PrintLent 4 2017
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
March 26, 2017
Psalm 142:1-7, Isaiah 42:14-21, Ephesians 5:8-14, John 9:1-41

Sermons online:
Text:                pastorjud.org
Audio:             pastorjud.podbean.com
itunes:             bit.ly/pastorjud

Close your eyes for a moment.  Try to imagine what it would be like to have been born blind.  What things would you not be able to comprehend?  No idea of color.  No way to understand the beautiful intricacies of a flower.  No way to appreciate the amazing diversity of plants and animals, mountains and lakes, sun, moon and stars.  It would be a very difficult thing to be blind from birth.  Go ahead and open your eyes.  Now here is the truth.  You were born blind.

For not only is there physical blindness, there is also spiritual blindness.  There are people whose eyes work just fine and yet they are blind to the way of salvation; they cannot comprehend being saved by grace.  There are so many people who can see every color in the world but do not know the truth about the gift of forgiveness found in Jesus Christ alone.  There is physical blindness and there is spiritual blindness.

Jesus is leaving the temple in Jerusalem after he was threatened with stoning by the Jews because he said, “Truly, truly I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”  As he walks away Jesus sees a man blind from birth.  Jesus sees the man; the person who is blind.  The disciples don’t see the man; they don’t see the person, they only see a problem; they only see his blindness.  At first a physical problem and then they quickly turn it into a spiritual problem; a theological problem, John 9:2 (ESV) 2 … “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”[1]  The disciples see only sin and punishment.

The disciples look past the person and see a problem and in this way avoid helping him in any way.  They don’t listen to him, they don’t give him something to eat, they don’t lead him to Jesus; they just want to discuss who is to blame and avoid having to deal with the person.

How often do we do this ourselves?  We see someone well dressed.  We see the nice shoes, nice watch, nice car and look past the two broken marriages and estranged children and think this person has it made.  Or we see someone who looks kind of rough, poorly dressed, covered with tattoos and piercings, and we just dismiss them as undeserving of our care or consideration never seeing the pain and abuse they endured as a child.  We want to look at someone with trouble in their life and conclude that they must deserve it.  They sinned and they are being punished.  But their story; your story, doesn’t start with sin and end with punishment.  Their story, your story begins with creation and ends with redemption.

Jesus sees the man born blind and brings the man into Jesus’ own story.  Jesus goes to the man and brings light into the man’s darkness.  Jesus helps the man and gets his hands dirty in the process.  Jesus kneels down before the man and spits in the dirt and mixes up some mud and anoints the man’s eyes.  The man’s story begins with creation and here we see the creator of the world who created Adam out of the dust of the ground now use the dust of the ground to bring light to this man.

Jesus tells the man to go and wash in the pool of Siloam.  The man does as Jesus instructs and comes back seeing.  His eyesight is restored.  You would think this would be cause for great celebration and rejoicing for everyone who knows this man.  This man has been blind from birth and now He can see.  It’s a miracle! It is incredible!  How wonderful!…but wait.  People are confused.  Is this really the man born blind?  He tells them, “I am the man.”  He tells them the story.  John 9:11 (ESV) 11 …“The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed and received my sight.”[2]

They take this man to the Pharisees because this is the Sabbath Day and Jesus made mud in violation of the rule about kneading dough on the Sabbath.  The Pharisees question the man and the man tells his story and declares Jesus is a prophet.  The Pharisees now doubt the man was really blind and bring in the man’s parents for questioning and the parents disown their son out of fear of being kicked out of the synagogue.  This great thing that Jesus has done has turned the man’s life into a mess.

Then the Pharisees call the man in again to test him.  The man tells them the story again, “I was blind, now I see.”  He says that Jesus is from God.  The Pharisees get angry John 9:34 (ESV) 34 They answer him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out.[3]

The man has lost his family and has been cast out of the synagogue.  Jesus hears this and finds the man and brings the man into the full light; full sight both physical and spiritual.  Jesus asks, John 9:35-38 (ESV) 35 … “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” 38 He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.[4]

Every time the man tells the story he becomes clearer as to who Jesus is.  First the man called Jesus, then Jesus the prophet, then Jesus from God, and finally, he worships Jesus as Lord.

In the waters of baptism Jesus brings you into His story of salvation and gives you a story to tell; the same story that the blind man tells.

Jesus brings the man into Jesus’ story and then gives the man a story to tell.  I was blind, but now I see and every time the man tells the story he grows in his understanding of who Jesus is.  The mess of the man’s life becomes the message.  The test becomes a testimony.  His weakness becomes a witness.  The trials of the man’s life allow the works of God to be displayed.

In baptism the light of the world brings that light into you.  After a baptism I give the newly baptized a lighted candle with these words, “Receive this burning light to show that you have received Christ who is the Light of the world.  Live always in the light of Christ and be ever watchful for His coming…”  In the waters of baptism Jesus brings you into His story of salvation and gives you a story to tell; the same story that the blind man tells.  I was blind, but now I see.  Jesus has taken you from being spiritually blind, dead and an enemy of God to living in the light of Christ and knowing that Jesus of Nazareth is God in flesh; the Son of God and Son of Man.  Jesus is the Lamb of God who sacrificed Himself on the cross of Calvary to pay the price for your sins.  Jesus brought you into His story and gave you a story to tell.

The messiness of your life becomes the message.  Your tests become testimonies.  Your weakness becomes your witness.  The trials of your life allow the works of God to be displayed.

Jesus brings the man born blind into His story and gives the man a story to tell.  His physical sight and his spiritual sight have been restored.

The Pharisees think they see things perfectly clearly and yet they are blind.  They believe they are saved by following God’s commandments and their own interpretation of those commandments.  They see sin and punishment.  But they are blind.  They do not see Jesus for who He really is.  They do not see their Lord and Savior.

So many folks today believe that have perfect spiritual vision; they think they are so smart; so clever; so altogether insightful.  They say that Jesus cannot be God in flesh; it makes no sense.  Jesus dying on the cross is just some kind of divine child abuse.  They say that the Bible must be molded and shaped to fit our newer, clearer, modern understandings.  But they are blind.

You were born blind, but now you have been given sight.  You have the light of Christ.  You are a part of the family of God as a child of God through Holy Baptism.  You have a story to tell.  I was blind, but now I see.  Jesus is Lord.  Tell your story.

Amen.

[1]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

[2]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

[3]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

[4]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

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