Fourth Sunday of Lent
Fourth Sunday in Lent series A 2023
This morning I want to go over just a couple of verses.
And his disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" (Joh 9:2 ESV) The disciples want to establish the cause of his disease. They want to discuss who is at fault and who has sinned. In their day and far too many times still today, there were probably four answers they would have given. There is the argument of heredity that the fathers' sins are visited upon the children to the third and fourth generations (see Exod. 20:5). We know this is possible. Blindness and other developmental problems, in some cases, can be the result of the sin of the parent; drug abuse, alcoholism, and such. Then, there was the explanation that the sin of Adam was passed to each member of the human family so that all are subject to death and disease. The Jewish people, at that time, also believed that the baby could sin while in the womb. That is why they asked if the man, himself, had sinned.
Jesus answered, "It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. (Joh 9:3 ESV) Jesus doesn't give them the answer they wanted. He says the important thing is not to probe around in the past and try to find out who is guilty. God has His own wise reasons for permitting sickness, disease, suffering, and trouble. God doesn't always reveal to us why He permits things. God has His way and doesn't propose to tell us all His reasons. He does ask us to walk with Him by faith through the dark times, the undefinable times, of our lives.
We need to understand that our Lord is not saying for one minute that this man was a spiritual guinea pig. Or that he was purposely made blind so God could be glorified. His being born blind was because he was born in a fallen world.
God has created you and me for His glory. He did not create us, so we might try to be somebody here, although we are to do good, which glorifies God. He created us for His glory. If we miss that, we miss the entire purpose of our creation. These trials and sufferings come to us because they bring about the glory of God. This blind man, through the healing of his blindness, will bring about the glory of God. Not only will this blind man see (and think how much he would enjoy seeing all the rest of his life), but also he will see Jesus Christ and come to know Him as his Savior.
Now Jesus reverts to His original statement. "I am the light of the world." The Spiritual night makes all of humankind blind. No one can see. Christ is the spiritual Light of the World; without Him, everyone is blind. But as long as He is in the world, He is the Light of the World. He is still in the world today, my friend. He comes to us in the Person of the Holy Spirit. Unless the Son of God, by means of the Holy Spirit, opens our eyes to see spiritual things, we will remain blind as bats.
Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man's eyes with the mud 7 and said to him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam" (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.
Jesus sent him to the pool which is called Siloam, and John makes a point of telling us Siloam means "Sent." Jesus sent him. The blind man needed to show his trust in Jesus. Plus, as I researched this passage, I found out that the Jews needed this testimony because in verse 29, they say, "We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from." They must see by this healing of the blind man that Jesus is the God–man who is sent from the Father.
May I point out that the method of healing this man is not the most important part of the account. The Person who heals is the important part. It is Christ who opened his eyes. The blind man's part was to receive, trust and obey Jesus. He just needed to go and wash.
I want to stop here and show how the condition of the blind man parallels our condition as sinners before we were saved. The blind man was outside the temple, shut out from God. Remember that Paul says in Ephesians 2:12 that we were strangers from the covenants of promise, that we had no hope; we were without God in the world. That is the condition of everyone before they are saved. Without Jesus, we are without hope. We are shut out!
The man was born blind, physically and spiritually. He was unable to see anything, much less Jesus, his Savior. A story is told of a man who, after hearing a sermon on John 10:9, where Jesus says, "I am the door: by me, if any man enters in, he will be saved." Just did not get what those words meant. When he got home, as he put the key in the lock and pushed open the door of his home, it struck him. He exclaimed, "Oh, I see!" His family laughed and said, "Of course, you see. You were out in the dark and have come into the light." He answered, "Yes, but I now see that Jesus is the door, and faith is the key that turns the lock. I now trust Christ, and I see Him." The man, as we are spiritually blind from birth. We were born in sin. We came into this world as sinners. And when the Light Jesus touched us, we stepped from blindness to seeing the light. Many still see dimly, but as they read and study God's love letters, their vision improves.
The blind man did not appeal to Jesus. He didn't know Jesus. The Jews passed him by on their way to the temple. The disciples wanted to argue about him. It doesn't appear that they intended to show mercy to this him. This is a picture of the human family. Thank goodness Christ feels compassion for us, and Christ alone can help us. This man's illness provides the occasion to manifest "the works of God.
We know that Jesus did not heal everyone he came into contact with, just as he does not heal everyone today, yet their lives are used to give God glory. For instance, Fanny Crosby, who was six weeks old, had an eye infection. Her regular doctor was out of town, and a doctor gave her the wrong treatment. Within a few days, she was totally blind. If that happened to some people, I am afraid they would be very bitter and would probably spend a lifetime feeling sorry for themselves. Fanny was never bitter, and she never felt sorry for herself. She became a prolific hymnist, writing over 800 hymns and gospel songs, with over 200 million copies printed; she is also known for her teaching and rescue mission work.
We know who caused her blindness - but to Fanny, knowing who caused her blindness didn't matter. Nor did it matter to her that she was blind - because she could see in her mind. Christ didn't heal the physical blindness of Fanny Crosby as he healed the sight of the man born blind. But like that man at the end of today's Gospel reading - when he knelt at Jesus' feet and worshipped him, she saw more than we can imagine - she saw more - and felt more blessed - than millions about her with eyes to see. Her life gave God glory.
The next time you see someone afflicted - in body, mind, or spirit -and judge them, remember what Jesus said about the man born blind; his blindness gave God the opportunity to show the glory of God in his life. Amen
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Rev. Dennis Rhoads
Vacancy pastor. LCMS