Monday, March 7

Sermon: Lent IV

As I utter these prayers
from my mouth O God
In my soul may I feel your presence.
The knee that is stiff
O healer make pliant
The heart that is hard,
make warm beneath your wing
The wound that is giving me pain,
O best of healers, make whole.
And may my hopes and fears
Find a listening place with you.

1 Samuel 16:1-13; Psalm 23; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41

I don’t know about you all, but in my house there is a saying. It goes like this: "'I see’, said the blind man." We use it to express understanding. "Ah! Now I get it. I did not understand before, but now I do."

For me, however, there is always a lingering confusion of ideas in this little saying. Every time I use it, I am aware of the contradiction. I see, said the blind man. I see, but I am still blind. I understand, but I am still confused. I am still the blind man. I remember that my father would say something to me and I would look at him quizzically, and wonder aloud what he meant: "'I see', said the blind man."

I see and I am blind.
You have explained it and I am still confused.

And so it is with our friends in John’s gospel this evening.

So the Pharisees ask, "This has never happened before. Who has done this to you?"

"A prophet." The man states.

I see here in the text that he does not say "The Messiah" or "Jesus, the Son of God. Emmanuel." He says quite plainly, "a prophet." That is all. This seems strange to me when there are so many other people who receive Jesus’ healing because of their faith. Here it is Jesus who acts first.

And it is not that the blind man is ungrateful or even afraid to stand before the council. He seems to be pretty brave all things considered. Perhaps it is because he too still does not understand. He knows he can see. He knows that "the man called Jesus" has healed him. Jesus put mud on his eyes. The blind man washed them. Now he sees. It is so very simple.

I can see the Pharisees…in my imagination they are confused. They argue and they bicker. They plumb the depths of their theological knowledge. They scour scroll after scroll to try to explain this thing in plain sight…this man standing before them.

They do not debate the miracle, but instead they wonder who would do such a thing on the Sabbath. I mean, really, what man of God does not observe the Sabbath? They seem blind to what is standing before them. So, they probe further.

"He can see. He is not supposed to see. He is supposed to be blind. We understand why he was blind. He was born that way. His parents sinned and so he was born blind. That is the way of things. We cannot understand why he can see. And yet…he sees. How is this?"

I see, said the blind man.

Again, the Pharisees don’t like the answer they have been given to this anomaly standing before them. Even the man’s parents are afraid. "He is of age. Ask him!" They pass the buck. They do not care to indict themselves as part of this confusing and frightening occurrence. They will only concur that once their son was blind and now he sees.

So they ask again…"Tell us again how this happened."

In the blind man’s response I see something new. "Do you also wish to become his disciples?" Do you also? So, now I see in the text that this man sees himself as a disciple of the man called Jesus.

Then the disciple of Jesus preaches a sermon to the Pharisees.

Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.

When I read this I see the blind man’s eyes being opened just a little more. The man Jesus is from God. In his attempts to get the Pharisees to see, the man may begin to see for himself.

"'I see,' said the blind man."

The Pharisees don’t seem so confused though, do they? They see the man’s sin and they drive him out. They don’t know what we know. They cannot seem to see what we see. We see that this man’s blindness has nothing to do with sin. Instead, this man’s blindness has everything to do with revealing Christ to the world. But it would seem that our friend the blind man also does not quite yet see.

He is cast out. We do not know where he went. Perhaps he went to his parent’s house. Though that sounds like it might have been awkward. Perhaps he wandered about. We do not know. Scripture does not tell us. What we do see, however, is the fulfillment of a promise.

Jesus went looking for the man.
Jesus went looking for the man.

The man Jesus, the prophet, the man of God, went looking for the man who had been born blind. Jesus knew the man had been driven out. Jesus went looking for the man.

God so loved the world. Brothers and sisters, God comes looking for us. Go does not leave us cast out. No. God seeks us. He looks for us. Do you want to see God? Well, God is looking for you. Even if you walk through the darkest valley, God looks for you. Fear no evil; for God is with you; your rod and your staff-- they comfort you.

God sees you.

Jesus finds us. He found the man that had been blind since birth and he asked him a question: "Do you believe in the Son of Man?"

He answered, "And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him."

Jesus said to him, "You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he."

He said, "Lord, I believe." And he worshiped him.

Often, I would sit and stare at my father with some confused and silly look on my face. His explanations would often confuse me further. Then I would say, "Show me, Dad. I still don’t understand."

"You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he."

Jesus shows the man. It was not the miraculous healing. It was not the heated theological debate. It was not even being cast out that finally opened this man’s eyes. It is when Jesus sought this man out. Then his eyes were opened and he worshiped.

This is the promise of John’s Gospel. In the beginning was the word and the word became flesh and dwelt among us. God so loved the world that he sent his Son to us. God loved the man. God sought after the man. He went looking for him. Now, he is no longer the man who was born blind. He is a disciple of Christ Jesus, the Son of God.

"'I see,' said the blind man."

"Show me." Perhaps this is the cry of the world.

God will show us. God does show us.