Been There Done That…are the lyrics of the song playing in the place I am writing…it’s a terrible techno song and I have no idea who sings it…but I’ll bet this would be a good soundtrack to lay under the gospel scene this weekend.
Blind beggars by the road or temple area — Been There Done That
Snarky Pharisees — Been There Done That
Men claiming to be prophets — Been There Done That
Spitting and mud and healing…maybe not.
It occurs to me the geographical path — pilgrimage if you will — of the story this unnamed blind man takes is pretty involved:
The place where he encounters Jesus
To the pool of Siloam
Back to the original spot
To the Pharisees
To the parents (actually they were summoned)
And then he is summoned in and out
And then Jesus comes back and finds him
That’s a lot of traveling for someone who has only been able to see for like 5 minutes.
It reminds me of Jesus’ journey back and forth between officials and trials on the day he dies. In fact, it feels like a mirror image. Although the most details and the addition of being sent to and from the Sanhedrin, and Annas, and Caiaphas, to Pilate, to Herod, and back to Pilate is found only in Luke’s gospel (not John’s — which is what I was sort of hoping…) — we know that Jesus stands mostly silent — allowing His conviction of unconditional Mercy and Love for us to convict Him in the end. And we need this to happen: “…so the works of God might be made visible through [H]im.”
This is the inversion of the Man Born Blind — who also gets sent all over the place and actually — I only noticed this this year — really develops his defense…his apologetics…his testimony right here over the course of the story. This is what my life is supposed to be about. Telling the story of Jesus in my life to others. Sometimes on demand and sometimes unsolicited. And while I will spend most of my life wasting time and occasionally working on my craft, this guy gets pretty far all in one day.
I went back and actually counted how many times in one story he has to witness to all the people who question and challenge him: it’s 7 times. An interesting choice, John. And if you read those pieces carefully — this Unnamed Evangelist gets better, stronger, and more bold in his personal kerygma — his story of his personal encounter with Jesus — as the story goes on.
I will be lucky to be able to get my proclamation of the great story of Jesus — together over the course of my life. And I will be bad at it. And I will struggle with courage. And timing. And pride. And arrogance.
This guy had it together in 1 day. And if I am truthful with myself — that’s really how it’s done.
Like the Woman at the Well — an encounter with God through the person of Jesus changes my personal trajectory immediately. And permanently. It’s an about-face. A stopping short. A turning around. A cut-and-run. A bold challenge to authority. It’s shocking. Dangerous. Outrageous. Scandalous.
Like marrying a woman already pregnant. Like escaping to Egypt. And lots more.
And telling the story of Jesus very rarely ends without a casting out of some sort. Including Jesus Himself. There are consequences for telling the truth. This guy is now restored and can see, but with presumably no life skills and no connection to work outside of begging — which he can’t do anymore.
It might occur to an observer that Jesus has left this guy in worse shape than he found him — but that would be incorrect…so we have to *look* a little closer:
The man’s great gift and skill — is his story — his personal encounter with Jesus — and he already has the experience of depending upon the sympathy and charity of others. Except now he knows it’s really God’s Providence. I like to imagine he takes his show on the road and is able to survive using both his old skills of trust and stewardship and his new charism of evangelization. Because God never sends us anywhere without exactly what we need to succeed for His glory. We don’t always like where we are sent or to whom — but I must believe — in the words of a very wise evangelist in my life — that God’s Timing is perfect for my salvation. Mine. Not others.
Jesus’ curing of this man prefigures lots of things about himself, I think. But this year — I am inspired by the Unnamed Evangelist’s immediate pilgrimage along the thresholds to intentional discipleship. And we know this by his bold and delightfully developing desire to tell his story, identify Jesus, and bring others with him regardless of what it costs.
So — I must work on my craft.
Been There Done That — but I can totally do better. 🙂