Signpost for Sunday 26 March 2107, 4th Sunday in Lent/Te Rātapu Tuawhā o Rēneti: 1 Sam 16:1-13 Ps 23 Eph 5:8-14 John 9:1-41 Collect: Eph 7:2 (Var: Lent)
What a choice of lections for comment and preaching!
John, writing long after the Gospel ‘events’, portrays the formerly blind man as ‘worshipping’ Jesus. Worshipping the Christ was normal by the time of John, but impossible to imagine among good Jews of Jesus’ lifetime. Our lazy habitual default literalist position stops us seeing such anomalies. We must remember that John’s Gospel is not a detailed eye-witness account but a highly mystical explanation of who Jesus was in eternal terms, for people of the end of the first Christian Century.
And who was David? He was the greatest king in Israel’s history, who expanded the kingdom to its greatest extent. He is also memorialised as a great solo fighter (David and Goliath! (but remember also ‘Elhanan son of Jaareorigim, the Bethlehemite’ who ‘killed Goliath the Gittite’ – 2 Samuel 21. 19), and as a sweet singer of Psalms (Some still attribute all the Psalms to David the former shepherd-boy!) whose singing could control Saul’s madness.
But today we get a different picture. David is so unimportant in the family that his father does not present him to Samuel at first. And Samuel was not keen on kings as such, let alone a second one while the first was still around. In Samuel’s good old days, God was King, and God raised up judges who spoke God’s word to the people. But holding together ten (or more) tribes against a variety of enemies was difficult, and other countries managed by having a king.
Later in history, the popular conception was that the days of King David were the good old days. People looked back on David and Solomon and forgot the outrageous taxes and the forced labour and the permissive attitude to other gods that all contributed to the splendour. Perhaps it was due in part to the taxes and so on that the kingdom did not outlast Solomon. So the days of the united kingdom were the good old days even at the return from the Exile, and up to the time of Jesus. I do wonder if the use of king as a title for Jesus is sometimes ironic and even misleading.
I think it might be easier to preach on light and seeing and blindness.