23 June 2014

Encountering Jesus ~ when parents fear men... ~

Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” 
But others asked, “How can a sinner perform such signs?” So they were divided. 
Then they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” 
The man replied, “He is a prophet.”  
They still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man’s parents. “Is this your son?” they asked. “Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?”

“We know he is our son,” the parents answered, “and we know he was born blind. But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself.” His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who already had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. That was why his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”
Photo by my mother-in-law, Susan Wright
 As is pretty typical for the Pharisees, they've looked right past another miracle - too wrapped up in the fact that what Jesus was busy doing was what they thought he shouldn't be doing and as such, so totally did not fit into their box of what He should do. The Pharisees were every bit as blind as the blind man - only they were clueless. Sadly they thought their vision was 20/20. 

Why were they angry with Jesus?

In this case, He not only did work (i.e. healed a blind man) on the Sabbath, He also encouraged the blind man to go and wash (i.e. work) on the Sabbath. From their perspective, Jesus treated the law irreverently: violating the fourth commandment, trampling sacred tradition and leading another to do the same. 

Already convinced Jesus was a sinner and that He could not have come from God... the Pharisees were left trying to come up with a way to explain away this miraculous. Their problem? It couldn't be explained without accepting Jesus as the Son of God Almighty. And they were convinced that accepting THAT was blasphemy... a violation of the Shema and the first commandment

Talk about being caught between a rock and a hard place.

They ask the blind man who healed him. He says "A prophet."

The Pharisees don't like that answer - after all, good prophets were good men and they did good things... they carried clear messages from God that invited... that demanded... a change on the part of those who heard the message. The Pharisees weren't too excited about change - at least not the sort of change Jesus was bringing. So they were back to explaining away the situation: the man wasn't really blind... this is all a ruse or a hoax... it just can't be true.

They send for the parents and try to get the scoop from them. The parents clearly identify the man as their son. They attest to the truth that he'd been born blind. They refuse to identify or testify at all concerning the One Who had opened the eyes of their boy. In my opinion, it seems pretty clear from the text that they knew. They were more afraid of what the Pharisees might do to them than they were convinced of choosing Jesus.

It is easy to point my finger at those parents and call them cowards.

Until? ...I start thinking through all of the times a fear of men has overcome my desire to do what is best for my children. Any time I parent for the eyes of those who just might be watching instead of in obedience to God and in the best interest of my child and our family... 

Well, I do the exact same thing. 

It doesn't come quite so readily or easily - pointing my finger at myself and naming myself coward.

Fear of men -
  • like the time I let my boy have it because he commented (in a very public setting) about the extravagance of a gift given by a church;
  • like the time I chose to follow cultural greeting tradition to not offend my visitor instead of checking on my girl when I knew I should and we ended up at the hospital;
  • like the time I insisted on a certain educational path because it had worked so well with all the others and we ended up with tears and school fears that took years to subdue...
  • like my continual temptation to treat my young adult living at home like younger siblings so that he lives up to my expectations (and keeps us looking like good parents) instead of praying, listening, counseling and giving him space to grow, fail and become his own man who just may have some ideas and plans that make me uncomfortable.
I could go on...

When parents fear men instead of following God, when parents fear God instead of trusting His plans - parents leave children vulnerable and just may exasperate them.

I leave MY children vulnerable and I just may exasperate them.

The KJV doesn't use the word exasperate... It says that parents (wrongfully, sinfully) can provoke their children to wrath. The word translated exasperate or provoke to wrath is this: 
parorgízō (from pará, "close-beside" and orgízō, "become angry" - properly, to rouse someone to anger; to provoke in a way that "really pushes someone's buttons," i.e. to "really get to them" in an "up-close-and-personal" way 
Something tells me: Our kids know when we are more concerned with others' opinions than with what's best for them. And they don't... won't... appreciate it.

We get too busy arranging our own work in their lives so they help us look good before men. In the process, we totally miss out on any opportunity to share of our own encounters with Jesus as we witness Him work, His good, His miracles, in our children's lives...  

this week's gratitude list

(#'s 4600 - 4626)

skyping with a dear friend who I really, really miss a lot

a wedding date

starting to dream and make plans about how we're gonna get to that wedding

lovely, cool weather on a Thursday

teens sleeping in

little girl tiptoeing into my room early in the morning

Mexican lasagna when the tortillas wouldn't roll

finally watching a movie I'd downloaded months ago

time to read

reading some really good books

listening to giggles and squeals as they play "Murder in the Dark" in the basement on a thunderstormy day

successful surgery for my daddy - liver cath removed and the last gall stone released

fleur de lys blowing by the front door

floors blooming

rhubarb compote and vanilla ice cream - totally delightful together

no makeup days

summer music lessons... and listening to them practice

studying again through 2 Samuel and remembering lessons my Nigerien friends taught me as we went through those chapters a few years back

filling our yellow cooler with icy cold water to drink throughout the day

looking forward to seeing Niagara Falls with the kiddos - some don't ever remember having been there before

sorting through old pictures and laughing and crying as a result

peeking downstairs to listen to girls giggle as they look through old scrapbooks and photo albums

sorting, sorting and packing, packing and decluttering, decluttering

talking with someone who just totally gets it

cleaning in the storage room in the basement - my family things I do that just for fun (maybe I do)

my daddy's in the hospital again - thankful they know the problem and now are working to determine the best course of action

friends who might be the only ones to encourage my father during a hard time like this

safety on the road

  Ten most recent posts in this series: 
Click here for all of the titles and their corresponding links in the Encountering Jesus series.

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