See previous post for the Old Testament Readings or this week as well as a list of all the readings for this week.
The book of Ephesians was most likely a circular letter, meaning that it was written to be passed around to many churches in many communities. The letter itself was probably first sent to, and read by, the church in city of Ephesus. The message of the letter is aimed at the believers – quite probably particularly to the Gentile population of believers. It is a letter of how to live as the light of Jesus in a world of darkness. An interesting foundational statement is made in Ephesians 2:6, and the surrounding verses, as we see that we ‘have been’ seated with Christ. This indicates our ability to see from a ‘heavenly vantage point’ – we have the ability, because of what Christ has done on our behalf, to better see and understand life and God’s calling on us – to see, and to point towards, the light. It is important to note that this is a letter to believers and the picture painted, the life instructions, and the purpose of the church in general is for those who have trusted in Christ. Our passage for this week is especially a calling to the members of the local church. It calls for us to look at our own lives and how we are living – are we living in light or in darkness. Then, we are to assist and encourage each other, those within the church, to do the same. It is not a call to judgement of others but, instead, a loving and sincere desire to encourage the believers to look at their own lives and then help others to do the same.
As we approach chapter nine in the gospel of John, it is essential to see that has happened since the experience of Jesus with the Samaritan woman in chapter four. Among the many events and teachings that have happened in these five chapters, it would have to be Jesus’ teachings about himself and challenges to the true inner belief of the religious Jews that has drawn the greatest animosity. Our gospel reading for this week begins immediately after this hostility has caused many to pick up stones to throw at Jesus.
Chapter nine begins with Jesus’ own disciples falling back into a typical religious manner of thinking – ‘who is to blame for this man’s blindness’ they ask. Looking to blame is not just a Jewish way of thinking, it is a human way of thinking. We all, regardless of culture, religion, or nationality, instantly attempt to place blame. It makes us much more comfortable to be able to point the finger at a person, or group of people, than to have to live uncomfortably with the unknown. Blame allows us to stick with our divisions and hatred, the unknown forces us to see what would otherwise be ignored – it allows us to not ask, not seek, and not knock for answers. Jesus does not attempt to sidestep the question, he very bluntly dismisses the thought that someone is to blame, instead, he challenges them see God in the midst of this moment. He challenges those paying attention to look for God in all that is about to take place.