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With a Miracle, He Opens Eyes Pastor Bodden 3-15-2020

Lent 3

John 9

9 1As 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. 8 His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some claimed that he was. Others said, “No, he only looks like him.” But he himself insisted, “I am the man.” 10 “How then were your eyes opened?” they asked. 11 He replied, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.” 12 “Where is this man?” they asked him. “I don’t know,” he said. 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.” 18 They still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man’s parents. 19 “Is this your son?” they asked. “Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?” 20 “We know he is our son,” the parents answered, “and we know he was born blind. 21 But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself.” 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who already had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. 23 That was why his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.” 24 A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God by telling the truth,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.” 25 He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” 26 Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 27 He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?” 28 Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! 29 We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.” 30 The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will. 32 Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” 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.” 40 Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?” 41 Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

There are times we get blinded to the important things and distracted by the wrong questions. We allow our human intellect and understanding guide us when we should really be listening to God. Perfect example: there was this blind man. He was born blind. And everyone knows that it must have been because of sin. At least that’s what his disciples thought. “Teacher, who sinned? This man or his parents?” It had to be one of them, right? What a foolish question. They both had sinned. His parents weren’t perfect. And even as a newborn the man hadn’t been innocent. But was it their sin that caused his blindness? Of course not.

Sickness, disease, death. These are all terrible tragedies in a world that God had made to be free from those awful things. We brought them into the world. Because of sin. And sin ruined the perfect creation that God planned. Ever since then people struggle with cancer, heart disease, dementia, and bodies that just don’t work the way we want them too. This man was blind because he was born in a world that lives under the shadow of sin and death. Instead of focusing on the question of who caused the sin, the disciples should have been asking how God could use this man’s struggles to help him and to glorify God. But they didn’t, so Jesus had to gently nudge them “This happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (John 9:3). Do you have a problem remembering that? I sure do. When things don’t turn out the way we expected or when life is suddenly different for us, it’s easy to fall into despair. Instead we should be looking for ways to glorify God.

But now Jesus does something strange. He works in a very physical way to show is power. He rubs mud on the mans eyes. Mud made from dirt and spit. Now this isn’t something normal. Yes, there are a couple of times Jesus does this in the Bible, but this wasn’t normal medical practice. Don’t think that just because the Bible mentions it that we should be using spit mud in the place of modern medicine, or thinking that it’s going to have amazing properties. Doctors of Jesus’ day didn’t go around rubbing mud on people’s blind eyes. But Jesus was showing true power: that he could heal with dirt. And suddenly the man’s eyes were opened. A miracle. Now we use the word “miracle” way to often. Anything that we find amazing or unexplained we immediately label “miracle”. Success through surgery is a great gift, but is it a miracle? A tornado that takes out a town but spares all life is a great blessing. But is it a miracle? But this thing that Jesus did: giving sight to a blind man simply with his power. That’s a miracle. But it’s nothing compared to the miracle that Jesus will be working shortly.

There shouldn’t be any denying that Jesus was working a miracle with this man. But so many people tried to. They tried to close their eyes to the power of God: “He just looks like him. It has to be someone else.” The man tells everyone that he really is the same guy: “Then who healed you?” I…I don’t know! And of course the Pharisees have to get involved and you know the Pharisees. Most of them are going to try and twist this around on Jesus. Instead of opening their eyes, they squeeze them shut to the obvious. After interrogating the poor man the start accusing Jesus of sinning. Yes. Sinning, because he healed the man on the Sabbath. They considered it work. Now this has nothing to do with God’s Law, but with their own rules. The Pharisees made up a bunch of restrictions about what they considered work on the Sabbath. You could only take so many steps, you could only do certain things for your family. I guess God showing his power to heal a blind man wasn’t okay with their rules. It’s sad how foolish so many of these people were. God just wanted to open their eyes, to show them his love. He could heal a blind man but these people with perfectly good working eyes refuse to see God’s power because they were happy in denial.

But to be fair, so often we close our eyes to the things God wants us to see. He tells us not to worry because he has everything under control. But we look at all of the worries of the world and we lose our minds. Instead of asking the right questions we wonder why this is all happening. Is this because of some sin? Why us? Instead, shouldn’t we be looking to see how God will use these and all of our struggles for our good and his gory? “This happened so that the works of God might be displayed (in him).” (John 9:3) Instead we can’t stop watching every update on the news. We move beyond taking wise precautions and are tempted into despair, doubt, or panic. And when voices of reason come forward, they just get drowned out.

Maybe not so different from the Pharisees. When they brought the man in front of them to interrogate him again he refuses to tell them what they want to hear. Instead he says, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” (John 9:30, 33) The Pharisees couldn’t stand it so they threw the man out. How dare this man lecture them. They were so smart, so wise, so understanding. So close minded.

But this where the really big miracle happens. You see, this formerly blind man trusts that whoever healed him must be from God, but he has no idea who he is. So Jesus comes to him. “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” Jesus asked. The man responds “Who is he, sir? Tell me so that I may believe in him.” And Jesus tells him, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.” And then we see the miracle. The working of faith. This man has been given spiritual sight and by the power of God he says, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped Jesus. (John 9:35-38) That’s a miracle. And I’m not using that word loosely. It’s also a miracle that we have seen first hand. We who were spiritually dead have been given eternal life. It’s a miracle that we who were once far away from God have now been brought close to him. A miracle that all of our sins have been washed away. A miracle that we have been made perfect by our God. God has open our eyes to see and love him. That’s a miracle.

With that faith we can trust that all things are in God’s control. Why are there wars all around the world. Why does cancer come into our lives? Why is their blindness or deafness? Why do our bodies stop working the way we want them to? Why is there this Corvid 19 sweeping across the world? We don’t know. But we know that God will use all of these things for our good. How? I don’t know, but “This happened so that the works of God might be displayed.” (John 9:3)

We have this great promise, but the unbelieving world is still running around in fear. They don’t know about his love or his promise to save. And so we go out to them with his Word. It’s easy enough to just think “They are spiritually blind. What can possibly change that?” A miracle. The same miracle that opened the eyes of blinded Paul and showed him the God that he had been persecuting. The same miracle that opened the eyes of the pagan Augustine. He was a man who ran after different kinds of sin. Until one day he heard the Word of God and it opened his eyes to see his love. Augustine became one of the most solid teachers of Christ. From pagan to church father. And what about us? From unworthy sinners to God’s greatest treasure. It’s a miracle that we have been given new life. It’s a miracle that our sins are gone. It’s a miracle that he opened our eyes to see his grace. “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see.” (John 9:39) Brothers and sisters in Christ, let’s take that message to the world so that they too will have the miracle of faith worked in their hearts and will see who God really is. Let’s share the peace of God who has all things under his control. Amen.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. Amen.

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