The Gospel of Jesus was, and remains, highly subversive. We lose sight of just how subversive with the comfort of two thousand years of hindsight, and even the creep of a new status quo. Yet the forces of cronyism, legalism, and establishmentarianism are just as prevalent today – and so is the radical need for Jesus.
I‘m constantly reminded of this whether I am walking through Israel, or reading through the pages of Scripture.
Take, for example, the Pool of Siloam, which was discovered early in the 21st century during archeological excavations. This is where Jesus brought sight to a man blind since birth. The Gospel of John, chapter 9, records the story. Jesus “anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’ … So he went and washed and came back seeing.”
The man, as one might expect, was overjoyed. His life was literally changed in an instant, evident for all to see.
Yet the establishment enforcers, the Pharisees – who were universally praised by the Jews of the day as political and religious heroes – were aghast. Their complaint was that the healing had taken place on the Sabbath. But you get the impression in John’s account they were more upset because Jesus had done it without their permission. Jesus refused to conform to their rules; He was too busy following God’s law.
Meanwhile, the formerly blind man was indignant. He could see! Yet the Pharisees were more concerned with enforcing their peculiar interpretation of the Ten Commandments than in rejoicing in an obvious miracle. And because the man would not reject the gift of sight or the One who had given it, they labeled – and libeled – him as one “born in utter sin.”
Things have not changed. Those who would do good – such as innovators disrupting an industry with lower prices and better services, or volunteers feeding the hungry without bureaucratic approval – find themselves under assault from the minions of an administrative state operating on behalf of entrenched incumbent actors.
And those who try to tell the truth about the benefits they received from the disruptors? They are attacked with even greater ferocity. They are denigrated as unfaithful, as cheaters, or worse.
With whom would we side? The blind man couldn’t unsee the world after being given sight; he knew what was true. Should he have backed down? And what will we do? Will we be even more pitiable men, self-blinded to truth?
We can choose not to ruffle feathers, perpetuate the status quo, and leave people in darkness… Or we can join in a glorious disruption that brings light to the world.