Friday, September 9, 2011

“Lost in the darkness BUT Found by the Light” (John 9:5-7)

S-1243 4SIL/3A 04/03/11, (O) #LSB 744; (S) #512 (C) #849 LSB

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

Theme: “Lost in the darkness BUT Found by the Light” (John 9:5-7)

Question: “How valuable are your glasses?” 4th in Sermon series Lost and Found


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! The text for our 4th Sunday in Lent is from the Gospel lesson: “As long as I Am in the world, I Am the light of the world." Having said these things, He spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then He anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’ (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing (John 9:5-7).

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

In Jesus’ name beloved in the Lord, life is not easy. Truth be told life is hard. It is full of pain and misery. No matter how you slice it, no matter how you look at it, no matter how you describe it; from the womb to the tomb it is difficult. All of us know pain because we live in a broken and darkened world. In sin-filled life, we know pain first hand—the pain of church members fighting with one another; the pain of child abuse, spousal abuse, sexual abuse. There are many who are going through pain today dealing with illness, loss of job, addiction to drugs, alcohol, pornography and the like. Sin has been causing havoc with God’s people from the day that Adam and Eve chose not to walk in the light but followed the darkness of selfishness and greed.

It is to this pain-filled world that Jesus was sent by the loving Father. He was sent to remove the darkness that came upon all humanity because of sin, and give light so that people may not stumble and fall. Today, John allows us to see (no pun intended here) the painful life of a man born blind.

At the time of Jesus, blindness was a sentence of death because there was no help for the blind. To be blind meant a life of suffering, dependence on others for nearly everything. He would have to rely on the mercy and generosity of others to lead him from place to place to get food or shelter. He lived a life of darkness and hopelessness. Can you envision the life of this man who never once the saw the face of his mother or father, he never saw the beauty of a Palestinian sunrise or sunset; he never saw the lovely poppy fields in bloom or the roses with all of its beautiful petals.

It is to this darkened world that the Savior came. He came to fulfill what the prophet Isaiah tells us in our O.T. reading: “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”, (Is. 42:16a). Jesus’ ministry was to help people and to give them sight not only physically, but more importantly spiritually. In the opening chapter of John’s Gospel, he writes, The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (1:5). Indeed that is evident in our Gospel lesson today. People haven’t understood the mission and ministry of God’s Only Begotten Son. As the disciples and Jesus were visiting the big city—Jerusalem, they meet a blind man and they ask their Teacher,Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus’ answer: “Neither this man nor his parents sinned…but this hap­pened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life!”

To be sure, some sinful behaviors result in immediate suffering; drunken drivers often crash their cars and bring misery on them­selves and others. Shoplifting will land you in jail. Smoking pot and sniffing cocaine will hurt and harm your body. In this man’s case, however, a particular sin had not caused his blindness. Instead, his blindness would provide Jesus an opportunity to reveal His almighty power and glory as the Son of God and Savior. And the glory of God is revealed in an unusual manner. The Savior kneels down, takes some mud, spits on it and mixes it and smears it on the eyes of the blind man and sends him away to wash in the pool.

This blind man, in faith and trust, listens to the voice of Jesus and washes away the mud. Instantly, miraculously and amazingly, his eyes are opened and for the first time he sees. He sees a man before him. He sees buildings. He sees the mighty creation of the loving Father. This man who was lost in the darkness is now found by the Light—Jesus’ bright light burned within his dead eyes and they come alive and begin to see. PAUSE.

What happens next is tragic. The man who was blind but now sees is being interrogated by those who see, but actually are blind. They want to know how he could see and who it was that opened his eyes. His answer is short and clear: He put mud on my eyes the man replied and now I see.” Ah, but his answer didn’t convince them that Jesus had performed a miracle. In fact, because it happened on the Sabbath when no one was to work, some concluded that Jesus couldn’t be from God. Others won­dered out loud that if Jesus were just another sinner, how could He possibly perform such a miracle?

Yes, they were confused, but no, they didn’t believe—even when confronted by this miracle. So they asked the man again: “‘what have you to say about Him? It was your eyes he opened.’ The man replied, ‘He is a prophet.’” His confession was short, simple, and clear. Nonetheless, they persisted in unbelief.

So it is with unbelievers to this day! Don’t think it strange when they question your asser­tions about Jesus or even mock you for trusting in Him. God’s Word says that people are natu­rally hostile to God; they can’t help themselves (Romans 8:7)! Remember, unbelief also blinds people to the truth—even when truth is staring them in the face. So what’s a Christian to do? Speak the truth in love. Like the man in our reading, tell them what God has done for you. Say what He says in His Word. And, yes, like Jesus, love them. The Holy Spirit will work through you; He promised. PAUSE.

You who are the most LOVED of the Lord, the readings for this fourth Sunday in Lent deal in some respect with the motifs of darkness vs. light and blindness vs. sight. That those who are blind might see, and those who see might be made blind. Such a difference of Christ’s coming is often spoken of; to some His gospel is a savoir unto life, to others of death.

It is downright amazing to read how the Pharisees and Scribes behaved. They who could see, became blind--blind by fear and frustration; blind by hatred and jealousy. Right there before them stood the Light of the World—Jesus Christ—yet they were blinded to the truth, wouldn’t accept the truth nor believe the truth.

There is a proverb that states: “None so blind as those who will not see...” Jesus’ words are blunt: I come for judgment. Insisting that your inward blindness is sight isn’t just pitiful, it’s sinful and fatal. I can heal those who know, even dimly, that they’re blind. I can do nothing for those who insist they’re OK, except to make their condition permanent. That false “sight” you claim is a darkness in which no one, not even the Son of Man, can work. And if that Son who is the Light of the world should not be at work, then there is no hope, no life, and no light at all to see even if we wanted to. Without that Light, we may not see. We’re as good as dead! ...Jesus’ judgment is no threat but instead merciful, swift sight. Sin and guilt, however long-entrenched, are abolished as quickly as cataracts! No darkness is too deep to be overcome! And at the heart of it all is seeing Jesus as He really is: not just a man, a prophet, a man sent from God, much less a sinful impostor, but the Son doing the Father’s work and displaying the Father’s merciful glory, answering even the pleas of sinners who have no right to expect a second glance from God.

Today, as we stand by and watch the Savior at work bringing glory to His Father, we behold life-changing events taking place before our eyes. Two miracles happened. First the Savior opens the eye of the blind man so that He may see the mighty power of God’s glorious creation, and second, his spiritual eyes are opened to see that this Man from Galilee is truly God in the flesh. Having been touched by the pierced hands of the Savior to see both physically and spiritually, He worships God for the new freedom He has.

Likewise, you and I today, stand by the pool of mercy and grace. Jesus came to our darkened world too. He didn’t spit or mix mud and sent us to wash; no He washed us by the majestic waters of Baptism. Here too our eyes are opened, the darkness removed and light is given—and we are free. Free to see, free to worship, free to praise the One who has given us a new birth by the Water and the Word. Today, we stand beneath the cross and see the Light of the world being dimmed and put to death so that our dead eyes might see the glory of God revealed.

No wonder we delight in singing with people all over the world the wonderful hymn Amazing for it has brought comfort to many: “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.” Join me, therefore, YOU who once were lost in the darkness and now have been found by the Light. And as we leave this place with the new miracle of sight may we be bold to take with us the shining light of the Gospel and share it with others who are still walking in the darkness of sin, so they may see Jesus as the Lord of heaven and earth and worship Him too. Amen.

Now the peace…

Soli Deo Gloria

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