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Lent 4 2020
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
March 22, 2020
Isaiah 42:14-21, Ephesians 5:8-14, John 9:1-41

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When I was fresh out of college working for a very small international construction and export company in Northern Virginia I learned a lot of different things.  One thing the boss taught me is that you can judge a man by his shoes.  If he is wearing well-polished, $300 dress shoes you know that he is a good person.  And if someone is wearing falling apart, cheap shoes you can tell that they have character flaws.  Like they say, the clothes make the man.

Deep down you know and I know that this is a terrible way to view people, and yet, sadly, it is often exactly how we judge others.  We take a look at them and evaluate what they look like and what they are wearing and categorize them accordingly.

We see someone who looks like they have had a hard life and we too often want to assign blame.  There is a meme circulating that says, “Everything happens for a reason, but sometimes that reason is that you’re stupid and make bad decisions.”  How often do we view other people through this lens?

In our Gospel reading today the disciples are using a similar lens to view a blind man that they meet.  This man has been blind from birth and instead of seeing him as a person, the disciples judge him by his disability.  They want to assign blame.  They want to use the man as a theological illustration.  John 9:2 (ESV) 2 … “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”[1]

Whose fault is it?  Someone must have done something wrong.  Someone must have made a bad decision.  The disciples are not seeing the situation properly and Jesus sets them straight.  John 9:3-5 (ESV) 3 … “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”[2]

This man’s blindness is no one’s fault, but his blindness allows Jesus to show His power over disease and disability.  It allows Jesus to show His authority as God in flesh.  This man’s story does not begin with his birth.  This man’s story will not end with his death.  This man’s story, and your story, begins in the beginning with God’s creation and it will conclude in the end with God’s restoration on the last day of this world, which is the first day of eternity with God. In between creation and restoration God is at work with his people.  Jesus comes to begin the restoration.  He restores this man’s sight and he continues His work of restoration by taking the sin of the world into Himself and becoming the ultimate sin offering on the cross at Calvary.  John 3:17 (ESV) 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.[3]

The disciples misunderstand the man’s blindness.  The neighbors of the man also misunderstand.  They misunderstand Jesus’ healing of the man and even deny that this is the same man that was born blind.  The Pharisees misunderstand Jesus’ healing of the man’s blindness.  Instead of marveling that this man who has been blind from birth can now see, they are concerned that Jesus broke a rule; that the healing took place on a Sabbath day.  Instead of being in awe at Jesus’ divine authority, they focus on their rules and lose the amazing truth that Jesus is the Christ.  Jesus is the cure.  They deny Jesus.

Even the man’s parents misunderstand Jesus’ healing of their son.  They are so intimidated by the Jewish religious leaders who have threatened to throw them out of the synagogue that they say they don’t know how their son was cured.  They deny Jesus is the cure.  They deny Jesus.

Finally the Pharisees and the Jewish leaders give the formerly blind man one last opportunity to deny Jesus and when he won’t, they cast him out of the synagogue and the community.

Jesus cures this man’s lifetime of blindness and it is seen as something awful and repellent because the religious leaders are so wrapped up in themselves and their rules that they miss the miraculous thing that just happened.  They reject the man who was cured.  They reject Jesus as the cure.  They reject Jesus.

Being so caught up in our own stuff that we miss Jesus is still an issue today. Jesus is the cure for the most devastating illness imaginable; sin.  Sin is the disease that brings death and hell.  Sin is your problem and Jesus is the cure for sin.  It is pretty straightforward and yet so many people get distracted by the details and the busyness of life that they miss Jesus. People can get so caught up in minutia of the rules that they can lose sight of the truth that Jesus is the cure for sin.  It is so easy to get caught up in thinking that all God is about is sin and punishment. You can get so caught up looking at other people’s sin that you forget about your own sin and especially forget that the main point is not sin and punishment.  Sin is indeed serious and sin brings death and damnation, but the main point is that Jesus comes to forgive sin.  Jesus comes to restore His creation.  Jesus comes to give you eternal life.  Jesus washes you clean, liberates you from the condemnation of the law, and frees you to live life as the light of the world; loving God and loving your neighbor.  Sin is the problem.  Jesus is the cure.  He gives you this holy medicine in your baptism, in His words of absolution, in His Body and Blood in Holy Communion.

That’s what makes this time of COVID-19 precautions so difficult.  Sin is still the problem and Jesus is still the cure but we are kept from our fellowship together around the Word.  We are kept from gathering to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus.  It is a time to mourn our separation and it is a time to look forward to our gathering together once again when restrictions are lifted.

It is a difficult time, but it is also a time that we remain united as the Body of Christ; His Church.  It is our time to continue to hear the word of God online as you are doing now, and it is a time to speak the Good News of Jesus to one another.  It is a time to read the Word of God.  It is a time to pray.  It is a time to pray for family, church, community, nation and world.  A time to pray for those who are ill and those who provide treatment.  A time to pray for those who cannot work and those who must work.  A time to pray for patience and joy in times of distress and uncertainty.  A time to reach out in love to your neighbor to serve and support in whatever ways you can.

It is a time to continue to do your part as a member of this fellowship and check in with fellow members.  Call those who sit around you at church and share the peace of the Lord with one another. It is a time to continue to give generously to the ministry here at Immanuel.  It can be done online through our website, by text, or by mailing in your offering.  Resist the temptation to think this is a time to take a break from Jesus and His Church.

It is easy to get distracted by the all the news and restrictions.  It is easy to be overwhelmed.  However, it is a time to remember that even in this season of COVID-19 the greatest threat of all is still sin.  Sin, death and the devil are a much larger threat than the coronavirus.  This virus will run its course, a cure will be found, the problem of sin will remain.  But we already have a cure for sin.  The cure is Jesus.

Don’t get distracted by the things of the world and miss the things of God. Don’t get confused and judge others by appearances.  Certainly don’t judge a man by his shoes.  In all that is going on with lives being upended, don’t lose track of what is truly important.  Jesus is God in flesh for you.

Your problem was sin.  Jesus has cured you with His blood.  In Christ you have eternal life.  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


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