Saturday, March 1, 2008

Theme: “Blindness of the Heart” (Isaiah 42:16)

S-1036 3/02/08 3SIL/3A. Hymns: (O) #1; (S) #57 SOD; (C) #47

Texts: Isaiah 42:14-21; Ephesians 5:8-14, John 9:1-7, 13-17, 34-39

Theme: “Blindness of the Heart” (Isaiah 42:16)


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! The text for our meditation is from the O.T. “And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know,
in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them”
(Is. 42:16).

Saints in Christ, last Saturday morning I was leaving my home and walking towards my office. As I shut the garage door, there before me where two men, dressed in white shirts and ties, and holding a bag in their hands. Yes, you guessed it, they were Jehovah Witnesses.

They looked at me with those hungry eyes, here is a sucker lets go after him. Sure enough, as I neared them, they said “Hello” and wanted to give me a pamphlet. I said, “No thank you. I know all about your religion.” Their response, “You do?” I told them, “That I didn’t believe in their teachings. They were wrong. They were not Christians because they deny the Trinity”. One of them, Tom said, to me, how do you understand John 14:28? This is how it reads: “You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I’”.

The main point of this argument is that Jesus is not God, but lesser than God. He is only human. I didn’t have my Bible with me, but I used the Scripture to communicate the Truth of who Jesus is. That is, as far as His humanity is concerned indeed He is less than God the Father. I used Philippians 2 to verify the States of Humiliation and Exaltation. I further stated that He is equal in majesty and glory to God the Father and the Holy Spirit. I believe that Jesus is the Author of Scripture. He is the One who Created the world and came to save the world from sin and the devil. We went back and forth for almost half an hour of looking this verse and that verse. We even discussed the work of the Holy Spirit that He is God. But they refuted that also. I pointed them to Acts 5: “But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? 4While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.’ (Acts 5:1-4).

They would not listen or see what I was trying to convey. Tom was getting mad at me. But I wouldn’t back up in my saying, “You are not Christians, since you deny the Trinity. We worship God the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. They are not three gods, but One God in three persons”. After all of the discussions we had I walked away realizing that they are blind to the truth. They have chosen this blindness. And this blindness of the heart is worse than physical blindness.

This is what we have in the text before us today. Blindness of the heart drives us away from the good and gracious God, who has made the human eye to see Him as the Savior of mankind. We only see the things that make sense to our eyes. We attempt to prove what we can see.

Sight is one of our senses that help us see so that we may believe. However, in matters of faith, sight is not necessary, because we believe not because we see the evidence, but rather on account of the Word of God. You and I see the deeds and works of God through the power of the Holy Spirit. Faith clings for what is believed without any evidence.

In the words before us this morning, Isaiah tells the Israelites what God is going to do, because they have been disobedient to His will and command. He is sick of them and is going to punish them for all of the evil they have done and continue to do because their hearts are blind to the truth—the truth that leads to eternal life. They have become spiritually blind; this blindness got in the way of the message of God.

We, too, the new Israel have problems with our eye sights. Man-Made ideas always blind us and others to hear the truth. The “American Way” is to come up with our “own ideas,” even beliefs, so that we can feel good about ourselves. The danger: the better we feel about ourselves, the greater the likelihood we are “walking on thin ice!”

The truth is that there is much difference between physical and spiritual blindness. Physical blindness is known to the person. If a blind person gets into a car and drives away, he knows he is in trouble. But spiritual blindness is not known. These people don’t see the wrong they are living in. The spiritually blind person chooses to elevate his way over God’s way. The spiritually blind person attempts to put God on the same level of your next door neighbor, rather than the God of Creation.

How often we shut our eyes to the truth of God’s Word. We ignore His command and will for our lives. Many of us live our lives as if God doesn’t matter nor does His Word. That is what the devil does, just like the Jehovah Witnesses attempts to do when they knock at someone’s door. They attempt to blind us with their worldly wisdom, rather than God’s Word for life and salvation. Any time we don’t seek God’s Spirit for guidance and direction we remain darkness.

The sermon hymn “Amazing Grace” speaks well of what God does for the spiritually blind. Listen again, Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me! I once was lost but now am found, was BLIND, but now I see! Did you get it? We are blind to the truth of God. But as you hear the voice of the Prophet Isaiah, we are told what God will do: “And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know,
in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them.”

Notice who is the Agent of this work? Notice who will lead the blind? It is God the One who made the eye of man to see His glory and majesty. The Apostle Paul said this: “for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you’” (Eph. 5:8-13).

Isaiah, Paul and John point to the Christ of Scripture, the One who through His death and resurrection has opened our eyes and resolved the problem of the blindness of the heart. The Christ of Scripture while walking the dusty roads of Palestine kneeled down and mixed some mud and put it on a blind man and his eyes were opened and he could see.

We, who come to this hospital for sinners, known as Redeemer Lutheran Church, receive the cure of the blindness and we see our desperate condition. We see our sins that separate us from God’s grace--the blindness that keep us from the light of the Gospel. But with the touch of Christ’s love which He gave us, our eyes are open to see Him as the true God, the heavenly Messenger who came to not only open the eyes of the blind physically, but more importantly to remove the spiritual blindness.

It was only few years back that I needed glasses to help me see better at night. Those glasses have helped me to see better, drive more cautiously and get there safely. So it is with the Gospel lenses that the Savior, Jesus Christ provides us with through His Word and Sacrament. Jesus opens the eyes of the blind. He leads us in ways we have never gone before. He allows us to see that in His suffering and death and resurrection, He has removed the scales from our eyes so that we may know Him as the One who has given us light, salvation and eternal life.

Unlike the Jehovah Witnesses, you and I have come here because we acknowledge that we can’t always see the ways and methods of God. But as we are privileged to sit at His feet, listen to His voice, and feel the touch of His pierced hands on our face, we see Him as the Savior of our salvation. I thank God that you came to this hospital for sinners. By Him the blindness of the heart has been removed and filled with the light of God’s grace. Amen.

Now the peace…

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