Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!
Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.
Wednesday, April 1, 2020
Redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb - Lent Mid-week 6 - April 1, 2020 - Text: Ex. 12:1-13; 1 Peter 1:14-21 (esp. v. 18-19)
After the Lord delivered the Children of Israel from their bondage of slavery in Egypt, by the hand of Moses, He instituted the Passover Feast as an annual remembrance of their deliverance. As we have said and as we are continually being reminded during this Lenten season, we human beings have a tendency to forget and one way to remember then is to rehearse, to celebrate, to reenact the event or thing we wish to remember over and over again. Four weeks ago we heard the four questions and their answers as a part of the Passover celebration. Three weeks ago we heard about the first two cups of wine, the cup of Sanctification and the cup of Deliverance. Two weeks ago we talked about the food eaten during the Passover and the meaning of each food eaten. Last week we moved on to the point that the meal has been eaten and we talked about the fourth cup of wine, the cup of blessing. Today we want to talk about the main course of the meal, the lamb.
If you have ever been to a petting zoo, or a children’s zoo what you may notice is that there is usually an abundance of lambs, little lambs. I would guess this is because lambs are cute. Lambs are somewhat soft, with all that baby wool and all. And lambs are usually pretty tame, at least tame enough for the little children. Lambs are so cute, who could ever think or imagine a lamb for any other purpose than to be a pet? In Old Testament times and really, even today the importance of a lamb and sheep in general is that they produce wool, milk, and yes, even meat to eat. They are very useful animals.
So, while the lamb grows up to be a sheep and a sheep is useful for producing useful items, the symbol of a lamb continues to be that it is helpless and pure. And we have been taught from early on about how sheep are not necessarily the brightest animals in the barnyard. We know that sheep do not see very well and so they are known for following the animal in front of them, and almost following them anywhere. We know that sheep cannot care for themselves and really cannot even defend themselves. And while we are on the subject, we also are reminded of how our Lord refers to us as His sheep and the fact that He is our good shepherd. So, with this as some background, let us move on to the role and purpose of the lamb in the Passover Seder celebration.
At the first Passover the children of Israel were instructed to select a lamb, one that was unblemished, without spot or stain, with no health problems, no broken bones. They were to select this lamb and set it aside, away from the rest of the flock. This was to be done on the tenth day and this was to be done until the fourteenth day. As for the why of this setting aside, some have suggested that it was for the sake of allowing time for the Egyptians to see what was happening and to ask why so the people might have some time to offer a defense of their faith, certainly showing the Lord’s patience in not wanting anyone to suffer, yet this explanation seems a bit lacking and contrived. Perhaps the best explanation is so that everyone will be on the same “page” so to speak in getting everything ready, in other words, so that no one, not one of the children of Israel would be lost.
On the fourteenth day the lambs were to be killed at twilight. The blood was to be collected and was to be painted, with hyssop, that is by using a branch of the hyssop bush as a paint brush, on the two doorposts and lintel of the house. As we will begin to see and understand as we go along, all of this is a foreshadowing, a type of the one who would come to give His life for all. The lamb is the type of the lamb of God, even Jesus Himself, as John the Baptist so well points Him out and labels Him when he points to Jesus and says, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” The painting of the blood on the door posts, up and down and on the lintel, across, suggests the making of the sign of the cross, the instrument of death on which the lamb of God would die.
The lamb was then cooked, roasted, probably over an open fire, barbecued and eaten. It was eaten completely. There was to be nothing remaining because they would take nothing with them on their exodus.
For us Christians, for those Christians who celebrate the Passover Seder today, we understand that Christ is the Passover Lamb. Christ is a firstborn male, born of Mary, conceived of God, without blemish, perfect and holy.
Christ was set aside, not on the tenth day, but from the creation of the world. God, in His divine foreknowledge knew what was going to happen with His creation and so, from even before He began His work of creation He set aside His Son for the work of redeeming His people. Jesus was also set aside from birth, acknowledged by the angels, by the shepherds and by the Magi from the east. He was set aside from His baptism as the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove and the voice of God the Father spoke. He was confirmed in His office as Savior at the transfiguration when the voice of God was heard again.
Jesus shed His blood. He shed His blood as He was beaten and whipped, “stricken, smitten and afflicted.” He shed His blood as He hung on the cross, on the horizontal (doorpost) and vertical (lintel) cross.
At His Holy Supper we eat and drink His true body and His true blood, even as He tells us in His giving of the Passover Seder. He took bread and said, “This is my body.” He took the cup of wine and said, “This is my blood.”
Today we are once again reminded that the price for sin is death. What was given as a warning and a promise in the Garden of Eden, that disobedience, that sin will result in death, eternal death and hell and physical death, was happening. The price for sin was set at death. Death is the shedding of blood. All the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament really meant nothing except to point to the one ultimate, once and for all sacrifice of the human man, Jesus on the cross, the Lamb of God.
Yes, Jesus paid the price for our sin. What we owed, He paid. What He earned, we are given. The Lamb, the Lamb of God, was slain. His blood was shed. On the cross He was sacrificed. And just as the children of Israel ate the lamb that was sacrificed at the first Passover and just as they continued to eat the many lambs that were offered and sacrificed throughout their history, so we gather to eat His body that was offered on the cross, in, with and under the bread, and drink His blood, in, with and under the wine, uniting us with Him, making His life our life; making His death our death; and making His resurrection our resurrection.
And most importantly we have forgiveness of sins. Forgiveness is so important, because without forgiveness we would still be in our sins and if we were still in our sins that would mean eternal death and hell. But because we have forgiveness, we are no longer counted as sinful. We are no long sinners, but in God’s eyes we are seen as perfect, which is what God demands, “Be perfect as my Father in heaven is perfect.” So, because Jesus took our sins, because Jesus suffered and died, paying the price for our sins, we are forgiven, we are perfect, we are holy, we are saved! Thanks be to God, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Sunday, March 29, 2020
Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People? - March 29, 2020 - Fifth Sunday in Lent - Text: John 11:17-27, 38-53
With God, there is no such thing as a coincidence. For example, a pericopy system, or a Lectionary of readings has been around since Biblical times. A pericopy system, that is a reading around the text or as we call it today, our Lectionary reading system has been around many years and the purpose of such a system is to give the Church a way to hear the whole council of God over the time span of a year or in our case three years. So, readings have been appointed for each Sunday of the Church Year so that over three years we hear very much of the word of God. And these reading systems have been in place for many years. The point is that there is no coincidence that the readings we heard last week and are hearing this week have to do with bad things happening, such as the COVID 19 virus.
So, as we meander, or wander through the season of Lent, making our way to Good Friday, I am reminded of some of the older television shows which often ended with the words, “to be continued.” Last week our Gospel reading was the account of Jesus healing the man born blind and the attempt by the Pharisees to discredit Jesus. Last week we also considered the question which is the title of our sermon for today, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” and you might remember, I said we would most certainly talk about this questions again. This week, we turn to another episode of, The Life and Times of Jesus.
Our Gospel account opens with a scene at the house of Mary and Martha, two sisters that Jesus loved dearly. As our scene opens we immediately have a flashback (actually, it is a flash forward), showing us that this Mary is the same Mary who anointed Jesus’ feet with perfume and wiped them with her hair to, as Jesus says, get His body ready for burial. But now, as this scene opens, their brother and good friend of Jesus, Lazarus is sick. We see him lying on the bed. His pulse is erratic. His blood pressure is down. He is having a hard time breathing. The doctors have done all they could do. They have called in the family and now they are waiting. In faith, Mary and Martha send for Jesus. They know He has power to heal and they pray that He comes in time.
We shift scenes to where Jesus is. We watch as a messenger arrives with the message from Mary and Martha to tell Jesus that Lazarus is sick and about to die and that He needs to hurry if He wants to see him alive. Jesus speaks and what He says, His comment, takes us to a flashback scene to last week when He made a similar comment. You might recall, that when Jesus was asked about the cause of the blind man’s blindness He said that it was “so the work of God might be seen.” Now, back at our present scene, we hear Jesus say, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it” (v. 4). And then, to our surprise, He went on about His business. A message has just been delivered to Jesus that Lazarus was sick and about to die and what does He do, He stays where He is for two more days. Finally, after two days, Jesus gets His disciples ready and they head to Judea. Tensions mount as the disciple remind Him that there is a threat to His life in Judea, but Jesus assures them it will work out for the best. Then He tells them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up” (v. 11). Once again, we flash back to the death of Lazarus, as we see him lying on his bed. He stops breathing. The doctor checks him and declares him dead. Then we see him pull the sheet over his head and go out to call the undertaker to get the body ready for burial. As we come back to the present scene we can see that the disciples have misunderstood what Jesus was saying and they suggest that Lazarus will wake up. Then Jesus tells them plainly and bluntly, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe” (v. 14).
Before we switch scenes, we hear Thomas, the disciple we love to beat up on once a year after Easter for doubting, show his true faith. He was ready to go with Jesus anywhere, even to die with Him, as we hear him say, “Let us also go, that we may die with him” (v. 16). Perhaps we have been wrong and too hard on Thomas all these years? But that is for a different sermon.
We switch scenes back to the village. The tension mounts as we approach the village and as we see Mary and Martha grieving over the death of their brother, whom they know Jesus could have saved. The point is reiterated that Jesus stayed too long, if Jesus had been there He could have saved Lazarus. So now, we are told that Lazarus had been dead for four days. The questions we might ask is why is it so important that we know that Lazarus has been dead for four days? What difference does it make how long he has been dead? Is not dead, dead? The Concordia Self-Study Bible explains, “many Jews believed that the soul remained near the body for three days after death in the hope of returning to it. If this idea was in the minds of these people, they obviously thought all hope was gone—Lazarus was irrevocably dead.” And the Lutheran Study Bible adds, “John’s point is that only a genuine miracle could account for the raising of Lazarus.” And now, back to the present scene. We see Martha being told that Jesus has arrived and she rushes out to meet Him. At this point we have some words foreshadowing what is to come. Jesus tells Martha that Lazarus will “rise again.” Martha is thinking in terms of heaven and certainly she believes in the resurrection to eternal life in heaven, but Jesus is speaking in terms of now. We are drawn in closer and we hear Jesus tell Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (v. 25).
The scene immediately shifts as we watch Martha go and tell her sister Mary that Jesus has arrived. We shift back and watch as Jesus moves closer to the place where Lazarus body was laid. We shift back and watch Mary rush out to see Jesus. Tensions mount again as Mary politely scolds Jesus, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died” (v. 32). Jesus consoles her as they walk to the grave. In a moment of deep humility and sadness we watch as Jesus too begins to cry for Lazarus His friend. Here we see, God in flesh, Jesus the human, grieving for His friend Lazarus.
Tensions again mount as we hear Jesus speak and ask that the stone to the grave be removed. Certainly the people did not hear Him correctly. Certainly Jesus knows that Lazarus is dead, it has been four days after all. And certainly Jesus knows that by now the odor would be too much. Has this man who has healed others gone mad? Is He out of His mind in torment and grief over Lazarus death? Does He know what He is saying? Yes, Jesus knows what He is saying. He reminds them, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” So, they took the stone and moved it. And we hear Jesus pray, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” Then he called out, “Lazarus, come out!” The moment of truth had arrived. And almost immediately, Lazarus came forth from the grave. He was wrapped in grave cloth and looked like a mummy.
Last week we asked the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” and we realized that is not the right question to ask. We came to understand that we are not good people. As a matter of fact, we are sinful people, we are evil people, we are people who constantly do everything we can to sabotage Jesus and His work of saving others. We are sinners. We are conceived and born in sin and we daily sin much, adding to our sin. What each one of us is deserving of is death, even eternal death and hell.
The question we ask is not, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” but, “Why do good things happen to sinful people.” And the answer is in our text, “It is for God’s glory.” We have a God who loves us so much and who has only in mind the best for us. Certainly we will suffer trials and tribulations in this world, but these things are not from God, but are a result of sin, that is, because we live in a world of sin and a world cursed because of sin. God loves us and He works to bring the best out for us in any given situation. Someone once described life like looking at a piece of cross stitching. When you look at the back of a piece which has been cross stitched, what you see are the knots and a lot of thread dangling. Knots in cross stitching are inevitable. However, when you turn the cross stitched piece over, what you see is a beautiful picture. Life is very similar, what we see is the bottom. We see the knots. We see the mess. We experience the pains of life. What God sees is the top. He is looking down from top down. And what He sees is the beautiful person He is making us to be. What He sees is the beautiful life He is weaving for us.
Yes, “bad” things happen in our lives. We can blame others. We can blame the pastor. We can blame our parents. We can blame our government. We can even blame God. There may even be a time when we might, perhaps, blame ourselves. The fact of the matter is that in our own lives, God is constantly working out the best for us in any given situation.
But, our lesson has not been completed. There is more. In the closing scene we see the enemies of Jesus gathering around plotting. They do not like what Jesus is doing. They do not like that many people are beginning to believe in Jesus. And so they are plotting. Their interest is not in helping anyone except themselves and in keeping what they perceive as their positions of power and authority. They are all evil and you can almost see the evil they exude. They plot and plan and their plan is one of the most evil you will know. Their goal now is to do away with Jesus. They plan to kill Him.
But, in this plan of evil, we continue to see God working. From verse fifty of our text we are told that Caiaphas gives us the greatest example of good, our good, coming from evil. Caiaphas tells those planning and plotting, “You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish” (v. 50). Jesus is that one man who died, who gave His life so that we might not die, that is, so that we might not suffer eternal death in hell, but so that we might have life, eternal life in heaven. So, we see, out of this most cruel and torturing death, out of this crucifixion, out of this taking the life of the Son of God, yes, God in flesh, out of this evil and bad, God brings the best, forgiveness for our sins and eternal life for us. Yes, we may suffer for a little while. We may suffer some of the consequences of our actions, but, by God’s grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, who suffered the eternal death penalty of hell for us, in our place, we will never have to suffer any eternal consequences for our sins. We will never see death, eternal death and hell. Instead, we have life, eternal life.
So, our account comes full circle. Our tensions are resolved, only to bring another tension, as we work our way closer and closer to the earthly demise of Jesus. As we look at scenes from next week’s account we see the crowd gather as Jesus rides triumphant into Jerusalem. We see the crowds gather and cheer Him on. And we see Him on the way to the cross. For us, for now, we are resolved and reminded in our own lives that we do live in a world of sin. We are sinners living in this world of sin. Sin happens. Yet, we have a God who loves us so much that He sent His one and only Son to live for us, give His life as a ransom for us, to pay the price for our sins. We have a Savior who traded our sins for His robes of righteousness. And we have a God who is so constantly looking out for us that He is with us always, each and every second of the day always looking to bring good out of evil. What a great God we have. What a loving God we have. To Him be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Wednesday, March 25, 2020
The Fourth Cup of Blessing and the Hymn - Lent Mid-week 5 - March 25, 2020 - Text: Malachi 4:4-6; Mark 14:26
After the Lord delivered the Children of Israel from their bondage of slavery in Egypt, by the hand of Moses, He instituted the Passover Feast as an annual remembrance of their deliverance. As we have been reminded now several times, we human beings have a tendency to forget and one way to remember then is to rehearse, to celebrate, to reenact the event or thing we wish to remember over and over again. Three weeks ago we heard the four questions that were asked and their answers as a part of the Passover celebration. Two weeks ago we heard about the first two cups of wine, the cup of Sanctification and the cup of Deliverance. Last week we talked about the food eaten during the Passover and the meaning of each food eaten. This week we move on to the point that the meal has been eaten.
As we talked about two weeks ago, so now we have already consumed two cups of wine, the cup of Sanctification and the cup of deliverance. Today we skip the third cup of wine, the cup of redemption, which we will return to on Maundy Thursday and we will talk about the fourth cup of wine, the cup of blessing.
One of the promises God made or better said, one of the promises God made was interpreted to mean that Elijah was expected to come before the Savior would come. Elijah was expected to come and to prepare the way for the Messiah. Thus, one seat at the Passover table was always left empty. This seat was meant for Elijah and the hope was that he would come in and take his seat, thus, ushering in the way for the Messiah.
This promise of God comes from the prophet Malachi (4:5) who says that before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes He will send Elijah. There were many references to this coming of Elijah as Jesus spoke with the scribes and the Pharisees. Concerning this promise of the return of Elijah, Jesus said that John the Baptist came in the spirit of Elijah to prepare the way for the Messiah. Thus, we believe Jesus’ words and we believe that John the Baptist is the one who came in the spirit of Elijah and prepared the way for the Messiah, who is Jesus. Unfortunately the whole community of Israel, that is those who deny that Jesus was and is the promised Messiah, continue to look for Elijah yet today.
Thus, at one point during the Passover Seder, the door was open to allow Elijah to enter. And every year, everyone hopped this would be the year that Elijah would walk through the door and take his seat at the table. But alas, it has never happened and we know it will never happen as we said earlier, because John the Baptist is the one who came in the spirit of Elijah, preparing the way for Jesus, the Messiah.
After the door is opened and then shut, the hymn, or the Hallel, is sang. Hallel comes from the word Hallelujah which is the Hebrew word meaning “praise God”. This may have been a psalm, perhaps portions of Psalms 115-118 or the Great Halle Psalm 136, which reads, “1Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. 2Give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures forever. 3Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever” (Psalm 136:1-3 (ESV)). Or as other translations translate it, “Praise the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” And so forth. And the psalm continues with this giving thanks and praise to the Lord for all the great and wonderful things He has done and continues to do. It is this word “hallelujah” that is spoke, thus the name, the Hallel.
This hymn may have been sang before the fourth cup was consumed and they, that is the disciples, may have continued to sing it as they left and went to the Mount of Olives and the Garden of Gethemane.
After the hymn is sung during the celebration, then the fourth cup of wine is consumed. The fourth cup is the cup of blessing. Before the cup, and of course we do understand that when we say the cup we are actually speaking of the contents of the cup, that is the wine in the cup, but before the cup is consumed the blessing is again spoken: Ba-ruch, a-tah A-do-nai, e-lo-hay-nu me-lech ha-o-lam, bo-ray p’ree ha-ga-fen. And this, as we have said previously, is translated to mean: Blessed are you, O LORD our God, King of the universe, who makes the fruit of the vine.
The original meaning of this fourth cup, the cup of blessing was that this cup was consumed in praise of the salvation the Lord has brought in deliverance from bondage of slavery in Egypt. Although those of the Jewish faith today would celebrate the same cup of blessing, for Christians who celebrate this Passover Seder, this cup of blessing would remind us of our deliverance from the bondage of slavery to sin.
You might recall that God’s covenant with Abraham was that He would send the Savior of the world, the Savior of all people, through the family line of Abraham. This part of the covenant was a one sided agreement with God making the promise and His fulfilling the promise. This part of the covenant had no restrictions on the part of Abraham nor any human being. The part of the covenant concerning the land of Israel was always contingent on the Children of Israel being faithful to God, which as we follow their history we know they were not. Thus, this second part of the covenant was forfeited. And, this second part of the covenant truly pointed not to an earthly kingdom, but to God’s heavenly Kingdom where Jesus, the Son of David will reign forever. It is this confusion which is seen in the last part of the Passover Seder, that is that the celebration would end with the hope and that hope would be that next year they would celebrate in the rebuilt Jerusalem. Thus, there was this continual seeking of an earthly kingdom, rather than a correct understanding of the promise of spiritual deliverance and entrance into our Lord’s heavenly kingdom.
Perhaps this part of the Passover Seder celebration begins to bring a greater distinction between what the children of Israel understood this celebration to be and what Jesus wanted them to understand, that is what we as Christian understand because we are living in the glory of the fulfillment of what was foreshadowed in this celebration. In other words, the children of Israel originally celebrated the Passover feast because they were instructed to do so in order to recall and remember their first deliverance from bondage of slavery in Egypt. At the same time, the Lord designed this celebration as a way to help them to look forward to the coming of the Messiah, the one who would deliver Israel and all people from the bondage of slavery to sin. The one who would accomplish what was promised in the Garden of Eden, the one who would crush Satan and bring forgiveness and eternal life.
Just as all the sacrifices of the Old Testament simply pointed to the one sacrifice of Christ on the cross, so this celebration pointed to the one who would fulfill all of God’s laws and promises completely and fully, the Messiah, Christ the Lord. Today, then, we continue the Passover Seder, remembering and celebrating that John the Baptist came, in the power and the spirit of Elijah, preparing the way for Jesus, that Jesus is the Messiah who came to and did deliver us from our bondage to sin by living in perfection for us, the demand of God, by taking our sins and by paying the price for our sin so that we have forgiveness and life, even eternal life. Thus we rejoice and say, to Him be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Sunday, March 22, 2020
How good are your eyes? If you are like me, they are not so good, so you go to an eye doctor and get fitted for glasses or for contact lenses. And as you get older, your eyes still change and you need to constantly get your eyes checked and your prescription changed. Sight is an important sense and one that, if we lost, we would greatly miss. But, how is your spiritual sight? As you come to hear God’s Word proclaimed, as you read your Bible, as you talk to others about God, do you understand what you are hearing, reading, or saying? In our text for today Jesus will lead us to have eyes that see. Jesus will lead us to have eyes that see what it is we need most, to see our sin, so that we repent and are given His forgiveness.
Although the text in our bulletin is the short version, the complete text for this Sunday is a lengthy text, but one that we can easily get a handle on if we break it down into several questions and answers. The first question is the question of sin and Jesus’ work. Jesus and His disciples were going along when they met “a man blind from birth.” The disciples questioned Jesus, asking, “who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (v. 2). The assumption of the disciples was that it was sin that caused this man to be born blind, but they were not sure who’s sin. Jesus answers the question of sin and this man’s blindness by explaining that the man was born blind, not because of anyone’s sin in particular, but so that God may be glorified. Interesting, Jesus says that the man was born blind so that God may be glorified. We will get back to that later.
Jesus goes on to explain that His work is to be the light of the world. Jesus is the light of the world in that He shines in the darkness of sin, revealing and exposing people’s sin, so that they might repent and be given forgiveness, before it is too late, before they are condemned to hell. Notice that Jesus is the Light of the world and as the Light of the world, Jesus has come so that people might see.
Jesus has come in order to help people to see that He is the Christ, the Messiah, the Savior of the world. To do that, Jesus performed many signs, wonders and miracles. These signs, wonders, and miracles were what showed Him to be God, the Messiah, and they were done to give glory to God. The whole while Jesus was on this earth, He did not seek His own glory, rather He came seeking to give glory to God. Jesus did not say, look at the signs, wonders and miracles that I am doing, the signs, wonders and miracles that I am performing and praise Me. No, Jesus did signs, wonders and miracles, and pointed to the Father in heaven and said, give glory to the Father.
Jesus healed the man born blind. In this particular instance, He did it by applying mud to his eyes and telling him to go wash. Certainly, Jesus could have simply said for his eyes to be opened, or He could have put His hands on his eyes to perform the miracle, but not this time, this time He put mud on his eyes and told him to go wash. After this miracle, almost immediately there is a second question, a question from the neighbors of the man. Their question was, “is this really the man that was born blind, or is this someone that just looks like him” (v. 8,9). They had doubts about this man’s identity, and they argued about it. The man born blind insisted that he is the man and he also testifies that it was Jesus who healed him. Unfortunately the man was not quite sure who this Jesus was, because he had not seen him, he was merely healed by Him. Jesus had put mud on his eyes and told him to go and wash, so he had not seen Jesus. Finally the people decided to take the case to the “authorities” to the Pharisees and let them decide.
Now we have the questioning of the Pharisees. The first problem the Pharisees confront is the problem that the healing was done on the Sabbath day, thus they were sure that the man who healed this blind man must be a sinner and not from God. If this man was from God, according to their understanding of who god was, certainly he would not break the Sabbath day law, that is, He would not break the way they had made the Sabbath day law.
First, they questioned the blind man, himself. As they questioned this blind man, they were not looking for a confession of faith in Jesus. They were looking for him to say that either he was not healed by Jesus, or that he was not born blind, or that it was someone besides Jesus that healed him, or anything except the truth about Jesus healing him on the Sabbath day. They were not interested in any truth that did not fit their agenda. They are like many people in our world today who are not interested in the truth of the Bible, rather they are only looking for their own brand of truth and as I always say, “if you do not like what the Bible says, change it.” Which is what the Pharisees were doing.
Because they could not get the answer they wanted from the man, they moved to question his parents. “Is this really your son and was he really born blind?” Talk about putting his parents on the spot, because hanging over their heads, if they did not answer the question the way the Pharisees wanted, was the threat that they would be thrown out of the temple, and, according to the Pharisees, they would never be able to be sure of their salvation. It is no wonder the parents plead the fifth amendment, as we would say today. They avoided the questions, referring the Pharisees to their son who was of the age of accountability and could answer for himself.
And so the questioning continued. The Pharisees asked the blind man a second time, but this time the question was not whether or not Jesus healed him, rather the question was whether or not Jesus was a sinner? Now we get to the heart of the Pharisees agenda, not whether or not Jesus healed the man, not whether or not this man really was healed, but how to discredit Jesus.
To this question the man gives a bold testimony of faith about Jesus. This man does not touch the question about Jesus sinfulness, rather he tells how he was blind and now he sees and it was Jesus who gave him his sight. The man is very logical in his approach and, I believe perhaps rather sarcastically, he was suggesting that the Pharisees should be able to logically figure out the truth.
Of course this does not suit the Pharisees and so they ask him again. And we have a few snide and sarcastic remarks pass back and forth. “Do you want to become his disciple too?” “You are this fellow’s disciple, we are disciples of Moses!” Finally the man hits at the heart of the matter, “the man answered, ‘Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will. Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing’” (v. 30-32). Again, notice the logic in this man’s answer, but of course, the Pharisees do what they do best in these no win situations, they throw the man out.
Jesus meets the man again. This time Jesus comes to confirm the man’s faith. Jesus shows him who He is and that He is the Christ, the Messiah, the Savior of the world and that the man was right in his profession of faith. Jesus further goes on to explain that He came for judgement. Jesus came to judge those who do not believe and to give life to those who do believe. Jesus came to give sight to the blind and to blind the sighted. In other words, those who think they cannot see, because of their sins, those who confess their sins and seek forgiveness, Jesus opens their eyes to see that they are forgiven, but those who think they can see, who cannot see their own sins and thus think they have no sin, He comes to blind, that is to give them their own way which is the way of judgement and hell.
Now let us take Jesus’ message and put it into our own words, in other words, what does this text mean for us today? First, God brings good out of a sin filled world. Today we ask the question, “why do bad things happen to good people,” with the assumption that we are good people. We even think that the bad things that happen are God’s judgement on sinners. Some would suggest that the certain weather events, such as floods, hurricanes, tornados, etc, are God’s judgement against certain people where these events happen. If that were the case, then God would not be a very good aim, because a lot of innocent people are affected by the various weather events. Some would suggest that AIDS is a direct result of homosexuality and promiscuity. Again, if that were the case then God would not be a very good aim, because a lot of innocent people have been affected by the AIDS virus. Some might even suggest the Corona virus is God’s judgement on people, yet here too, many innocent people are being affected. So, why do these bad things happen and why do bad things happen to good people. We have talked about this before and we will no doubt talk about it again. The assumption is incorrect. The assumption is that we are good people, when the fact is we are sinful people. We are born in sin and we daily sin much and often times we suffer for the sins of others. The consequences of sexual promiscuity might be AIDS. And still, a small child, receiving a needed blood transfusion might contact AIDS, meaning that he is suffering for the sins of others. The question we should ask is, “why do good things happen to sinful people,” and the answer is in our text, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life” (v. 3). Our God is a God of love who gives us good things. He always has the best in mind for us. Rather than say that God allows bad things to happen, because evil is not a part of God, I like to say that bad happens because we live in a sinful and cursed world, and although bad happens, God works the best through those bad things.
A second point of our text is that Jesus is who He says He is, the Savior of the world. Jesus continually demonstrated that He is the Messiah, that He is true God along with being true man, by His signs, wonders, and miracles. The miracles Jesus performed show Him to be truly God, because only God can do miracles. Jesus forgave sins, something that Pharisees said that only God could do. Jesus forgave sins and to show that the sins were forgiven He would also heal, again, always showing the Pharisees to be wrong.
A third point of our text is that Jesus comes to us to open our eyes to see our sin so we repent and are given His forgiveness. Sin is a blinding thing. As we wallow in our sin we do not see our sin, nor do we see the need for a Savior. In reality, we are blinded by our own sin, from seeing our own sin. We are a lot like the Pharisees, we do not see our sin, we do not want our sin pointed out to us, we get upset when our sin is pointed out to us, and we do not want to believe the truth. Fortunately for us, Jesus comes, as the Light of the world, to open our eyes, so that we see our sin, so that we confess our sin, and so that we are given forgiveness from our sin.
Today we come to thank the Lord for His gift of sight, especially for His gift of spiritual sight. We thank the Lord that He gives us His Word which shows us our sin, so that we confess and are given forgiveness. We thank the Lord that He sent Jesus to trade His life for ours, to die on the cross for our forgiveness and to give us His righteousness. We thank the Lord that He is a God who loves us so much that He works through the sin and evil in our world to work His good works in us, to the praise and glory of His Holy Name. To Him be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.