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.
Sunday, March 22, 2020
Eyes That See - March 22, 2020 - Fourth Sunday in Lent - Text: John 9:1-7, 13-17, 34-39
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.