Just over nine years ago, at an orphanage in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, I saw a look on a four year old’s face I don’t think I will ever forget. Our daughter’s biological (birth) mom came for a visit so Katie and I could meet her and so she could see her baby before leaving the country. I didn’t know what to expect. Would Birti be excited? Would Birti recognize her (her birth mom had to give her up for adoption two years prior)? Would she want to stay with her birth mom? Would she feel torn? Does Birti have any clue as to what is going on? Is this a bad idea? You get the picture.
As it turns out, Birti did recognize her birth mom. But she was completely indifferent to her presence. Birti could care less (or so it seemed) that the mom who had given her birth four years prior was in the room. You could tell Birti knew who she was. But you could also tell that, to Birti, it just didn’t matter.
I’ll never forget that look. That look of indifference. That look of “oh, hey.”
This is the same look I envision when I read John’s version of a healed a man in John 9. Jesus gave sight to a man who had been blind from birth. As usual, Jesus did the healing on the wrong day – the Sabbath. And, as usual, it caused a commotion with the religious powers that be. These religious leaders wondered if the man was actually blind to begin with. So who do they call? The healed man’s parents. In one of the saddest exchanges in the New Testament, out of fear of the religious leaders, the man’s parents took no responsibility for what happened, seemed to have cared less about their child’s healing, and left their son to fend for himself.
Obviously, the first place the formerly blind man went was not home. That is sad in and of itself. He didn’t run to tell his parents what had happened.
There is no sign in the story of hugging or rejoicing or celebrating the miracle.
John doesn’t tell us the man was excited to actually see – with his own eyes – the woman who birthed him.
What’s worse is that John tells us early in the story that the man was a known beggar. This blind man spent years begging so he could eat. What does that tell you about how well his parents cared for him?
When this “seeing” man finally got to see his parents, there was a look of indifference. A look of “oh, hey.” The look that says, “What are you doing here and what do you want?”
It is incredibly obvious the man’s parents dismissed their blind son a long, long time ago. They didn’t want anything to do with him. The icy cold interaction in the text is pretty clear.
Why share this? Why write about this? In the midst of this heartbreak, John writes a beautiful statement. After the man’s parents left their son to fend for themselves, things got worse and the man was expelled from the temple. His parents disowned him. The religious leaders kicked him out. Though he could see, he was alone. Then John writes, “Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him. . . ” (John 9:35) Did you catch that? Jesus went after the man and found him. Jesus went after him and led him into a whole new life with the Son of God.
If you are still tracking with me, consider. . .
- The healed man’s parents were obviously horrible parents. Yet Jesus went and found him. This man’s horrific circumstances led to an encounter and, we assume, a rich and vibrant relationship with Jesus Himself. If you have been mistreated by your parents, your story isn’t over. Your parents don’t have the last word. Jesus does. Plead with Him to give you eyes to see. Then watch what He does (see what I did there?).
- If Jesus goes after and finds those whose parents have severely mistreated them, don’t you think Jesus will go after and find those whose parents long for their children to know Him? Jesus went after the guy whose parents completely blew the whole parenting thing. They didn’t even care to get it right with their blind son. Don’t you think Jesus will go after the ones whose parents chief desire is that their children walk with Him?
Now. Please hear me and hear me good: the point is not “if you are a good parent God will love your child more than if you are a bad parent.” That’s not what I am saying at all. Get this now. Come in real close. Here’s the point: At the end of the day, we parents have to trust Jesus to go after and lead our children. I want this thought of Jesus searching to find the man he had healed to cause a deep breath of relief to come over you. We parents work hard to get it right. We don’t want to blow it. We want our children to turn out well. We fear they will spend millions of dollars and hours in counseling. . . because of us. But the heart of Jesus in John 9 reveals that – regardless of our parenting – He will go after and draw our children. He finds them, takes them where they are, and leads them. Hasn’t He done that with you?
This doesn’t mean you stop parenting or cease trying to be a good parent. But it does mean you can take some of the pressure off. Trust Jesus with your children. Ask Him to go find them, give them sight, and lead them to follow Him all of their days. Then go sit on the back porch, nurse a Diet Dr. Pepper, and read your favorite magazine.