Fourth Sunday of Lent
March 6, 2005
The Gospel: John 9:1-38
Sermon: "The Spiritual Eyes of God"
The Rev. William D. Oldland
As he walked along, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" Jesus answered, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God's works might be revealed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world." When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man's eyes, saying to him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam" (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see. The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, "Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?" Some were saying, "It is he." Others were saying, "No, but it is someone like him." He kept saying, "I am the man." But they kept asking him, "Then how were your eyes opened?" He answered, "The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, 'Go to Siloam and wash.' Then I went and washed and received my sight" They said to him, "Where is he?" He said, "I do not know." They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. [Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, "He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see." Some of the Pharisees said, “'This man is not from God, for he does not observe the sabbath." But others said, "How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?" And they were divided. So they said again to the blind man, "What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened." He said, "He is a prophet” The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight and asked them, "Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?" His parents answered, "We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself." His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. Therefore his parents said, "He is of age; ask him." So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, "Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner." He answered, "I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see." They said to him, "What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?" He answered them, "I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?"] Then they reviled him, saying, "You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from." The man answered, "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." They answered him, "You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?" And they drove him out. Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, "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.
The Spiritual Eyes of God
Fourth Sunday of Lent - March 6, 2005
As we begin I have a little exercise for us to do together. First, I invite everyone to close their eyes. After we have closed our eyes, let's turn our heads and see if there are times when we can detect a source of light. The inside of our eyelids should get a little brighter when we come across a source of light. Now, let's take our hands and cover our eyes so no light at all can get through to our eyes. No matter how we turn our heads no light is detected. Let's sit this way for a count of ten.
What was it like not being able to see for those ten seconds? What was it like being in total darkness? We were in this darkness for ten seconds. Can we imagine what it must be like to live one's whole life without the use of one's eyes? We probably find imagining that kind of life very difficult.
Let's look at the story of the blind man in the Gospel lesson. He has been blind since birth. He has never been able to see. He does not know the colors of the trees and the sky. He hears birds but has no idea what a bird looks like. He eats bread, vegetables, and meat. He has no idea what a grain of wheat looks like. He does not see the beautiful plants that produce the fruits and vegetables. He cannot see the beauty of the lamb or the immense power of a bull He has been and is totally blind.
Yet, on one day, a Sabbath day when everyone is to be at rest, this man is just sitting in his spot. He knows it is the Sabbath and he knows no healer will even attempt to heal him on that day. Yet, a group of people walk by. Perhaps he hears their conversation. He might have heard the question, "Who sinned that this man was born blind, his parents or the man himself?" Perhaps he heard the answer, "Neither this man or his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God's works might be revealed in him"
Jesus then makes clay with the dust of the ground and spit. The dust of the ground is from what each of us is made. He covers the man's eyes with the clay and sends him to wash it off. The man makes his eyes clean with the water of the pool of Siloam. As the clay, the dust of the ground is washed away, he can see. He is able to see the colors. He is able to understand the warmth of the sun more fully. He can see the beauty of the plants and animals. He can see the depth of love in people's faces.
Yet, when he returns it isn't love he sees. It is questioning, disbelief, even anger. He is questioned as to how he was healed. People do not believe him. They bring in his parents to see if it is truly the man they have known for years or just someone who looks like him. They can see that he is healed. They can see that his sight has been restored. No one has ever had this miracle happen before. Yet, they do not believe. They do not want to believe. It must be a trick. . Something must have been wrong about this healing. In fact, it had to be wrong because the healing took place on the Sabbath. The man who healed did work. He kneaded the dirt to make the clay. The kneading of the soil was work. He placed the clay on the man's eyes; that was work. He sent him to the pool to wash, that was work. How can the commandment of no work be broken and yet this man be healed? Whoever did this cannot be from God?
Yet, the man who did this is from God. In fact, He is God. He was with God in the beginning when the heavens and the earth were formed. He was with God when God reached down and formed humanity from the earth. He was with God when God took the clay and fashioned male and female and breathed life into them. He was with this man and gave him back his sight. The man rejoices even though he has yet to see who healed him.
His rejoicing turns to confusion and disappointment. He sees the reaction of the people around him. He hears their questions. He sees, for the first time, he sees the way they have looked at him for years. They are questioning. They are wondering. They are not questioning with joy. They are questioning with frustration and confusion. They even believe they have been duped by this man for many years. He begins to see something else. They are blind. They are spiritually blind to the works of God. They claim to love God. They claim to follow God's ways, but they are blind. No one could have healed this man except for God. The healed man knows this fact deep in his heart. He can see that God is real in a way the others can not. His ability to see outwardly has also given him the ability to see inwardly. He can see the hearts of those around him and the lack of true faith they have in a loving and caring God. He sees now the blindness of those around him to the deep spiritual ways of God.
Finally, he is released from their questioning of the people around him. They turn their backs on him once again. They once turned their backs on him because he was physically blind. Now, they turn their backs on him because he questions their spiritual blindness. As he is leaving, he meets the One who gave him his sight. Upon meeting him he falls down and worships. He is healed. From the bottom of his feet to the top of his head he is healed. He is healed physically and spiritually and he knows it.
How does this story hit us? Do we see what Jesus was teaching here? Do we see with the eyes of the blind man or with the eyes of the people around him? We have spiritual eyes. Are they open or are they closed? They are to be open to see the wonders of the love of God. Each day we have the wonders of God around us. The light of the world is constantly around us. He is in the brightness of the sun. He is in the wind that rustles the leaves. He is in beat of our hearts deep within us. He is in our souls. He is the core of our spirit. Yes, we have been given spiritual eyes to see His wonder and see His light. When we are given the chance, when Jesus stands before us, will we open those eyes and see the wonders of the Spirit of God around us? Are our eyes open to the work of God or are we stuck in our spiritual life? Do we see the wonders of God around us or are our eyes closed? These are the questions before us.
Open our eyes, Lord, we want to see Jesus.
To reach out and touch him and say that we love him.
Open our ears Lord and help us to listen
Open our eyes Lord we want to see Jesus.