How often do we sabotage our own spiritual health with piety and self righteousness? Is our own prideful quest of being right hindering our sight of the truth?
John 9: 13-19
13 They *brought to the Pharisees the man who was formerly blind. 14 Now it was a Sabbath on the day when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes. 15 Then the Pharisees also were asking him again how he received his sight. And he said to them, “He applied clay to my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” 16 Therefore some of the Pharisees were saying, “This man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.” But others were saying, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And there was a division among them. 17 So they *said to the blind man again, “What do you say about Him, since He opened your eyes?” And he said, “He is a prophet.”18 The Jews then did not believe it of him, that he had been blind and had received sight, until they called the parents of the very one who had received his sight, 19 and questioned them, saying, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? Then how does he now see?”
We know in reading the 4 gospels of the New Testament that the Pharisees, for one reason or another were always looking for a way to discredit Jesus’ ministry or to prove that He wasn’t the Son of God. I find it interesting that an intense miracle was performed, a man being born blind was given sight, and all they can find to say is that Jesus is a sinner for “working” on the Sabbath. Before going any further, let’s actually look at the commandment they were referencing to condemn Jesus in Exodus 20, 8 “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.”
Maybe it’s just me, but it appears that the point of this commandment is stated in verse 8: keep it holy. We look today and under these standards set forth by the Pharisees, you can’t even teach on the Sabbath. Look to our current day pastors, their work day is…our observed Sabbath! Same with the people serving us coffee, opening doors, and directing traffic. The elders serve communion, the deacons collect offerings and tithes, and the administrator does the books. I guess we are all doing it wrong, aren’t we?
The apparent deception is made transparent through the ridiculousness and conditionality of their accusation. God’s number one command is to love. Is not healing a blind man a condition of love? “sorry dude, you’re gonna have to wait a day because my religion tells me not to.” Wrong, your religion tells you to love others unconditionally.
This is a blatant exposure of our own self-righteousness and the security we find in our own piety and religious doctrine. The Pharisees were blinded by their selfish motives to prove Jesus wrong and missed the whole point. I believe that this whole debacle was part of Jesus intent with this particular story. He wants us to face our own self-righteousness and recognize it for what it is: a distraction from the Truth.
What is it in your religious practice that causes pride and self righteousness? Are you missing the bigger picture? Are you blinding yourself to what God has done in your life (and the lives of others) as inspiration and a sign of hope? Have you instead started nitpicking the actions of others in order to make yourself look better?