March 15, 2020
Pastor Gunnar Ledermann
1 As he went 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 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
6 After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. 7 “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.
13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. 14 Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath. 15 Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see.”
16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.”
But others asked, “How can a sinner perform such signs?” So they were divided.
17 Then they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.”
The man replied, “He is a prophet.”
34 To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out.
35 Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
36 “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.”
37 Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.”
38 Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.
39 Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”John 9:1-7, 13-17, 34-39
I wonder what it was like for the first person to see the coronavirus in a lab. I wonder how it felt to be the first one to see this virus and realize it is a new virus against which we have no vaccine. What was it like for that person to open someone else’s eyes to see this new virus and stair together for a few moments wondering what this would mean for them, their families, their country and the world? As the eyes of the world have been opened to this virus, it is important to view it carefully. There are two extremes that are easy to fall into when watching the news reports. On the one hand, you can liquidate your savings account and turn your home into a mini Costco having enough of everything essential and nonessential for life on hand so that you can remain isolated. On the other hand, you can continue double dipping your chips, washing your hands without soap and eating gum off the bottom of your desk at school (I had a teacher in high school who did that at pep rallies). Closing your eyes to what is really going on with the coronavirus and preventing its spread is a problem because it will lead you to either irrational fear or reckless disregard.
Spiritually closed eyes will also lead you into either irrational fear or reckless disregard. Spiritually closed eyes lead you into irrational fear when you see God only as law giver and judge. Blindly following God in this way leads you to never feel good enough, constantly scrutinizing everything you do and becoming so introspective that you feel all alone, helpless and in despair that God or anyone would love you. That irrational fear that sees God only as law giver and judge can also lead you to become a mini law giver and judge, always criticizing others and having a certain way everything is supposed to be for your life, everyone else’s life, including the government, at your job and at school. Irrational fear of God because you only see him as a law giver and judge leads you to either despair or pride, neither of which God wants for you. Then there is the reckless disregard that can come from spiritually closed eyes. Blindly following God in this way leads you to do whatever feels good because that’s what God wants you to feel, “good all the time,” but when the good times leave a mess behind and it is too big to clean up, despair comes creeping in to ruin your life and turn you away from God. That reckless disregard can also lead you to accept everyone and everything, but that universal love crumbles when someone does not agree with you leading to pride because you are right for accepting everyone and they are wrong for not accepting everyone. Reckless disregard with God as an excuse to do whatever feels good to you and justify others doing whatever they feel is good for them also leads you to either despair or pride, neither of which God wants for you
Spiritually closed eyes are a problem. Spiritually closed eyes can lead you to despair or pride in different ways, but both are the same problem. Both spiritually blind pride and despair are the result of not seeing Jesus. In our reading from Isaiah 42, God said this about his own people Israel, 20 “You have seen many things, but you pay no attention; your ears are open, but you do not listen.” Israel had seen God perform countless incredible miracles right before their eyes. God had done undeniable things that proved he was God, but they did not see. God filled their lives and history with wonders, but they continued to wander away from him. Only sin had the power to blind Israel to God, and only sin has the power to blind you to God.
Spiritual blindness affects you and I because of sin. Sin makes you see the world without God in it. Seeing the world without God makes it a dangerous place. In our reading from John 9, the Pharisees did not see the world with God in it. Jesus, the Son of God, had come to fulfill the Scriptures the Pharisees were experts in, but for all their studies, they lost sight of the Savior. The Scriptures became a rule book to follow, rather than a love story revealing God’s plan to save them. Jesus healed a blind man revealing his power as God and they got to meet that man, but the Pharisees lost sight of that wonderful miracle in their anger that Jesus healed on a Sabbath day, when work was forbidden, and rest was demanded in their eyes. Yet, Jesus kept the true Sabbath by giving a blind man rest. Keeping the Sabbath was about rest, and the highest form of rest is rest for a weary soul. The Pharisees did not understand the healing Jesus brought as we read in John 9, 16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others asked, “How can a sinner perform such signs?” So they were divided. Spiritual blindness kept the Pharisees from seeing God, the Savior in the world. They were even kept from seeing something wonderful like a man who received his sight.
As the blind man needed Jesus to give him sight, you and I are only able to see through Jesus. Opening the blind man’s eyes was no problem for Jesus, and your sins were also no problem for Jesus either. Jesus healed the man’s eyes by making mud with his saliva, wiping it on his eyes and telling him to wash it off in one of the pools in Jerusalem. Jesus’ solution to the man’s problem made no sense, but by his power it worked. Jesus’ solution for forgiving your sins was to die on a cross. To the world, it makes no sense that God would put his Son to death or that Jesus rose from the dead, but this was God’s way to save you. You have the guarantee that your sins are forgiven in 1 Peter 2, 24 “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” Your spiritual blindness, your sins and death have all been healed through your Savior Jesus.
Jesus came to heal the blind. Jesus saw your blindness and gave you sight. Whether you were lost in fear or running around recklessly, lost in pride or despair, Jesus opened your eyes to see clearly. When Jesus opened your eyes to see him it saved you from living in fear that you are not good enough because God says in 1 Corinthians 6, 11 … “you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” You get to stand before God without fear because you are washed clean of all your sins and covered with Jesus’ perfect life. There is no more fear or despair, only peace between you and God through your Savior Jesus. When Jesus opened your eyes to see him it saved you from living recklessly because God says in Psalm 119, 105 “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” No longer do you and I chase every thought, person or movement. Instead, God gives us guidance by faith and through his Word to remain focused on Jesus as we hear in 2 Corinthians 10, 5 “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Jesus came to open your eyes; he healed your blindness to see him as your Savior, to give you eternal life and to make you a light in this dark world.
The blind man did not know Jesus, but Jesus knew him and sought him out. Jesus’ amazing love and grace showed so clearly as we see him heal this blind man physically, and then follow up with him soon after to heal him spiritually. In our reading from John 9, we hear that Jesus found the man again and said, 35… “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.” 37 Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.” 38 Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.
Jesus has opened your eyes to see him as your Savior. With eyes opened by your Savior explore more and more what he has done for you by opening his Word. Spend time in personal devotions, take your bulletin home and reread the lessons, ask yourself and others the questions listed under the sermon theme, pray, come to Bible Study and worship. Through his Word, God opens your eyes to your Savior. Also, God opened the eyes of Paul to see Jesus as his Savior and God guided Paul to write these words in Ephesians 5, 8 “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord.”
I wonder what it was like for the first person to see the coronavirus in a lab. I wonder how it felt to be the first one to see this virus and realize it is a new virus against which we have no vaccine. I wonder more what the blind man saw when he saw Jesus, not the physical form of a man, but the spiritual sight he saw. What was it like for him to see forgiveness, to have his fear and recklessness gone and to be confident about where he was going in this life and the next? You know what he saw because you see your Savior Jesus’ forgiveness, love and new life for you too. May we awake each day eager to say, “Open my eyes to see Jesus” and may God keep our eyes fixed on him. Amen.