Lectionary for April 3, 2011: Samuel 16:1-13; Psalm 23; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41
Testimony comes in many forms. Sometimes it is a dramatic retelling of the touch of the Master’s hand. Sometimes it is a simple, almost unnoticed acknowledgement of God’s presence. At times it is on display in a physical manner, not requiring any words. Sometimes it is given in one or two simple words or phrases, appreciation carried on light breath. Sometimes its spoken to a skeptical crowd.
In whatever ways testimony is offered, its power is in the truth that gives it life, not so much in the form through which it finds expression.
In today’s reading from John 9, we meet the blind beggar who, through an encounter with Jesus, a good slathering of mud, and a rinse in the pool of Siloam, is able to see for the first time in his life. Such miracles are far from ordinary, and the accompanying inquisition as to the source of this healing is not unexpected. Why wouldn’t we want an explanation of the change in this man?
The Pharisees asked him how he came to see. “He [Jesus] put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see,” was his response. This simple, straightforward reply of course was too much for some of the Pharisees. They themselves were so blinded by their distrust and hatred for Jesus that they could not even see the facts. They insisted on more, and approached the man’s parents.
The text indicates that because of fear of reprisal the man’s parents retold the story, but only in part, giving credence to the fact that their son had been blind but now could see, but failing to mention Jesus’ role in this transformation.
Again the newly-sighted man gives full and accurate testimony, saying, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.”
Testimony is not about explaining everything that has happened. It is rather about telling the story “straight.” The simple testimony of God’s activity in life has enough power to make Pharisees and Kings squirm. Its very facts are the argument; we don’t need to embellish or defend or explain. Like the newly-sighted man said, “I’m not making a judgment; I’m just telling you what I know.”
Testimony, evangelism, is really quite simple. It’s telling, truthfully, the experience of God as we know it. It’s the type of recognition that caused the newly-sighted man to exclaim, “Lord, I believe.” Tell your story, simply, truthfully. And help others share their stories along the way by offering ears for hearing and eyes for seeing how it is that Jesus moves among us.
Pray the 23rd Psalm, pausing after each verse/clause to consider what your testimony is related to that particular phrase. For instance, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” What experience of God in your life was one of God as shepherd? When has God provided for a specific need in your life? What is your simple testimony of the Lord as shepherd?
If you’re in an environment that is conducive to sharing, you might ask people to form pairs or small groups and offer that testimony to one another.
Give me your eyes by Brandon Heath
I love to tell the story