If this is your first viewing, please see my Introduction before reading this.
21 December. John Chapters 9-10
It is clear from these chapters that Jesus was not worried about causing divisions. In fact he seems to have regarded it as inevitable that his ministry would cause division, attracting some people and making enemies of others. Many (though not all) of the ordinary people believed in him, because they looked at his “works” (healing, teaching, feeding, showing love and compassion). Many (though not all) of the religious and political leaders became his enemies because they looked at how his actions fitted into their “laws” – or rather, did not fit. This is clear from the story of the blind man. What mattered to him and his friends was that he had been healed, and not surprisingly, worshiped the man who had healed him. What mattered to the Pharisees was that it had happened on a Sabbath. They would not have been surprised, for Jesus had healed on the Sabbath many times – they just could not get the point that healing should not be counted as “work”.
Laws, whether of religion or state (and in some societies, it amounts to the same thing), are a necessary construct for society to function. We all need to know what is expected of us. But no system of laws stays unchanged for ever – both religious and secular law changes in small ways all the time, and occasionally needs major reform. Like an earthquake zone, frequent small movements cause less damage than rare large ones. Jesus, when he was in Jerusalem, found himself in a fossilised religious environment that had not changed substantially for centuries – in fact, the layers of interpretation added to the original “laws of Moses” (intended originally for a desert people) had made them almost impossible to change. Jesus was the earthquake that was about to hit the Jewish religion in a devastating way, and the warning tremors had been happening for some time. Little wonder that on Good Friday, an earthquake was one of the signs that something very important was happening.
We see the same in the way people come to believe in Jesus today. He turns no-one away, not even people whose lives are already generally well-adjusted and people-centred. Such people may find faith in Jesus but their lives do not need to change very much. On the other hand there are those whose lives are totally broken, whether by disease, stress, guilt, addiction, or being victims of violence and persecution – or the cause of them. Such people, if they find Jesus and his accepting love and transforming forgiveness, are (in a very positive way) the ones caught up in an earthquake, as the tension that has built up in their lives is suddenly released. The metaphor of an earthquake may not be the best one – do tell me if you can think of a better one – but the point is, that whether your need is for another slight change in your life or a desperately overdue major one, Jesus will do it, if you let him. If you only have eyes to see.