Quotes from the Pharisees: Are You Saying I’m Wrong? (Part 1)

Have you ever been called out for being wrong?  Maybe you made a mistake and a teacher or manager pointed it out to you.  Perhaps you made a claim and a friend insisted otherwise, so you both checked (or ran a test) and found out that you were the one in error.  This could also be something private, where a story (one that you were sure was true, and had repeated to others) proved to be made up: just an urban legend.  It’s tough to realize that something you said or shared was incorrect.

When I was still in school, a friend told me that Eddie Van Halen was asked on the Tonight Show what it was like to be the greatest guitarist of all time, and Van Halen said, “I don’t know.  You’d have to ask Phil Keaggy.”  Years later, I spotted an article on Snopes that confirmed that this never happened.  (Note: I do not consider to be the source of all truth, but it does have some interesting investigations.)  And, if you know these two guitarists, the truth makes sense here: despite Phil Keaggy’s guitar skills, he’s from a fundamentally different genre from these other guys.  (For what it’s worth, my same friend claimed that Eric Clapton was the best guitarist in pop music, but he still said that country music guitarists were better.  To each his own, I guess.)

Continuing this series on sayings of the Pharisees, today’s passage below comes from John 9, which contains one of my favorite accounts in the Gospels.  (Seriously, if you don’t read the rest of my article today, but just read John 9:1-10:21 instead, you’ll have a lot more to think about.  In fact, any time that you read the Bible instead of my writing, you’re better off, but you’re welcome to read both if you want.)

John chapter 9 starts out with the disciples asking a question to Jesus, where both of the possible answers that they offer are wrong.  (Hint: sometimes, bad things in this world happen because the world is cursed as a result of humankind’s sin in general.   Not every bad thing or suffering is directly correlated to a specific sin from the individual experiencing the pain.)

Once Jesus heals the blind man (the person about whom the disciples were asking their original question), things get even more interesting.  Those who had seen this guy (back when he was still blind) question whether or not this now-sighted man is the same one that they knew previously.  When he confirms his identity, they ask who healed him, but he doesn’t know where Jesus is at the moment.  So, this guy is taken to the Pharisees, who proceed to grill both him and his parents.  (Talk about punishing those who were just blessed.  Let’s not be like that.)

Eventually, the healed man’s parents punt back to him to answer the questions.  After this guy pushes back a little (with facts), the Pharisees insult him and kick him out.

In verse 35, Jesus catches up with the man that He had healed, and the man worships Jesus.  Let’s pick up after that:

And Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” Those who were with Him from the Pharisees heard these things and said to Him, “We are not blind too, are we?”
John 9:39‭-‬40 NASB2020

We might say that the Pharisees were so set against Jesus that they didn’t want anyone to cloud their mind with facts.  In reality, though, they probably aren’t that different from you or me, when we get fixated on something (especially when it isn’t aligned with God’s will), and choose to be blind to other points of view.

Still, it’s almost like the Pharisees are fishing for justification from Jesus, here.  I imagine them, like the disciples at the Last Supper, suggesting “You’re not talking about me, are you?”  Or, like a parent allowing a teenager to retract an inappropriate comment before discipline must be meted out, perhaps the Pharisees think that they are the authority here, and they feel magnanimous about giving Jesus a chance to retract his statement (or at least the part where they understood Him to be talking about them) before they condemn Him (again).

If you still haven’t read John 9:1-10:21 today, I’d like to remind you (again) to take some time to enjoy it.  Let’s pick up here, tomorrow.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation.

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