Peter Misselbrook's Blog
May 17 2013 - John 9:1-41 – Once I was blind but now I see

The sight of a blind beggar by the roadside prompted the disciples to ask Jesus whose fault it was that he had been born blind, was it due to his own sins or was it the result of his parents’ sin? Jesus replied, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (John 9:3-5).

Jesus refuses to link a person’s sickness or disability with particular sins committed by that person or by his parents. Such sickness or impairment is symptomatic of a broken world and afflicts good and bad alike. But Jesus came into the world to do the works of the one who sent him; he has come to mend a broken world and to create it anew. He has come as the light of the world and the power of God is about to be displayed as light is brought into the darkness of this man’s life. Genesis tells the story of how God created a man from the ground and breathed into him the breath of life. This man’s eyes are restored as Jesus adds his own spittle to dirt from the ground and pastes the mud onto his blind eyes.

But the day on which this took place was the Sabbath day.

Those who had known the man born blind were amazed that he could now see. They could not understand how this could have happened so they took him off to the religious authorities for their verdict. The Pharisees, having listened to the man’s testimony, were offended that Jesus made mud and opened the eyes of a blind man on the Sabbath. To them it seemed quite obvious that Jesus was a sinner since he did not obey the law of Moses.

To the man once blind the case was equally obvious. Nothing like this had ever happened before. No one could give sight to someone born blind unless God enabled him to do so – and God would not do such things through a sinner. The man born blind has a clear testimony, “One thing I know, once I was blind but now I see.” Unlike the Pharisees, he sees things clearly. They are blind to what is going on right in front of their eyes.

The Sabbath marked the completion of God’s work of creation. Sabbath was God’s invitation to all that he had made to join him in the enjoyment of a perfected creation. What could be a more fitting act for the Sabbath day than to make this man whole? As my grandmother used to say, “There’s none so blind as those who will not see.”

But what of me? In what ways am I blind to the work of God because I am locked into my own way of looking at the world? Do I sometimes fail to see the things that God is doing around me as he continues to work in his broken world, working for its healing and restoration?

Lord Jesus, open my eyes that I may see the wonder of all that you are doing now in your world through your Word and your Spirit. Make me your agent in bringing your light into the dark places around me and your healing to those whose lives are disabled by sin or injustice. Help me to do your work in each new day you give me.

May 17 2019 - 1 Kings 2:13-46 – A kingdom established through bloodshed

Let me go over the history that led to Solomon succeeding his father David as king. Absolom, David's third son, had killed Amnon, David's firstborn, in vengeance for Amnon raping Absolom's sister Tamar. David's second son, Kileab, son of Abigail, seems to have died as a young man since we hear nothing more about him. David's eldest surviving son was Adonijah, son of Haggith.

We skipped over 1 Kings Chapter 1 in our schedule of readings. In that chapter we read that when David was very old and could not keep himself warm, a young woman named Abishag was given the job of lying next to David in bed to keep as a kind of human hot water bottle, but, we are told, "the king had no sexual relations with her" (1 Kings 1:4).

Meanwhile, seeing that David will soon die, his eldest son Adonijah sought to have himself proclaimed king – it's the story of Absalom all over again. The plot was told to David who promptly declared that Solomon, son of Bathsheba, was the one whom God had called Jedidiah, loved of the Lord. The Lord had determined that Solomon would succeed David as king. Adonijah was filled with fear and ran into the tabernacle and took hold of the horns of the altar. Solomon sent a message to him that he would not be put to death for this rebellion: "If he shows himself to be worthy, not a hair of his head will fall to the ground; but if evil is found in him, he will die" (1 Kings 1:52).

David has died and Solomon is now king. But Adonijah feels that he has been robbed of his rightful position and is intent on gaining status for himself. He dare not confront Solomon so he goes to talk to the king's mother, to Bathsheba. He asks for Abishag to be given to him as his wife. When Bathsheba presents this "small request" to her son, Solomon does not see it as a small matter at all; he sees it as a plot to seize the kingdom from him. Solomon gives the order that Adoniah immediately be put to death. Abiathar the priest who had colluded with Adonijah's plans to be king was dismissed from his post, "fulfilling the word the Lord had spoken at Shiloh about the house of Eli" (v.27). Zadok was appointed as chief priest in Israel instead of Abiathar.

Solomon, the king whose name means "peace", then set about executing the deadly will of his father. Joab had conspired over the kinship with Adonijah, and like him flees to take hold of the horns of the altar. Refusing to leave the tabernacle, Joab was struck down there and died.
Shimei, who had cursed David when he fled from Absalom, was placed under house arrest in Jerusalem. When he left the city to pursue some of his run-away slaves, Solomon had him also put to death.

This is how the kingdom was "established in Solomon's hands" (1 Kings 2:46).

The kingdom of David's greater son is also established through the shedding of blood. But this is the blood of the Saviour himself who has conquered all opposition by his death and who gives life to all who come to him. He is the Prince of Peace, the one who reigns over a kingdom characterised by righteousness, joy and peace. The Lion of the tribe of Judah is also the Lamb who was slain – the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Lord, I am troubled by this history of the men whom you raised up to lead your people. I do not find them attractive characters. Thank you that I can turn from them to look at the Lord Jesus in whom I see your character truly reflected in all the beauty of your grace. Thank you that through him I have been reconciled with you the living God and know the peace that passes human understanding. Help me to be a peacemaker.

Peter Misselbrook