After Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, many began to believe in him – that he had been sent by the Father. What do we believe about Jesus? Do we believe he is the author of life with power over death? Are there any people like Lazarus in our own lives who need to be raised to new life? Lazarus was a prefiguring of the resurrection. And yet, even Lazarus died again. Jesus’ own resurrection is no a mere resuscitation, but a raising to new life, qualitatively different, never subject to death again.
Jesus heals the man born blind. The story is masterfully and artfully complex yet succinct. Drama abounds and intrigue develops with each verse. Fundamental themes and metaphors such as light versus darkness, sigh versus blindness, knowing versus not knowing, and more, including willful ignorance in the face of demonstratable evidence, all are woven together in this gospel passage that is the source of tremendous insight and wisdom. Jesus takes the initiative. He creates cognitive dissonance in the minds and hearts of many, demanding that they make a decision for or against him. When do we face such encounters with Christ? What is our response?
Each of us came to faith through someone else. The woman at the well shared her experience with the townspeople. Many believed upon hearing, and many more heard for themselves and believed. Even the process of believing, or rather, coming to faith is gradual. Terms like “prophet” give way to “Christ” and ultimately (in this story) to “Savior.” Jesus cannot be encapsulated by one title or in one encounter. The initial experience leaves the woman and the townspeople wanting more. Such is the life of faith. We do not have a once-and-for-all encounter. But a relationship with Jesus unfolds over time, ever deepening, ever revealing, until we ultimately encounter the cross and the exaltation.
No matter how hard we try to avoid temptations, they find their way into our spiritual life. It seems as though they lie in wait for us, trying to catch us when we least expect them, or when our resolve to avoid them is weak. The story of Jesus’ temptations in the desert gives us hope. His response to the tempter came from a realization that his mission was from God, and not from the attractions offered by the devil. In the face of temptation, our strength comes from remembering our true self, a son or daughter of God. Nothing is greater than that.