Saturday, May 16, 2009

Missing the Miracle - The Conclusion



******
Jesus was sitting quietly, sharing lunch with two other Pharisees near the town gates. They were discussing a section of Leviticus, particularly the notions of Sabbath and what it meant. Normally he would have entered the discussions, but he was tired today. He was thinking about the blind beggar he had healed that morning. How could his colleagues and his disciples so easily miss the point of God's heart? It saddened him that the beauty and dignity of people were so easily disregarded in the religious community. They meant well enough, he knew that, but it was for them to lead. If those who studied the Writings did not see the extraordinary love of God, who would?
He picked a stone out of his sandal and chewed his last bit of bread. Off to the side, he noticed a commotion amongst his disciples.

"They did what?"

"They threw him out!" John said.

Jesus stood and quickly walked over.

"What happened?"

The two disciples sighed and looked down.

"Tell me." Jesus said.

"They threw him out, Rabbi. The beggar you healed this morning. They threw him out of the Temple."

Jesus bit his lip and shook his head.

"Did they say why?"

"The way my cousin heard it, I guess he tried to stand up for himself. So they called him a sinner from birth and threw him down the steps."

Jesus rubbed his forehead. When would people learn? When would the religious leaders learn that the Sabbath had been created for them, not them for the Sabbath and whatever rules they summarily attached to it?

"Do we know where he is?"

The two disciples looked at each other, before John spoke.

"Rabbi, do you think that is a good idea. If they threw him out... They're already after you, and-"
"Where is he?"

John nodded and indicated the direction.

"Behind the market."

The group headed out, the mid-afternoon heat slowly fading as the day passed towards night. The Pharisees had become quiet upon learning the news about the beggar, and they followed discreetly, a few steps behind the disciples. They pushed through the crowded market, with the calls and yells of the vendors blending with the odours of spiced meat and vegetables. Once on the other side, Jesus saw the group of beggars. David sat near them, but farther away then the others. They wouldn't chase him away, but they wouldn't welcome him either.

Jesus stopped at the sight of young David, so filled with joy this morning, his heart breaking at the emaciated young man with his hands cupped out in front of him. The sadness in his face and movements was so profound, it was all Jesus could do to start walking. It was shocking how people could be, at times so generous and giving, and others so profoundly cruel.
Jesus motioned to his disciples and they followed him towards the beggar.

*****

David looked over at his fellow beggars, but didn't try to speak with them. He wouldn't tell them what had happened in the Temple, because they might force him to move again. For the past two hours he had wandered around the city. He'd stolen an apple that had fallen off the cart of one of the merchants, but other than that he'd yet to eat. He'd given his change away to Benjamin when he'd left that morning, and now here he was, without the blind man's condition to evoke sympathy, and without the blessing of not witnessing the cruelties he'd seen since that morning.

A group of dust kicked in the air, and when his fellow beggars started their sing their chants, David looked up. The Rabbi? He watched, his jaw dropping as the young Rabbi made his way across the clearing and bent down across from him. David stared at him, his eyes filling with tears at the Rabbi's compassionate gaze.

"Do you believe in the Son of Man, David?"

David could hardly speak. He'd lost faith in everything, or so it seemed. He thought about the Temple, about its priests, about the cruelty and air of business that rang through its courtyards.

"Tell me, sir, who he is, that I might believe. Because I'm not sure I believe in anything any more."

"It is the one you are speaking to, David."

David wiped his eyes, and as he gazed at the Rabbi, he understood. Perhaps it was because he'd been born blind, or perhaps he was just desperate, for whatever reason, David stared at the young Rabbi's eyes, and within them he saw that which he had never seen, an intense and yet compassionate understanding of humanity, and an abiding love for the same. It struck him so deeply that he was unable to move, and simply bowed his head at the force of it.

****

John came over with a blanket and wrapped it around the young man's shoulders. James, another one of Jesus' disciples, handed the former blind man some food, and Jesus waited until his disciples had put change in the all of the beggar's bowls. A few of the women took David with them. They would introduce him to some of the others, and ensure he had a place.
Jesus watched them go, his gaze trailing into the burgeoning night. Still Sabbath. There would be unrest over this one.

"For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will be blind." He said, half under his breath.

The two Pharisees had come up beside him.

"What? Are we blind too?"

Jesus turned. He hadn't seen them approach. His smile was sad.

"If you were blind, you wouldn't be guilty. But since you claim to see, to understand what God wants from us, your guilt remains."

****

David followed the women, who addressed some of his minor scrapes and introduced him to some of the others. The one woman, tall and statuesque, was checking a list of some kind.

"Um, miss-"

"Call me, Mary, David."

"Yes, ma'am, um, Mary. What is that list for?"

She smiled without looking up.

"The Rabbi travels every day to another village. He still has to eat and find a place to sleep."

David thought about that for a second.

"Um, Mary, is Jesus, you know, the One?"

This time she put the list down.

"What do you think, David?"

David looked at the food in his hand and the cloak about his shoulders, then realized he was able to see them both, and sort of shifted in his seat. He thought about seeing his parents for the first time, about the Temple. Mostly though, he could not stop thinking about two moments. The moment his eyes first opened, and the profound love he'd witnessed in the eyes of the Rabbi the first time he'd looked into them. He turned back at Mary, who was watching intently, and smiled.

"Is there anything I can do to help?"

She nodded and pointed in the dircetion of the market.

"We need to eat tonight. How about getting the food?" She paused. "Do you cook?"

David paused at the question, and the smile playing around the corner of her mouth. He thanked God for the wonderful gift he'd been given, and took a deep breath.

"Not well." He said.

"That's okay, you'll learn."

-Steve
Authour's Note: This script has been taken from John chapter 9 in the New Testament. While I have added some things to the story, most of which has been added takes into account the culture of the time. Too often today, we read the Bible as a set of rules, breaking down beautifully moving stories by number and memorizing text instead of narrative. The early readers would have heard the stories as they were originally intended. This is my small attempt to remind us of the profound love of God, that even though we may feel rejected and alone, God does indeed, seek us out. If there are any errors here, of course, the fault is not with the original text, but with my own limitations and biases. My prayer is that you will be encouraged to read these stories, and find in them the love and peace that the young Rabbi still offers today.