WAS BLIND, BUT NOW I SEE
Text -- JOHN 9:1--41
GRACE BE UNTO YOU AND PEACE FROM GOD THE FATHER AND FROM OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR … JESUS THE CHRIST.
"Just as I am, without one plea,
but that Thy Blood was shed for me,
and that Thou bidd'st me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.”
Last Sunday, that beloved hymn sprung to life as we saw Jesus bring living water and new temporal and eternal life to a woman scorned by every member of her society – and we remembered how we ourselves received that living water of Holy Baptism which only Jesus Christ can give -- and thereafter have been regularly strengthened by His Body and His Blood whenever we commune together with Jesus.
In our text this morning, we see Jesus bring His living water of healing to remind us and a man born blind of God’s amazing Grace.
"We once worshiped the sun.
Now we look to God for all things."
On a Sabbath day in October, Jesus and His disciples came to the Temple to celebrate Judea's most joyous, hope-filled festival -- the Succoth Festival.
Each of the eight Succoth mornings, as the people rose from their few hours of sleep in their succoth tents, they gathered west of the Mount of Olives to watch the sun rise -- something like our own Easter sunrise services. As the sun rose, the sound of the shofar horn echoed from the temple and the people shouted, "We once worshiped the sun. Now we look to God for all things." The people celebrated the Life and the Enlightenment only God Himself can and does give.
"Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
Beneath the huge steps leading into the Temple complex, Jesus and His disciples were greeted by a sight which contrasted dramatically with the joy and hope so evident in the Succoth celebration of Life and Enlightenment. They saw a man blind from birth.
The disciples asked Jesus, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” There must be a reason why a seemingly innocent person suffers.
Jesus answered, "It was not that this man sinned, or his parents.” God lovingly created a world that was perfect in every way - a world in which every human being was perfect spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically - a world in which everyone lived in perfect harmony with God and within themselves and even with their environment.
Through Adam and Eve, sin came into the world and with sin came death. The wages of sin is death (ROMANS 6:23a). With death comes its unavoidable companions - illness, injury, fatigue, stress, tension - and a man blind from birth. In the perfect world God created, none of this existed. In our world of fallen humanity, we all suffer together.
But as Jesus points out, God is not balancing the books here and now -- so much adversity for so much sin. This man's blindness is not directly related to any specific sin committed by this man or his parents.
But Jesus says that this man's suffering is about to be put to good purpose by God. An ironic intrusion on the day's joy and hopefulness was about to became the day's most dramatic Sign of Hope and Enlightenment. Jesus said “I must work the works of Him Who sent Me, while it is day; night comes, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am The Light of the world." While visibly in the world, with the same power Jesus uses to heal physical blindness, Jesus' suffering and death on the cross will pay the price for our sin and alienation from God. His forgiveness will wash away our sins and guilt and His resurrection will assure us of eternal life with Him.
As He spoke, Jesus spat on the ground and made clay of the spittle and anointed the man's eyes with the clay, saying to him, "Go, wash in the Pool of Siloam."
Jesus put mud on a blind man's eyes and sent him to wash in the Pool of Siloam which was playing a dramatic symbolic role in the Succoth Festival. From the pool, the priests led the people with their pitchers of water up to the temple where the water was poured onto the altar to celebrate God’s gift of water and ability to make even the desert bloom.
The blind man went and washed in the Pool of Siloam as Jesus had commanded and he came back seeing. It was an act of faith when this blind man obeyed Jesus' instructions. It was an act of Divine Power and Love when Jesus enabled him, for the first time in his life, to see. Jesus turned on the lights for a man who physically had been in the dark all his life.
But there was a far greater miracle taking place than the healing of a man physically blind from birth. With this sign, Jesus revealed far more of Himself than as a physical miracle worker. Jesus asked the man, "Do you believe in The Son of Man?" – the Name everyone knew referred to The Christ – and only to The Christ.
The man answered, "And Who is He, Sir, that I may believe in Him?" Jesus said to him, "You have seen Him, and It is He Who speaks to you." The man said, "Lord, I believe"; and fell down and worshiped Jesus.
Jesus Who gave the blind man a view of the physical world which he had previously only imagined came to give all of us a view of life as God created us to live it. God came as The vulnerable flesh and blood Christ, walked the earth, healed and helped, suffered and died, was buried and rose -- for no other reason than to enlighten us about the Love and faithful life-giving Power of God and to bring us back into eternal communion with God.
"We once worshiped the sun.
Now we look to God for all things."
As the Succoth pilgrims watched the sun rise over the Mount of Olives and declared, "We once worshiped the sun. Now we look to God for all things", The true Light of the world was in the Temple area bringing the light of physical sight to a man blind from birth and reminding a formerly physically blind man, The Lord’s first disciples and us of the greater miracle of His amazing Grace.
"Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
that saves a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
was blind, but now I see."
THE PEACE OF GOD WHICH PASSES ALL HUMAN UNDERSTANDING KEEP YOUR HEARTS AND YOUR MINDS IN CHRIST JESUS … THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD … AND OUR LIFE NOW AND ETERNALLY. AMEN.
Third Sunday In Lent
March 24, 2019
Dr. Kurt Borows
Pastor, Resurrection Lutheran Church, Catawba Island, Port Clinton, Ohio