Saturday, December 11, 2010

Give Glory to God!

Who could argue? Sounds like a good thing. Except when the Pharisees say it to the man blind from birth who now sees (John 9:24), they are saying anything but. Why do I say that? It's all in the echo.
The Gospel according to John is one of sixty-six Bible books that makes up one Book, the Bible. Though written over several centuries by many authors, this one Book is self-interpreting. The only reason for this is because behind and above all human authors is a single Author who is also the Architect of history who directs and discloses according to a single Divine plan.
And so, when we hear a "Give glory to God" echo, we stop and think how one passage reflects on another.
Many centuries ago, Joshua led the people of Israel out of the wilderness into the Promised Land. Moses was left behind; Joshua was the new, prepared and appointed leader. They crossed the Jordan River and marched around the walled city of Jericho. God knocked down those walls, and the Israelites were there to pick up the pieces, every one to be devoted to God. They then hurried up the road to Ai, an un-walled city that looked like easy pickings. They were defeated. In the midst of their wailing, God revealed that their defeat was due to disobedience. Someone had stolen plunder from the Jericho loot. Lots were cast, a tribe was indicated, then a clan, then a family, and there stood Achan.
As Joshua confronts this man, he opens his interrogation with these words: ““My son, I implore you, give glory to the LORD, the God of Israel, and give praise to Him; and tell me now what you have done. Do not hide it from me.”” (Joshua 7:19 NAS95) Joshua (the Old Testament name that is rendered as "Jesus" in the New Testament) is assigned to confront the sinner.
But the echo doesn't quite fit, does it? In the Old Testament, God's man confronts the sinner. But in our New Testament passage, it is not the New Testament Joshua who confronts the one regarded as sinner. Rather, he heals him. On the other hand, the Pharisees confront the man with the gloriously changed life, commanding him to glorify God by accusing the God-man of wrong-doing. The Pharisees are seeking to distort the blind man's vision of the God-man who gave him his sight. They are seeking to pit a sinner against his Savior. They are saying "Give glory to God," even as they set themselves against God's Beloved, and as they attempt to make use of the only man within reach who is just now enjoying a wondrous foretaste of God's glory in the forms of restored sight and changed life. At the end of the story, Jesus like Joshua confronts the Pharisees, who now look now seem to fit quite nicely into Achan's shoes. They were seeking to steal what only belongs to God.
The Pharisee-in-me distorts the echo of the purpose and plan of God. Yes, sin must be identified. But God's purpose is to save sinners, and His plan points to Christ. Any activity that aims to keep sinners separated from their Savior must be rejected. Those who would recover a heart of worship would do well to learn from the now-seeing-man, who accepts rejection by men in favor of acceptance by the Son of Man.

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