Thursday, March 30, 2017

Sermon Mar. 25-26, 2017 Lent 4

Title: For in Christ the light of the world has come to you!
Text: John 9:1-41

35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” 38 He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.

For 51 years Bob Edens was blind. He couldn't see a thing. His world was a black hall of sounds and smells. He felt his way through five decades of darkness. And then, he could see. A skilled surgeon performed a complicated operation and, for the first time, Bob Edens had sight. He found it overwhelming. "I never would have dreamed that yellow is so...yellow," he exclaimed. "I don't have the words. I am amazed by yellow. But red is my favorite color. I just can't believe red. I can see the shape of the moon--and I like nothing better than seeing a jet plane flying across the sky leaving a vapor trail and of course, sunrises and sunsets. At night I looked at the stars in the sky and the flashing light. I would never have known how wonderful everything truly is."

Max Lucado, God Came Near, Multnomah Press, 1987, p. 13.

To receive sight after being blind is something we can’t really understand but we who have been in the dark … when the lights have come on … know the joy of seeing again.

9 As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

Many see affliction as a result of personal sin … what we did to deserve this and the disciples thought this too. 

But Jesus answers saying:

“It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.
His blindness had a purpose and God will display that purpose in him and in each one of us as he see fit. It is not that he was blind, but through his blindness God will do with him and with each one of us as he sees fit.

Jesus says: 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.”

What Jesus means here is that while it is still day or light out, it is time for work.

I know that feeling, don’t you? We call it Daylight Savings Time. It stays light long and we can get much done in the light. But, from our Christian perspective we might call it Jesus Saving Time. The time for the work of Christ and the gospel to be made known … like a light going on in the midst of the darkness.

Recently many suffered a loss or power with the wind storms.

Gov. Rick Snyder, in a press briefing with officials from the state’s two biggest utilities, called the windstorm “the largest combined statewide” power outage event in Michigan history.

One million lost power and were in the dark. Everyone suffered a little while some suffered a lot. The lack of power can make you feel helpless.

Generators can help … but unless it is a whole house generator … you remain painfully aware of your need for power and light from the outside … and may be heat as well as the cold nights got colder.

So it is also with our spiritual condition. We are born blind in sin and dead to Christ and the truth cannot be made known to us by our own reason, understanding, or efforts.

In the gospel for today, the man born blind could not see and intervention came from outside in the person of Jesus.

6 Having said these things, [Jesus] spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man's eyes with the mud7 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.

The connection between Jesus, the word of God, and the water brings the blind man sight. Water and word might bring to mind baptism … though this text is not a given pretext for baptism … there is much that can be brought to light by Jesus as the light of the world.

By Christ we receive access to the Father, by the word and water through the working of the Holy Spirit we have our spiritual blindness healed and receive sight to see Christ Jesus for who he is … the light of the world.

There are three responses from the world.

The neighbors

“Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some said, “It is he.” Others said, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” 10 So they said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?”

He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed and received my sight.”

The Pharisees

15 So the Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, “He put mud on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” 16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.”

17 So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.”

The Jews (Unbelievers)

“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 how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.”

22 (His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.)23 Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”

How do you and I respond?

We too receive sight but for us it is the gift of spiritual sight. Question may come from our friends, religious leaders, and those of the world or of unbelief who ask … “How do you see? How did you get your sight?”

The Pharisees denounce Jesus for his performing a miracle on the Sabbath. They look for the man to denounce him too setting Jesus up as a sinner.

His answer to those who try to entrap him is: “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.”

This template for you and me calls us to testify of the truth to those who ask so that God might by his word give faith and sight to the blind.

The truth at times will be rejected and like the blind man we too may be cast out. (The Christian witness in the world and the persecution that comes.)

Those who reject the word remain blind and dead in sin. Those who receive sight by the working of the Holy Spirit receive eternal life.

“Do you believe in the Son of Man?”

“Lord, I believe,”

Paul brings comfort to we who believe with these words of one who is Justified and made a child of God by the working of the Spirit.

9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. Rom. 10:9-10

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.


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