisees don’t like Jesus and are trying to discredit Him. With great boldness, faith and courage Peter takes a stand, “Why, this is a marvelous thing, that you do not know where He is from; yet He opened my eyes! Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will. He hears him.”

In response the Pharisees throw Peter out of the Synagogue. You were completely born in sins, and are you teaching us?” And they cast him out. This is significant. It is a casting out of the centre of Jewish life, out of the institution where men received their identity and place in the society. And so Jesus goes to find him. When He finds Peter Jesus says, “Do you believe in the Son of God?” In other words, do you believe in the Messiah? Peter is amazed and hope rises within him at first. But the decades of hope unfulfilled tell him not to expect for too much. So he replies, “Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?” And Jesus said to him, “You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you.” The years of waiting, the years of hoping, the years of suffering are over in that moment. Faith is vindicated, hope is satisfied. And Peter falls at Jesus’ feet and worships. He has been waiting for the Messiah and the Messiah has found him. He’s found more than just healing. He’s found life itself. Oh the beauty of this man Jesus. The beauty of this ‘joy for mourning’, ‘beauty for ashes’, ‘garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness’ man named Jesus! He is still the same man today as He was back then!

Joel Ratcliffe

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