Posted on Wed, Mar 29, 2017
March 26, 2017
Fourth Sunday in Lent
Gospel Text: John 9:1-41 "The BLIND can See"
A Man Born Blind Receives Sight
As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ 3 Jesus answered, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed 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.’ 6 When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, 7 saying to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’ (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see. 8 The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, ‘Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?’ 9 Some were saying, ‘It is he.’ Others were saying, ‘No, but it is someone like him.’ He kept saying, ‘I am the man.’ 10 But they kept asking him, ‘Then how were your eyes opened?’ 11 He answered, ‘The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, “Go to Siloam and wash.” Then I went and washed and received my sight.’ 12 They said to him, ‘Where is he?’ He said, ‘I do not know.’
The Pharisees Investigate the Healing
13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 14 Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15 Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, ‘He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.’ 16 Some of the Pharisees said, ‘This man is not from God, for he does not observe the Sabbath.’ But others said, ‘How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?’ And they were divided. 17 So they said again to the blind man, ‘What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.’ He said, ‘He is a prophet.’
18 The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight 19 and asked them, ‘Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?’ 20 His parents answered, ‘We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; 21 but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.’ 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. 23 Therefore his parents said, ‘He is of age; ask him.’ 24 So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, ‘Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.’ 25 He answered, ‘I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.’ 26 They said to him, ‘What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?’ 27 He answered them, ‘I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?’ 28 Then they reviled him, saying, ‘You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29 We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.’ 30 The man answered, ‘Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. 32 Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.’ 34 They answered him, ‘You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?’ And they drove him out.
35 Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ 36 He answered, ‘And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.’ 37 Jesus said to him, ‘You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.’ 38 He said, ‘Lord, I believe.’ And he worshipped him. 39 Jesus said, ‘I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.’ 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, ‘Surely we are not blind, are we?’ 41 Jesus said to them, ‘If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, “We see”, your sin remains.
As the great prophet Samuel went to Bethlehem to anoint a new king of Israel, as he looked upon the strong and handsome sons of Jesse, he was sure one of the lot would surely be anointed King of Israel at God’s command… little did he know that his eyes had already defied him, for the future King of Israel was not there, and God reminded Samuel of a great truth; “And he sanctified Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice. When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, "Surely the LORD's anointed is now before the LORD." But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the LORD does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart." Even Samuel was impressed from the appearance of Jesse’s sons, but God had to remind Samuel, that God was not impressed with outward appearance, but only what was in their hearts.
A few hundred years later, and after that incident involving the death and resurrection of the Messiah, Paul told the people of Ephesus, “Once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light—for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true.” Just like God reminded Samuel that we need to look with the trusting eyes of God, now as people redeemed and sanctified through the death and resurrection of Christ, we are to look upon our neighbors and the world, with the trusting eyes of Jesus, trusting eyes of faith.
We don’t look at the world with eyes that have been trained in the values of the world, but through eyes and a heart that has been renewed and recreated to look and see through the eyes of love and compassion.
Today’s Gospel text is not just about Jesus healing a blind man, it is about Jesus coming to re-Creating and healing us of crippling blindness that is caused by the judgments and ignorance that our world teaches us generation after generation, and still continues very strongly even until today.
Did you notice that the man Jesus healed, never asked to be healed? Jesus healed the man to make a point about the way God thinks, acts and saves. The disciples ask a question people even ask to this day about someone who is suffering, His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him.’ The man was born blind. Nature is not kind, fair or take sides… But he wasn’t blind because of some kind of karma, or the result of the sins of his parents. He was just born blind, but that has no bearing on what is possible for the man, or with what God can do with this mans situation.
Jesus heals the man, and the town’s religious leaders go crazy… why? Because Jesus’ actions and power, born out of compassion, are being viewed as a threat by the religious people. Surely, they can’t heal this man. They have known this man his entire life, and he and his family are part of their own synagogue… Rather than looking upon Jesus with eyes of faith and wonder they see a man who is a threat to their culture, stature, way of life, and even their world-view. In order to protect themselves they attack and try to discredit the blind man and even his family. They know exactly who this man is, and in the end, they threaten him and his family with the ‘nuclear option,’ remove them from the synagogue… this is essentially stripping the man and his family from their community and therefore their identity.
During this drama, where the religious leaders are essentially demonstrating their lack of faith and blindness to who Jesus is, even in their midst, Jesus seems to be standing on the sidelines… they have done Jesus’ job of judging the situation and their lack of vision, love and especially compassion.
Jesus comes to the healed man and John says, Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ 36 He answered, ‘And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.’ 37 Jesus said to him, ‘You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.’ 38 He said, ‘Lord, I believe.’ And he worshipped him. 39 Jesus said, ‘I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.’ 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, ‘Surely we are not blind, are we?’ 41 Jesus said to them, ‘If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, “We see”, your sin remains.
Let’s unpack this… first of all; do you notice the same phrase in today’s text that was uttered by the woman at the well? Jesus asks, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ and the response is, Jesus said to him, ‘You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.’ The same exchange by Jesus and the woman at the well, and both came to faith and healing.
Jesus continues, Jesus said, ‘I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.’ Jesus came so that those who are humble of heart and can confess, we are lost without our Savior, will be able to come to faith and be able to see. But those who have hearts of stone and claim they know everything and are so sure of themselves, they are actually blind to the Light and Truth of Christ, and like the Pharisees of the lesson will become blind.
40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, ‘Surely we are not blind, are we?’ 41 Jesus said to them, ‘If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, “We see”, your sin remains.
The Pharisees respond, ‘Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, ‘Surely we are not blind, are we?’ This is a rhetorical question. This is the most hopeful phrase the Pharisees have ever said, the direct Greek grammar means that the Pharisees are beginning to question themselves and beginning to question their own eyes and understanding, because the Greek would infer, “Yes! We are blind!
Finally, Jesus said to them, ‘If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, “We see”, your sin remains. This means ‘when we were blind, and knew that we were blind, we would cry out to God, “Heal me Lord so that I can see!” Only a humble and searching heart knows that we need healing, reconciliation and forgiveness and knows that we need God to open our eyes. This is the core of the Lenten discipline and journey.
But those who claim they know everything, and are so sure that they can see everything clearly with the eyes they have without the forgiveness of God, they are blind to the Truth that they are in fact are blind to the mercy and compassion of God. These are the ones most in need of compassion.
Oh how blind our world has become to the Gospel of God. Money, status, weapons, power and control are the gods we bow down to, all the while blind and deaf to the simple Words of Jesus.
The blind man was sitting unexpectedly on the side of the road, living with his blindness, and Jesus went to him and healed him of his physical blindness. But more than having his eyes healed, his heart was healed when he realized that before his eyes he was seeing his Messiah, the Savior of the world, and his only response was, ‘Lord, I believe.’
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